30% online discount* on Insular Books: Vernacular manuscript miscellanies in late medieval Britain, ed. Margaret Connolly and Raluca Radulescu
Insular Books discusses literary texts written in Anglo-French, Middle English, Older Scots, and Middle Welsh. The particular focus of the collection is one type of manuscript: the miscellany, essentially a multi-text manuscript whose contents are of a varied nature, often accumulated over time and added by different users.

*only when you order directly via, adding promotion code AAFLY7 to your shopping basket. Discount valid until 30/09/2015. Limit: 10 copies per transaction. This offer is only available to individual (non-trade) customers . This offer is exclusive and cannot be redeemed in conjunction with any other promotional discounts.


CFP: Reading Copy-Specific Features: Producers, Readers, and Owners of Incunabula
June 30 - July 1, De Montfort University

Printing technology spread all over Europe shortly after its invention in the 1450s, and yet manuscript culture continued to thrive in the incunabula period and beyond. Scribes and printers both used manuscripts and printed books in order to produce new copies, while early book owners often assembled and bound manuscript and print material together, resulting in the production of hybrid books. The incunabulum was a product of hand-craftsmen at various stages, and each copy, even of the same edition, has its own unique history of over 500 years. Recent studies of copy-specific information in incunabula have revealed the close relationship among producers, readers and owners.

The objective of this conference is two-fold: to disseminate advanced research of copy-specific features and to facilitate further collaboration of scholarship and integration of data. In this conference, copy specifics are broadly defined as all the 'marks' found in individual copies: the collation, the distribution of paper-stock, stop-press correction variants, hand-decorations, binding, unintentional damages such as worm-holes, traces of censorship, and intentional marks left by readers and both individual and institutional owners.

We invite proposals for short papers (15 minutes) on any aspect of copy specific features of incunabula. Papers from postgraduate students and early career researchers are particularly welcome, and there will be bursaries available for postgraduate students and early career researches to present their papers.

Please send proposal abstracts of 300-500 words with contact details and affiliation to Takako Kato at by 30 April 2015.

Find more information on the conference here:


Private Lives of Print: The use and abuse of books 1450-1500 Online exhibition:
The development of the printing press in Mainz in the 1450s was immediately recognized as a pivotal moment by contemporaries. Its impact was monumental, heralding a communication revolution akin to the birth of the internet and leading to the slow but inevitable decline of the manuscript as the dominant means of transmission. Fundamental to our understanding of the reception of this seismic event is the evidence left within books themselves. Over the past twenty-five years researchers have focussed increasingly on the marks left by early readers, as a means of assessing how books were used, how and where they moved, their trade, impact and audience.

This exhibition celebrates the conclusion of a five-year project, generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to catalogue Cambridge University Library’s world-class collection of incunabula, books printed before 1501. It draws on the remarkable body of information amassed during the project about how the earliest printed books were received during the first hundred years of the press. Annotations, provenance, bindings and decoration provide rare and unexpected insights into the use and abuse of incunabula, and into the private lives of both printed books and their owners.

Langland Study Day: Worcester Cathedral, 19 September 2015
The Worcestershire poet William Langland wrote his epic poem Piers Plowman 650 years ago. His quest for how to live a good moral life still moves us, disturbs us and makes us laugh.

Five distinguished speakers discuss Langland and medieval life. Sessions will be held in King's School Theatre. Attendees should use nearby car parks and enter the Cathedral precinct on foot via Edgar Tower, Edgar Street, WR1 2LR.

