Making manuscripts

Making a medieval manuscript was an intensive process, involving scribes, illuminators and binders. Learn more about book production before 1200, and how these works were disseminated to readers.

Places of Production (New Thumbnail)

Manuscript production in England and France

Article by:
Calum Cockburn

Books were made in monasteries across England and France during the early medieval period. Calum Cockburn introduces some important sites of manuscript production that were active between 700 and 1200.

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How to make a medieval manuscript

How to make a medieval manuscript

Article by:
Kathleen Doyle, Patricia Lovett

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.

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Medieval Bindings

Medieval bindings

Article by:
Charlotte Denoël

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.

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French Illumination

French manuscript illumination

Article by:
Charlotte Denoël

Drawings and painted decoration in manuscripts ornamented the text as well as illustrated or commented on it. Charlotte Denoël outlines the history of manuscript art in early medieval France.

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English Illumination

English manuscript illumination

Article by:
Kathleen Doyle, Eleanor Jackson

Manuscripts reflect the creativity of artists and scribes, and the resources of their patrons. Kathleen Doyle and Eleanor Jackson outline the development of book art in early medieval England.

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Julia Crick

Scribes and manuscript production after the Norman Conquest

What happened to book production in England after William I’s invasion? Julia Crick examines two manuscripts that show Norman and English collaboration after the events of 1066.

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Manuscript production in the abbeys of Normandy, 700–1200

Manuscript production in the abbeys of Normandy

Article by:
Stéphane Lecouteux

Through the evidence of manuscript production Stéphane Lecouteux traces the history of Normandy and the region’s close ties with England before and after the Norman Conquest of 1066.

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Medieval Libraries

Medieval monastic libraries

Article by:
Alison Ray

Through the evidence of surviving manuscripts, Alison Ray explores the collections of medieval libraries and how these libraries grew and changed over time.

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Circulation

The circulation of manuscripts before 1200

Article by:
Samu Niskanen

Samu Niskanen discusses the movement of manuscript texts and letter collections between England and France in the early Middle Ages.

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Reading Aids

Reading aids in the early medieval book

Article by:
Jesse Keskiaho

From the Bible to works of the Church Fathers, Jesse Keskiaho outlines the many ways writers and scribes used navigational tools to guide the reader in early medieval manuscripts.

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Franco-Saxon Decoration

Franco-Saxon manuscript decoration

Article by:
Emilia Henderson

Manuscripts decorated in the Franco-Saxon style are some of the most visually stunning signs of the flow of inspiration and connections across the English Channel in the early Middle Ages. Emilia Henderson examines the design and production of these works.

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Further themes

Art and illumination

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

History and learning

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

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?

Making manuscripts

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

Christian religion and belief

Discover how religious works were transmitted in the Middle Ages.

Medieval manuscript collections today

Learn more about modern care and research of medieval manuscripts.