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Preface for the Gospel of John, in a Breton Gospels

Preface for the Gospel of John, in a Breton Gospels

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 825

Shelfmark: Egerton MS 609

Item number: f.77v

Length: 32.6

Width: 23

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

From early days of Christianity in the British Isles and Ireland, links have existed between churches of western British regions, especially Wales and Cornwall, and Brittany. Migrations from Ireland and western Britain to Brittany brought manuscripts to communities of monks and nuns there, where their styles influenced Breton book decoration, and manuscripts travelled the other direction, from Brittany to Wales and Cornwall. Even after Charlemagne's programme of book production and monastic standardisation, Breton manuscripts retained their decorative style. In a manuscript such as this gospelbook, animal ornament, interlace and other designs resembling British and Irish decoration, coexist with a handwriting style (script) developed at Tours and earlier Continental decoration. In the early middle ages, each gospel was given a preface, as seen here for the Gospel of John. This page only barely resembles corresponding pages in earlier Irish and Anglo-Saxon gospel manuscripts. The capitals in which the title is written at the top and the decorated letter resemble Continental manuscript decoration, and the style of handwriting below is that developed at Tours.

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