A thirteenth-century manuscript telling the legendary story of the quest for the Holy Grail by King Arthur’s knights is one of the star attractions of a new exhibition in Cambridge focusing on the enormous cultural and historic impact of the French language upon life in England, Europe, the Middle East and beyond.
The Holy Grail was said to be the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper – ‘Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei …’ (‘For this is the chalice of my blood’) – and which was traditionally thought to have been used to collect his blood during the Crucifixion. The vessel was supposedly subsequently brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple who had donated his own tomb to Christ. A fifteenth-century window depicting an angel holding the chalice survives at the parish church of St John in Glastonbury.
‘The Moving Word: French Medieval Manuscripts in Cambridge’ runs from 22 January to 17 April 2014, in the Milstein Exhibition Centre, Monday to Friday 09.00–18.00, Saturday 09.00–16.30 (Sunday closed). Admission free. For further information, visit the exhibition website, or read about it on the Cambridge University website.