Medieval Realms

Illuminated manuscripts are the survivors of the Middle Ages, shedding light on both the great events of the period and the everyday life of ordinary people. In this web resource you will be able to examine evidence in a number of medieval manuscripts, finding out more about the social history of the period.

An additional resource on the British Library's collection of medieval manuscripts is available on our Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.

Written by Dr Alixe Bovey.

Towns

Towns

The craftsmen, traders, temptations and dangers, within medieval England’s walled towns

 

Rural life

The lives of ploughmen, seed sowers, millers and bakers as evidenced in unique illuminations

 
Literature, Music and Illuminations

Music, literature and illuminated manuscripts

The extraordinary developments in the arts of the Middle Ages as seen in literature, song notations, and delicate illuminations

 
Women

Women

The diverse roles of women and their cultural significance in medieval society

 
Monsters

Monsters

Men with dogs’ heads, creatures with giant feet, griffins, sirens and hellish demons all recorded in medieval documents

 
Food

Food

The banquets, spices and sugar sculptures of the medieval table

 

Church

The power of the church, and the effects of religion on everday life

 
Medicine

Medicine

The astrological charts and diagnostic tools of medieval medical men

 

Death

Images and ideas of death and the afterlife in a world ravaged by war, disease and famine