The paradox of the medieval page

Preparing a medieval parchment page for writing was as difficult for a scribe as typesetting a page was (and sometimes still is) for a printer. The parchment was cut, folded, pricked, ruled, and the rules governing these essential operations evolved throughout the medieval period. It accounts for the changes in manuscript book layout, from theContinue reading “The paradox of the medieval page”

The library of secrets

Who doesn’t like a medieval secret? One of the enduring features of the medieval period is that of an age of secrecy. There’s a secret in every corner, the dark centuries are replete with mystery, teeming with hidden treasures, shrouded, cloaked, clouded – with secrecy. Not really. If the medieval age of secrecy is moreContinue reading “The library of secrets”

A tale of three classical manuscripts

The three oldest surviving illustrated manuscripts of classical literature have three things in common. They are all written on vellum, were made around the 5th century CE and went almost completely unnoticed for 1,000 years. If popularity is one of the main factors in assuring a book’s survival over the centuries, then this is trueContinue reading “A tale of three classical manuscripts”

Living in dark times

No other historical age has suffered more at the hands of historians than the so-called Dark Ages, the period between the 5th and 15th century AD. The medieval period as a dark age has been one of the most enduring legacies of past historiography, while scholars – medievalists, but not exclusively – have tried hardContinue reading “Living in dark times”