Tea/Coffee available

10.00 Session 1: Introducing Piers Plowman
Dr Carl Schmidt, Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, editor of the standard edition of the original Middle English text of the poem

11.00 Session 2: The Literary Context of the Poem
Dr Lawrence Warner, Senior Lecturer in Medieval English at King's College, London, and Director of the International Piers Plowman Society

12.00 Break

Session 3: Medieval Music & Minstrelsy (live music)
Frances Eustace, medieval music specialist and performer

Buffet lunch in the Cathedral Chapter House

Session 4: Medieval Monasticism
The Right Reverend Dom Aidan Bellenger, OSB, former parish priest of Saint Wulstan's, Malvern, and Abbot of Downside

Session 5: The Life of Langland
Peter Sutton, author of a new verse translation of the poem

Followed by discussion and questions to all speakers

16.45 Tea/Coffee available

Choral Evensong in the Cathedral (optional)

Tickets £30 to include tea/coffee and lunch are available from Worcester Live Box Office, tel. 01905 611427, Huntingdon Hall, Crowngate, Worcester WR1 3LD. Bookings are accepted until 12 September. For full details see the Cathedral website

For disabled access contact the Cathedral, Tel. 01905 732900 - All profits after expenses go to Cathedral funds. A joint event of Worcester Cathedral - Autumn in Malvern Festival - International Piers Plowman Society.


Print Networks-Peter Isaac Essay Prize 2015
In honour of our founder, the late Professor Peter Isaac, Print Networks announces the next round of its biennial essay prize for the best essay in the field of the History of the Book Trade in the Anglophone world.

The Rules
• The essay can be on any aspect of the History of the Book Trade in the Anglophone world during the incunabula or print eras. Papers drawing on research in primary sources and critical, methodological or theoretical essays are welcome.
• Any student registered for a postgraduate degree (master's or doctoral) is eligible to enter the competition. Early career scholars within three years of completion of their PhD are also eligible, as are independent scholars without a formal affiliation.
• The text of the essay (exclusive of references and bibliography) must be between 6000 and 8000 words.
• The essay must be submitted in English.
• The essay must not have been published elsewhere.
• An electronic copy of the essay (in Word format) must be submitted as an email attachment to Dr Catherine Armstrong, convenor of Print Networks by 27 March 2015.

The Decision
• The essays submitted will be assessed by at least three members of Print Networks' committee (all of whom are active researchers in the field).
• Submissions will be judged in terms of their originality, depth, scope and rigour and the extent to which they make a new contribution to historical understanding, as well as qualities of style and presentation.
• The Print Networks committee reserves the right not to award a prize in any particular year.
• The prize will be announced in early July via email, on the Print Networks website and will be awarded publicly at the Print Networks workshop.
• The prize will be £150 plus free entry to the Print Networks workshop to be held at Chetham's Library, Manchester on Friday 24 July 2015.


The Ferrell-Vogüé Machaut Manuscript DIAMM FACSIMILES No. 5
Full colour facsimile with introductory study by Lawrence Earp, Domenic Leo and Carla Shapreau. Preface by Christopher de Hamel

Exceptional in so many ways and incomparably precious, the most hidden of Machaut's manuscripts is finally the most accessible, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of its owners.

The long-lost 'Codex Vogüé' has for generations been one of the most elusive of all great medieval illuminated manuscripts. Consisting entirely of the works of Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377), it preserves almost all of his poetry and music. It dates from the author's lifetime, around 1370-72, and it is the largest and most comprehensive of several surviving manuscripts very probably made under Machaut's own supervision. The author himself evidently promoted the production of corrected manuscripts for presentation to members of the royal court of France. It has recently been discovered that the Codex Vogüé was owned by Jean, duc de Berry (1340-1416), no less, brother of Charles V and the most famous royal bibliophile of the Middle Ages. From him it passed to Gaston Fébus (1331-1391), comte de Foix, author of the celebrated Livre de chasse. He entrusted it in 1389 to Yolande de Bar (1365-1431), queen of Aragon, who never returned it. Instead, the manuscript entered the royal library of Aragon in Valencia, where it was recorded in 1417 in the possession of Alfonso the Magnanimous (1396-1458). By the mid-nineteenth century it was owned by the Vogüé family in France, who eventually sold it to Nathan Wildenstein (1851-1934). For seventy years it then vanished utterly from sight, one of the most mysterious and invisible monuments of medieval music and literature. Around 2000, it was acquired by the American collectors, James E. Ferrell and his wife Elizabeth J. Ferrell, who have placed it on deposit in the Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. It is a vast manuscript of royal luxury, 390 leaves of parchment, 314 mm. by 220 mm., illustrated with 118 enchanting miniatures by a workshop of court illuminators led by the Master of the Bible of Jean de Sy. They include pictures of gothic chivalry and romance, with mythology and natural history. Music is included on 235 pages of the manuscript, with almost the entire corpus of the ballades, lais and motets of Machaut, as well as his great polyphonic setting of the Mass, the four-part Messe de Nostre-Dame. The manuscript has never before been photographed in its entirety or reproduced in colour.

