Guide Letters, in 'History of the Lombards' by Paul the Deacon, from a Collection of Natural Science and Historical Writings
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
In the middle ages, natural science included the physical world, planets, stars and heavens. It could include descriptions of exotic peoples and distant regions, lore on animals and astrological treatises. A component of the knowledge maintained and studied by monks, natural science treatises represent a significant subject category in their libraries. This manuscript contains writings on the heavens--often with a mythological spin--and historical material on foreign peoples. It belonged to the priory of Rochester cathedral.
The manuscript also contains Paul the Deacon's 'History of the Lombards'. Written in the late 8th century, it is an important account of one of the early medieval Germanic kingdoms. Like most other early medieval histories, it combines a factual narrative with ancient myths and stories of popular traditions. This page has the end of the list of chapters for Book 6, followed by the beginning of Book 6 (at the large 'C'). Each section begins with a large coloured letter, added after the main text had been copied. In the left margin, the small letters 'c' and 'q' are guide letters, written to aid the rubricator or specialised painter who created the coloured letters. In the lower margin, the roman numeral 'VIII' is a mistake: it should have been 'VI', for Book VI.