Scribes, illuminators, manuscripts in Baudri de Bourgueil’s poems



Medieval texts explaining how manuscripts are (to be) decorated are rare. Works detailing how manuscripts that have come down to us have been adorned are rarissimi. The techniques of medieval illumination are known nearly exclusively from the appearance of the manuscripts themselves. No treatise or textbook dealing with decoration, painting or illumination has survived, and there is no evidence to my knowledge that any such treatise has ever been written. Medieval authors occasionally give us some details of script, decoration, format of manuscripts they encounter, but these are neither comprehensive nor very helpful in identifying the actual volumes. For identification, scholars have to rely on things like hand-lists and library registers. In other words, they rely on identifiable texts and, sometimes, general format, not on any visual peculiarities, like details of decoration, colours of initials, layout, illuminations, etc.

In this galaxy of relative decorative darkness, the poems of Baudri…

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