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Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts
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An introduction to illuminated manuscripts

Overview Before 800 800-1000 1000-1200 1400-1600

4: 1200 - 1400

Around 1200 centres of education shifted from the cathedral schools to universities in European cities such as Paris, Bologna, and Oxford. Although the monastic scriptoria continued, manufacture of books increasingly took place in the towns. Secular stationers accepted commissions from patrons, increasingly students or other lay people, and sub-contracted work to specialized craftsmen and women on a piece-work basis. New texts began to circulate for the urban and rural secular elite and middle classes, such as romances and illustrated copies of the book of Revelation, or Apocalypses, with explanatory commentaries. Books of Hours also emerged as the most popular book, used for private devotions. In addition, vernacular languages became increasingly popular alongside Latin texts.

(Click on an image for an enlarged view and detailed description.)


Additional 28626, f.6v
A small portable volume made in thirteenth-century Paris containing the entire Bible, written in tiny but legible script on thin delicate parchment.
Additional 28626, f.6v


Additional 19767, f.217
A compilation of texts made for a German abbot in the mid-thirteenth century, with an author portrait.
Additional 19767, f.217


Harley 4751, f.40 (detail)
A thirteenth-century English ‘bestiary’, containing illustrated information about various animals with explanations of their moral significance.
Harley 4751, f.40 (detail)


Additional 49999, f.1
The de Brailes Hours is the earliest surviving English Book of Hours, written in Oxford in the thirteenth century and illuminated by William de Brailes.
Additional 49999, f.1


Sloane 2400
The Felbrigge Psalter was illuminated in mid-thirteenth century France and preserves an embroidered binding dating to around 1300.
Sloane 2400


Burney 20, f.90v
A late thirteenth-century Greek copy of the Four Gospels written in the Byzantine empire, perhaps at Constantinople, by Theophilus the ‘hieromonk’.
Burney 20, f.90v


Additional 49622, f.190v (detail)
The Gorleston Psalter, made in the early fourteenth century for the church at Gorleston in Norfolk, rich in marginal illustrations often of animals.
Additional 49622, f.190v (detail)


Stowe 17, f.98v (detail)
‘The Maastricht Hours’, made in the early fourteenth century at Liège for an as yet unidentified aristocratic woman.
Stowe 17, f.98v (detail)


Additional 23770, f.36 (detail)
An astrological manuscript written in Italy in the fourteenth century, with images accompanying expositions of the constellations, the planets, and the signs of the zodiac.
Additional 23770, f.36 (detail)


Additional 39627, f.10 (detail)
The Gospels of Tsar Ivan Alexander, written in Church Slavonic, and made for the eponymous Tsar of Bulgaria in the mid-fourteenth century.
Additional 39627, f.10 (detail)


Egerton 3277, f.29v (detail)
The Bohun Psalter and Hours, made in England in the mid-fourteenth century, probably for Humphrey de Bohun, grandfather of Henry V.
Egerton 3277, f.29v (detail)


Kings 5, f.5
A luxurious Biblia pauperum, expounding the relationship between the Old and New Testaments by placing pictures of related scenes alongside each other.
Kings 5, f.5


Overview Before 800 800-1000 1000-1200 1400-1600

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