The Luttrell Psalter is a mid-14th century English illuminated manuscript containing a large number of illustrations of everyday life in medieval England. In 2008 the Psalter was adapted into a 20 minute short film for The Collection Museum in Lincoln, drawing on 35 scenes from the manuscript. There is also a blog describing the making of the film. [more inside]
"If you love old books, you've come to the right place." Quill is a project by Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel and librarian/photographer Giulio Menna, detailing the laborious process of creating a manuscript before Gutenberg. Learn what a "quire" is, and the origin of the term "watermark." [more inside]
Manuscript Miniatures, Effigies & Brasses, Armour in Art, and Aquamanilia are four online databases of medieval art. Together they comprise some 19,506 images. [more inside]
The DMMapp (Digitized Medieval Manuscripts App) is a website that links to more than 300 libraries in the world. Each one of these contains medieval manuscripts that can be browsed for free. The DMMapp is a product of Sexy Codicology, an independent project focused on medieval illuminated manuscripts and social media. It maintains a great blog about medieval manuscripts, especially those that are available online.
The images vary widely, but they tend to be very strange and even disturbing—overt sexual acts, defecation, monsters, human-monster hybrids, animals acting like humans. There’s also examples of clergy behaving very badly, the sort of thing you would not expect to see in the margins of a sacred book.Kaitlin Manning of B & L Rootenberg Rare Books and Manuscripts talks to Collector's Weekly (previously) about the exquisitely detailed religious texts surrounded by all manner of illustrated commentary, known today as marginalia.
Here she discovered photographs of several of the absent illuminations, a partial ownership history, and a surprising fact: Christie’s had listed the book as “APPARENTLY COMPLETE.” In other words, the devotional had been taken apart—“broken” is the industry term—not a hundred years ago, but within the last three years. Its leaves had been stripped for individual sale by a modern-day dealer. “I was almost physically sick,” Treharne told me. “I could not believe what I had in front of me.”
The Geese Book is a lavishly illustrated manuscript of choral music, written for the church of St Lorenz, Nuremberg, between 1504 and 1510. It takes its name from a whimsical illustration showing a choir of geese with a wolf as their choirmaster. The manuscript has now been digitized, and many of the chants recorded, so that you can listen to the music (or even sing along) while following the text. Highlights include Christmas, with a fox and rooster, Ascension Day, with the famous choir of geese, All Saints' Day, with a dragon eating a baby, and the Mass for St Lawrence, with a musical bear.
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 Koran of Kansuh al-Ghuri is a 500 year old manuscript written on six foot square sheets of a silken, vellum-like fabric which is polished with smooth stones so that ink sits on the surface rather than being absorbed. It is considered "one of the finest, most lavishly illuminated and calligraphically significant Qur’an manuscripts from the late Mamluk period". Too fragile to be displayed, it is also missing two leaves that were discovered in Dublin's Chester Beatty Library in the 1970s. So a unified digitized edition is being prepared that will be freely available on the Internet for researchers. The process is being blogged here.
The manuscripts of David Kaufmann, Jewish scholar extraordinaire. Wonderful illuminations, inventive typography and even a little bit of naughtiness.
The Speculum theologiae is a beautiful medieval manuscript. Its diagrams demonstrate visually various aspects of the medieval worldview. The diagrams are explained and translated and most of them are expounded upon in a short essay. My favorite diagrams are The Cherub with Six Wings, The 10 Commandments, Plagues of Egypt and Abuses of the Impious and The Tree of Virtue and The Tree of Vices.
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]
Legend has it that the world's biggest bible is the work of the Devil. The Codex Gigas (Giant Book), also known as the Devil's Bible, is the largest medieval manuscript in the world. Housed at the Swedish National Library since the 17th century, it recently returned to the Czech Republic (it originated in a monastery in Bohemia) for display. The book contains an entire pre-Vulgate version of the Latin bible, as well as various other texts and illustrations, including calendars, medical formulas and local records. You can browse the complete Codex Gigas in high resolution here.
'The Cantigas de Santa Maria medieval-era manuscripts were written during the reign of Alfonso X "El Sabio" (1221-1284) and are one of the largest collections of monophonic (solo) songs from the middle ages ... ' Images.