Medieval Allegory

Allegory abounded during the medieval period. Many of the medieval works we discuss elsewhere use allegory, and Le Roman de la Rose uses allegory as well. Even philosophical works like Boethius’ De consolatione philosophiae took on allegorical structure.

In the leaf below (8v), the miniatures in the manuscript depict some of the allegorical figures from the second part of Le Roman de la Rose.

Harley MS 4425 f8v

Each stanza begins with a decorated initial of blue and red, and rubrics label each of the two miniatures on the page. The two personified figures are Felony (Félonie), clothed in red and white with a pink garment underneath, and Villainy (Vilenie), clothed in purple and white with a green garment underneath. Though their slender bodies are feminine, their faces are masculine and much more detailed than the faces on the miniature from folio 7r. The figures are almost lifelike, looking toward each other from their respective positions on the page. There are copious notes written in the margins on the left and bottom sides of this leaf: an owner of this manuscript had many thoughts to write about these personifications and their descriptions. The names of the figures are also rewritten in the margins: “follonia” is written on the left side and “Villania” in the central margin between the two columns of text. Like the earliest page we looked at on the Rubrics page, the marks used to space the stanzas on this page are also visible.

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