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The Genesis of a Medieval Manuscript


Illumination taken from a psalter, created in Pavia, Italy, c. 1450. Add. 15114, f.48v

The author's foreword:

Medieval manuscripts are hand-written documents created during the Middle Ages.  They can range anywhere from a sheet of paper to a roll of papyrus to a codex of parchment, and can be written about any topic imagineable to humankind.  This presentation will attempt to investigate the processes behind the production of medieval manuscripts, taking into account the creation of the writing implements, the text itself, and finally the finished product as a whole.  Using Graham and Clemens' Introduction to Manuscript Studies as a scholarly resource, I will explore a number of these processes using real manuscripts as examples.

The actual creation of a medieval manuscript is an event shrouded in time, so the information presented here is that gleaned from scholarly research and educated assumptions.  There were many variables that went into the creation of such a text; however, through this presentation I will attempt to walk through a number of them in detail, accepting that each manuscript was made in a different manner and with different materials.  While there is no set-in-stone method for manuscript creation, there was a general process, and that is what I will attempt to explore.

- Logan Quigley, Purdue University

Manuscript illumination from the Bamberg Apocalypse, c. 1000–20.