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Ownership Inscription and Gloss In Defensor, Book of Sparks

Ownership Inscription and Gloss In Defensor, Book of Sparks

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1015

Shelfmark: Royal MS 7 C.iv

Item number: f.1r

Length: 31

Width: 19

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

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.

The book begins with the first chapter of the Book of Sparks: Defensor's preface is missing from this manuscript. The mid-11th century gloss can be seen between the lines. Some of the Old English words resemble modern English: godspelle (gospel), nan mann (no man). In the upper left margin, an even older gloss (early 11th century) translates the title. Beside it, a 16th-century inscription gives the title in latin, and in the left margin, a 13th-century inscription identifies it as belonging to Christ Church priory, Canterbury ("de claustro cristi cantuarie"). Each chapter begins with its first words written in large capital letters, their forms ultimately based on styles seen in ancient Roman inscriptions. A tear in the vellum was repaired probably when the manuscript was rebound before the 20th century and the pages were quite brutally trimmed.

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