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Department of History of Art


Supervisor: Dr Laura Slater

PhD Title: Model King or Tyrant?: Alexander the Great in Manuscript Illumination and the Representation of Kingship in Plantagenet England (1154-1485)



Blanche completed an MPhil at the University of Cambridge in 2022, funded by Trinity College, and her dissertation on the Trinity College MS O.9.34 earned the Highest Distinction Award. She also completed an MA in History of Art and English Literature at the University of Lausanne in 2023. Her thesis focused on music in the Middle English poem Sir Orfeo. Blanche is now a funded PhD candidate in the Department of History of Art at Cambridge and a Harding Distinguished Postgraduate scholar.


Research overview

This PhD focuses on Alexander the Great in manuscript illumination and its ties to the representation of kingship in Plantagenet England. Alexander was praised as the ideal king, the paragon of chivalry, or condemned as a tyrant of excessive authority, guilty of hubris. By analysing changes and continuities in the representation of Alexander across this period Blanche aims to demonstrate illuminations’ active participation in a manuscript’s discourse, contribute to the growing field of research on the importance of Alexander during the Middle Ages, and enrich our knowledge of the representation of kingship in Plantagenet England.

While anchoring her analysis within considerations of manuscript provenance and text-image relationships, Blanche considers how manuscript illuminations borrow from diverse visual references and codes of representation that audiences could have recognised and interpreted meaningfully. The audience considered in Blanche’s research encompasses those from the time of the manuscript’s production up to the late fifteenth century. As part of her exploration of Alexander the Great and kingship, Blanche is interested in England’s place within a wider visual, intellectual and political culture, encompassing the Continent as well as the Mediterranean world.

PhD Student