In the Middle Ages, manuscripts necessary for the Mass formed part of a church’s most important treasures, together with other liturgical objects and relics. The value attached to the biblical texts is reflected in the luxurious decoration of this type of book, both inside and out, as seen in this copy of the Gospels, probably made in Metz in Lorraine.
Each Gospel begins with a portrait of the relevant Evangelist, and these and other pages in the book are elaborately decorated or enhanced with gold, silver or purple. Precious materials of different origins and dates were assembled to create an equally impressive treasure-binding. The back cover features an ivory carving of the Crucifixion, made in Constantinople in the 11th century.
This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.
- Article by:
- Charlotte Denoël
- Christian religion and belief, Making manuscripts, Art and illumination
A binding is an essential component of a manuscript, designed to hold it together and to protect it from wear and tear. Charlotte Denoël discusses the aesthetic and symbolic value of medieval bindings on books used ceremoniously and for study.
- Article by:
- Kathleen Doyle, Patricia Lovett
- Art and illumination, Making manuscripts
Before the introduction of printing to Europe, all books were written by hand as manuscripts. The process of making a manuscript was carefully planned and thought out in advance.