Royal Manuscripts


Suitable for: Year 7-11 and A Level

Available: Monday to Friday from 11 November 2011 until 13 March 2012

Time: 10:30-12pm and 1-2.30pm

Length: 90 minutes

Group size: minimum 10, maximum 30 per session

Subjects and Key Skills

History, Art and RS

Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination

In this exhibition you will discover the British Library’s unique collection of medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts. Dating between the 9th and 16th centuries and collected by the kings and queens of England this treasure trove features stunning manuscripts that are among the most outstanding examples of royal decorative and figurative painting from this era surviving in Britain today.

Together they provide the most vivid surviving source for understanding royal identity, moral and religious beliefs, learning, faith artistic trends and international politics of the period.

The works on display include colourful histories and genealogies, Bibles and Psalters, scientific works and accounts of coronations. Each manuscript is a work of art in its own right. As a collection they give an outstanding indication of medieval and early modern royal taste and preferences.

Workshop outline

Free workshops exploring Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination are available for Secondary and Further Education students. Workshops support and enrich the History, Art and RS curricula helping participants to develop skills in source-based learning, visual literacy and research. Sessions take place in the exhibition space and include a series of activities led by a workshop leader.

Workshops will provide Secondary and FE students with the opportunity to examine a range of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts from colourful histories, genealogies and Bibles to scientific works and accounts of coronations. By interpreting the artistry and symbols within the images on display, students will gain new insights into faith, learning, the monarchy and international politics in medieval times. Groups will evaluate the reliability of sources and develop skills in interpreting historical texts.

Teacher Events

Inspiring School History in partnership with the Schools History Project
Saturday 26 November 2011, 9:30-16:00
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Royal Manuscripts: A CPD Evening in partnership with The Historical Association
Thursday 26 January 2012, 17:30-20:30

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Ready to book?

Watch a short video about your visit to the British Library   How to book