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St Augustine (b. 354, d. 430) composed De civitate Dei (The City of God) in response to an attack on Rome by the Visigoth king Alaric I (r. 395–410) in 410. Roman pagans blamed the invasion on the Christian religion, protesting that the ancient gods refused to protect the city out of anger at the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 381. St Augustine’s text addressed the action of God in the world and in human history, and his collective writings laid the foundation for much of medieval Christian thought.

This manuscript copy of De civitate Dei was copied by the artist and scribe Antonius (fl. c. 1060) in the Norman abbey of Fécamp. The book was later owned by the French nobleman and collector Jean Bigot (b. 1588, d. 1645) and entered the French royal library in 1706.

This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.