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Inhabited Initial, In Pseudo-Isidore's 'Papal Decrees' f.36v

Inhabited Initial, In Pseudo-Isidore's 'Papal Decrees' f.36v

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1125

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Claudius E V

Item number: f.36v

Length: 42.5

Width: 33

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

In the middle of the 9th century, an author calling himself Isidore composed and published a series of forged papal decrees. His forgeries remained undiscovered for centuries, because he was clever enough to incorporate them into a collection of genuine decrees. This manuscript contains a copy of that partly-genuine and partly-forged collection; it was probably started in France (or by a French scribe working in England), but the text was finished and the decoration was added at Christ Church, Canterbury. Imagery similar to that in this initial 'O' is found in carvings in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, and it has long been a matter of speculation whether the carvers were influenced by manuscripts like this, or whether artists of manuscripts were influences by the carvings.

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