Libro d'Ore di Enrico VIII

Libro d'Ore di Enrico VIII Massacre of the Innocents and Flight into Egypt, f. 69v


Massacre of the Innocents and Flight into Egypt, f. 69v

King Herod, learning that a future ruler of Israel would come from Bethlehem, ordered that all its male children, two years old and younger, to be slain. An angel had already appeared to Joseph in his sleep, telling him to take Jesus and his mother to Egypt until Herod himself was dead.

Poyer combines both episodes in his miniature. In the foreground is the slaughter. At the front, a soldier grabs the wailing child of a mother whom he tries to push away with his left hand. Behind them, a second soldier slays a crying baby still held in his mother’s arms. At the left, a third mother grieves over the bloody corpse of her child. The ground is littered with dead children, the work of the two other solders who take a break from their efforts. Meanwhile, in the background, seen through the ruins and the trees, the Holy Family slips away, departing for the safety of Egypt.

As mentioned earlier, the eighth miniature in this Infancy cycle, for Compline, is missing; it most likely depicted the Coronation of the Virgin.

Roger S. Wieck.
Curator, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts
The Morgan Library & Museum

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