English en


Some of the earliest books to survive from Anglo-Saxon England are copies of the first four books of the New Testament, the Four Gospels of Sts Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In the most elaborately decorated manuscripts, each Gospel is prefaced by a full-page image of its author, or the symbol that came to be associated with each Evangelist.

The style of painting in the decorated Otho-Corpus Gospels is bold, flat and stylised, and often includes geometric patterns. This book is now in two main parts. The Gospels of Sts Matthew and Mark were in the collection created by the great antiquary Sir Robert Cotton (d. 1631), now in the British Library, while the Gospels of Sts Luke and John are in Cambridge (Corpus Christi College, MS 197b) (two other leaves are now in BL, Royal 7 C XII). Sadly, the Cotton portion of the manuscript was damaged in a fire in 1731, resulting in some shrinking of the pages.

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