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c. 500 CE - c. 1600 CE
Illuminated Manuscripts are produced in Europe.
c. 500 CE
Ambrosian Iliad manuscript produced at Constantinople.
c. 600 CE
Codex Argentus manuscript created in Italy.
c. 600 CE - c. 700 CE
Codex Amiatinus is created in Northumbria, Britain.
c. 650 CE - c. 700 CE
The Book of Durrow is created.
c. 700 CE - c. 715 CE
Lindisfarne Gospels created in Britain.
c. 800 CE
The Book of Kells is produced in Ireland.
c. 1250 CE
The Morgan Crusader Bible is produced in Paris.
c. 1275 CE - c. 1290 CE
The Westminster Abbey Bestiary is produced in Britain.
c. 1324 CE - c. 1328 CE
The Book of Hours of Jeanne d'Evereaux is produced in France.
c. 1412 CE - c. 1489 CE
Les Tres Riches Heures de Duc de Berry produced in France.
c. 1440 CE
Johannes Guttenberg invents the printing press impacting the production of Illuminated Manuscripts which are eventually replaced by printed books.
c. 1475 CE - c. 1480 CE
The Black Hours manuscript is produced in Belgium.
c. 1510 CE
The Grmani Breviary produced in Flanders.
c. 1517 CE
The Prayer Book of Claude de France produced in France.
A Brief Introduction to the History of the Illuminated Manuscript
The practice of illumination—adding decoration to book manuscripts—dates back to the early fifth century and continued into the Middle Ages, when scribes, monks, and other artists used richly colored pigments as well as gold and silver leaf to decorate the pages of books and Bibles. The glittering materials used were said to "light up" or illumine the text.
Because the Scriptures were not available in vernacular languages, they were not accessible to many, even those in the upper classes. Furthermore, in the sixth century, illiteracy was common, evidenced by the fact that only one in seven of the laity could write his or her own name. Even Charlemagne, the "Father of Europe" and eventual Holy Roman emperor, was among those who struggled to hold a pen and produce his own name on parchment two hundred years later.
By illuminating texts, skilled artists were able to beautify the pages of the Bible as a way to summarize, explain, and, ultimately, preserve its message. Monks would spend long hours where the lighting was best, usually in their cloister's writing room—the scriptorium—prepping the writing surface and hand-copying the Scriptures onto parchment or thin sheets of animal skins. Even some of these copyists were unable to read the text themselves, simply becoming adept at the mechanics of the task of copying symbols from one book to another.
To prepare the writing surface, animal skins were scraped, soaked, and dried to create each writing surface. Various colored inks were mixed with a binding agent like egg whites using ingredients such as plants and minerals, and other elements such as mercury, sulphur, and cinnabar. The most affordable—and therefore common—colored ink used was an orange hue called minium, made by grinding the burnt-orange crust that resulted from roasting a pigment called white lead.
Illuminated Manuscripts Timeline - History
In the Middle Ages all books were hand-written original works of art. These “illuminated” manuscripts were so called because of their frequent incorporation of gold or sometimes silver leaf onto the page. Illumination comes from the Latin word illuminare, meaning “light up,” and when one sees one of these brilliant manuscripts in person, the term makes sense.
The earliest surviving illuminated manuscripts date from the 5th century, though it was not until about 1100 that the production of manuscripts began to flourish in earnest. This “golden age” of manuscript illumination lasted until the arrival of Gutenberg’s printing press in 1450-55, signaling the beginning of the end of hand-made illuminated manuscripts.
During the early Middle Ages most books were used by priests and monks for liturgical purposes. New books appeared most often when a new monastery was founded. Books began to be produced for individuals as well as religious institutions as early as the 12th century. The movement of books into the secular world encouraged the increase of lay workshops run by professional scribes.
Most illuminators were humble craftsmen who set up shop. Some were independent, itinerant artists who traveled from place to place looking for commissions. The best held the rank of court artists at the exclusive service of a wealthy patron.
Illuminators usually belonged either to the painter’s guild or another guild involved in the book trade. Most illuminators remained anonymous until the late Middle Ages. With the gradual rise in status from artisan to artist, more illuminators in the late Middle Ages began to sign their work, and often also included a small pictorial representation of themselves somewhere in the work.
