The Bestiary and the Hereford World Map (c. 1300)

Strickland, D.H. (2019) The Bestiary and the Hereford World Map (c. 1300). In: Baumgärtner, I., Debby, N. B.-A. and Kogman-Appel, K. (eds.) Maps and Travel in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period: Knowledge, Imagination, and Visual Culture. Series: The Middle Ages: Perspectives in Medieval Research (9). De Gruyter: Berlin, pp. 37-73. ISBN 9783110587333 (doi: 10.1515/9783110588774-003)

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This essay seeks to clarify relationships between the English medieval bestiary tradition and the Hereford World Map (c. 1300) through close examination of how the map’s animal imagery functioned in its broader cartographical context, in which artistic strategies of proximity, spatial alignment, and geographical location are crucial to the creation of meaning. Created in Hereford around 1300, at a time when bestiaries in England had reached their apogee, this celebrated mappa mundi, with its twenty-eight or so bestiary creatures, provides an opportunity to consider how the bestiary contributed to the geographical, theological, political, and temporal dimensions of its large and complex image-field. Given the map’s nearly continuous presence in Hereford Cathedral, I move beyond the universal Christian moralizations attached to its bestiary birds and beasts to consider how the same creatures might have also served more local English concerns by evoking the legacy of King Edward I, during whose reign the map was made. I pay special attention to places on the map in which particular bestiary creatures and their geographical locations work together with surrounding imagery to reference Edward’s expulsion of the Jews in 1290, his crusading ambitions, and his position within the Plantagenet dynasty. Using the relationship between the medieval English bestiary and the Hereford World Map as a case example, the broader question I seek to address is: How does the ‘importation’ of external traditions into a cartographical context alter or expand traditional meanings?

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Strickland, Professor Debra
Authors: Strickland, D.H.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Publisher:De Gruyter

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