Vol. 1 introductory study (225 pages colour/mono), vol. 2 facsimile (789 full colour pages) on 150gsm matt art paper. Full size reproduction, hard bound in buckram, presented in hard slipcover.

Publications Full price £560. Early bird discount (until 28 Feb) £470
Postage free in the UK, elsewhere £45 (flat rate)


The Morgan Library & Museum is pleased to announce the publication of Miracles in Miniature: The Art of the Master of Claude de France, by Roger S. Wieck with a contribution by Francisco H. Trujillo.

The Master of Claude de France was an illuminator active in the French city of Tours during the first two decades of the sixteenth century. He is named after two jewel-like manuscripts he painted for Queen Claude de France (1499-1524), first wife of King François I: a tiny Book of Hours (today owned by Heribert Tenschert) and an even tinier Prayer Book (today owned by the Morgan Library & Museum). Although we find traces of him possibly as early as 1498, he does not emerge as an independent artist until around 1508. He flourished in the second decade of the century -- when he illuminated the majority of his work, including the two codices for the queen -- and disappeared shortly after 1520. All told, his actual career lasted only a short dozen years. In that brief span,however, he created some of the most mesmerizing illuminations in France during the "last flowering" of the handwritten and hand-painted book.

Published on the occasion of the Morgan Library & Museum’s exhibition Miracles in Miniature: The Art of the Master of Claude de France (May 31 to September 15, 2014), this is the first major study on the artist’s oeuvre since Charles Sterling’s 1975 book that gave the illuminator his name. The study offers a survey of the painter’s roots and training, his career, and his denouement. Francisco Trujillo's study of the palettes of the Claude Master and of the two artists who trained or influenced him, Jean Bourdichon and Jean Poyer, offers fascinating scientific parallels to Roger Wieck's stylistic analysis. Including, in a final chapter, all the known works by the Claude Master and his followers, Miracles in Miniature will be the starting point for all future studies of the artist.

Published by The Morgan Library & Museum, New York
7½ x 10 7/8 inches, 104 pages
93 color illustrations
ISBN: 978-0-87598-167-3

To order, please call 212-590-0394.
OR order online:


John Lydgate linked to Suffolk church graffiti
From The Guardian: The discovery of a signature has linked graffiti on the walls of a Suffolk church to a 15th Century poet.

The Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey has been studying inscriptions at St Mary's Church, Lidgate, near Haverhill.

They are "90%" sure a newly-discovered graffito was made by poet John Lydgate (c 1370-1451), who had been vicar there.

Matthew Champion, from the project, said: "He was known for his witty puns and many of these are of that kind."

Lydgate, who became a monk in Bury St Edmunds and wrote The Lives of St Edmund and Fremund, is regarded as one of the most important and prolific medieval English writers with over 150,000 lines of verse attributed to him. Read the rest of the Guardian article ...


Shakespeare Folio Discovered in France
First folios of Shakespeare’s plays are among the world’s rarest books, intensely scrutinized by scholars for what their sometimes-minute variations — each copy is different — reveal about the playwright’s intentions. Now a previously unknown folio has surfaced at a small library in northern France, bringing the world’s known total of surviving first folios to 233. Read the rest of the New York Times article ...


