The Isabella Breviary

The Isabella Breviary f. 111v, Nebuchadnezzar presides over the burning the books of the Temple


f. 111v, Nebuchadnezzar presides over the burning the books of the Temple

A twenty-four line framed miniature over both columns of text of Nebuchadnezzar presiding over the burning of the books at the burning of the Temple during the destruction of Jerusalem (II Kings 25 vv 8-10) with the inscriptions: Destructio Iherusalem; Nabugodonosor Babilonis Caldorum; Crematio Biblie et Psalmi; Conservatio? Levitorum (Destruction of Jerusalem; Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon of the Chaldeans; Burning of the Bible and Psalms; Saving (the books) by the Levites — the reading of the first word of the last text, which is highly abbreviated, is uncertain). Nebuchadnezzar, wearing armour and holding a sword, presides with his councillors over the burning of the books. On the right three Levites seem to be trying to carry the books away to save them from burning. At the top left buildings in Jerusalem are burning and one house has had its roof burnt. The subject has nothing to do with the text of the invitatory psalm and is meant to be read with the picture of Esdras and the rebuilding of Jerusalem on the opposite page above Psalm 1. The prologue to Nicholas of Lyra’s commentary explains Esdras restoration of the psalms after the books had been burnt by the Chaldeans. There is a full border of the first category with silver-white acanthus scrolls, two birds and a large iris flower on a yellow-gold ground.

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