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.
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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.
Rt Hon. David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, gave a speech at the British Academy on 1 March 2011. The Minister was introduced by Professor Sir Adam Roberts, President of the British Academy.
‘A medieval mêlée’. This issue shows the activities of the British Academy contributing to policy and other topical issues. There are also a range of articles with a medieval theme – drawing both on the British Academy’s ‘Medieval Week’ held in November 2010, and on the rich variety of longstanding British Academy Research Projects that produce resources for the study of medieval history. The issue concludes with some appreciations of the value of humanities and social sciences subjects.