The Books of Kell, Armagh and Durrow

I went to Dublin in half temrn ans I visited Trinity college.  In the old library there were the book of Kells(hereafter known as BOK), the book of Armagh (BOA) and the Book of Durrow (BOD).

The BOD was written c.700 AD.  It is a copy of the Latin gospels and is decorated with the evangelists.  It has an elaborate opening page for each gospelier( this is the term I denote to a gospel writer-Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).  The opening page for each gospelier bears their symbol- Matthew ,the man; Luke, the calf; Mark the eagle and John, the lion.  However traditionally John and Luke were opposite symbols but they seem to have switched!  It is the oldest extant complete gospel book written in the Insular script (the block capitals of the day).  Some pages have been inserted in the wrong place and rebinding has considerably reduced the page size.  There are 7 carpet pages which are pages of geometric patterns before the gospels.  There are 6, but Matthew doesn’t have one, so it is thought that maybe there were originally 7 and one was lost.  The BOD was thought to have been written in the Scottish Hebrides on the isle of Iona, or in Northumbria.  Iona was the site of an important monastry founded in 563 AD by the monk Columba who was exiled from Ireland for his part in the battle of Cul Dreimhne. No, I don’t know how to pronounce that either but if you do, then can you leave a comment telling me how?! Thanks!

The BOA is the complete new testament in Latin and is the only copy to have survived the medieval period.  I am not sure about that fact!  Maybe it was just in Ireland? As well as containing the new testament, it also contains the biography of St Martin of Tours by a man named Sulpicius Severus.  Any relation to Severus Snape?  No offence Sulpicius Severus, but that biography is kinda stalkerish!  As well a a stalkerish biography it also contains a number of texts relating to St Patrick. The BOA is written in gothic script.  It is quite small compared to the BOK and can easily slip into a pocket. It is more rough and ready than the BOK.

The BOK is actually 4 books, presumably one for eeach gospelier.  It was written on calf-skin, or vellum.  185 calves were needed to write the BOK.  It is thought that 4 scribes wrote BOK in gothic script and a separate artist did all the beautiful decoration in pens made from reeds.  The scribes used pens made from swan or goose feathers.  BOK is decorated in Celtic decoration, using vegetal patterns and animal ornament.  Ghe snake appears a lot because it is the symbol of reincarnation when the snake is ‘reborn’ after shedding its skin.  However it is also the symbol for the fall of man because a snake tempted Eve in the garden of Eden. BOK was written in c.800AD and is famous because it is very old, beautifully decorated and very intricate.ImageThis is a photo of the Book of Kells!


The Black Death in Britain- 1348-1351

Hi, welcome to my first proper blog post!  Thank you so much for visiting historybushel! 🙂

The Black Death was an outbreak of the bubonic plague that ripped Europe to shreds! It started in Asia and went to Turkey.  It was then carried via fleas who leapt onto cargoes of grain that were put on ships.  The fleas then travelled to Europe.  When it reached Italy it raced across mainland Europe and soon reached Melton Regis, England in 1348.

People didn’t know how it actually spread, but a common belief was that it was a punishment from God for the sins they had committed. Other people believed that it was spread through a black cloud called miasma.  Some other people thought that it was caused by bad smells, so people breathed in sweet smells as a preventive. However now we know how it actually spread: through fleas who drank rat’s blood(that contained plague germs stupid rats!), and killed the rats.(Poor rats.) The fleas then bit humans and infected them.(Poor humans.)

You knew when you got the black death because painful swellings, or buboes(Bubonic plague!) would develop on the neck, underarms and groin a few days after being bitten.  On the second day after developing the buboes, the victim had a fever and vomited.  Then, on the third day, the victim had red splotches over his/her body caused by internal bleeding.  Finally on day 4, the disease attacked the nervous system and the victim had very painful spasms.  They then died painfully.  The BD affected the younger and older members of the population, i.e the weaker ones, first.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There was some hope of survival though!  If the buboes burst then the victim could, potentially survive.  A strange example of a cure was putting a toad on the swelling until the toad burst.(It wasn’t the toad that was meant to burst, silly people, it was the swelling!)  I doubt this worked because the toad may have infected the swelling even more. The people who thought the plague had come from God went around whipping themselves and others.  They were named flagellants.

Half the population of Britain was wiped out in the BD, and the peasants who survived demanded payment from the Lords for their labour as there was less of them and there was lots of work.  The Lords had to pay them, otherwise who would harvest the crops?  A law was passed in 1351 stating that no peasant could be payed more money than he was before the plague.

Whole villages were wiped out because of the Black Death.  There were not enough people to work on the land.

The BD was a terrible plague that killed many people throughout Europe.

Thank You for reading! (If you have skipped ahead to the end then good thinking but the info is inbetween the start and the end!)  Please like my blog if you liked it ! 🙂 😛