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Medieval Manuscripts

Living documents today around the world

10 February 2023 | T. Russo

revised October 20, 2023

A medieval manuscript is a codex (pl. codices), meaning a book made of "paper" bound between two boards. The "paper" is actually made of animal skin when the skin from sheep, calf, and goats is curated and made into a writing surface, called parchment. The writing surface is referred to as folio (abbreviated f. or pl. ff.) when discussing the pages in the manuscript.

There are many online articles about manuscripts with images from various libraries and museums. The most accurate information can be found from collections of universities' rare book collections and from museum curators who share their collected artifacts.

Marie de France, a deatil from an illuminated manuscript now in the Bibliothèque nationale de France: BnF, Arsenal Library, Ms. 3142 fol. 256.

What follows is a modest list of information for educators, who can use the articles and guides to discuss reading and writing in the Middle Ages. These sites also offer images that can be used for creating PowerPoint slides on the topic of manuscripts.

New York University Libraries, a guide to Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts

University of Chicago, a guide to Medieval Manuscripts

The Morgan Library & Museum on their Medieval and Renaissance Collection

Digital Bodleian (major library of Oxford University)

The National Library of France (BnF)

Yale University, Beinecke Library

Harvard University

John Hopkins University

National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC)

University of Texas, Harry Ransom Center

University of Washington

University of Toronto, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

The National Library of Wales

Victoria and Albert Museum

The British Academy


An article about some important MSS

How to cite this blog:

Russo, Teresa. "Medieval Manuscripts: Living documents today around the world," Teaching the Middle Ages. February 10, 2023; revised October 20, 2023,

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