Initial N: James I of Aragon Overseeing a Court of Law
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Spanish, about 1290 - 1310
Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment
14 3/8 x 9 7/16 in.

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This large initial N introduces the section of King James's law code that warns judges not to accept bribes or to be influenced by hearsay; their decisions should be based on the facts of each case alone. A column divides the interior of the initial into two scenes, each with its own distinctly colored and patterned background. On the left the king, who is slightly larger than the other figures, gestures as if he were watching over the court of law depicted on the right to ensure that its proceedings are carried out correctly. The impressive sword he holds affirms the authority of his laws while the presence of one of his knights threatens punishment to lawbreakers. Across the space and facing him, two lawyers with their clients behind stand before a judge arguing a case. Scrolls like the ones held by the lawyers in this scene were sometimes used to signify the spoken word in medieval art. In the space below, additional lawyers counsel two women.

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