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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Gospel book

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This <i>Gospel book</i> was copied near the end of the 10th century or during the first half of the 11th. Its script, in the Perlschrift style, and its painted ornament are of the standard type for the period. It was not originally provided, or designed to be provided, with the liturgical apparatus of lection notes that helped the reader to identify the passages to be recited during church services for each day. This was inserted later, during the 14th or 15th century. Also in that period, two reused parchment leaves from an unfinished Acts and Epistles lectionary of much more recent production were bound in as endleaves (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(33);return false;'>ff. 1-2</a>). The manuscript was further expanded with a series of paper leaves bearing a summary listing of the lections to be read throughout the year (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(1);return false;'>ff. i-xii</a>).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The unfinished lection appearing last on the parchment folios was completed, probably in the 15th century, by one of the manuscript's owners, who also added brief hypotheses to the Gospels, describing their circumstances of production. This was Nikolaos Exarchopoulos, who recorded his ownership of the manuscript with a note on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(561);return false;'>f. 265r</a>. This informs us that he held the post of <i>protopapas</i> in the Venetian-ruled enclave of Coron in the Peloponnese, a title which he rendered in a more classical form as <i>protiereus</i>, and was also a notary. In the late Middle Ages the office of <i>protopapas</i>, or chief priest, was employed by the Venetians and other Catholic regimes which had conquered former Byzantine territories and replaced their Orthodox bishops with Catholic ones. It provided a supervisor of their own language and culture to oversee the Greek-speaking parish clergy, who were subject to the authority of the Catholic hierarchy but continued to minister to the native population according to the traditional Greek liturgy. During the 15th century, one Kyrillos Exarchopoulos (PLP 6066) is also known to have served as <i>protopapas</i> of Coron, indicating that this family had gained a persistent prominence in the town's Greek clerical establishment (Zerlentes, "Κορωναίων κλήρου", pp. 403-405).</p>

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