You are in Introduction. Click here to skip the navigation.
British Library
Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts
 Detail from the Roman de la Rose
About Simple search Manuscript search Advanced search  Virtual exhibitions Glossaries Contact us  Main
print Print this page
home Home
site search Search British Library website
back Back
 
 
     
 

Glossaries

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  Hebrew 

LABOURS OF THE MONTHS See OCCUPATIONAL CALENDAR.

LATE ANTIQUE

Late ANTIQUITY is the period from the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great (306-37) to the disintegration of the western Roman Empire in the fifth century and the rise of a strong eastern Empire during the reign of Justinian (527-65).

LAY

Harley MS 3469, f. 32v

A lay person is one who belongs to secular society, that is, who is neither a cleric nor a member of a religious order.

LEAD POINT

Additional MS 49999, f. 48

A lead point, also known as plummet, is a piece of lead alloy, sometimes contained in a holder (the precursor of the pencil), which could be used for drawing, annotation, and RULING. Lead point began to be widely used in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Graphite, derived from carbon, was not generally used before the seventeenth century. See also HARD POINT and METAL POINT.

LEAF See FOLIO.

LECTIONARY

Harley MS 7026, f. 5 Egerton MS 2163, f. 32

A volume containing readings for use in the LITURGY. See also DIVINE OFFICE, EPISTOLARY, EVANGELARY, and MASS.

LIBER VITAE

Stowe MS 944, f. 6 Stowe MS 944, f. 28v

A book listing the familiares ('members') and benefactors of a monastic community who were to be remembered in its MASSES and in other services and prayers. It was usually read with the MARTYROLOGY and the obituary at the canonical hour of prime. Those listed were sometimes depicted in the manuscript.

LIBRAIRE See STATIONER.

LIBRARY BOOK

Fifteenth-century ownership inscription and pressmark of the Benedictine abbey of Santa Maria ad Martyres extra Muros, in Trier, Harley MS 2504, f. 1

The medieval monastic library contained a wide variety of texts, from biblical and liturgical volumes (the more important and/or luxurious of these often being housed in the sacristy or elsewhere in the church), PATRISTIC works, COMMENTARIES, CHRONICLES, SCHOOL BOOKS, legal tomes (such as DIGESTS and DECRETALS), selected CLASSICAL TEXTS, MEDICAL TEXTS, HERBALS, and certain ASTRONOMICAL / ASTROLOGICAL TEXTS Secular institutions, such as colleges, also had libraries. Some secular scholars - especially the humanists (see HUMANISTIC) - had personal collections of books, as did bibliophiles, who were often aristocrats. The contents of secular libraries varied according to their owners' interests.

The methods of marking books for storage and of cataloguing or listing them often provide valuable PROVENANCE information. Before the introduction of upright storage shelves in the fifteenth century, books were generally stored flat in a closet known as an armarium, in a chest, or on a circular lectern called a rota, or were chained to a lectern (see CHAINED BOOK). Many library books were quite modest, inexpensive products, while others (such as biblical and liturgical volumes, chronicles, and ROMANCES) were often richly illuminated.

LIMP BINDING

A BINDING composed of PARCHMENT, PAPER, or fabric, without BOARDS. Limp bindings were generally used during the later Middle Ages and early modern period for less expensive books.

LINE FILLER

Egerton MS 1066, f. 62v Harley MS 4664, f. 175v

A decorative device (abstract, foliate, zoomorphic, or anthropomorphic) that fills the remainder of a line not fully occupied by SCRIPT. Line fillers were initially popularized in INSULAR and PRE-CAROLINGIAN art.

LITANY OF THE SAINTS

Harley MS 2890, f. 198v Sloane MS 1935, f. 186v Egerton MS 1066, f. 113v

The litany is a series of invocations for deliverance and intercession usually addressed to the Trinity, the Virgin, angels, apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins, individually and as groups. Such litanies are encountered in the East from the third century and the West from the late fifth century. The saints included in a litany varied according to region and patronage. For this reason, they often yield valuable evidence concerning the ORIGIN of a manuscript. Litanies of saints increased in length throughout the Middle Ages. See also SUFFRAGE.

LITTERA FLORISSA (pl. LITTERAE FLORISSAE)

A PEN-FLOURISHED letter or INITIAL, usually composed of delicate geometric and foliate motifs.

LITTERA NOTABILIOR (pl. LITTERAE NOTABILIORES)

An enlarged letter within a text, designed to clarify the syntax of a passage.

LITURGY

Liturgy of John Chrysostom, Burney MS 54, f. 80

Rites, observances, or procedures prescribed for public worship. At the core of Christian liturgy are the MASS (the celebration of the Eucharist) and the DIVINE OFFICE.

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  Hebrew 
print Print this page
home Home
site search Search British Library website
back Back
top Back