The bestiary - a book of animals, both real and mythical - is one of the most interesting and appealing medieval artefacts. The "Second-family" bestiary is the most important and frequently produced version (some 49 known manuscripts exist). Of English origin and predominantly English production, it boasts a spiritual text "modernized" to meet the needs of its time, and features exceptional illustrations. This study addresses the work's purpose and audience, challenging previous assumptions with direct evidence in the manuscripts themselves, linking their use to teachers at the elementary-school level, and exploring the art, the text, and the cultural context for the bestiary. It includes a critical edition and new English translation, and a catalogue raisonne of the manuscripts. Fully illustrated.
The late WILLENE B. CLARK was Professor of Art History Emerita at Marlboro College, Vermont.