The whole process of book illumination was very time-consuming and costly, thus the illuminated manuscript was a luxury item for wealthy customers. With the advent of book printing, the sumptuous illuminated codices went out of fashion. Although the early printed books were often made to resemble illuminated manuscripts, by way of hand coloring, the art of book illumination gradually disappeared in the course of the sixteenth century.
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How Did They Do It?
Making illuminated manuscripts was a complex process, not to mention expensive. As a result, only special books were made more often than not, the Bible was the most common illuminated manuscript done and it came as no surprise since it was the Christian Church who had the resources, both material and human, and the capability to do these. Besides the Bible, other religious works were also made in this manner. They were not only used by the religious but also by the elites of the time who would commission the religious to made these manuscripts. Writers of these manuscripts were called scribes.
Usually the first step was to write the text. Everything was done by hand. Sheets of parchment were cut down to the desired size. After making the general layout of the page, margins were drawn with a pointed stick, and the scribe would go to work. His writing implement was a feather quill or reed pen which he would periodically dip in an ink pot. The script was not uniform all over Europe and may vary from one region to another. In one region, it may be Uncial, in another, half-Uncial.
Another reason text was written first is to prevent such poorly made manuscripts and illuminations from occurring. One way of ensuring that was to provide blank spaces, usually left to allow for notes and comments. During that time, there were no means to correct errors and any error made would ruin the manuscript and the scribe had to start over again, thus prolonging the process. If done correctly, these blank areas would not be left plainly blank. This was where the decoration would come in.
Once the text was written down, it was now the turn of the illustrator to go to work and his job could be considered equally tedious as that of the scribe. Most of the time, the scribe and illustrator was the ame person. He would first smoothen the surface of the parchment, then dried it up. He would then employ a technique called silverpoint where he would drag a silver rod over the surface. After which, burnished gold dots would be applied at certain points to create an outline and make the artwork glossy and reflective. Colors were then added and they would employ various techniques to get the desired shade of color. Next would be putting a rinceaux at the border of the page and put marginal figures. The final touch would be burnishing the illustrations with gold foil, thus making the manuscripts truly illuminated.
Using gold had obvious reasons. Given its value, adding it had a symbolic meaning. It could be exalting the text as a way of paying homage to God since his words were laid down. Another possible reason was this was the wish of the patron or the one who commissioned the work as a way to demonstrate his wealth. In the process, this also improved the quality and value of the manuscript.
While these appeared exclusive to the religious and wealthy, the lower classes were eventually able to have access to it and despite their limited ability to read, the illustrations somewhat aided them in understanding these manuscripts which would pave the way for them to improve their reading skills.
An introduction to Bible manuscripts
The Christian Bible has a unique place in the history of the book. Before the advent of printing in the West no text was so frequently revered by the faithful, laboured over by scribes and illuminators, studied by scholars and coveted by the rich and powerful. Surviving handwritten copies, or manuscripts, of the Bible include the finest specimens of their times of the arts of calligraphy, illumination and book-production some, although more humble in outward appearance, preserve unique or significant readings that shape the modern text of the Bible. Many Bibles were written and decorated by monks and other members of religious communities, as part of their life of sacrificial praise of God, others by professional craftsmen for lay readers. Some were intended for personal study and meditation, some for reading and as a physical symbol of the Word of God within a Christian community, and others for evangelizing or for missionary purposes. Bible manuscripts thereby reveal not only the remarkable history of an extraordinarily influential text, but also map the development of the book before the invention of printing.
Medieval Manuscript Illumination (c.1000-1500)
NOTE: For the most ancient illuminated Biblical manuscript, please see: the Garima Gospels (390-660) from Ethiopia's Abba Garima Monastery.
Belleville Breviary Manuscript
(c.1325) Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale.
By Jean Pucelle (c.1290-1334)
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Medieval illuminated manuscripts built on the traditions of Christian art previously established by three earlier schools: namely, the Irish school (flourished 600-800) King Charlemagne's school at Aachen (c.750-900) and the German Ottonian school (c.900-1050).
