Grimbald Gospels


This luxury gospel-book was made by Eadwig Basan, a monk of Christ Church, Canterbury. Full-page images of the evangelists appear before three of the Gospels, and each is accompanied by their symbol: the man for Matthew, the lion for Mark, the ox for Luke and the eagle for John. This is derived from Ezekiel’s vision of the four living creatures with four faces (Ezekiel 1. 5–11), and from John’s vision of the four living creatures before the throne (Revelation 4. 6–8).

The beginning of the text of the Gospel of Matthew was written entirely in gold capital letters. Gold initials are found throughout the text, and silver was also used to decorate the elaborate borders of some images, but this has now tarnished to black.

This manuscript is named the Grimbald Gospels after a copy of a letter that was added to the volume in the late 11th century. The letter was sent by Fulk, archbishop of Reims (d. 900), to King Alfred of Wessex, recommending to him the monk Grimbald of Saint-Bertin. According to tradition, Grimbald was a co-founder of the New Minster, Winchester. The letter may indicate that this book was then in Winchester.

Full title:
Gospels (The 'Grimbald Gospels'); a copy of a letter from Fulco, Archbishop of Reims, to King Alfred concerning Grimbald
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Add MS 34890

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