Gospels, in Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment

[France and England, 14th century]


 14th Century Gospels
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This volume is a pocket-size copy of the gospels, in much larger script and therefore much more easily legible than typical 13th-century Bibles (cf. MSS. 1 and 9). The decoration is mostly restrained, but a few pages have a pen-drawn dragon or hybrid human-animal creature drawn in the margin. The volume itself is a sort of hybrid: it was written in France around 1300 in black ink in a large, formal, script suitable for liturgical and library books, except for the last few pages which were written in England a generation or so later, in a cursive script in brown ink.

At the end of the text of the Four Gospels an English scribe added the text of the Exultet, or Easter proclamation, a hymn sung by the deacon during the Easter vigil: this therefore suggests that the book may have been owned by a priest and used liturgically.

Text kindly provided, especially for this exhibition, by Peter Kidd