For anyone studying the Middle Ages, there is no substitute for hands-on experience of actual medieval manuscripts. Our way of making this happen is a unique and innovative program, “Manuscripts in the Curriculum,” which lends colleges, universities, and other educational institutions in North America a group of manuscripts during a segment of the academic year (semester, quarter, or summer session). Although public display of the manuscripts is encouraged, central to the philosophy of the new program is the integration of real manuscripts into the curriculum in courses where students can work closely with original material under the guidance of a professor.
“Manuscripts in the Curriculum,” a pilot program, began in January 2017 and concluded with the Fall semester of 2019. For a glimpse of some of the programming at participating institutions, see below “The Program in Action.”
Manuscripts in the Curriculum II
This pilot program was such a success that we have continued it in a slightly revised form as “Manuscripts in the Curriculum II,” which began in September 2019 and continues through Fall 2022. A group of nine manuscripts will be available for loan, including seven representative examples of types of medieval books, and two “wild-cards,” chosen by the participating institution (a sample list of manuscript is available on the pdf below).
There is a nominal cost ($5,000) for North American institutions to contribute towards the out-of-pocket expenses of the program (with an additional fee for participating Canadian institutions for international shipping and customs). The fee covers administration, insurance, shipping, and condition reports. It is our hope that this program will encourage participating institutions to discover and implement ways that manuscripts can continue to be used creatively in their curricula. For examples of how the manuscripts have been used by past participants in the program, see our "Program in action" pdfs below; you can also find news about MITC on our text manuscripts blog.
For further information, please contact: email@example.com
Almost certainly copied for lay use, this German illuminated Psalter includes historiated initials depicting both Saint Francis and Saint Dominic, canonized only decades before the manuscript was produced. Artistically, it is related to important illuminated south German Psalters now in Liverpool and Schaffhausen. It is still bound in an early binding (with some restoration), and there are numerous signs of use throughout, including evidence that it was used to teach children to read. Unusual and intriguing damage to the initials of Francis and Dominic warrants closer attention
Small portable Bibles containing the complete Old and New Testaments were one of the greatest achievements of thirteenth-century book production. This English example was copied by numerous scribes, and decorated in a number of styles. The ten handsome illuminated initials decorate the Minor Prophets, an unusual choice. Textual evidence links it to both the Dominicans and Franciscans. Notable here are the numerous additions that show how this was used, including the contemporary table of introits and Mass lections, and numerous marginal notes from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries.
A very early collection of the still unedited sermons of the influential Dominican preacher and royal advisor Nicholas of Gorran, this manuscript is an extremely important witness, having been copied during the author’s lifetime, possibly even with his supervision. Changes to this volume early on may reveal Nicholas’s intentions as he shaped these sermons at the Dominican convent of Saint-Jacques in Paris. Handsomely decorated, with a charming illuminated initial depicting the author receiving Christ’s blessing, this was quite possibly made for a recipient of some importance.
This small-format Franciscan miscellany, in a contemporary blind-stamped binding, includes an excerpt from Bartolomaeus de Rinonico, a classic and rare Franciscan text by an Italian friar, and Book IV of the great Imitatio Christi, evidence of its dissemination into Italy and readership by Franciscans. The Italian translation of a text on the Mass, known in only one other manuscript, and the text on the Divine Office at Septuagesima, perhaps unique to this manuscript, are of particular importance and the miscellany warrants further study for its unusual contents.
One of the lesser-known Latin Fathers, Lactantius was neglected during the Middle Ages, but enjoyed exceptional popularity in the Renaissance as the “Christian Cicero.” The work is valued by modern biblical scholars (there are 73 quotations from the Vetus Latina). Distinctive for its unusually large dimensions (360 × 255 mm), this codex – on good paper stock by a single scribe in an elegant, clearly legible hand – boasts generous margins teeming with contemporary marginalia. Frequent scribal emendations, as well as space left for addition of initials, titles, rubrics, and passages in Greek, offer a glimpse into the working process of a Renaissance copyist.
Only fragments of this Augustinian Breviary are preserved here. Included are parts of the Psalter, Hymns, parts of the Common of Saints, and the Office of the Dead and Hours of the Virgin. Originally it probably also included a calendar, and Offices for the Year, arranged according to the Temporale and Sanctorale. The two remaining illuminated initials indicate that this was likely once an illuminated manuscript of considerable elegance.
An attractive liturgical manuscript with musical notation almost certainly made by and for nuns, with a signed and dated addition (1564) by a female scribe or owner. Its beautiful roll-stamped pigskin binding is characteristic of the style, techniques, and iconography of the mid sixteenth-century at the border region of modern-day Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Based on its openwork repairs completed at the parchment-making stage, it was probably made at a convent where women were involved in the entire bookmaking process.
This is an important manuscript, one that opens up complex textual issues warranting further study. The manuscript presents an abbreviated version of the lengthy commentary on the Sentences of Peter the Lombard by the fourteenth-century Franciscan theologian, Johannes de Ripa. In fact, our text corresponds most closely with the version of Ripa by Paul of Venice, written shortly before 1402 at Padua and known in a single manuscript, which was the basis of the modern edition.