Racial Diversity


Ashburnham Pentateuch

f. 65v: A mother and father grieve for their child

Spain or Italy (5th or 6th C.)

Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS nouv. acq. lat. 2334

Consider this manuscript in light of the article I posted 2 days ago about historical European mixed race families. A lot of similar articles go right from Roman Britain to Renaissance Italy, but documents like this that often bridge the historical “gap” because go unremarked upon because they’re often not considered analgous to written records or artistic depictions. What they do, rather, is show that in the imagination of artists during this time, racial diversity was part of their social consciousness and how they envisioned concepts like “a family”. My thanks to Dr Caitlin R Green on bringing this manuscript to my attention.


Illuminated manuscripts were products of encounter, exchange, and exploration in the Middle Ages.

Interested in the Global Middle Ages? This weekend, April 16 and 17, come by our free interdisciplinary symposium that examines artists, patrons, and audiences as agents who desired real, imagined, or exotic representations and narratives about the world and its peoples. 

These artworks are currently on view in Traversing the Globe through Illuminated Manuscripts at the Getty Center through June 26. 

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MARCH. The traditional labour of the month is trimming trees. You can either do this delicately with a billhook, like the gentleman on the left, or DECISIVELY with an axe, like the gentleman on the right.

You can view the original of this image for free online!


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MS Lat 253

Houghton Library, Harvard University

Yay more scribal resources!

British Library, Oriental 5024, f. 19r 

Author: Isaiah of Trani the Younger
Title: Decisions of Isaiah of Trani the Younger (Pisqei Rabbi Yeshayah Aharon)
Origin: Italy, Central (Bologna or Rimini)
Date: 1374

Decorated initial-word panel accompanied with a partial foliate border in the outer margin inhabited by a deer. In the upper margin, illustration of a man lighting the Hanukkah lamp, at the beginning of the section on Hanukkah. 


Hi! Me again! :D I was wondering if you’d seen any really good 11th century Russian illumination? At April coronation, it’s one of competition categories, so I’m starting early.

No, but I can find some. I’m a librarian! 😀

(Sorry – I just did a binge-watch of all The Librarian movies to gear myself up for the TV show. Every time he announced, “I’m The Librarian,” I giggled.)


To start, how about the The Codex Assemanianus?

It was probably 10th century, but it’s still cool. You can read more about it here [link], and there are two pages of scans from it [link] [link]. Quite a few of these pages would be really easy to translate into SCA awards. I might do a few blanks myself for our current blank drive… Here are a couple of my favorites:

f. 157v


f. 10r

</p></But if we want to be firmly in the 11th Century, how about the Ostromir Gospels? These date to 1056-7. You can find more info at the National Library of Russia [link]. I’ve known scribes who have used this. That is, looking at it, I’m going “OH HEY. This is what so-and-so used!” Have a sample:


f. 2r

Lastly, there is the Arkhangelsk Gospel, also know as the Archangel Gospel, which dates to 1092, making it the fourth oldest Slavic manuscript we have. You can view the whole thing online at the Russia State Library [link].

Have fun browsing!


A while back, I asked the scareferencedesk for any illumination references with towers they knew of, and I promised to post them after they all got handed out. Well, it is definitely not in a timely manner, but they’ve all been handed out! I added some of the other designs I’ve done so it’s not so architecture heavy. I also added the Red Tower Rapier Champion scroll which was a group project. Mistress Adela did the calligraphy then curse because she left too much space (while the rest of us are laughing at how small she wrote), and then handed it to me and told me to draw a thing in the empty space. So, yay, weird little medieval person! I totally snagged the Knight Marshal on his way past the table and was like “SWORDS. HOW DOES THE HAND GUARD THINGY EVEN.” And luckily he spoke internet at 1am because he answered what I meant. The whole scroll totally was finished five minutes before evening Court, and we’re counting it as a major victory that it was dry. And then like a week later we had to ask if Wistric would send us pictures so we could keep track of the things we made. Veronica and I are still in the track our progress through photos of all the things we make stage.

Yay! So happy to see them! 😀 Also, Combat Scribing is awesome.