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Historiated initial from Choir Books: Marlay cutting Fr. 16a

An image of Cutting (manuscript)

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Object information


Historiated initial from Choir Books


MS Marlay Cutting Fr. 16a

One of two historiated initials

This cutting is a historiated initial ‘S’ from a large choir book depicting Louis XII, in his coronation robe, healing sufferers of scrofula. French and English kings were thought to be able to cure this particular ailment through their Royal Touch. The practice served to further justify their rule as lawful and divinely ordained.

Cuttings, that is, fragments from medieval manuscripts, were easier to sell than entire books. It therefore became common practice to cut out folios or details from pages and sell them as individual, miniature works of art. The size of this initial suggests that the parent manuscript from which it was cut was on a very large, imposing scale.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, 168 x 183 mm, reverse obscured by paper mount, with letter forms and red four-line musical staves partially visible.

Historiated initials in blue, ornamented in white, on gold ground with blue, orange and green scrolling vine motifs in the four corners: S, Louis XII, dressed in his coronation robe, accompanied by a bishop and cardinal, extends his healing touch to people suffering from scrofula.


History note: Commissioned by King Louis XII of France (1498-1515) and his consort, Anne of Brittany (1477-1514); Charles Brinsley Marlay (1831-1912); his bequest, 1912.

Legal notes

Bequeathed by Charles Brinsley Marlay

Place(s) associated

  • Paris ⪼ North ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1912) by Marlay, Charles Brinsley


16th century
Production date: circa AD/CE 1500

People, subjects and objects depicted

Materials used in production


Components of the work

Support: composed of parchment Leaf: Height 168 mm Width 183 mm

Techniques used in production

Illuminated manuscript

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: Marlay cutting Fr. 16a
Primary reference Number: 209504
Project ID: 1358
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Tuesday 1 November 2016 Updated: Monday 9 August 2021 Last processed: Monday 9 August 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Manuscripts and Printed Books

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2020) "Cutting (manuscript)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2021-12-05 14:01:05

Citation for Wikipedia

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{{cite web|url=|title=Cutting (manuscript)|author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2021-12-05 14:01:05|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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<div class="text-center my-3"> <figure class="figure"> <img src="" alt="Historiated initial from Choir Books" class="img-fluid" /> <figcaption class="figure-caption text-info">Historiated initial from Choir Books</figcaption> </figure> </div>

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