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An illuminated manuscript is a hand-written text that contains beautiful decorations and illustrations. Many illuminated manuscripts were produced during the Middle Ages, and most contain decorated letters, borders and miniatures painted with glowing, radiant colours including gold.
In the early Middle Ages, most illuminated manuscripts were produced in monasteries and had a religious theme: angels or saints, for example. But by the 1200s, professional illuminators, often based in towns and cities rather than monasteries, began to take over. One of these was William de Brailes, who included an image of himself in the book shown here, produced in c.1240. These professional book producers were able to respond to the growing demand for non-religious books. New books told of the exotic adventures of noblemen and women; of ancient battles and love stories; of the crimes of sinners and villains, and of the deeds heroes.
The video tab shows a modern demonstration of the process of creating an illuminated manuscript.
Shelfmark: Add. MS 49999 f.43r.