Cissanthemos is a medieval script font based on the hand of the early ninth-century scribe of the Royal Bible, British Library MS Royal 1 E VI. This magnificent but fragmentary manuscript was probably written at the abbey of St Augustine’s, Canterbury. At the dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII it came into the hands of John Lumley, First (and only) Baron Lumley, a book collector. After Lumley died childless in 1609, the book passed to the royal family. King George II donated it to the British Museum in 1757.
The script employed by the scribe of the Royal Bible is “insular hybrid minuscule,” a formal hand used for important ecclesiastical books. The volume also employs a variety of capitals for several purposes—to begin sentences, for titles, and for what are now called “drop caps.” Accordingly, Cissanthemos has three distinct styles of capitals, selectable by OpenType features.