University of Leicester
2010murphymamphil.pdf (57.34 MB)

The Representation of Angels and Angelic Orders from the Late Middle Ages Through the Reformation c.1450 -c.1650

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posted on 2012-03-16, 14:16 authored by Mary Agnes Murphy
The field of angelology is vast. This thesis investigates the artistic representations of angels from the Late Middle Ages through the Reformation, from c.1450 to c.1650. This is achieved by a careful selection of material which demonstrates how the angelic form mutated in response to the religious and political changes experienced in England during this time. Thus, attention has been focussed on three main areas that form the components of this study: Chapter one investigates the integral role that angels played in the late-medieval Catholic belief system, drawing on primary and secondary literature to demonstrate how scholars viewed angels and specifically, how they categorised and differentiated the various orders of angels. Chapter two examines four case studies of representations of the angelic hierarchy at a local and national level, in different media, in order to evaluate how the doctrine surveyed in chapter one was manifested in artistic practice, with special attention to how angels were depicted on the eve of the Reformation. Chapter three examines the Reformation in terms of angelology, with particular regard to the European and English reformers’ views on the artistic representation of these celestial creatures, from the beginnings of religious change to the era of the Commonwealth. The hypothesis that angels were not represented on tomb monuments in the Elizabethan period is tested, by investigating the counties of Leicestershire and Rutland, looking at the monuments of the period c. 1550-c.1650. This chapter also addresses how the English responded to the call of the iconoclasts and investigates whether angels were treated in the same conceptual and ideological category as the saints, or if they managed to survive. I shall contend that despite the changes to Christianity in England, during the period of concern for this study, angels continued to be part of the faith as demonstrated by their continued portrayal in art and sculpture.



Lindley, Phillip

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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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