Defensor of Liguge, Book of Sparks
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Defensor, a monk at Liguge, near Poitiers, wrote 'Book of Sparks' (Liber Scintillarum) sometime between 632 and about 750. The 'sparks' are short quotations from the Bible and writings of church fathers. He wrote it for monks and nuns to read as part of their personal devotion. As in this early 11th-century manuscript, it is usually accompanied by writings on contemplation or spiritual struggle and biblical excerpts. The canons, priests and monks of Christ Church, Canterbury, would have studied it often and perhaps used it in composing sermons. In the mid-11th century, an Old English translation (a continuous gloss) was written between its lines.
On this page, the mid-11th century gloss was squeezed between the lines, indicating that a continuous gloss was not originally planned for. The grime on the page witnesses the heavy use this manuscript saw over centuries. In the left margin, beside the 6th line, someone wrote a note using drypoint (indenting the surface with an inkless stylus), a common way of making study notes. At some point the manuscript was rebound and its pages brutally trimmed, as can be seen here. The red writing in mid-lines highlights Defensor's references to his sources, which he included to enhance his work's authority.