The historiated initial E at the beginning of Psalm 80 shows King David, depicted as usual wearing his crown and playing a musical instrument; a harp, psaltery or cithara. This gives a direct reference to the following text, and could serve as a prompt for the location and reading of the passage. The instrument he is playing is interestingly medieval as compared with the simple lyre with which he is frequently depicted.
While the Luttrell Psalter is famed for its little genre scenes of rural English life in the marginalia, this page is one from another set, containing some truly bizarre hybrid figures with human and animal characteristics. It is difficult to relate them to the text, but they do make each page strikingly recognisable.
These hybrid creatures with sad eyed human faces seem to have come out of a bad nightmare; not really very much like the jolly drolleries and animal antics found so often in 14th century marginalia. It is tempting to see the fiddle as a representation of a genuine medieval instrument, but that leaves some worries about the musician. Anyway, I note the fiddle has three strings and only two tuning pegs, so perhaps it is a trifle surreal as well.
The lower margin combines human, strange animal and vegetation imagery. But this is supposed to be a paleography exercise, OK? Let's get on with it.
Luttrell Psalter (British Library, add. ms. 42130, f.149r), c.1340. By permission of the British Library. Images are made available by the British Library under a Creative Commons licence.

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