The emblem was one of the most distinctive of Renaissance art forms, lending itself to the concrete manifestation of the deeply-rooted Renaissance belief in the interrelationship between painting and poetry. Emblems, typically consisting of a combination of motto, picture, and poem, had a didactic as well as illustrative function, and were used to expound an ethical or moral truth. Henry Peacham's Manuscript Emblem Books is a collection of four emblem manuscripts by the noted seventeenth-century humanist scholar, Henry Peacham. The volume includes three books based on King James I's Basilicon Doron, and a fourth emblem book entitled Emblemata varia. The story of their genesis, composition, and dedications to King James and his eldest son, Prince Henry, offers some fascinating insights into the attempts by Peacham to obtain royal patronage. In keeping with previous volumes in the Index Emblematicus series, the text and picture of each emblem is presented and accompanied by on-page translation and analysis.
Alan R. Young is a professor in the Department of English, Acadia University. He is also the author of Emblematic Flag Devices of the English Civil Wars, 1642-1660 (UTP, 1995).