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Pharaoh’s Army in the
‘Crossing of the Red Sea’, Exultet Roll from Monte Cassino, Campania, c.1075-1080
British Library Additional Manuscript 30337.
Add MS 30337
Date c 1075-c 1080
Title Exultet (the Monte Cassino Exultet Roll)
The roll includes the Exultet, a hymn sung by a deacon during the consecration of the Paschal candle, during the Easter Vigil, incipit: 'Exultet iam angelica turba coelorum'.
Decoration: 13 unframed miniatures in colours and gold illustrating the text of the Exultet.
2 initials in colours and gold.
The miniatures are reversed in order to be seen when the roll was displayed over the front of the ambo (or pulpit) during the service.
The subjects of the miniatures are:
Membrane 1: Christ enthroned between two angels.
Membrane 2: Large initial ‘E’(xultet); Four angels (‘Angelica turba celorum’).
Membrane 3: The personification of Ecclesia with a group of clerics on her right and a group of lay people on her left ('Letetur et mater Ecclesia'); Tellus, the personification of ‘Mother Earth’ with a cow and a serpent suckling her breast ('Gaudeat et tellus').
Membrane 4: A deacon reading and unrolling the Exultet roll from the ambo and the Paschal candle being lighted (‘Fratres karissimi’).
Membrane 5: Initial ‘V’ of ‘Vere dignum’.
Membrane 6: The Crucifixion.
Membrane 7: The Crossing of the Red Sea; the Harrowing of Hell.
Membrane 8: Adam and Eve ('O certe necessarium Ade peccatum'); the Noli me tangere.
Membrane 9: The Paschal candle being censed inside the church (‘Sacrificium vespertinum’).
Membrane 10: Bees gathering nectar; a bee-keeper gathering wax for the candle.
Membrane 11: Virgin enthroned, with two assisting figures excised on either side; the Consecration of the candle (‘Cereus iste’).
(No miniature on Membrane 12).
Source: British Library Add MS 30337
Referenced as figure 678 in Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era, 1050-1350, Western Europe and the Crusader States by David Nicolle.
678A-C ‘Pharaoh’s army’, Exultet Roll from Monte Cassino, Campania, c.1075
(British Library, Ms. Add. 30337, London, England)
These short-sleeved lamellar cuirasses are probably conventional, although they may still have been used in some areas of Byzantium.
The helmets are conical, some having nasals and most having decorative plumes or feathers.
Three background figures (A) have coifs or aventails, two of which cover the lower part of the wearer’s face.
One spear with a typically Western European gonfanon is shown (A) while both large round (A and C) and kite-shaped (A and B) shields appear.
It is worth noting that the visible saddles seem to be of the Western European type, with raised cantle and pommel.
Back to the full image of ‘Crossing of the Red Sea’, Exultet Roll from Monte Cassino, Campania, Italy, c.1075-1080. British Library Add MS 30337.