The Ragyndrudis Codex—also known as the Codex Bonifatianus II—is one of three eighth-century tomes associated with Saint Boniface, an English monk who was martyred during his missionary work to convert the Friesians. It owes its nickname to a name recorded in a colophon as being responsible for the book's creation (fol. 2v). It contains a collection of fourteen Latin exegetical and dogmatic texts.
The manuscript has three illuminated pages, each marking the beginning of a text. The three pages are framed with geometric patterns in red and yellow resembling contemporary metalwork. Other sections start with an enlarged, sometimes zoomorphic initial. The text is written in a neat Luxeuil script, indicating that the manuscript was likely produced at either the monastery at Luxeuil or Corbie. Like its companion manuscripts, it preserves its original binding, although greatly damaged.
A Collection of Texts for Missionaries
The manuscript contains texts by various early Christian authors, including Ambrose of Milan, Jerome, and Isidore of Seville. These would have served as useful additions to scripture, especially in establishing new churches and monasteries.
Early English Christianity and the Continent
The Ragyndrudis Codex testifies to the strong presence of Insular Christians in the conversion of northern Europe. The manuscript was produced in northern France, either at Luxeuil, founded by the Irish missionary Saint Columbanus, or Corbie, a daughter foundation of Luxeuil. The style of decoration combines the enlarged initials and display scripts used in Insular manuscripts with the continental European script. One of its texts is Isidore's Synonyma, often appearing in manuscripts from continental foundations established by missionaries from the British Isles.
Legendary Links to Saint Boniface
The book is one of three believed to have been in the possession of Saint Boniface during his mission to convert the Friesians in 754. Boniface was born in southeastern England and was instrumental in spreading Christianity from the British Isles into Merovingian Europe. He was killed, along with his companions, during his missionary work, and the legend of his martyrdom recounts how he protected himself by holding a Gospel book over his head. The cuts and slashes on the original cover of this manuscript have been connected to this event, although the codex is not a Gospel book, and it became a contact relic for the saint.
An Original Binding
The volume has two bindings. The outer binding of full brown leather on boards dates from the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century. Blind tooled arabesque bands with vegetal motifs decorate the perimeter of the front and back covers. Contemporary endpapers are printed with quatrefoil red flowers in a red grid with secondary green accents. The inner binding is the original from the eighth century and is in poor condition. The full red leather covering is pierced with openwork designs resembling Merovingian metalwork showing the underlying parchment layer that was colored or gilded. The boards have long slashes and cuts across their surfaces with the front cover missing a portion of the upper corner.