The quest is the essence of medieval romance, whether the search is for the ideal beloved or for the Holy Grail. Love was sometimes the object and sometimes a snare that hindered the completion of the quest. This giftbook combines the two distinct but related themes of love and romance, illustrating original texts with the images of medieval romances (stories of knightly adventures and quests) such as La Chatelaine de Vergi, Troilus and Cressida and Tristram and Isolde. The book also juxtaposes words of love (posies) alongside images of gold jewellery and other inscribed mementoes. The illustrations are chosen from objects of gold, ivory, enamel, ceramic, woodwork and leather in the British Museum and manuscript illuminations in the British Library and the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Jewels and rings, mirror cases and caskets all evoke the medieval world of love, making this the perfect gift for anyone's beloved. The introduction explains the medieval fascination with the quest and its ideals of beauty and chivalry, and the plots of the major romances are summarized. Further reading and brief descriptions of the sources are also provided.
John Cherry recently retired as Keeper of the Department of Prehistory and Europe in the British Museum, where he specialized in the medieval period. He is the author of Medieval Decorative Art and Goldsmiths (Medieval Craftsmen series) and editor of The British Museum Book of Mythical Beasts.