Wars of the Lacedamonians, in the Tollemache Orosius
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Named the Tollemache Orosius for its former owners, this manuscript presents Orosius's 'History' in an Old English translation. In the early 5th century, Orosius wrote the first Christian world history, a medieval best-seller. The Old English translation, traditionally attributed to Alfred the Great, was probably done in the 9th century. Whether or not he was the translator, the Tollemache Orosius was probably made at Winchester within a few decades of his death. Here Orosius tells of the brutal wars between the Lacedamonians of Asia Minor, the Persians and the Greeks to support his argument against the pagans who claimed that atrocities had increased after the Roman Empire converted to Christianity.
The beginning of Chapter 1 of Section 3 is marked by a '7' symbol in the margin as well as the large first letter E, formed by fanciful but violent beasts who arise from vines and leaves, in typical early 10th-century Winchester style. The leather thongs attached to the front of the 15th-century cover, visible here, have metal catches to fasten to nails on the back.