The description of this plate, plate being the facsimile of the original, is given in the front of the book as follows:
Specimen of the style of the thirteenth century. A page from a beautiful Ms. [manuscript] Bible in the Soane Museum. The miniature pictures in the border represent the six successive days' labour, as recorded in Genesis, and the appointment of the seventh as a day of rest.
Sir John Soane's Museum in London is still operating today, though this particular manuscript is still being tracked down and is probably somewhere in the depths of the stacks of the museum.
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Ruling, or rubrication, depending on the color (as rubrication was usually red), was employed to dictate where the text and illustrations should lay. Since texts during the early stages of books were written by hand, therefore called manuscripts (handwritten script), the ruling was very useful to keep everything in line.
This particular page is ruled carefully to accommodate two columns and precise space between the lines. This ruling also allows room for the illustration along the side, since it also includes the beginning of the passage. The page would have been ruled first and foremost, then would have been written on, and lastly illuminated, or drawn around and colored, to be finished. Most medieval manuscript work that we find now were done in a scriptorium by monks, and most work was biblical in nature
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During the medieval period, books were written by hand very precisely, and, if in the Western world, often in Latin, which was used by the Catholic church as a kind of universal language up until the 1960s. Writing was an involved process; the page was stretched and stiffened parchment (animal skin), and written on using a quill and usually black ink (usually made from wasp gall), with a penknife in hand, both to sharpen the quill and to scrape any mistakes from the page. The ink was usually set using sand to make it dry quicker and then rubbed away from the page so that it could be illuminated, bound, or written on the other side.
This particular manuscript hand is most likely what is known as Insular Minuscule, used in England and Ireland almost exclusively, after 700 A.D. It was highly adaptable by the user, meaning that individuals can more easily be identified through the script, whereas most script types were carefully and precisely done to be consistent.
To read more about script types and how they were made during this period from the University of Nottingham, click on the button below.
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