Art historians classify illuminated manuscripts into their historic periods and types, including (but not limited to) Late Antique, Insular, Carolingian manuscripts, Ottonian manuscripts, Romanesque manuscripts, Gothic manuscripts, and Renaissance manuscripts. There are a few examples from later periods. The type of book that was most often heavily and richly illuminated, sometimes known as a "display book", varied between periods. In the first millennium, these were most likely to be Gospel Books, such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Book of Kells. The Romanesque period saw the creation of many huge illuminated complete Bibles – one in Sweden requires three librarians to lift it. Many Psalters were also heavily illuminated in both this and the Gothic period. Single cards or posters of vellum, leather or paper were in wider circulation with short stories or legends on them about the lives of saints, chivalry knights or other mythological figures, even criminal, social or miraculous occurrences; popular events much freely used by story tellers and itinerant actors to support their plays. Finally, the Book of Hours, very commonly the personal devotional book of a wealthy layperson, was often richly illuminated in the Gothic period. Other books, both liturgical and not, continued to be illuminated at all periods. The Byzantine world also continued to produce manuscripts in its own style, versions of which spread to other Orthodox and Eastern Christian areas. See Medieval art for other regions, periods and types. Reusing parchments by scraping the surface and reusing them was a common practice; the traces often left behind of the original text are known as palimpsests.
|Two sample pages from the Book of hours of Simone de Varie. See more|
The Gothic period, which generally saw an increase in the production of these beautiful artifacts, also saw more secular works such as chronicles and works of literature illuminated. Wealthy people began to build up personal libraries; Philip the Bold probably had the largest personal library of his time in the mid-15th century, is estimated to have had about 600 illuminated manuscripts, whilst a number of his friends and relations had several dozen.
Up to the twelfth century, most manuscripts were produced in monasteries in order to add to the library or after receiving a commission from a wealthy patron. Larger monasteries often contained separate areas for the monks who specialized in the production of manuscripts called a scriptorium. Within the walls of a scriptorium were individualized areas where a monk could sit and work on a manuscript without being disturbed by his fellow brethren. If no scriptorium was available, then “separate little rooms were assigned to book copying; they were situated in such a way that each scribe had to himself a window open to the cloister walk.” The separation of these monks from the rest of the cloister indicates just how revered these monks were within their society.
|A hand painted illuminated letter.|
First, the manuscript was “sent to the rubricator, who added (in red or other colors) the titles, headlines, the initials of chapters and sections, the notes and so on; and then – if the book was to be illustrated – it was sent to the illuminator.” In the case of manuscripts that were sold commercially, the writing would “undoubtedly have been discussed initially between the patron and the scribe (or the scribe’s agent,) but by the time that the written gathering were sent off to the illuminator there was no longer any scope for innovation.”
Books Posted On This Blog:
- Palaegraphy: Notes Upon the History of Writing and The Medieval Art of Illumination: "One hundred and ninety-nine copies of this book have been privately printed for my personal friends. This is copy no. 23." by Bernard Quaritch, 1819-1899
- A Short History of The Printing Press and of the Improvements in Printing Machinery from the Time of Gutenberg up to the Present Day by Robert Hoe, 1839-1909 (coming soon)
- Libraries in the Medieval and Renaissance Periods: The Rede Lecture Delivered June 13, 1894
- The Medieval Library by Ernest Cushing Richardson, Ph.D.
- Armenian illuminated manuscript
- Book of Job in Byzantine illuminated manuscripts
- Digital Scriptorium
- English Apocalypse manuscripts
- Gospel Book
- Historiated initial
- History of the book
- Lala de Cizique
- List of Hiberno-Saxon illuminated manuscripts
- List of illuminated manuscripts
- Manuscript culture
- Miniature (illuminated manuscript)
- Preservation of illuminated manuscripts
- Michael Sull
- International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting
- ChristianClassics Ethereal Library
- Danker, Frederick W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.
- Bibles for The World
- The Tertullian Project
- World English Bible
- The American Standard Version of the Holy Bible
- King James Version Revelation
- 28 Different Language translations of the Bible
- King James with Reference Tools
- Catholic Public Domain Version of The Bible
- Rapture Ready dedicated to the public domain
- Jewish Encyclopedia
"An illuminated manuscript is a book written and decorated completely by hand. Illuminated manuscripts were among the most precious objects produced in the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, primarily in monasteries and courts. Society's rulers--emperors, kings, dukes, cardinals, and bishops--commissioned the most splendid manuscripts."