Illustration from the:

Worms Bible
British Library Harley MS 2803

King Saul Falls on his Sword


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A larger image of King Saul Falls on his Sword, Worms Bible.



Description: Detail of a marginal drawing of a man impaled on an upright sword
Title: Bible (the 'Worms Bible') , Genesis to Job
Origin: Germany (Frankenthal, near Worms, Middle Rhineland)
Date: 2nd or 3rd quarter of the 12th century, probably c. 1148
Provenance: Possibly written or illuminated in 1148 in the Augustinian abbey of Mary Magdalene in Frankenthal, 10km south of Worms: inscription 'anno m.c.xlviii [inceptus est liber] ?' (f. 1)
Source: British Library


pp 324-325 Edward Lewes Cutts Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages
In the Harleian MS. 2,803, is a Vulgate Bible, of date about 1170 A.D.; there are no pictures, only the initial letters of the various books are illuminated. But while the illuminator was engaged upon the initial of the Second Book of Kings, his eye seems to have been caught by the story of Saul’s death in the last chapter of the First Book, which happens to come close by in the parallel column of the great folio page: —Arripuit itaqu, gladium et erruit sup. eum (Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it); and he has sketched in the scene with pen-and-ink on the margin of the page, thus affording us another authority for the armour of a Saxon king when actually engaged in battle. He wears a hauberk, with an ornamented border, has his crown on his head, and spurs on his heels; has placed his sword-hilt on the ground, and fallen upon it.
Next: Worms Bible f126v. David & Goliath



Other 12th Century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers

Other examples of the same biblical scene:
Death of Saul at the Battle of Mount Gilboa in the 11th century Roda Bible, Spain
Death of Saul at the Battle of Mount Gilboa in the 12th century Admont Bible, Salzburg
Death of Saul at the Battle of Mount Gilboa in the 12th century Winchester Bible, England,
Death of Saul at the Battle of Mount Gilboa in the Navarre Picture Bible, Pamplona, Spain, 1197AD
Death of Saul at the Battle of Mount Gilboa in The Morgan Crusader Bible of Louis IX or Maciejowski Bible or The Bible of Shah Abbas