CFP: Biennial conference of the Early Book Society, University of Oxford
Telling Tales: Manuscripts, Books and the Making of Narrative
July 2-5, 2015
The next biennial conference of the Early Book Society will take place at the University of Oxford, from lunchtime on Thursday 2 July 2015 to early afternoon on Sunday 5 July 2015. Abstracts of 300 words or fewer for 20-minute presentations should be sent to the organizers by 30 November 2014 to the conference e-mail address Abstracts should include your name, affiliation (where relevant) and email address. Computers and data-projectors will be available for all sessions; speakers would need to bring presentations on a memory stick / USB plug-in device. People who have other AV needs should specify this on their abstract.

The theme, which may be interpreted narrowly or broadly, invites special attention to the material records of different genres of narrative, such as verse, romance, chronicle, biography or history. It might consider the ways that manuscripts, printed books and other media serve a narrative function: whether page layouts were modified for chronicles and annals, whether collections of documents were compiled to tell stories, whether images in books are important components of storytelling, whether poems on monuments recount lives.

The topic also invites participants totell different kinds of stories about early books. In particular, we may reflect on our storytelling as scholars. What is the role of biography--of the author, of the 'celebrity' scribe, of the idiosyncratic reader--in the study of early books? How sure can we be of cause and effect, of chronology and dating, of different kinds of paleographical, codicological and bibliographical evidence, in studying these books? Are history and narrative the best models for 'book history' or might studies of manuscript and print serve literary criticism, linguistics or philology in other ways?

Finally, papers which concern books in or around Oxford are also encouraged. But, in general, proposals for papers on any aspect of the history of manuscripts and printed books from 1350 to 1550, including the copying and circulation of models and exemplars, style, illustration, and/or the influence of readers and patrons, artists, scribes, printers, are welcome.

The website with details of registration and accommodation will go live later this winter and will be announced on the EBS listserv and also at this site.


Dan Mosser's updated catalogue of pre-1500 Chaucer MSS and incunables now online
This revised, updated, and corrected edition of Daniel W. Mosser’s A Digital Catalogue of the pre-1500 Manuscripts and Incunables of the Canterbury Tales contains descriptions of the eighty-four fifteenth-century manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales and of the individual copies of the four incunable editions. Accompanying articles discuss lost manuscripts and individual scribes. Find the catalogue here:

This edition omits the hundreds of images published on the Scholarly Digital Editions’ 2010 publication on CD-ROM, making it possible to provide the Catalogue free of charge on the Web. Verse items are hyperlinked to records in the Digital Index of Middle English Verse and, where images are available for watermarks to the Thomas L. Gravell Watermark Archive.


EBS-sponsored sessions, International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 14-17, 2015
EBS is pleased to sponsor four sessions at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan (May 14-17, 2015). The session titles are the following:

1. A Library, a Saint, and a Rose (co-sponsored with the IRHT, Paris)

2. When is a scribe not a scribe?

3. Magical Agency: prayers, ritual, prophecy and prognostication

4. Stories about Books: evidence and the making of narrative

The first session is preplanned but the others are open for submissions. Please send abstracts (1-2 pp), letters of commitment, and a-v request forms (please access the form through to Martha Driver not later (preferably earlier) than September 15, 2014. EBS members wishing to serve as session chairs or respondents should send a note by the September date to the university or email address. Send abstracts to Dept of English, Pace University, 41 Park Row, Rm 1503, New York, NY 10038 or FAX to 212-346-1754 (attn: Martha Driver, English Department). Inquiries are welcome. If responding by email, please put Kalamazoo 2015 and the session of interest into the subject line.


Vernon and Simeon Manuscripts now both fully Digitised
Often cited by medieval English manuscripts scholars, but rarely reproduced, now the Simeon manuscript (British Library, Addit. MS 22283) is available in full on the British Library Digitised Manuscripts site. On the manuscript and research in progress on it see Wendy Scase's guest blog entry, 'Beyond the Bling', 10 June 2014, on the British Library Medieval Manuscripts blog and the Simeon Manuscript Project website at the University of Birmingham. Digitisation of Simeon follows the recent publication on DVD of The Vernon Manuscript: A Facsimile Edition of Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Eng. poet.a.1, ed. by Wendy Scase (Oxford: Bodleian Digital Texts, 2012), meaning that the extraordinary Vernon-Simeon pair are now fully available for the first time.


