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Homily on the Ten Commandments, in 'The Royal Books of Virtues and Vices'

Homily on the Ten Commandments, in 'The Royal Books of Virtues and Vices'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1300

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Cleopatra A V

Item number: f. 17r

Length: 17.3

Width: 11.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

Often known as 'Le Somme le Roy', the homilies in this manuscript were compiled at the request of King Philip III ('the Bold') of France by a Dominican friar, Lorens d'Orleans, in 1279. Lorens assembled pre-existing writings from a number of manuscripts on subjects such as the ten commandments, articles of faith, Book of Revelations, Creed, seven deadly sins, seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and seven cardinal virtues. It is interesting that this copy of it belonged to the cloister of St Augustine in Canterbury because an English translation called 'The Ayenbite of Inwyt' ('The Again-Biting of Inner Wit', meaning remorse of conscience) which the monk Dan Michel of Northgate, Kent, started was finished there in 1340.

This page has the start of the homily on the ten commandments, signalled by the large, decorated first letter, which was insensitively cropped when the manuscript was rebound and trimmed--the sad fate of a good portion of medieval book decoration. The man responsible for the rebinding may have been Robert Cotton, the manuscript's 16th-century owner, who inscribed his name conspicuously in the lower margin.

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