MedievalBooksOfHours

Les Enluminures

8. Suffrages

St. Wenceslas and St. Nicholas

The dozen historiated initials illustrating the Suffrages form the second major part of the illustration of this Horae, commissioned for Princess Agnes, daughter of Ottokar I of Bohemia. Reproduced here are Sts. Wenceslas and Nicholas. Wenceslas, patron saint of Bohemia, martyred in 929 by his own pagan brother Boleslaus, is traditionally represented as a soldier: here, dressed in mail, he holds his lance and sword (with belt attached). Nicholas (c. 270-c. 343), one of the most widely venerated saints in all of Christendom (and “ancestor” of our Santa Claus), is represented as a bishop, dressed in episcopal attire of chasuble and miter, and holding his crozier.

Central European manuscripts could be simply decorated with pen-and-ink drawings against colored backgrounds. No longer Romanesque in its stylization, but not yet fluid and elegant enough to be considered Gothic, the decoration here is typical of art produced around the year 1200.