The Black Book of The Garter (1534), also known as Liber Niger, is a medieval manuscript that is highly significant in the history of the Order of the Garter. Commissioned by King Henry VIII in the early 16th century, this illuminated manuscript contains the earliest surviving record of the statutes, rules, and regulations of the Order of the Garter, the most prestigious chivalric order in England.
The Black Book is named after its black velvet binding, which was adorned with a gold garter and the Tudor rose. The manuscript is written in Latin and features beautiful calligraphy and intricate illuminations that depict scenes from the life of St. George, the patron saint of the Order of the Garter.
Henry VIII was a passionate supporter of the Order of the Garter and took a strong personal interest in its affairs. He was determined to elevate the Order's status and promote its reputation as a bastion of chivalry and nobility. As such, he commissioned the Black Book to serve as a comprehensive record of the Order's history, statutes, and traditions.
The Black Book is divided into three main sections. The first section contains a detailed account of the foundation of the Order of the Garter and the legend of St. George. The second section outlines the Order's statutes, which cover everything from the admission of new members to the rules of conduct for knights and officers. The third section contains a list of all the knights who had been admitted to the Order up to the time of the manuscript's creation.
The Black Book is not only a valuable historical document but also a work of art. Its illuminations, created by the leading artists of the Tudor court, are a testament to the beauty and elegance of medieval bookmaking. Today, the Black Book is housed in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle and is considered one of the most important manuscripts in the history of the Order of the Garter.
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