In two illustrated manuscripts, Plate 71, and Plate 74, from the British Library and the Bodleian Library, respectively, we see a lot of symbolism regarding death. Plate 71’s prominent picture is of Death, represented as a skeleton with a scythe, stands triumphantly in a beautifully constructed palace.
In contrast, Plate 74 contains a scene depicting a burial, full of somber looking people dressed in black, with two Priests in the center. The Marginalia in 74 works against the predominant vibe of 71, in that 74’s Marginalia is just eight skulls, with one skull turned at a grotesque angle, and some without jaws. Plate 71’s Marginalia also contains skulls, but they are interwoven with serpents, and although the imagery is still deathlike, it does not feel as somber.
An interesting question, or idea to look at, is what did these two specific manuscripts believe about death, and how did their views, positive (or accepting) or Negative, inform and affect their interpretation of life and death within the manuscript? While both Plates look to discuss death, they do so in different ways, and incorporate skulls as the pivotal symbol that everyone at this time period could easily understand as Death. What I find most interesting is the triumphal look of Death in 71. Even though Death may have triumphed over the world, or an empire, it seems like 71 is making the case that Death is a necessity, and thus must be respected.