A two-year project, drawing on the collections of the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, has made 800 manuscripts from the period 700 – 1200 available online for the first time.
The two-year project, The Polonsky Foundation England and France Project: Manuscripts from the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, 700-1200, began in the summer of 2016 and saw teams from both libraries working together to digitise, fully catalogue and make available online 400 manuscripts from each of their collections.
Kathleen Doyle, Lead Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library says: ‘By providing online access to the digitised versions of 800 of some of the finest of these manuscripts we hope to transform awareness of this period of close political and cultural entwinement between our two countries, when scribes moved between England, France and Normandy, working in Latin, French and English on manuscripts of unparalleled beauty and sophistication.’
The Bibliothèque nationale de France’s trilingual website allows users to search manuscripts in English, French and Italian. You can also view and compare manuscripts side-by-side using International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) technology. The British Library website presents a curated selection of these manuscripts highlighting various topics and manuscripts. Readers may explore themes, such as history, illumination, science and manuscript making.
The project has been generously supported by The Polonsky Foundation, and draws upon the expertise of curators, cataloguers, conservators and imaging specialists from both institutions, who have learned from one another through a programme of knowledge exchange and reciprocal visits.
Image: Annunciation to the Shepherds, twelfth century psalter – BL, MS Cotton Caligula A. vii/l, f.6v.