Illustrations of Anglo-Saxons in
Prudentius' Psychomachia
“Conflict Of The Soul”

British Library, MS Cotton Cleopatra C VIII, c.1000

4v The Capture of Lot

Abraham In Pursuit
12v Long-Suffering looks at Wrath's corpse

Long-Suffering walks with Job through the battle-lines
18v Indulgence making her way to war

Indulgence riding her chariot

A detail of folio 5r Abraham returns after freeing Lot and his wife
24r. Good-Works fights Avarice in Prudentius' Psychomachia - 'Conflict Of The Soul', c.1000, British Library, MS Cotton Cleopatra C VIII
Prudentius (born in 348 in northern Spain, died after 405) spent most of his life following worldly pursuits, but later turned to writing, in which he aimed to glorify God and atone for his earlier sins. One of his most popular works is a poem called Psychomachia (Conflict of the Soul), which describes the battles between female personifications of human virtues and vices. Instead of being a dry theological treatise, the poem has the qualities of an exciting narrative filled with high drama, with lots of bloodshed and violence. The descriptions of the women, including their clothes, armour, and details of their conflicts, lend themselves to illustration. This copy was apparently written by a scribe of Christ Church, Canterbury.

All the available illustrations from this manuscript at the British Library:
04r The Sacrifice Of Abraham
04v The Capture Of Lot, And Abraham In Pursuit
05v Abraham And Melchisedech Making Offerings At An Altar, And The Three Angels Appearing To Abraham
07r Faith Confronting Idolatry, And Faith Trampling On Idolatry
07v Faith Crowning The Martyrs, And Chastity Confronting Lust
08r Chastity Casting A Rock At, And Beheading, Lust
10r Chastity Dedicating Her Sword In A Temple, And Long-Suffering Standing Unmoved Amidst An Enemy Army
12r Wrath And Long-Suffering
12v Long-Suffering's Victory Over Wrath
13r Long-Suffering Addressing Job And Other Virtues
14r Pride On Horseback
15v Pride rides towards Lowliness and Hope, And Pride falls headlong into a pit dug by Deceit
16v Hope offers her sword to Lowliness, And Lowliness beheads Pride
17r Lowliness offers the head of Pride to Hope, And Hope pours scorn on Pride's corpse
18v Indulgence making her way to war, And Indulgence riding her chariot
19r Indulgence In Her Chariot
19v Indulgence
22r Sobriety, Indulgence, And Jest
25r Greed
36r Wisdom Enthroned

11v Wrath holding a shield, strikes with a sword at Long-Suffering
from 10th and 11th Century Clothing in England: A Portfolio of Images


Chastity and Lust in Prudentius' Psychomachia, British Library, MS Cotton Cleopatra C VIII, c.1000



Referenced on p 314 Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages by Edward Lewes Cutts
The subjects are chiefly illustrations of Scripture history or of allegorical fable; but, thanks to the custom which prevailed throughout the Middle Ages of representing all such subjects in contemporary costume, and according to contemporary manners and customs, the Jewish patriarchs and their servants afford us perfectly correct representations of Saxon thanes and their cheorls; Goliath, a perfect picture of a Saxon warrior, armed cap-à-pied; and Pharaoh and his nobles of a Saxon Basileus and his witan.



Other Prudentius' Psychomachia manuscripts
Other 11th century resources
Index of Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers