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Wandalgarius’ Letters of the Law: Figural Initials and Book Culture in the Late Eighth Century

Beatrice Kitzinger

Published online:

12 Sep 2021



Long sidelined by art historians, the Wandalgarius Codex is a compendium of legal texts dated to 793 that represents an early venture in a trend associated with the 790s: populating initial letters with lively figures. This article centers the Wandalgarius Codex in discussion of experimental book illumination in the late eighth century. The decade saw re-definition of the visual organization of books, the uses illumination could serve, and the ways manuscripts in many genres reflected and shaped projects of education and reform. The essay sets Wandalgarius’ approach to initials in conversation with the well-known Gellone Sacramentary, and investigates the scribe-draftsman’s characterization of his own work as an ambitious contemporary book-maker.

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