A metal bookmark with a design inspired by the Royal Gold Cup, one of the British Museum's most precious objects in the medieval collections.
The cup is made from solid gold and decorated with translucent enamels which depict scenes of the martyrdom of St. Agnes, who refused the advances of the pagan Procopius and was subsequently imprisoned. Although they were reconciled after Agnes miraculously raised Procopius from the dead, she was accused of witchcraft and condemned to burn. When the flames refused to burn her, Agnes was put to death by a spear.
The story decorates the surfaces of the Royal Gold Cup, commissioned by the French prince, Jean duc de Berry between about 1370-80, as a gift to Charles V of France. It was passed down through royal lines until it disappeared into obscurity in 17th century Spain.
During the Hundred Years War, it came into possession of John, Duke of Bedford, and in the 16th century it was recorded in the household of Henry VIII. It remained in English Royal hands until James I presented it to the Spanish ambassador who negotiated peace between Spain and England in 1604.