What is an Illuminated Manuscript?

An illuminated manuscript is a handwritten book
that has been decorated with gold or silver,
brilliant colors, or elaborate designs or miniature
pictures. With the advent of the printing press,
the art of creating illuminated manuscripts largely
disappeared, since these ornate and beautiful
volumes were expensive and time consuming to
produce when compared with printed material.

Differences between Romanesque and Gothic Manuscripts

Romanesque Manuscript Gothic Manuscript
~ Gothic figures are more animated, and had much more depth while with Romanesque
manuscripts the figures are flat and more distorted, the feet are turned to the side, but the
body is flat, similar to Egyptian heiroglyphs.
~ Gothic manuscripts have a realistic background while Romanesque have flat surfaces for
Illuminated Manuscript
~ The people in Gothic are stacked up and overlapping with more perspective while the figures
in Romanesque are majorly not overlapping and hence giving less depth.
What writing instruments were used?
The writing instruments used were:
~ Reed pen- Egyptian pens were made from the Juncus Maritimus plant that grew on the banks
of the Nile river. Egyptian writers chose thin, sharp reeds and shaped them for use as a precise
writing tool. The scribe cut the ends of the reeds to allow the reed material to absorb the ink
pigment (like a paint brush), and moistened the reed with water before dipping it into the ink to

~ Quill- A quill pen is a writing implement made from a molted flight feather (preferably a
primary wing-feather) of a large bird. Quills were used for writing with ink before the invention
of the dip pen, the metal-nibbed pen, the fountain pen, and, eventually, the ballpoint pen. The
hand-cut goose quill is still used as a calligraphy tool, however rarely because many papers are
now derived from wood pulp and wear down the quill very quickly. It is still the tool of choice
for a few professionals and provides an unmatched sharp stroke as well as greater flexibility
than a steel pen.

~ Dip Pen- A dip pen or nib pen usually consists of a metal nib with capillary channels like those
of fountain pen nibs, mounted on a handle or holder, often made of wood. Other materials can
be used for the holder, including bone, metal and plastic, while some pens are made entirely of
What writing surfaces were used?
Parchment is a thin material made from hide; often calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin, and often
split. The most common use was as a material for writing on, for documents, notes, or the
pages of a book, codex or manuscript. It is distinct from leather in that parchment is limed but
not tanned; therefore, it is very reactive to changes in relative humidity and is not waterproof.
Finer-quality parchment is called vellum but paper was used for some manuscripts, especially
those of a secular nature. Also Papyrus was used.

Who produced the illuminated manuscripts and who were their
clients and what purpose did these manuscripts serve?
These were created in monasteries by monks. The main purpose of illuminated manuscripts
was to preserve religious teachings. They recorded the Gospels from the Bible as well as prayers
to be recited. As well, they were a way to preserve classical literature. The purpose was mainly
didactic, or instructional, but the writers, often monks, used ornamental drawings to illustrate
the messages and to embellish the writings. Until printing was developed in the fifteenth
century, illuminated manuscripts were the only books available. They kept alive both the art of
illustration and Western civilization in general during a time when Europe and parts of the
former Roman Empire were being plundered. During this time, the monasteries were all that
stood between civilization and utter chaos. The objects were considered as sacred, and were
often lavishly and beautifully decorated in order to reflect what was considered to be the
beauty of their sublime contents.

What was the connection between the manuscripts of Timbuktu and
the manuscripts of Medieval Europe?
Like Latin was used for European medieval manuscripts, Arabic was the "African Latin" and was
used in the Timbuktu manuscripts. Until the sixteenth century, Timbuktu was a flourishing city
that attracted Islamic scholars and students for instruction at the Sankore mosque, an
institution often compared to medieval European universities. But the importance of Timbuktu
declined as a result of various local and international factors, including a shift in trade patterns
between West Africa and Europe. These manuscripts influenced the manuscripts in Europe
when they were carried over or traded.

Medieval Graphic Arts Land Marks
The Lindisfarne Gospel
Holy Island has a very special place in history as the birthplace of
the Lindisfarne Gospels, among the most celebrated illuminated
books in the world.
According to an inscription added in the 10th century at the end
of the original text, the manuscript was made in honour of God
and of St. Cuthbert by Eadfrith, Bishop of Lindisfarne, who died in
Eadfrith played a major part in establishing Cuthbert's cult after
his relics had been raised to the altar of the monastery church on
20th March, 698, the eleventh anniversary of his death. The
Gospels may have been made in honour of that event.

The Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is celebrated for its lavish
decoration. The manuscript contains the four Gospels
in Latin based on a Vulgate text, written on vellum
(prepared calfskin), in a bold and expert version of
the script known as "insular majuscule".
The place of origin of the Book of Kells is generally
attributed to the scriptorium of the monastery
founded around 561 by St Colum Cille on Iona, an
island off the west coast of Scotland. In 806,
following a Viking raid on the island which left 68 of
the community dead, the Columban monks took
refuge in a new monastery at Kells, County Meath. It
was stolen in the 11th century, at which time its
cover was torn off and it was thrown into a ditch. The cover, which most likely included gold
and gems, has never been found, and the book suffered some water damage; but otherwise it
is extraordinarily well-preserved.

The Toledo Bible
The sumptuous Bible made for Louis IX the
Saint has been known for centuries under the
name of Biblia rica (”rich Bible”) for its luxury
decoration. It was transferred to Toledo during
the lifetime of the King (1226–1270) where 8
folios were taken out for unknown reasons in
the 16th century and rebound separately in
leather. They have been kept in the Pierpont Library in New York since 1906.

