The 2010 Aspects of Art Lecture formed part of the British Academy’s ‘Medieval Week’, hosted by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Professor Robert Hillenbrand FBA discussed an extraordinary medieval manuscript held in Edinburgh University Library.
The whole article can be downloaded as a PDF file.
Published in British Academy Review, No. 17 (March 2011).
Aspects of Art Lecture, delivered by Professor Robert Hillenbrand FBA FRSE, 18 November 2010 (venue: Royal Society of Edinburgh), as part of the British Academy's ‘Medieval Week’. The fragmentary copy of Rashid al-Din’s World History held in the University of Edinburgh’s Library is of extreme rarity, huge size, lavish illustration and very early date (1314). It is perhaps the world’s most valuable illustrated Islamic manuscript. This lecture will explore its art-historical significance, highlighting its multiracial and multi-confessional flavour, with Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and shamanistic elements that aptly reflect the largest continuous land empire in world history. The manuscript’s pictorial and textual cycles of Biblical figures, the Prophet Muhammad and the mythical past of Greece, Arabia and Iran break new ground, while its propagandist intent finds expression in courtly and battle scenes galore.
In December 2010, a British Academy Forum reviewed the drivers of social mobility and policy programmes to enhance it. Professor Anthony Heath FBA and Dr Anna Zimdars reflect on what we have learned and what we still do not know.
On 7 December 2010, a British Academy Forum debated the ‘Implications of the present coalition for British politics’. One of the participants, Martin Kettle, of the ‘Guardian’, reflects on the forces that brought together – and still hold together – the coalition government.