Monday, April 18, 2016

Illuminated Manuscripts - Scribes, Authors, & Bookmaking



Parchment Sellers scrubbing & stretching the parchment 15th century Bologna, University Library. Cod. Bonon. 963, f. 4.

Manuscripts were hand-written & illustrated during the medieval era (A.D. 500-1500), before the invention of printing presses.  They were time-consuming &  expensive to make, however the method was quicker & much more portable than carving language symbols in stone or wood.


Scribe buying parchment Copenhagen, Royal Library. Ms. 4, 2o f. 183v.

Manuscripts were usually written parchment or vellum made from the skins of sheep, calves, or goats. Parchment & vellum are terms often used interchangeably, although sometimes vellum refers to a finer quality of writing material.  Parchment was eventually replaced by paper. Some manuscripts were actually written on paper made from linen rags. Often lines were ruled on the pages of manuscripts to guide the script writer.


Colegio Santa Catalina de Bolonia 

Some manuscripts were written on papyrus, a fragile Egyptian reed material, which continued to be used for manuscripts until the 7-8th-centuries. Papyrus plantations came to Sicily during the papacy of Gregory I (590-604) & papyrus was used for papal correspondence until the 11th century.


St Matthew ruling parchment 12th cent Dinant Gospels Manchester, John Rylands University Library. Rylands Latin Ms. 11, f. 14.

In the Early Middle Ages, the majority of manuscripts produced served as the liturgical books used by priests & monks in churches & monasteries.


St Mark sharpening his quill in French Renaissance Book of Hours as a scribe Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, The National Trust. Ms 20, f. 13v.

As the church expanded & new monesteries were built, more liturgical books were needed. At new venues, the abbot or the monks initially came from an already established monastic community, which provided the most urgent books for the new site.  Immediately the monks began to copy necessary books for themselves.


St Paul sharpens his quill, assistant rubs parchment with pumice stone  Colegio Santa Catalina de Bolonia

Medieval copyist monks, often called scribes, were responsible for copying the works of authors by hand.


Jean Miélot, also Jehan, (d. 1472) scribe for Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy from 1449-1467. Paris,  Bibliothèque nationale de France Ms. Fr. 9198, f. 19.

As early as the 1100s, books began to be produced for wealthy individuals as well as religious institutions. There began to be a gowing secular reading public demanding an increase in manuscript production.


Detail from the Codex Caesareus Upsaliensis Emperor's Bible Matthew Uppsala University Library (c 93)

Because manuscripts were very expensive to make, they often served as status symbols. Most families who owned manuscripts held privileged positions in society.


Initial letter G, from a manuscript produced in northern Italy during the early 1400s.

The major themes of manuscripts became more diversified as the secular readership grew and included the traditional religious (particularly Christianity) books plus new art subjects such as courtly activities, the hunt, gardening, & literarature.



 Bardzo sprytny mebel. Gabriel Mälesskircher - św. Mateusz - 1478



 Bookbinder. Landauer Twelve Brothers House manuscript 1400s



Eadwine the Scribe at Work. circa 1160-70. Eadwine Psalter. Christ Church. Canterbury (England) UK.



 Evangeliarum 1150-1200 Manuscript Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague



 Hague mmw 10 a 15



 Le copiste-enlumineur Giovanni Colonna, Mare historiarum, ouest de la France (Angers ), milieu XVe siècle



 St. John the Evangelist with his eagle. Gabriel Mälesskircher



St. Mark with his lion. Gabriel Mälesskircher



Scribe Jean Jean Miélot, 1400s, Brussels Royal Library, MS 9278, fol. 10r



St. John (depicted as a scribe) from Bodleian Library MS Auct. D. 1.17



Laurence before 1149 as a scribe Durham, University Library. Ms. Cosin V. III. 1. f. 22v.



Josephus and Scribe Samuel Canterbury 1130 Cambridge, St, John’s College. Ms. A. 8, fol. 103v.



St John with a few helpers recording Book of Revelation Book of Hours c 1480



Domenico Ghirlandaio Portrait of St Jerome writing in his Study from 1480



Geofroy Tory (1480-1533) Scribe with a little divine guidance Book of Hours, Ms. Library of Congress. Rosenwald ms. 10 (1533)



Apparently harried scribe writing & holding ink St. Matthew, from the Gospel Book of Archbishop Ebbo of Reims, Hautvilliers near Reims, c. 816 - 35. Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.



This scribe appears to have very little power. Augustine De Civitate Dei 1100s Apprentice Everwinus + Master Hildebertus Prague, The Metropolitan Chapter Library. Ms. A XXI-1. f. 153v.



Organized scribe Ezra rewriting the Sacred Records with storage cabinet, from the Codex Amiatinus, Jarrow, early eighth century. Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana, Florence.



A leaf from the Skevra Evangeliary (Lviv Evangeliary)  1198



A leaf from the Skevra Evangeliary (Lviv Evangeliary)  1198



A scribe writing the Gospels of Kildare. The British Library



A scribe writing. The British Library



 Bibliothèque nationale de France, Dossier pédagogique - Jean Fouquet



British Library



British Library Netherlands Manuscript 1479



British Library



Christine de Pizan at work guarded by Justice with her Sword and Sheild 15C



Christine de Pizan, 1st woman in western literature known to make a living from her work, writing a book.



Codex Manesse Schulmeister



Gallica  Bibliothèque nationale de France, Jacques de Voragine , Légende dorée, 15e siècle



Illuminated manuscript in the Musée Marmottan's



Mark the Evangelist Artist - Grigor Tatevatsi, 1378 Gospel, 1297



Siena, Biblioteca Communale degli Intronati, I.V.25-26, 1399



St. Dunstan Writing, Extracted From A Commentary On The Rule Of St. Benedict 1170



St. John writing at desk. MS. Laud Lat. 9, France, Ca. 1220-1230.



St. Matthew. Image from the Lindisfarne Gospels. The British Library

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