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Decorated Initials, In A Bible f.166r

Decorated Initials, In A Bible f.166r

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1250

Shelfmark: Harley MS 2818

Item number: f.166r

Length: 15.1

Width: 10.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

This is a 'pocket Bible', typical of the 13th century. They were produced in huge numbers especially in Paris, but also in England, and in Italy, where this one was illuminated. In the 12th century Bibles were typically written as sets of large volumes, but in the early 13th century the text and the order of the books was standardised, and a very small-scale format was established. It has been persuasively argued that one of the reasons for this development was the existence of the mendicant orders, which needed small, portable books. This manuscript has ownership inscriptions of the Franciscan convent at Walsingham, between Fakenham and Wells-next-the-Sea, in Norfolk. In a Bible such as this, certain books are given enlarged initials, usually Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament; Matthew, the first book of the New Testament; and Psalms, probably the most frequently read text in medieval religious practice. On this page are the initials 'P' to the prologue to Psalms, and 'B' to Psalm 1.

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