"As anyone who is familiar with 13th and 14th century illuminated manuscripts can attest, images of armed knights fighting snails are common, especially in marginalia. But the ubiquity of these depictions doesn’t make them any less strange, and we had a long discussion about what such pictures might mean."
Weird, funny, surreal, fun, silly, bawdy, macabre, cool and strangely beautiful. The Discarded Image is a Tumblr collection of Medieval illustrations gleaned from various illuminated manuscripts, bestiaries, books describing the cosmology of the Middle Ages, ordered and maintained by a celestial hierarchy. The Discarded Image is also the name of CS Lewis' last book, about the fascinating Medieval mindset and world picture. [more inside]
The beautiful library of the Abbey of St. Gall in Switzerland contains over 2000 manuscripts, including hundreds from the Abbey's glory days of the 9th and 10th centuries. The library is open to the public and to scholars, and the Codices Electronici Sangallenses project is making selected codices - 436 so far - available online.
The manuscripts of David Kaufmann, Jewish scholar extraordinaire. Wonderful illuminations, inventive typography and even a little bit of naughtiness.
The University of South Carolina recently completed an ambitious survey of all medieval texts in the state for an exhibit at the university library. All the works were scanned and archived electronically. However, not only can you view the texts online, you can hear the university's chorus sing (MP3) the musical manuscripts. [more inside]
Illuminated manuscripts are truly a joy to behold. And there are a remarkable number of them available on the web for your viewing pleasure. The most famous illuminated MS is the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. For galleries with multiple images, try the resources at DScriptorium, Web Gallery of Art, and the Leaves of Gold exhibition. Elyse Boucher's page is a work-in-progress detailing the history and methods of illuminating books, with both images and secondary sources; see also Sue Wood's Art and Books page.