Hvad overlever

Flere bøger fra Middelalderen end nogen andre kunstneriske mediums. Forskere refererer til de håndlavede bøger fra middelalderen som håndskrifter. Bøger, der indeholder kunstneriske dekorationer, kaldes illustrerede manuskripter. Manuskripter, der overlever fra den europæiske middelalder, er generelt religiøse bøger, der afspejler kristendommens kanoner, lære og praksis ,selvom der også er jødiske, muslimske og andre typer af bøger, som overlever fra denne periode.

Kodekset kontra skriftrullen

Et middelalderligt manuskript er et kodeks codices), meaning a book made of pages bound between two boards. Ancient scribes wrote on scrolls that were stored in boxes. These ancient scrolls only survive in occasional fragments, as a scroll is especially vulnerable to physical degradation. The pages of codices, on the other hand, are protected by their covers and have a much greater chance for survival. Således overlever bøger fra Middelalderen i stort stil.

Hvor man kan se håndskrifter fra Middelalderen

The Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris and the British Library in London house the world's largest collections of medieval manuscripts. Selv om de normalt kun er tilgængelige for akademikere, så sætter mange musemuer alligevel deres kostbare manuskripter til udstilling. Digitizing, or creating high quality digital images of manuscripts, is increasingly common and these images are normally available on the Internet, furthering the study of these medieval books.

What's in the books

The original manuscripts of the Bible, the works of Aristotle and Plato and other ancient writers do not survive. They are known today because medieval scribes diligently copied them.

En langsom og omstændelig proces

Registrering og formidling af oplysninger er hurtig og let i dag, men i middelalderen var denne proces langsom og omstændelig. Klosterbiblioteker husede de fleste bøger, og alle bøger blev kopieret i hånden, som regel af munke. Denne kopieringsproces og udbredelse af bøger var afgørende for bevaring af viden.
Some monks traveled to distant monasteries to view and copy books to bring back to their own monastery's library. Brande har ødelagt mange biblioteker i Middelalderen, samt de bøger de husede. På grund af dette og andre historieulykker overlevede ikke alle tekster i Middelalderen. The Name of the Rose, a novel by Umberto Eco, imagines such a fate for Aristotle's lost work on poetics.

Bøger & kristendom

Bøger var afgørende for krisentdomspraksisen. Medieval Christian missionaries, such as St. Augustine of Canterbury, brought books with them as they traveled from place to place preaching and establishing new churches. The Gospel Book of St. Augustine  survives today in the Parker Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. It contains the text of the gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John of the New Testament—an essential work for teaching potential converts about the life of Christ. A series of images illustrating the life of Christ prefaces the text and each book of the gospels begins with an illustration detailing the events unique to that gospel, though some of these are now lost.

Illustrationer

De ældste illustrerede manuskripter er blandt de ældste håndskrifter nogensinde. Illustration af bøger virkede funktionelt samt dekorativt. Illuminated initials and painted miniatures marked the beginnings of important sections in the text and allowed readers to navigate the book.
Prefatory image cycles prepared the mind of the reader to engage with the text. Some illustrations elaborate doctrines, record events or simply tells stories. Even readers' doodles are intriguing to contemporary scholars.

Ord & billede

In illuminated manuscripts, words and images worked together to inform the medieval reader and occasionally these readers left their own mark. Disse bøger er meget interaktive. Nearly all medieval manuscripts provide ample space in the margins for readers' notes and comments. In this way, illuminated manuscripts are different from other types of media in that they provided spaces for readers to record their reactions to image and text.
Essay by Dr. Nancy Ross
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