New resource: Penn in Hand: Selected Manuscripts
From the site (here): The site offers bibliographic information and digital facsimiles for selected collections of manuscript codices, texts, documents, papers, and leaves held by Penn's Rare Book & Manuscript Library as well as those privately owned by Lawrence J. Schoenberg (C'53, WG'56). Penn holds over 2,000 Western manuscripts produced before the 19th century; medieval and Renaissance manuscripts comprise approximately 900 items, the earliest dating from 1000 A.D. Its holdings of Indic manuscripts is the largest in the Western hemisphere with more than 3,000 items. The Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection emphasizes secular topics, especially science and mathematics, and includes tablets from the 21st to 18th centuries B.C.


Now Available: Blackburn's 'Worthy Citizen': The Philanthropic Legacy of R.E. Hart
by Cynthia Johnston, Sarah J. Biggs

From the publisher's website (here): The exceptionally fine colour images in this catalogue are selections from the R.E. Hart Collection held by the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery. Seven medieval manuscripts and three incunables from the Collection were exhibited at Senate House Library in November of 2013.

This project, Blackburn's 'Worthy Citizen': The Philanthropic Legacy of R.E. Hart, was made possible by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and was generously supported by the Institute of English Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London; Winchester University; the Bibliographical Society; the Economic History Society; and the Blackburn Museum itself. Graduate students from the Institute of English Studies, The Courtauld Institute of Art, and Cambridge and Winchester Universities have worked with curators and experts from a wide range of academic disciplines to produce the exhibition and accompanying catalogue.

See the blog about the Hart collection here:


Late Medieval English Scribes website launched
Linne Mooney, Estelle Stubbs, and Simon Horobin have now launched the Late Medieval English Scribes website at

Late Medieval English Scribes is an online catalogue of all scribal hands (identified or unidentified) which appear in the manuscripts of the English writings of five major Middle English authors: Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, John Trevisa, William Langland and Thomas Hoccleve.


Harlaxton Medieval Studies Index now available
Over the course of the twenty-five years of its existence, the Harlaxton Medieval Symposium has published proceedings of its annual gatherings containing some 462 articles by 293 authors extending over 7682 pages. To mark the symposium’s quarter-century, the steering committee has now commissioned a cumulative index covering the first twenty-five volumes of the Harlaxton Medieval Studies, most of which were originally published without an index.

The newly-published index volume which runs to an impressive 841 pages

  • is comprehensive for names of places and individuals
  • provides references to a wide range of subjects
  • includes a full index of the manuscripts and documentary sources cited
  • includes a full alphabetical list of authors and essays.

Now available from:

Shaun Tyas Publishing
1 High Street
PE11 4TA
United Kingdom

T: + 44 (0)1775 821 542

The cost is £35.00 (post free for UK orders)


New Blog from St Andrews: Echoes from the Vault
In an age where books have become an increasingly rare item to find in libraries, and as libraries themselves are experiencing their largest sea-change since electronic cataloguing was introduced, special collection departments are slowly becoming what defines one library from another.

Echoes from the Vault is the official blog of the Rare Books Collection of the University of St Andrews. Here you can find posts about unique or exciting finds amongst the vaults in our day-to-day work, bringing to light voices that have remained quiet for many years. This blog will also feature news and events happening within the Special Collections Department and the University Library.

The Rare Books Collection of the University of St Andrews is estimated at over 200,000 volumes, and almost half of these have not been catalogued online, with only a portion of it having been recorded in the old Page Catalogue and reported to the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) and other bibliographies. Most of the unique items are not completely unknown to previous and existing Special Collections staff, they have just lain dormant for centuries. It is our hope that we can reawaken the potential of these books as research and educational resources by getting them in the hands of students, staff and researchers.

