Online manuscripts

In this page, which will be periodically updated, I’m planning to list as many sites as possible containing manuscripts in digital form, for comparison with the VM.  (In the second part of the page, I’ve added personnal reading notes just to help my memory).

Feel free to mention any missing collection or library with at least some scanned manuscripts on vellum originally written between 1300 and 1600.

I’ve decided to organise things by location of the library, since each library holds manuscripts in several languages that are not easily listed separately.


Armenia: the Matenadaran ;


Austria: dozens of digitized manuscripts here ; manuscripts at Österreichische Nationalbibliothekmanuscripts at Universität Salzburg ; list of libraries with URLs ;

Belgium: the guide to medieval manuscripts (Brussels) ; the Liber Floridus at Ghent University ;

Canada: the medieval bestiary ;


Czech Republic:

Denmark: the Royal Library manuscripts ;

France: see Manuscrits Enluminés for both pictures and databases of things held in french libraries.  See also the following (since all those without illuminations are possibly not listed in the previous databases):   Gallica manuscripts (more than 22 000 in total)  ;  Lorfèvre collection ; Archim ; Archives du Périgord ; (not yet open) ;

Germany: the Gutemberg Digital website ; the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek manuscripts  ; the Leges Palatina project ; Münchener digitale bibliothek (ordered by century) ; manuscripts at Koeln libraries (clik on handschriften) ; (some already listed) ; Digitales Turfan-Archiv ;


Ireland: the Chester Beatty library ;

Italy: the Archivio di Stato di Torino ; the AMS Historica (University of Bologna) ; the Lux in Arcana exposition ;


Lebanon: the Bibliothèque Orientale ;

Lithuania: see this collection  ;


Netherlands: database of medieval manuscripts in Dutch Collections ; medieval illuminated manuscripts at Nationale bibliotheek ; the Leiden Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta ;

Norway: the Schøyen Collection ;





Sweden: the Riksarkivet diploms ; the St Laurentius library ;

Switzerland: the e-codices website (includes all Swiss libraries) ;

UK: the British Library manuscript catalogue (see also digitised manuscripts); the National Archives (includes Petitions miniatures) ; the Gascon Rolls project ; the Bodleian Library (and also this); Balliol College manuscripts ; Oxford early manuscripts ;  the medieval manuscripts of St John’s College (Cambridge) ; the Rylands Library collections (Manchester) ; the Medingen manuscripts project ;

USA: the digital collection of the Beinecke Library ; the Digital Scriptorium (Berkeley) ; the Library of Congress (in particular the Rosenwald Collection) ; the Walters Art Museum manuscripts ; the Corsair project of the Pierpont Morgan Library ; the University of Oklhahoma libraries ; the Parker Library (Stanford) ; the Newberry Library (Chicago — nothing online yet) ; medieval books at th Walters Museum (Baltimore) ; medieval manuscrits at University of Vermon libraries ; Hill museum and manuscripts library (Minnesota) ;

Wales: the National Library manuscripts

Reading notes:

– volkenband:  in this 1459 german MS by Hans Thalofer, see page 74 for a volkenband and a sun ;

– possible similarities of handwriting:

– T-O maps: f1 and f3v of HM 83 (german 1478) ; f270 of Cod; Sand 827 and also f305 (Swiss, c.1425) ;

– gallow-like:   [1]  there’s a letter in italian by Leonardo da Vinci from 1482 where a gallow-like symbol above an ‘e’ means ‘en’, and where a quite similar symbol is used as an abreviation of ‘tem’ (e.g. several paragraphs start with the word ‘item’), see here for the text of the letter from which this can be understood.   [2] there’s a purely decorative gallow-like symbol in the 1075 document Dictatus Papae written by Pope Gregory VII. [3] a purely decorative gallow linking letters c and t in a dutch manuscript.

– people bathing: f12r of Cod. Bodmer 135 (De balneis Puteolanis, south of Italyc.1360, latin, gothic handwriting)

5 Responses to Online manuscripts

  1. Pingback: New page for references « Some Voynich ideas

  2. Another couple of examples. Not from manuscripts, and not on vellum, but dated to the mid-15th century at least.
    showing canopy with paired male-female figure

    For the original sense of that Persian band marking the invisible barrier between upper and lower world (Ger: wolkenband (originally prob. welkin-band)

    There’s another nice example in the Rohan book of Hours, where the Armenian origin of the transmission is evident.

    But in fact the use of the motif arrived even earlier: a version of it occurs in a ninth-century German manuscript, with a picture of Gregory and the books he’d gone to Alexandria to purchase. However, that’s outside your chosen limits of 1300-1500, so I won’t reference it.


  3. Another American site you might want to add to your list – though it only deals with Persia’s Islamic era – is the ShahNameh project at Princeton.

    It has some nice illustrations of the original costumes whose imitation was so fashionable in late medieval Europe, too.

  4. America again: the Paul J. Getty Museum has some nice manuscripts, including a seventeenth-century Armenian one. The date hardly matters, since these works often maintain tradition literally for a thousand years. For example this illustration shows the ‘divine boundary’ about the saint, and also as one of the motifs to the right, one which resembles a motif on fol.86v.

    But of course in the end, it’s not common form, but mutual intention which is important when discussing imagery, isn’t it?

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