Irish book painting - the first school of this type of early Christian art - began about 600, with the vellum Psalter known as the Cathach of Columba (c.610), after which came masterpieces like the Book of Durrow (c.680), the earliest fully decorated Gospel manuscript of the Hiberno-Saxon Insular tradition, and finally the glorious Book of Kells (c.800), by which time Irish artist-scribes were active across Nothern England and much of Continental Europe. The only other active centre of Christian painting was Constantinople (formerly Byzantium), capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. Celebrated for its delicacy and decorative colouring, Byzantine art inspired the European cultural revival embodied by Carolingian art, whose scriptoria at Aachen, Paris, Reims, Metz and Tours produced wonderful illustrated manuscripts like the Godescalc Evangelistary (c.783), the Utrecht Psalter (c.830) and the Grandval Bible (c.840). Following in Charlemagne's footsteps, the Holy Roman Emperors Otto I, II and III instigated their own cultural renaissance in monasteries at Reichenau Island, Trier, Cologne, Regensburg and Echternach. Influenced by Carolingian models as well as Byzantine elements - including the widespread use of gold leaf - Ottonian art became noted for lavishly decorated gospel texts, such as the Perikpenbuch of Henry II (c.1010), Bamberg Apocalypse (c.1020), the Hitda-Codex (c.1025) and the Codex Aureus Epternacensis (c.1053).
Medieval Book Painting
Manuscript illustration of the Middle Ages is of special importance in the study of the fine art painting of the period. A huge amount of mural painting has perished, faded or been destroyed by sunlight, damp and vandalism the technique of oil-painting was not widely adopted until the 15th century and there are only fragmentary remains of the great stained-glass art that adorned so many cathedrals and abbeys. In contrast, the small size of manuscripts enabled them to be stored in the comparative safety of libraries, each illustration shut away from the light and the volumes bound between strong covers. These illuminations, which bear witness to the flowering of medieval art, can be seen in a very good state of preservation even today. Moreover, the illumination of manuscripts is by no means a minor art. The paintings are not a mere reflection of larger wall paintings indeed, it is known that manuscripts were often copied by medieval artists active in other disciplines, such as fresco painters and stone sculptors. They are, despite their size, often monumental works of art.
How Illuminated Books Came to be Made
Before the invention of printing, books were the precious possessions of great ecclesiastical or secular patrons, produced only after long hours, even months, of fine, patient work. During the earlier part of the period the books were written and illustrated in monastic foundations by monks working in the part of the abbey called the scriptorium. The manuscripts were written solely 'for the Greater Glory of God', and commissions for this type of religious art from kings and emperors were considered acts of piety and religious devotion. (See also: Medieval Christian Artworks.) Later, however, the patronage changed and during the thirteenth century we see knights and noblemen commissioning books for their own private use. Guilds of illuminators were founded and the writing and illustrating of manuscripts became a commercial enterprise with properly organized workshops, commissions and payments.
The pages offer the widest possible range of subject-matter and from them we can glean information about the manners and customs of medieval people. Every aspect of their lives is illustrated. Different types of armour and methods of making war are there for the student to examine, as well as the musical instruments they used, the games they played and the clothes they wore. Many different types of books were illuminated. First, there are the lavish, large scale ceremonial books - often adorned with jewellery and precious metal, embellished with enamelwork - that is, cloisonné and (later) champlevé - for use during church services. Apart from the Bible there are Gospel Books and Evangeliaries which contain the Canon Tables at the beginning showing a concordance of texts from the four Gospels there are Missals, Breviaries, Benedictionals and Psalters for conducting the services, and special books such as the Gradual which contains passages to be sung on the altar steps. Then there are the treatises intended for theological instruction such as the commentaries of Abbot Liebana on the Apocalypse, St Jerome's commentary on the Psalms or St Augustine's De Civitate Dei. Monks proudly commemorated saints from their monasteries by writing accounts of their lives. Certain non-religious works like the comedies of Terence and the Caedmon poems appeared during the period of Romanesque art, along with encyclopedic works on medicine, animals and plants, but it is during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that secular books became really fashionable. With changes of patronage, we move into the International Gothic Age of Chivalry, the age of the great romances of Lancelot du Lac, the Roman de la Rose and the poems of Christine de Pisan.
These manuscripts come down to us today as representatives of a lost way of life and thought. Nothing had greater significance for that age than religion. The laborious creation of this type of Biblical art was an exercise in faith, thought to be beneficial to the illuminator. For the reader, it was equally rewarding, spiritually.