As part of its launch, Echoes from the Vault is showcasing bookbindings in St Andrews' collection with a special feature "52 Weeks of Fantastic Bindings," adding photos and discussion of one new fantastic binding each week. Follow the blog here:


Opuscula: Short Texts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (OSTMAR)
The Editorial Board of Opuscula: Short Texts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (OSTMAR) is pleased to announce the official launch of its website: We seek single-witness editions of Medieval and Renaissance texts under 6,000 words accompanied by a brief introduction (1000-1500 words) and translation. We invite submission of a broad range of pre-modern texts including but not limited to literary and philosophical works, letters, charters, court documents, and notebooks. Texts should be previously unedited and the edition must represent a discrete text in its entirety.

For more information or to view a sample edition, go to or write Frank Klaassen, General Editor at

OSTMAR is an on-line and open-access journal published by Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies at the University of Saskatchewan under a creative commons license. All submissions are subject to a double-blind peer review and must be accompanied by readable digital facsimiles of the original documents.


Announcing a new series from Ashgate Publishing Company:
Material Readings in Early Modern Culture

Series Editors:
James Daybell, University of Plymouth; and Adam Smyth, Birkbeck College, University of London
This series provides a forum for studies that consider the material forms of texts as part of an investigation into early modern culture. The editors invite proposals of a multi- or interdisciplinary nature, and particularly welcome proposals that combine archival research with an attention to the theoretical models that might illuminate the reading, writing, and making of texts, as well as projects that take innovative approaches to the study of material texts, both in terms the kinds of primary materials under investigation, and in terms of methodologies. What are the questions that have yet be to asked about writing in its various possible embodied forms? Are there varieties of materiality that are critically neglected? How does form mediate and negotiate content? In what ways do the physical features of texts inform how they are read, interpreted and situated? Consideration will be given to both monographs and collections of essays.

    The range of topics covered in this series includes, but is not limited to:
  • History of the book, publishing, the book trade, printing, typography (layout, type, typeface, blank/white space, paratextual apparatus)
  • Technologies of the written word: ink, paper, watermarks, pens, presses
  • Surprising or neglected material forms of writing
  • Print culture
  • Manuscript studies
  • Social space, context, location of writing
  • Social signs, cues, codes imbued within the material forms of texts
  • Ownership and the social practices of reading: marginalia, libraries, environments of reading and reception
  • Codicology, palaeography and critical bibliography
  • Production, transmission, distribution and circulation
  • Archiving and the archaeology of knowledge
  • Orality and oral culture
  • The material text as object or thing

Proposals should take the form of either 1) a preliminary letter of inquiry, briefly describing the project; or 2) a formal prospectus including: abstract, brief statement of your critical methodology, table of contents, sample chapter, estimate of length, estimate of the number and type of illustrations to be included, and a c.v. Please send a copy of either type of proposal to each of the two series editors and to the publisher: Dr James Daybell,; Dr Adam Smyth,; Erika Gaffney, Publisher,


Brepols Publishers and the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies are delighted to announce a forthcoming journal for 2011, beginning with two issues.

The Mediaeval Journal is a distinctively European-based cross-disciplinary and multinational journal of Mediaeval Studies published in English in both print and online formats. Featuring the work of specialists in all areas of Mediaeval Studies, it offers wide disciplinary coverage in every issue and welcomes submissions from the worldwide community of mediaevalists in traditional disciplines such as Art History, History, Archaeology, Theology, European Languages/Literatures (including English), as well as burgeoning areas such as Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, Manuscript Studies, Mediaevalisms, Material Culture, History of Medicine and Science, History of Ideas, Queer Studies, Postcolonial Studies, and Musicology, to name a few. Each issue of The Mediaeval Journal also contains timely and expert reviews responding to the variety and energy of scholarship across the world of Mediaeval Studies.