Books of Hours
Books of hours are often characterized
as the “bestseller” of the Middle Ages.
As a genre, they certainly enjoyed
enormous, even unprecedented
popularity, becoming the prayer book of
the laity, monarchs and merchants, lords
and ladies, alike. Its popularity,
however, was restricted to certain parts
of Europe: primarily France, England and the Netherlands. Elsewhere in Europe, for example,
in German-speaking lands, Central Europe and even Italy and Spain, where other types of
prayer books retained their dominance, it remained relatively rare.

The Klosterneuburg Altar
Verdun Altar, an important work of
Romanesque enamel art (sunk enamel) on
gilded copperplates, made in 1181 by order
of provost Wernher of Klosterneuburg by
the Lorraine enamel artist and goldsmith
Nikolaus von Verdun (b. before 1150
Verdun, d. after 1205) as paneling for a pulpit parapet; after fire damage (1330),
the 51 enamel panels were reassembled in 1331 to form a wing altar in three
parts for the provost Stephans von Sierndorf, and 6 panels were restored in the
style of the 12th century. At the same time 4 panel paintings by the artist were
added to the rear sides of the Verdun altar; these are the oldest specimens of
panel painting in Central Europe; the extensive inscriptions on the frame provide
information on how the enamel panels were made and completed and what they
depict: pictures from the Old and the New Testament representing the entire
history of the Salvation.

The Unicorn in Captivity
The seven individual hangings known as "The Unicorn
Tapestries," are among the most beautiful and complex
works of art from the late Middle Ages that survive.
Luxuriously woven in fine wool and silk with silver and
gilded threads, the tapestries vividly depict scenes
associated with a hunt for the elusive, magical unicorn.
The style of the tapestry is known as mille-fleurs.
Translated to mean "thousand flowers," the technique
involves embroidering numerous flowers and plants in
the background. "The Unicorn in Captivity" may have
been created as a single image rather than part of a
series of seven. It is estimated that 15,000 people were
involved in weaving the series.
The book of Durrow
The Book of Durrow is a 7th-century illuminated
manuscript gospel book in the Insular style. It
was probably created between 650 and 700, in
either Durrow or Northumbria in Northern
England, where Lindisfarne or Durham would be
the likely candidates, or on the island of Iona in
the Scottish Inner Hebrides. The subject has
been intensely debated by scholars for many
decades, but without any common consensus
emerging. Like the Book of Kells, if it was not
always in Ireland it was taken there, perhaps by
monks fleeing the Viking attacks on Britain, and
was certainly at Durrow Abbey by 916.
It is the oldest extant complete illuminated
Insular gospel book, for example predating the
Book of Kells by over a century. The text
includes the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke
and John, plus several pieces of prefatory
matter and canon tables. Its pages measure 245
by 145 mm and there are 248 vellum folios. It
contains a large illumination programme
including six extant carpet pages, a full page miniature of the four evangelists' symbols, four full
page miniatures, each containing a single evangelist symbol, and six pages with significant
decorated initials and text. It is written in majuscule insular script (in effect the block capitals of
the day), with some lacunae.

Romanesque Building Main Features
Stone was cut with precision.
Walls were initially solid but the walls and shell keeps
designed in the Romanesque architecture style were hollow
and distributed the weight of the stones.
The use of the Roman arch led to the stone being supported in the middle by the arch
The stone used was extremely heavy. The weight of the ceilings would tend to buckle the walls
outward and large piles of stone would be stacked along the wall in intervals to buttress (or
support) the walls from pushing outward. These piles of stones became features of
Romanesque Architecture and buttresses were introduced to the basic design and a major
characteristic of Romanesque architecture.
The window openings of Romanesque Architecture castles had to be small to keep the strength
of the walls strong. The wheel, or rose window, therefore appeared and became a feature of
the Romanesque.
The Vault is the most important structural developments and characteristics of Romanesque
architecture were the vault. The vault was developed to enable the construction of stone roofs
- wooden roofs were an obvious fire hazard. They were two main types of vaults, Barrel vaults
and Groin vaults. Barrel or Tunnel Vaults consisted of a continuous surface of semicircular or
pointed sections resembling a barrel or tunnel which has been cut in half lengthwise. Groin
Vault was produced by the intersection, at right angles of two barrel vaults. The arches of groin
vaults were either pointed or round.

Tum Collegiate Church, Poland

Early Gothic Building Main Features
This style began in 1140 and was characterized by the
adoption of the pointed arch and transition from late
Romanesque architecture. To heighten the wall, builders
divided it into four tiers: arcade (arches and piers),
gallery, triforium, and clerestorey. To support the higher
wall builders invented the flying buttresses, which
reached maturity only at High Gothic during the 13th
century. The vaults were six ribbed sexpartite vaults.

Grand, Tall Designs, Which Swept Upwards With Height and Grandeur
The Pointed Arch
The Gargoyles of Gothic Architecture

High Gothic Building Main Features
A series of four discrete horizontal levels or stories
in the cathedral's interior were evolved, beginning
with a ground-level arcade, over which ran one or
two galleries (tribune, triforium) to support
outward thrust from arches, over which in turn ran
an upper, windowed story called a clerestory. The
columns and arches used to support these different elevations contributed to the severe and
powerfully repetitive geometry of the interior.

Basilica of St. Denis, Paris, France.
Sainte Chapelle, Paris, France.
Late Gothic Building Main Features
By the late Gothic period, the buildings' flying buttresses (the
support systems that allowed the soaring heights) enabled the
cathedral walls to contain more and more stained glass windows,
which became exquisitely detailed images of the life of Christ and
other Biblical themes. The late Gothic style extended its
characteristic flame-like window tracery into other parts of the
building in the form of stone screens. The move was towards
larger rectangular windows and elaborate, fan-shaped vaults.