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


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 


Arundel MS 60, f. 149

The front side of a FOLIO or leaf, abbreviated as r and sometimes denoted as a.


Yates Thompson MS 15, f. 17v

A horizontal tier. Full-page MINIATURES containing several scenes were sometimes divided into registers.


Yates Thompson MS 29, f. 133 Yates Thompson MS 30, f. 20v

A French term meaning 'rebirth' and applied to a revival of the arts and learning stimulated by an interest in the past. Although we speak of the CAROLINGIAN, Northumbrian, and twelfth-century renaissances, the term by itself denotes a two-hundred-year period, from approximately the mid-fourteenth to the mid-sixteenth century, that marks a transition from the Middle Ages to the modern era and is characterized by the revival of the learning of classical ANTIQUITY. Renaissance (originally the Italian rinascimento) was coined by Italian humanists (see HUMANISTIC), who saw their own age as significantly different from the preceding one, which they perceived as GOTHIC. Working initially in centres such as Florence and Rome, the humanists began to study CLASSICAL TEXTS, although many of the copies available to them dated no earlier than Carolingian times. In the art of the period, we find a noticeable concern with NATURALISTIC rendering and the use of classical motifs.

A love of decoration remained a feature of Renaissance ILLUMINATION, but the GROTESQUES of medieval art were replaced by PUTTI, classical masks, vases, jewels, and other motifs. MINIATURES increasingly reflected the advanced styles of easel and fresco painters (the famous sixteenth-century illuminator Giulio Clovio was known as 'the little Michelangelo'). Humanist scholars such as Petrarch (1304-1374) and Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459) were themselves involved in book production, and their reforms of SCRIPT and promotion of literacy were to play an important role in the early development of printing. Secular patronage was a significant factor in Renaissance book production: kings, princes, and other nobles no less than popes and ecclesiastical leaders throughout Europe used the arts to promote their political and economic status.


Yates Thompson MS 37, f. 159

A form of ornament commonly used in BORDERS during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It consists of a patterning of fine foliate branches.


A manual containing the prayers and formulae for the administration of all the sacraments (except the Eucharist), such as baptism and extreme unction.


Egerton MS 2849, Part I

The roll (rotulus or volumen) was, along with the TABLET, the principal vehicle for writing during ANTIQUITY. Rolls were originally formed of sheets of PAPYRUS pasted together and were stored in capsae, cylindrical boxes resembling Victorian hat boxes. They were unrolled horizontally from left to right, with about four columns of text visible at any one time. Information concerning author, text, and production (the COLOPHON) served to label the roll, along with the INCIPIT and EXPLICIT inscriptions. The drawbacks of the roll form in terms of portability and cross-referencing led to its general replacement by the CODEX in the fourth century. The roll survived, however, throughout the Middle Ages, fulfilling certain specialized functions - although it was now made of PARCHMENT (sewn or glued together) and was read vertically. Such forms were useful for storing lengthy records and thus were frequently used for administrative purposes (such as Exchequer Rolls). Rolls also carried genealogies and pedigrees, and some of these manuscripts were finely illuminated. Roll CHRONICLES often accompanied royal genealogies. Illuminated Exultet rolls, with texts for the blessing of the Easter candle, were designed for public viewing, with the text facing the reader and the image placed upside down in relation to the text, to face the congregation over the lectern. Prayer rolls also survive; they may have been carried as amulets.


Arundel MS 155, f. 7

The system of conveying numerical information, generally employed throughout ANTIQUITY and the Middle Ages, in which quantities are represented as Roman letters: I or i (1), V or v (5), X or x (10), L or 1 (50), C or c (100), D or d (500), M or m (1000). There were local variations, which included the use of other letters. See also ARABIC NUMERALS.


Harley MS 4903, f. 16 Harley MS 4425, f. 14V

A genre of literature that developed in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in France. The Old French word romanz originally denoted texts in the French VERNACULAR but later came to be applied to narrative tales of the deeds of noblemen and noblewomen. Romances were frequently illustrated, sometimes modestly, but often lavishly if the PATRON was wealthy. The combination of imaginative stories of chivalric love and heroism with details from everyday courtly life (which abound in the illustrations) contributed to the popularity of the romance, as did the rise in secular literacy and patronage.

