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Digital Facsimiles

Individual Manuscripts

Obviously not an exhausive list, these manuscripts are of particular interest to the student of Middle English and/or manuscripts I often teach from. Note that Chaucer has his own page of manuscript links, and the Major Authors page also points you to some fully digitized manuscripts.

  • The Auchinleck Manuscript at the National Library of Scotland
  • The Murthley Hours (an early 13th c. Book of Hours) at the National Library of Scotland
  • The St Alban's Psalter (a highly illuminated, mid-12th c. Psalm-and-prayerbook created for the anchoress Christina of Markyate.
  • The Burnet Psalter (15th century), also at the University of Aberdeen
  • The Claricia Psalter (12th c, Germany) from the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore
  • The gloriously illuminated Hours of Catherine of Cleves, at the Pierpont Morgan Library
  • Matthew Paris's History of Edward the Confessor, Cambridge, University Library MS Ee.3.59.
  • British Library, Harley MS 4431, the collection of her works that Christine de Pizan designed for and presented to Isabeau of France. (For more on Christine's manuscripts, see her section in the Middle English: Major Authors page.)
  • The Lindisfarne Gospels at the British Library Digitized Manuscripts site (scroll down and click on any of the images to get the page-through screen). Want to know more? See the British Library's Medieval Manuscripts Blog article on them. You can also view them with on the BL's Turning the Pages website.
  • The Book of Kells (yes, the Book of Kells).
  • The Beowulf Manuscript at the British Library Digitized Manuscripts site (scroll down and click on any of the images to get the page-through screen).
  • The Yates Thompson Life of Cuthbert, a beautifully illuminated saint's life at the British Library Digitized Manuscripts site (scroll down and click on any of the images to get the page-through screen).
  • The Eadwine Psalter, a beautiful c. 1150 illustrated Psalter (from Trinity College, Cambridge)
  • The Book of Margery Kempe, via Southeastern Louisiana University. That manuscript is also available from the British Library Digitized Manuscript site (scroll down and click on any of the images to get the page-through screen).
  • This page will link you to full and partial facsimiles of Marie de France manuscripts.
  • A personal favorite, John Lydgate's Lives of Edmund and Fremund via the British Library Digitized Manuscript site (scroll down and click on the flyleaf image to get the page-through screen).
  • The University of Pennsylvania library has digitized a late medieval genealogical roll-chronicle.
  • A glorious late medieval Book of Hours from Harvard University Library.
  • Lichfield Cathedral in England has digitized, with some distinctive multi-spectral photography features, two crucial manuscripts: the St Chad Gospels (c. 730, slightly later than the Lindisfarne Gospels), and a Wycliffite New Testament (c. 1410).
  • The Book of Hours website (highlighting Books of Hours for sale through a European bookseller) offers a slick peek into some beautiful pieces of manuscript art.
  • The website is in German, but you can still enjoy the beautiful Psalter of Isbella of England
  • The University of Victoria has produced an online digital facsimile of a beat-up, workaday manuscript of John Lydgate's Fall of Princes (choose "Indexes & Images).


Collections of Full Manuscripts

Primarily provided by major repositories, in England and in the US. These sites include both full facsimiles and individual images. You might double-check the catalogue of online catalogues provided by the ACRL and the one by Siân Echard at the University of British Columbia. New additions (12/18) have been starred.