The editors are pleased to receive submissions in any of the above areas, and to respond to queries from potential contributors. Please send submissions, in the form of email attachments, to the General Editors: Dr Ian Johnson ( and Dr Margaret Connolly (

Ordering Information: To order a copy of The Mediaeval Journal contact our Customer Care Department at or tel. +32 14 44 80 35.


Harry Ransom Center's Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Collection Now Accessible Online

AUSTIN, Texas --The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, has introduced an online database for its medieval and early modern manuscripts collection. The database includes more than 7,000 digital images and can be accessed here

The medieval and early modern manuscripts collection contains 215 items dating from the 11th to the 17th centuries. It comprises items from various collections, including those of George Atherton Aitken, W. H. Crain, Carlton Lake, Edward A. Parsons, Sir Thomas Phillipps, Walter Emile Van Wijk, Evelyn Waugh, John Henry Wrenn and others.

The Ransom Center is digitizing all of the collection items, which will be added to the database as they are completed. At present, digital images are available for 27 of the items for a total of 7,288 pages.

The database contains item-level descriptions for all 215 items, and the collection is searchable by keyword and any combination of the following categories: name, country of origin, century, language, format (such as charters or diaries), subject and physical features (such as musical notation or wax seals).

The medieval and early modern manuscripts collection is a rich resource for many areas of research. Scholars may use the collection to trace typographical developments in printing, compare different versions of the same text or examine a manuscript's composition, decoration and binding to study the history of the book. The collection may also be valuable for those studying the history of liturgy and music.

"The new database for the Ransom Center's medieval and early modern manuscripts collection is a wonderful resource for students and teachers here at the university and for scholars everywhere," said Marjorie Curry Woods, professor of English and comparative literature at The University of Texas at Austin. "The detailed descriptions will help researchers working on individual manuscripts, provide a model for students learning palaeography and codicology, and allow scholars elsewhere to explore possible connections between the Ransom Center's manuscripts and those in other collections.

"The complete digitized versions of manuscripts are invaluable. Manuscripts that are now too fragile to be handled are still available for research and teaching, and those that have small, difficult-to-read glosses and marginalia now can be deciphered with relative ease. In addition, digitized manuscripts can be projected for class presentations and can be consulted by scholars working collaboratively but in different locations. Access to the Ransom Center's valuable early holdings is increased exponentially while at the same time reducing wear and tear on the manuscripts themselves."

The collection is particularly strong in humanistic manuscripts, vernacular literature and religious documents. Other represented subjects include alchemy, architecture, astronomy, botany, cartography, classical literature, diplomacy, drama, genealogy, government, heraldry, history, kings and rulers, law, mathematics, medicine, monasticism and religious orders, music, philosophy, poetry, science and war.

The earliest item in the collection is the Tegernsee Miscellany manuscript, an 11th-century Austrian codex of various texts compiled by Abbot Ellinger of Tegernsee. Other highlights include 11 Books of Hours, most notably the "Belleville Hours," and a 15th-century German ferial psalter and hymnal, significant because of its possible stylistic relationship to the Gutenberg Bible and early printed psalters.

The collection contains classical texts, including copies of works by Cicero, Horace, Ovid and Plato, and medieval literary works by Geoffrey Chaucer, Dante and Petrarch.

The historical documents in the collection represent numerous European monarchs, such as Henry VIII of England, Louis XIII of France and Philip III of Spain. Notable historical figures represented in the collection include Oliver Cromwell, Martin Luther, John Milton, Sir Isaac Newton, Abraham Ortelius and Sir Walter Raleigh. Document types include charters, commonplace books, contracts, correspondence, decrees, deeds, diaries, government records, indentures, letters patent, minutes, notarial documents, notes, papal bulls, petitions, pontificals, receipts, reports, speeches and writs.

The manuscripts represent numerous countries and historical regions, including Austria, Bohemia, Bolivia, Byzantium, England, Flanders, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, Spain and the United States. The represented languages include Dutch, English, Flemish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Middle English, Old English and Spanish.

