Hours of Henry VIII

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The Hours of Henry VIII is an illuminated codex from the 15th century, painted in Tours, France housed under shelfmark MS H.8 in the Morgan Library & Museum, in New York.


The Hours of Henry VIII, one of Jean Poyer’s best-known works,[1] receives its name from King Henry VIII of England, second monarch of the House of Tudor. It is documented that the manuscript belonged to a series of later English kings. For example, between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it still belonged to George III (1738–1820).

The artist[edit]

Hours of Henry VIII, f. 9r

Jean Poyer’s career as a painter was short—from 1483 to 1503—but in his time he was famous for being a master colourist and a genius at composition and perspective. In the Hours of Henry VIII, the Franciscan Calendar is good proof of his reputation and. Other remarkable sections of the manuscript are the Office of the Dead and the Hours of the Virgin.

The binding[edit]

The manuscript is bound in red velvet.[2] Its clasps contain Henry VIII's coat of arms (three fleur-de-lis quarterly 1 and 4, three lions passant guardant quarterly 2 and 3). They also contain his monogram H.8.R (Henricus Octavus Rex) and his famous motto, HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE (Shame on him who evil thinks).

On the manuscript’s last blank leaf, there is a note supplied by George Wade (1673–1748), one of its owners: In the Year 1723, being at Mons and hearing of This Book as the greatest Curiosity of its Kind, I found it in the hands of Mons[ieu]r Charle Benoit Desmanet, a Gentl[lema]n of that Town, (and after his Death procured it from his Executors) he Shew’d it me with great care and precaution not Suffering me to touch it, but tur’d over the leaves with a Small pair of Silver Tongues made for that purpose, And perceiving me to Smile at this Nicety, he said with some Warmth, Sir In this manner my Ancestors for above a hundred Years past have preserved this Book from blemish and in the Perfection you now see it; He told me likewise That the Tradition of the Family was That it was formerly A Persent from the Emperor Charles the Fifth to Henry the Eighth King of England […]


In 2000, George Braziller and the Morgan Library & Museum published a monographic study of the manuscript by Roger S. Wieck, William M. Voelkle and K. Michelle Hearne.[3] A Spanish publishing house, M. Moleiro Editor is currently preparing the first and only facsimile edition of the Hours of Henry VIII, which will include a full-colour commentary volume by Roger S. Wieck.


  1. ^ Roger S. Wieck et al., The Hours of Henry VIII, George Braziller/The Morgan Library & Museum, p. 1
  2. ^ Roger S. Wieck et al., The Hours of Henry VIII, George Braziller/The Morgan Library & Museum, p. 184
  3. ^ Roger S. Wieck et al., The Hours of Henry VIII, George Braziller/The Morgan Library & Museum

External links[edit]