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Under the leadership of abbot Richard of Fourneaux (r. 1101–1131), a student of St Anselm (d. 1109) and author of numerous biblical commentaries, the Benedictine abbey of St Pierre in Préaux in Normandy produced manuscripts in a distinctive style. This luxury copy of the Four Gospels is the most ambitious work produced there, as is apparent from the illuminated canon tables.

The first canon table lists references to pages contained in each of the Four Gospels. Seven groups of five passages identified by Roman numerals are divided by horizontal lines and presented in four columns. Known as Ammonian sections, these references were devised by the philosopher Ammonius of Alexandria in the third century. Each column is headed by the name of the relevant Evangelist (Math[eu]s), Marcus, Lucas and Joh[ann]es). The columns are framed and divided by micro-architectural elements. The architecture has been transformed to a riot of decoration, with lush foliage wrapped around the columns, elaborated capitals, and twisted winged creatures embedded in the design.

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

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