Other holdings at the Ransom Center that contain early manuscripts include the George Atherton Aitken, Eastern manuscripts, clay tablets and cones, Kraus maps, Lanza-Acosta Bolivian, Arthur Livingston, papyri, Pforzheimer, Ranuzzi, Shelley family and the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary collections.

High-resolution press images from the collection are available.


New Project--
Turning over a New Leaf: Manuscript Innovation in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance
Coordinator: Erik Kwakkel (, Leiden University Institute for Cultural Disciplines (LUICD); Funding: NWO VIDI-Scheme; Period: 1 May 2010 to 1 May 2015; Project Members: Coordinator; Junior Researcher; Postdoctoral Researcher.

This project is concerned with the relationship between written culture and society, specifically how innovations in the technology of the medieval manuscript relate to cultural change. The primary period of investigation is the age of renewal (renovatio) known as the “Twelfth-Century Renaissance” (c. 1075 - c. 1225). The project focuses on the new codex that emerged in this period: the “pregothic” manuscript, for lack of a better term. The new book format included new scripts, new page layouts and new reading aids, including running titles, paragraphs, “footnotes,” cross references and diagrams. These and other innovations dramatically changed the reading experience of medieval individuals: it helped to organize knowledge, convert words into arguments, open a dialogue between author and reader, and facilitated better comprehension and speedier access of information.

The project aims to show why the new format emerged and how it developed over the course of the period 1075-1225. It traces the roots of the manuscript in the institutional homes of a new breed of European scholars, and relates its creation to changes in the profile of readers and the texts they read. The Twelfth-Century Renaissance is seen as a movement that gave alacrity and optimism to educated society, whose members sensed they were living in a time different from their immediate past. Scholars all over western Europe — lacking cohesion other than a shared background (a “career,” perhaps) in higher education and a deep yearning for knowledge — started to exchange new ideas and outlooks on the world through newly designed books, which were disseminated through the main intellectual centers, monasteries, cathedral schools and (ultimately) universities.

The emergence of the pregothic manuscript raises important questions. What physical traits were introduced on the page and how did they precisely aid the reader? How quickly were these new features disseminated and which ones were most popular? Can their introduction be tied to particular institutions, schools or groups of intellectuals? Did certain texts come with certain physical attributes? To address such queries, the research project will relate the material format of the twelfth-century book to the historical context of its production and use. The affiliated researchers will focus on three dimensions: 1) Codicological and paleographical innovations (Coordinator, starting 1 May 2010); 2) Relationship between the material book and the cultural background of their users (Junior Researcher, to be appointed in 2010); 3) Relationship between the material book and the texts and genres it contains (Postdoctoral Researcher, to be appointed in 2011). The project leans heavily on manuscripts included in the Catalogues des Manuscrits Datés and will be based on in-situ study of a high volume of manuscripts.


"Performing Medieval Narrative Today: A Video Showcase"
This website ( /mednar/), produced through the Studio for Digital Projects and Research at New York University, offers resources for scholars, teachers, students, and performers to explore the performance of medieval narrative. Our purpose is to see how medieval stories can be brought to life in performance for modern audiences, and how performance can be used to teach medieval literature in the classroom. We hope as well to promote a better understanding of ways in which medieval narratives may have been performed for their original audiences.

Video clips constitute the primary resource on the website. The clips feature a variety of actors, storytellers, singers, musicians, mimes, puppeteers, and dancers, among them professionals, teachers, and students. They perform scenes drawn from a range of medieval narrative genres, including epics, romances, lais, tales, fabliaux, and others. Some performances of narratives from analogous traditions (such as the Egyptian Hilali epic) are also represented.

In the future, we plan to expand the site's holdings and add other resources to the site, including further information bearing on pedagogical uses of performance, and videoed interviews with performers and with faculty and students who work with performance.

We hope you will visit, and use, the website. We welcome your feedback, which may be sent to

Timmie (E.B.) Vitz, New York University ­
Marilyn Lawrence, New York University ­ lawrence@alumni.princeton. edu
Project Directors


Send announcements to Martha Rust at
Last updated 4/22/2015