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Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts

Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands
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This database uses roughly 8,000 images drawn from 500 illuminated manuscripts found in Medieval Bibles and books to showcase Medieval life and culture. Images cover a range of subjects. Christian history is well represented, with a large image collection of Catholic saints and Christian holidays. Manuscripts are primarily from the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, though there are a few from Italy, England, Germany, and Spain. There are also images from St. Augustine’s City of God, Livy’s Roman History, and Christine de Pisan’s l’epitre d’Othea. The entire books have not been scanned. Rather, the site’s focus is individual illustrations, including detailed viewing of miniatures, border illustrations, and initials. The site is well organized and easy to navigate through a highlights section, a browse-by-subject option, and a detailed search mode. First time users and those unfamiliar with illuminated manuscripts should begin by viewing the highlights, which orients the user to the collection and suggests appropriate search queries. Browse-by-subject presents nine broad subject headings, such as “Religion and Magic,” “Nature,” and “Classical Mythology and Ancient History,” and about 100 subheadings. All images enlarge to full screen and can be zoomed to view details. Note that the site is not fully functional in the Netscape browser—thumbnail images appear but do not enlarge.

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