This curated selection explores medieval manuscripts that were digitised as part of The Polonsky Foundation England and France Project: Manuscripts from the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, 700–1200. Discover stunning highlights of illuminated manuscripts set in their cultural and historical context and explored in a range of articles.

All of the 800 manuscripts digitised in the project are included in full on the website France et Angleterre: manuscrits médiévaux entre 700 et 1200 where you can view manuscripts side by side, and find manuscripts by date, language, place of origin, author or subject.

Articles

Old English Thumbnail

Old English after the Norman Conquest

Calum Cockburn explores what happened to the writing of the vernacular after William the Conqueror’s invasion in 1066.

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French

The French language before 1200

Hannah Morcos looks at how the vernacular of northern France evolved from a regional spoken language to a cross-European written medium between the 8th and 12th centuries.

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The Latin Middle Ages Thumbnail

The Latin Middle Ages

Why was Latin so important in the Middle Ages? Cillian O’Hogan examines the development of medieval Latin and how it survived the collapse of the Roman Empire.

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Science and Mathematics

Medieval science and mathematics

Taylor McCall discusses early medieval approaches to various types of knowledge we might consider today to be ‘scientific’, as well as those subjects taught in the earliest universities, including mathematics and astronomy.

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Medieval bestiaries

Beastly tales from the medieval bestiary

Legends of animals helped readers in the Middle Ages to make sense of the living world. Elizabeth Morrison delves into the wondrous and delightful stories of the medieval bestiary.

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Themes

Art and illumination

Learn more about manuscript art from the illumination and decoration found in medieval books.

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History and learning

Explore the spread and exchange of medieval culture and language before 1200.

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Science and Nature

Science and nature

From medical surgery to the stars of the constellations, what were the scientific works of the early Middle Ages and how were they transmitted?

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Making Manuscripts

Making manuscripts

Learn more about book production in the Middle Ages and how to illuminate a manuscript today.

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Featured collection items

Eadui Psalter

1st half of the 11th century–mid 12th century

Canterbury or Anglo-Catalan Psalter

4th quarter of the 12th century

Portrait of St Dunstan as a bishop

4th quarter of the 12th century

Bestiary, with extracts from Gerald of Wales

Late 12th-century–early 13th century

St Denis Missal

Mid-11th century

Caligula Troper

2nd half of the 11th century

Gospel-book produced in Northern France

3rd quarter of the 9th century