Large Initial


An initial L occupies one column and runs the full height of the page for the first word (Liber) of the first gospel, Matthew (f. 254r). It is followed by the first thirteen verses of the gospel in red capital letters, the first letter of each verse in green.

The initial L is red edged with dark red decorated with six spirals on a gold background. The spirals are alternately blue and green edged with black on one side and white on the other. Stylised flowers and leaves emerge from the centre of each spiral, and weaving in and out of five of the spirals are small two- or four-legged animals inhabiting the initial.

The visual effect of the page is due to the circular movement of the spirals on the left contrasted with the strong vertical and horizontal movements in the panel of letters on the right. Spirals like these occur in many other bible initials in the Codex Gigas, but this is the first initial in the manuscript to use gold.