Illuminated Manuscripts - Summary

Long before most people can read or write, monks create illustrations to accompany manuscripts. Near the end of the 8th century, for example, people believe the end of the world is near and Beatus of Liebana writes a commentary on the Apocalypse.

During the following centuries, monks illustrate his words. It is amazing, given the passage of time, how many of these illuminated manuscripts still exist today. Often called miniatures, the illustrations depict not only scenes from the Bible, but also secular stories. Children learn about the lives and legends of saints from viewing miniatures.

Examine the types of weapons soldiers use in 13th-century battles from an illustration of the Life of King St. Edward. See what physicians, from the 11th century, believe about the brain - that it contains common sense, imagination, judgment, image creation and memory. View a medical illustration, at Oxford University, which shows how 13th-century doctors viewed human veins.

During the Middle Ages, only royalty can afford illustrated books and manuscripts. This was a time when Kings exchange Bibles with ornate illustrations; many of these illuminated manuscripts survive today in museums and libraries.

Most medieval literature deals with religion, so many illustrations tell religious stories and illustrate Bible events. But ... there are also many illustrations of historical events. An illuminated history of Hungary, for example, includes stories, traditions and legends of the country during the 14th century. An ancient illustrated history of Alexander the Great still exists.

Today, law and legal documents can be very boring as they are predominately text; however, in 15th-century England, many legal documents and events are beautifully illustrated.

Virtually visit museums and libraries all over Europe to enjoy copies of illuminated documents. See if you notice how artistic styles change throughout the years.

Learn about kings and saints throughout the Middle Ages. Then take one of the miniatures and tell the story behind it.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Jul 09, 2019

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Illuminated Manuscripts" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 01, 2001. Feb 27, 2020.
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