The Holkham Bible

This celebrated picture-book tells the Biblical story in Norman French, with the help of copious illustrations of everyday 14th-century England. Originally intended as a visual aid for popular preachers, it is now a fascinating glimpse of real life in the time of Chaucer.

The Holkham Bible tells highlights of the Bible story, from Creation, through the life of Jesus, to the Last Judgment. It is only loosely based on the Bible, and includes plenty of apocryphal episodes, especially about Jesus’s early life. It does this with brief text that is part prose, part poetry, and most importantly, with a unique sequence of illustrations that draw many of their details from everyday life.

The book was probably made in London in the mid-14th century, round about the time of Geoffrey Chaucer’s birth.

The Dominican friar for whom the illustrations were made, perhaps as a teaching aid for the rich and powerful, is depicted at the opening of the Bible instructing the artist, ‘Now do it well and thoroughly, for it will be shown to important people’.

This eBookTreasures facsimile edition contains the complete manuscript.

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The Holkham BibleThe Holkham Bible

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