“The Aberdeen Bestiary” is a 12th century illuminated manuscript, which scientists now believe was likely taken from a monastic library by scouts under the authority of Henry VIII. Henry VIII is best known, besides having six wives and beheading two of them, for creating the Church of England and dissolving monasteries.
The pages of the manuscript are heavily decorated with gold leaf, which create a shimmery texture and it is suspected that this book was meant for educational purposes. There are fingerprints that can be found on the pages that suggest the book had been turned around for other people to view the pages. Each page illustrates various animals, which tell tales of moral beliefs at the time.
According to Art Historian, Jane Geddes, “Although the book ended up in the royal library of Henry VIII, he probably purloined it from a monastery at the Reformation. Its heavy use indicates that it belonged in a working and training establishment, not a rich private library,”
Images courtesy of the University of Aberdeen
You can view other illuminated pages at The University of Aberdeen’s website.
Featured image courtesy of LiveScience