A Combination of Artistry, Craftsmanship and Religious Devotion
The very survival in perfect state of any object of this age is of interest in itself. Manuscripts are examples of work done solely by hand. No artist's paper or sketchbooks were handed to these craftsmen. The task began with the preparation of fine vellum, very thin and yet strong. Colour pigments of great purity and lasting intensity had to be obtained, ground and mixed endless exact lines of script had to be faultlessly copied gold leaf was delicately gilded and patterned on backgrounds. All this had to be done on a minute scale requiring perfect concentration and control. The often-quoted saying 'Art is its own reward' could not be more justly applied to any other branch of art. Illuminated manuscripts are the superb combination of artistry, craftsmanship and religious devotion. See: Making of Illuminated Manuscripts.
Five Centuries of European Book Painting
The scope of our series covers the period from approximately 1000 to 1500 and embraces the whole of Western Europe. It is a period stretching from before the Norman Conquest to the reign of Henry VII in England, from the Ottonian Empire in Germany to the High Renaissance in Italy. Crusades were undertaken against the Infidel, momentous battles lost and won, and during this time new horizons were opened up by the journeys of Marco Polo, Columbus and Vasco da Gama. The history of illuminated manuscripts between 1000 and 1500 can be broken up into two very general groups, the Romanesque style and the Gothic style, but there is no precise dividing line between the two and, at the same time, each general title embraces a great number of different trends varying not only from country to country but also from one period of time to another. The Romanesque style spans the period from the Millennium until about 1150/75 when new trends consolidate to form the style of Gothic art and architecture.
In the simplest terms, Romanesque painting must not be judged by the artist's ability to paint what he saw. The maxim of truth to nature does not apply as this was not the artist's intention. It is a highly sophisticated style that sacrifices optical veracity to narrative clarity. The Romanesque style is the creation of a people imbued with deep religious conviction, and if the artist felt that he could achieve wider emotional significance by stylizing the portrayal of the human figure, by taking him out of his earthly environment, he did not hesitate to do so. To obtain narrative impact the figures are sometimes drawn directly onto the bare parchment or set against a solid, brightly coloured background of gold or blue. The figures themselves are flattened into two dimensions and often clothed in draperies broken up into a pattern of geometric shapes.
However, by the time the centres of illumination moved from the seclusion of the cloister to the workshops and guilds, the style was already changing into the so-called Gothic manner: see, for instance, works by Simone Martini (1285-1344). The new patronage demanded a different, more realistic style of painting to record its transitory, earthly riches for posterity. By the quattrocento, the illuminator's art had reached the summit of a delicate, miniature representation of the world in which the artist lived. In the best of this miniature painting, landscape was treated with minute care and the prayer book known as the Tres Riches Hemes du Duc de Berry, by the three family Limbourg Brothers (all died 1416), was a milestone in the history of landscape-painting. See also the Brussels Hours (c.1400, Belgian National Library, Brussels) by Jacquemart de Hesdin (c.1355-1414), as well as works by Jean Fouquet (1420-81), and others. The invention of the printing press was the death knell for the art of manuscript illumination, and in the West it stopped abruptly at the beginning of the sixteenth century.
Rare illuminated manuscripts from the Romanesque and Gothic periods can be seen in some of the best art museums in the world.
For a chronological guide to the evolution of religious book painting, see: History of Art Timeline.
For more about Medieval illuminated gospel texts, see: Homepage.
Medieval Studies and Research: Illuminated Manuscripts - Studies, History
Illumination - Definition : See p.192 in: Beal, Peter. A Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology, 1450 to 2000 , Oxford University Press, 2011:
(Excerpt): "Deriving from the Latin illuminare (&lsquoto light up&rsquo), the term &lsquoillumination&rsquo means the decoration of manuscripts with gold or silver and with other bright, luminous colours (as opposed to monochrome black ink, or shades of grey known as &lsquogrisaille&rsquo), the manuscript thus embellished being described as illuminated. Illumination can take the form of richly coloured and decorated lettering, elaborate tracery in the text, margins, or borders, and other ornamental or pictorial features, or else, most especially, miniatures (see miniature). As a widespread phenomenon, illumination is most associated with medieval manuscripts, including the great monastic bibles and religious works, although illuminated manuscripts of various kinds, such as brightly coloured genealogies and chronicles, heightened with gold or silver, can still be found in the sixteenth and even seventeenth centuries. (. )'
See also: "Glossaries", British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, and, Brown, Michelle (Michelle P.). Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts: A guide to technical terms. Malibu, Calif. : J. Paul Getty Museum in association with the British Library , c1994.
