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Decorated Initial At The Start Of The Account Of Jesus' Life, In The Four Gospels

Decorated Initial At The Start Of The Account Of Jesus' Life, In The Four Gospels

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 930

Shelfmark: Royal MS 1 A.xviii

Item number: f.13r

Length: 25.5

Width: 17.1

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

This manuscript was written by a Continental scribe, probably in France. A flyleaf inscription, probably written in the 16th century but imitating 11th-century English script, is perhaps a copy of a now-lost inscription, that states that the book was given by King Aethelstan (reigned 927-939) to St Augustine's abbey, Canterbury. If the inscription is to be believed, this manuscript represents an example of foreign book-decoration that native artists could have seen and assimilated into their own work. The Gospel of Matthew begins (verses 1-17) with an account of the ancestors of Christ (Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob, Jacob begat Judas, and so on). Verse 18 moves on to the life of Christ himself, marked here with a large ornamental letter 'X' (Chi, the first letter of Christ's name in the Greek alphabet).

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