Most examples of the romance can be termed romans d'aventures ('chivalric romances'), since their major theme is hazardous adventure. Early romances are generally in verse, but prose romances (such as the French Arthurian cycle) also proliferated. Among the earliest romances are those written in the later twelfth century by Chrétien de Troyes, who transformed mere incident into meaningful action by stressing moral themes, as in Erec et Enide, one of his first works in the genre. Although fictional, romances were often based on historical events, either classical (King Alisaunder) or medieval (Lai d'Haveloc and Le Morte Arthur). Love - as perceived in a rigid system of chivalric behavior - often plays a role in French works, one of the most popular being the Roman de la rose, begun by Guillaume de Lorris (c. 1237) and completed by Jean de Meun (c. 1275), which combines the allegorical and satirical with courtly love and human emotions.


Harley MS 2970, f. 4v Harley MS 2801, f. 121v Additional MS 14788, f. 6v

The term Romanesque was applied in the nineteenth century to Western architecture of the late eleventh and twelfth centuries (the precise span varies from region to region) because of its use of Roman principles of construction. Romanesque is also applied to the other visual arts of the period to indicate a style that drew on earlier art of the West, including that of ancient Rome, and also incorporated BYZANTINE and even some Islamic influences. Although there are regional flavours within Romanesque art, it was essentially an international style that promoted an interest in the human figure, an interest that was, nevertheless, subordinated to decorative forms and patterns (as seen in DAMP-FOLD drapery). A taste for the humorous and GROTESQUE is also manifest, combining with the decorative to produce characteristic ZOOMORPHIC, ANTHROPOMORPHIC, GYMNASTIC, INHABITED, and HISTORIATED INITIALS, ultimately of INSULAR and PRE-CAROLINGIAN derivation. The number of subjects depicted in religious art during this period increased, stimulated by religious reforms and scholarship, resulting in an expanded Old and New Testament ICONOGRAPHY (with developments in areas such as TYPOLOGY). Although the production and patronage of manuscripts was principally ecclesiastical in the Romanesque period, there was also an increase in the production of illuminated scholarly and technical works, such as BESTIARIES and HERBALS.


Harley MS 2893, f. 93v Harley MS 2367, f. 70v

A title, chapter heading, or instruction that is not strictly part of the text but which helps to identify its components. Red INK was often used to distinguish such elements, hence the term, which derives from the Latin for red, rubrica.


A person responsible for supplying the RUBRICS within a manuscript. Rubrication - sometimes done by the SCRIBE - generally followed the laying out and writing of the text.


Yates Thompson MS 4, f. 190v Stowe MS 5, f. 111

The process by which a frame and/or horizontal lines are produced to guide the hand in writing; the word also refers to the linear guide thus produced. Ruling was guided by PRICKING. Beginning in the CAROLINGIAN period, templates were sometimes used in pricking and ruling. Before the late eleventh century, ruling was generally executed with a HARD POINT, producing a ridge-and-furrow effect. Thereafter LEAD POINT was used in the layout of individual pages, enabling greater flexibility. When the thin PEN used to produce cursive SCRIPTS was revived in the later twelfth century, ruling was also done in INK, especially from the late thirteenth century on. Coloured inks were employed in some manuscripts, such as the pink ruling in fifteenth-century BOOKS OF HOURS. The Italian humanists (see HUMANISTIC) revived the use of hard point for ruling. When PAPER was used as the writing support material, this could result in tears in the paper. See also MISE-EN-PAGE.


Note the end of the name Judith written in the upper margin, in the Book of Judith of this 13th-century Bible (the first syllable is written on the opposite page), Harley MS 2806, f. 182

A line of text at the head of a FOLIO that identifies the title of a work or one of its ubsections. Running titles (also called running heads) help the reader find the different parts of a manuscript.



Harley MS 228, f. 129

A decorative device (abstract, foliate, zoomorphic, or anthropomorphic) which indicates that the text of a line has been carried over to occupy the remainder of the line above or below, a space that otherwise would have been left blank. Run-over symbols serve both decorative and space-saving functions, especially in verse forms such as the Psalms, and were initially popularized in INSULAR and PRE-CAROLINGIAN art.

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