Decorations and Illumination (University of Nottingham) is a short overview of decorated and illuminated initials, borders, and miniatures.
Please note: The list of books on this page is a very small selection of titles at USC Libraries. To find additional titles relating to Illuminated manuscripts in USC Libraries' online catalog, select: Advanced Search. and restrict your search to Catalog then Type: illuminated manuscripts and select the field: Subject.
7 Things You Might Not Know About Illuminated Manuscripts
An Illuminated Manuscript is a beautifully crafted book, but it’s also so much more—it’s a literal piece of art history.
Illuminated manuscripts are hand-crafted books with pages that feature elaborately decorated pages adorned with gold, silver, and brightly-colored paints. The books were most popular in Western Europe during the Middle Ages, with the majority of them made between 500 and 1600 C.E. Their subject matter mainly focused on Christian beliefs and practices—many of these remarkable pages were originally created for prayer books or hymnals.
Found on these pages are some of the finest examples of medieval portraiture and calligraphy in history, making them cherished additions to museum and gallery collections all over the world. To learn more about these intriguing treasures from the past, here are seven fascinating facts you may not know about illuminated manuscripts.
(Images below show the front and back of each leaf)
1. They’re As Old, If Not Older, Than “Mona Lisa”
“Leaf from a Book of Hours” (c. 1450)
To put their extreme age into context, many illuminated manuscripts date back to the 13th and 14th centuries. They actually predate Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and Michelangelo’s “David,” which were both created in the early 16th century.
2. They Somehow Survived for Centuries
The fact that these delicate pages have remained intact for centuries could be considered miraculous. The pages themselves are vellum (parchment made from animal skin) and the paints are plant-based, so if not cared for, they are extremely susceptible to deterioration.
“Leaf from a Book of Hours” (c. 1510)
In many cases, illuminated manuscripts are the only surviving examples of artwork from certain areas and time periods.
3. Each Manuscript Was Handmade
Leaf from a Book of Hours (c. 1510)
Illuminated manuscripts predate the invention of the printing press (around 1455), so each book was written and decorated by hand. This means every single page is a unique work of art.
4. Yes, That is Real Gold on the Page
Illuminators would pound gold until it was thinner than paper to gild the pages. They also brushed on gold specks with a process known as burnishing, resulting in pages full of shimmering artwork.
“Leaf from a Book of Hours” (c. 1480)
Illumination was used to help exalt the religious text found within each book, and scribes considered the use of gold to be a form of praising God.
5. Illuminated Manuscripts Were Considered Symbols of Wealth
Initially, illuminated manuscripts were created solely for monasteries. However, wealthy rulers and patrons began commissioning them for their own personal use or as gifts.
Leaf from a Book of Hours (c. 1510)
By the mid-15th century, illuminated manuscripts were commercially reproduced and featured non-religious subject matter. By the 16 th century, production plummeted to a record low, and once again, illuminated manuscripts were only reserved for the wealthy.
6. They’re Windows Into History
Thanks to monograms, inscriptions, and artisan markings, the origins of these pages can be traced back to their original owners or illustrators.
“Leaf from a Book of Hours” (c. 1500). This Book of Hours might have been in the possession of Catherine de’ Medici (1519-89), wife of Henri II, King of France. The binding includes fleur-de-lis and her monogram.
For instance, pages dating to c. 1500 from a Book of Hours in the Park West Gallery collection most likely belonged to Catherine de’ Medici (1514–1589), wife of French king Henry II. The binding on the book includes the royal fleur-de-lis and Catherine’s personal monogram.
The book was later given to the Celestine Monastery of the Holy Trinity of Marcoussis, France.
7. Occasionally, They Have Eccentric Imagery
As illuminated manuscripts were primarily created for religious purposes, a lot of the imagery is what you’d expect: Biblical scenes like the crucifixion, depictions of angels and saints, and so on.
But, sometimes, the artists spiced things up in the margins and blank spaces. For example, in a Book of Hours created c. 1480 in Paris, one page inexplicably has an illustration of a monkey perched on a cannon. We’re not sure why the artists in the workshop of Father Francois Barbier did this, but it’s amusing to say the least.
