“Ancients” Flying Around On Little Propeller Chairs UPDATED

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I’ll be honest, I have no idea what’s going on here [NOTE: solved, see below]: Here’s the entire page, which is an illumination from an MS of the Commentary on the Apocalypse by Beatus. The floating heads don’t help matters. Here’s the previous page: And the facing page: It’s a commentary on Revelation 4:3, with the red text [Read More...]

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Medieval Handwriting: The App

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I don’t expect that many of you need to learn to distinguish among and transcribe the many kinds of medieval hands found in old manuscripts, but Medieval Handwriting is still a must for medieval buffs. The app, available for Android and iOS, includes 26 religious manuscript pages. Each has an introduction, specimen letter forms, and [Read More...]

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Jesus–The Revenge!: A Medieval Drama

Signs and portents warning of the destruction of Jerusalem .

The British Museum recently acquired a beautiful illuminated manuscript of a fairly obscure mystery play called Mystère de la Vengeance de Nostre Seigneur Ihesu Crist. In English: Mystery of the Vengeance of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh yeah, now we’re talking. I can see the movie poster already. “He’s back, and this time … it’s personal.” [Read More...]

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Catherine of Cleves Has a Case of the Mondays

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From the Morgan Library & Museum comes this page from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, Monday Matins “Office of the Dead.” Even in the 15th century, Mondays had a grim association. The Morgan describes it thus: As a man dies, his wife offers him a candle, a doctor examines his urine, and his son [Read More...]

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Sirach: An Online Manuscript Collection

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The Book of Sirach (Latin: Ecclesiasticus) is a beautiful wisdom work that blends Greek and Hebrew thought. It’s the last of the Old Testament books composed, and was probably written only two centuries before the first of the New Testament texts, providing an important glimpse into the development of faith and philosophy between the OT [Read More...]

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Medieval Warrior Snails

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The British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts Blog has an interesting compilation of marginal art depicting knights charging at snails. I’ve seen snails in marginals before, but never realized they were such a persistent motif. The symbolism and placement is still puzzling to many medievalists, particularly since the snail did not have a stable meaning associated with [Read More...]

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Mysterious Medieval Manuscript is Probably Not a Hoax

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The Voynich Manuscript has baffled everyone since it was first acquired (or, some say, forged) by collector Wilfrid Voynich in 1912. Probably dating to the 15th century and originating in Northern Italy, the manuscript consists of 240 pages of vellum covered in a mysterious, indecipherable script and illustrations of non-existent plants, astronomical diagrams, tiny naked [Read More...]

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Weird Medieval Marginalia

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I guess it’s nice when the internet discovers the much-better-than-the Renaissance-or-Enlightenment awesomeness of the Middle Ages, but like schoolboys searching for the dirty words in the dictionary, they often only seems to find the bizarre or outrageously sexual stuff. Case in point: Buzzfeed’s 20 Bizarre Examples of Medieval Marginalia. Please, please, PLEASE do not click that [Read More...]

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