Manuscripts & Rubrics

Folio 5v from Harley MS 4425

We’ll look at miniatures in other sections, but for now, let’s take a look at the decorated initials on an early leaf in Harley MS 4425, folio 5v. The leaves between and including folios 3 and 6 have many rubrics (headings written in red ink), some of which you can see on 5v here.

The decorated initials that begin each stanza grow into the margins, almost like doodles: some initials are red and blue, others yellow and black. Unfortunately, their color nor intricacy do not come through well in the image, so be sure to zoom in to see the colors on The British Library website. Each stanza has been placed inside of spaces drawn with a straightedge to create uniform space between the lines and stanzas, and the spaces between stanzas contain rubrics. Note how deliberately separate the spacing is on the page as compared to earlier manuscripts, such as the bestiary we looked at elsewhere.