“Leaf from a Book of Hours” (c. 1500)
Some of the finest examples of illuminated manuscript pages are currently on display at the Park West Museum, located in Southfield, Michigan. In addition to individual leaves, visitors can peruse a digital version of a rare illuminated manuscript from the 13 th and 14 th centuries. This 162-page antiphonal is the only recorded volume of its kind to survive intact and complete.
If you’re interested in collecting one of Park West Gallery’s Illuminated Manuscripts, you can attend one of our exciting live online auctions or contact our gallery consultants directly at (866) 652-0892 ext. 4 or [email protected]
We were fascinated with the ones in the Siena, Italy duomo museum and return to see them when we can. Gorgeous. Thank you for this informative article!
A good attempt to educate readers about these ancients documents. It is too bad you have given into political correctness and date them with “C.E.” dates. They are overwhelmingly religious in nature and should remain dated with “A.D.”
I agree with Ms. Layton. I teach Humanities and Art History and include a unit on illuminated manuscripts and the stories they tell. Because they are so much an expression of medieval philosophy and beliefs, I continue to keep the context of the works and stay with the BC and AD dating.
Illuminated Manuscripts Timeline - History
More medieval books survive from the Middle Ages than any other artistic medium. Scholars refer to the hand-made books of the Middles Ages as manuscripts. Books that contain artistic decoration are called illuminated manuscripts. Manuscripts that survive from the European Middle Ages are generally religious books that reflect the canon, doctrine and practices of Christianity, though there are Jewish and Muslim books and other types of books that survive from this time period as well.
Figure 1. Full-page miniature of St. Luke as an evangelist, 6th century. This page prefaces the Gospel of Luke in the St. Augustine Gospels (Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 286).
A medieval manuscript is a codex (pl. codices), meaning a book made of pages bound between two boards. Ancient scribes wrote on scrolls that were stored in boxes. These ancient scrolls only survive in occasional fragments, as a scroll is especially vulnerable to physical degradation. The pages of codices, on the other hand, are protected by their covers and have a much greater chance for survival. Thus, medieval books survive in large numbers.
The Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris and the British Library in London house the world’s largest collections of medieval manuscripts. Though normally only available to scholars, many museums and libraries put some of their manuscript treasures on display. Digitizing, or creating high quality digital images of manuscripts, is increasingly common and these images are normally available on the Internet, furthering the study of these medieval books.
The original manuscripts of the Bible, the works of Aristotle and Plato and other ancient writers do not survive. They are known today because medieval scribes diligently copied them.
Recording and disseminating information is quick and easy today, but in the Middle Ages this process was slow and laborious. Monastery libraries housed most books and all books were copied by hand, usually by monks. This process of copying and disseminating books was essential to the preservation of knowledge.
Some monks traveled to distant monasteries to view and copy books to bring back to their own monastery’s library. Fires destroyed many medieval libraries and the books they housed. Because of this and other accidents of history, not all texts survived the Middle Ages. The Name of the Rose, a novel by Umberto Eco, imagines such a fate for Aristotle’s lost work on poetics.
Books were essential to the practice of Christianity. Medieval Christian missionaries, such as St. Augustine of Canterbury, brought books with them as they traveled from place to place preaching and establishing new churches. The Gospel Book of St. Augustine survives today in the Parker Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. It contains the text of the gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John of the New Testament—an essential work for teaching potential converts about the life of Christ. A series of images illustrating the life of Christ prefaces the text and each book of the gospels begins with an illustration detailing the events unique to that gospel, though some of these are now lost.
The oldest illuminated manuscripts are among the oldest manuscripts in existence. The illustration of books was functional as well as decorative. Illuminated initials and painted miniatures marked the beginnings of important sections in the text and allowed readers to navigate the book.
Prefatory image cycles prepared the mind of the reader to engage with the text. Some illustrations elaborate doctrines, record events or simply tells stories. Even readers’ doodles are intriguing to contemporary scholars.
In illuminated manuscripts, words and images worked together to inform the medieval reader and occasionally these readers left their own mark. These books are highly interactive. Nearly all medieval manuscripts provide ample space in the margins for readers’ notes and comments. In this way, illuminated manuscripts are different from other types of media in that they provided spaces for readers to record their reactions to image and text.
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