Zoomable: Letters of St Thomas Becket
<div><span style="font-size:16px;">Click link to view digitised Manuscript. </span></div><div><br></div> www.bl.uk The British Library MS Viewer
<div>Within a decade or two of Thomas Becket's martyrdom, the makers of this book gave a compilation of his letters the kind of luxury treatment associated with only the holiest or most high-end texts. </div>
<div>'Incipit' means 'begins' in Latin. It is often used to mark the openings of new texts. In this case, the text is a biography or 'Life' of St Thomas Becket. The letters painted alternately in green and red ink read, 'The Life of the most blessed martyr Thomas begins.' </div>
<div>The first letter of the main text, an initial 'P', is extravagantly decorated with blue, pink and green vine scrolls inhabited by peering quadrupeds. Two monstrous faces decorate the stem and bow of the initial. The top and bottom of the stem terminate in ribbon interlace. The whole initial, which looks like coloured wire laid over gold, is presented on a patterned background of dark pink quatrefoils with a gilded border. </div>
<div>The rest of the letters of the first word appear in the crook of the initial. Together they spell 'Predictus'. The final 'us', a common Latin word-ending, is abbreviated, shown as a comma-shape attached to the final 't'. </div>
<div>The remainder of the opening phrase is given beside and below the initial, broken up over 8 lines of decorative display script and one line of ink capitals. Vertical lines of 3 dots indicate word divisions. It reads, 'Predictus igitur beatissimus Thomas Londoniensis urbis indigena'. The opening translates as, 'The aforementioned most blessed Thomas, denizen of the city of London.' </div>

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