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Illuminated Manuscripts



The word “manuscript” comes from the Latin words manus (hand) and scriptus (writing) and means “written by hand.” Before the invention of printing, copies of books had to be handwritten. The word “illuminated” comes from the Latin illuminare, and means “lighted up.” An illuminated manuscript is a handwritten book decorated with gold, giving it the appearance of being lit from within.


In early medieval times, monks were the sole makers of illuminated manuscripts. Manuscript

decoration included small painted scenes, intricate borders, and ornate chapter letters. Such decoration was both beautiful and important because during medieval times, many people, even those who owned manuscripts, could not read.


Recently, students in Mrs. Allen’s Medieval History class had the opportunity to create a page of their very own illuminated manuscript. First, they selected a favorite verse from the Bible, and decided whether their manuscript would be in Latin or English. Then, they created rough drafts in pencil on plain paper before checking out calligraphy pens and art materials to create their final draft on art paper. As you can see, their results were superb and will be a beautiful memento of their time in middle school studying the middle ages.


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