  • The British Library's Digitized Manuscripts website is their gateway into their ever-expanding collection of fully digitized manuscripts. (When you find a manuscript that interests you, click through to its detailed catalogue listing, then click on any of the images to get the page-through screen.) Its search interface is a little TOO inclusive, so it works best if you already know the shelfmark of the manuscript you're searching for.
  • The British Library's Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts does not include full digitizations - it only includes select images from select manuscripts. However, its search functionality is much more nuanced than the Digitized Manuscripts site. If you are looking for images, or manuscripts likely to include images, often it's best to search for them here, then (if you find likely candidates), take their shelfmarks to the Digitized Manuscript website to see if the whole thing has been digitized yet.
  • Parker on the Web, the Parker Library of medieval manuscripts from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, hosted by Stanford University (it's a true gem):
  • The Bodleian Library's online Medieval Manuscripts catalogue indexes ALL their manuscripts, not only the digitized ones. However, if you go to Advanced Search, you can limit your results to those that have been digitized, all or in part. After you search and open the catalogue entry for your hit, there will be a "View online" button in the upper right corner.
  • The John Rylands Library Medieval Collection. Use the left-hand menu bar to narrow your search by place/category/date/etc, and be patient with the loading time.
  • E-codices: the Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland. Interface is in English; the searching is quite granular, but the interface is clean and easy to use.
  • BiblioPhilly is the online digitization of all the medieval manuscripts held in the greater Philadelphia area. Searchable by keyword, or search by date, place, genre, etc.
  • Harvard University's Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts website. Searchable by keyword, or date/place/genre/etc (similar interface to BiblioPhilly).
  • Walter's Ex Libris is the Walters Art Museum's digitized collections website. Same interface as BiblioPhilly and Harvard.
  • The NYPL's Medieval and Renaissance Western Manuscripts - there's a lot here to explore.
  • Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Website is in French; includes more than just medieval manuscripts. Enter your search query (in French!) in the "Rechercher" field at the top of the page, and choose "Manuscrit" from the dark pull-down next to it.
  • The Beyond Words online exhibition includes a catalogue of full and partial digitzations of manuscripts in Boston area libraries.
  • Penn In Hand, the digitized medieval manuscripts from University of Pennsylvania. Many fragments, but also many codices and rolls.
  • The Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Manuscript website at Stanford.
  • The Christine de Pizan Scriptorium, a repository of many digitized Christine manuscripts.
  • The Pierpont Morgan Library in New York has digitized all of the illuminated pages of their numerous medieval manuscripts.
  • The Cambridge University Library's Digital Library contains more than only medieval western manuscripts, but you can play around with different search terms to get a useful selection of hits.
  • Trinity College Cambridge's library (the Wren Library) has a large page of digitized manuscripts. Many individual Oxford and Cambridge colleges host their own digital repositories, so you can always try a general web search for those by name.
  • The University of Edinburgh has catalogued online their western medieval manuscripts, to include some images.
  • UT-Austin's Harry Ransom Center has digitized their database of medieval manuscripts, and provides some digital images from some manuscripts. You may also wish to read this press release describing the collection and project.
  • Yale University's Beinecke Library has a dedicated site for their digitized manuscripts.
  • The National Library of Wales Digital Exhibitions includes pages on their digitized medieval manuscripts.
  • The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library) has a whole collection of digitized medieval manuscripts (interface in German, but still plenty navigable)
  • Manuscripta Mediaevalia, a collection of digitized manuscripts from (primarily) German locales (interface in German, but still navigable)
  • e-chartae contains the charters (legal deeds), primarily from the early medieval period, from the Abbey of St Gall in Switzerland. 


Online Exhibitions

These sites are typically the online versions of individual libraries' special collection exhibitions; they often provide more commentary (but fewer images) than fully digitized manuscripts. New additions (12/18) have been starred.

  • The British Library offers a variety of tours through their medieval manuscripts.
  • The Bibliotheque National de France has a nice overview of their illuminated manuscript treasures. Website in French.
  • *The BnF and the BL together have created an amazing resource of information on French and English manuscripts 700-1200: everything you could ever want to know (nearly):
  • The Beyond Words exhibition website is a treasure trove of information about manuscripts in the greater Boston area; choose "Audioguide" on the top nav bar for various tours.
  • * The Beineke Library at Yale recently acquired the Takiyama Collection of medieval manuscripts -- the greatest modern private collection of Middle English manuscripts -- and has an online exhibit that showcases highlights from the collection (Chaucer! Gower! Piers Plowman!)
  • Cornell University's Special Collections library offers an online version of their Evolution of the Book: From Manuscript to Print exhibition.
  • The "Leaves of Gold" website includes an exhibition or gallery of illuminated religious books.
  • The Beinecke Library at Yale University offers online exhibitions on Portable Medieval Manuscripts, Petrarch, and a monastic manuscript (the Speculum Theologiae).
  • The University of Glasgow's "World of Chaucer" online exhibition includes manuscripts by Chaucer, Gower, Lydgate, and the religious writer Nicholas Love.
  • "Every Codex Tells a Story" at King's College London provides an interactive online exhibition of vernacular (this time, French and German) anthologies.
  • The Getty Museum's online version of their "Miracles and Martyrs" exhibition provides nice background on the role of saints in medieval manuscripts. The audio tracks appended to the displayed miniatures also give really great examples of how to interpret these images. (You might also want to read about the exhibition -- and see additional images -- at the Getty Voices blog.)