Some of my favorite digitized medieval manuscripts

Posted: December 30, 2013 in medieval history
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Last week the British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts Blog published their 10 most popular posts of 2013. If you’re a medievalist, there’s a lot to celebrate here–I mean, the Lindisfarne Gospels, Beowulf, dozens of Hebrew manuscripts (including the fragments of the 10th-century “First Gaster Bible” and Harley 1861, Rashi’s commentary on the Pentatuch)!!!  What’s not to like?   Oh, and the Sacred Texts interactive map isn’t bad either.

So, I thought I’d post some of my favorite manuscripts from the past year, both from the British Library and elsewhere.

–The Luttrell Psalter, Add MS 42130. Naturally…

–The Smithfield Decretals, Royal MS 10 E IV. Awesome if you’re into military stuff, as well as animals turning the tables on humans (rabbits and snails, among others). Includes a fascinating retelling of the romance of Guy of Warwick.

–The Evesham Psalter, Add MS 44874, which I like for its clear text; excellent training manuscript for the young latinist and paleographer.

–The Taymouth Hours, Yates Thompson MS 13, Another wonderfully illuminated work.

–A fourteenth-century edition of Lancelot du Lac, Royal MS 20 D IV,

Moving away from the British Library’s holdings, here’s my current favorite manuscript: Bodleian Library MS Ashmole 804 pt IV, the Powell Roll of Arms.

You have GOT to love the Bibliothèque nationale de France. They’re so generous with what they digitize and provide for free.

–Master Fauvel’s Arthur of Brittany, from 1325-1350, BNF Français 761,

–The Deeds of the Romans, from 1324-1328,

–William de Tudèle, Song of the Albigensian Crusade,

–Gregory IX, Decretals,

–Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum historiale,

–The Grandes Chroniques de France, through 1380,

–French edition of Vegetius, c. 1390,

–Honoré Bonnet, L’Arbre des batailles, Catalan edition of 1429,

–collection of travel narratives, 15th-editions, including Marco Polo, Pordenone’s travels among the Tartars, Boldensele’s account of the Holy Land, Jean le Long’s various works, including on the state and government of the Great Khan, and Mandeville’s Travels.

–The Chronique du siège d’Orléans, aka the condemnation and rehabilitation of Joan of Arc, by Fabri, Gerson, and Calixtus III,


  1. He decided to refine his collection to include 100 manuscripts of the highest quality, and sold off the excess. When he was able to buy a better manuscript thereafter, he would sell one to make way for it. Many of the books that Yates Thompson collected were subsequently donated to museums, including the British Library , BnF and the Fitzwilliam Museum . He died at his London home in 1928; upon his wife’s death in 1941 a larger additional collection of illuminated manuscripts was donated to the British Museum and are now in the British Library, where the 52 Yates Thompson Manuscripts from both donations are now one of the “closed collections”.

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