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Zoomorphic Initial, In Pseudo-Isidore's 'Papal Decrees' f.45r

Zoomorphic Initial, In Pseudo-Isidore's 'Papal Decrees' f.45r

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1125

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Claudius E V

Item number: f.45r

Length: 43

Width: 32

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.

The letter 'Z' is relatively uncommon in Latin, as in English, but the artist of this initial has found an amusing way of forming the shape of the letter from two fish and a dragon.

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