Beginner and veteran transcribers, this app is available for free, on both Android and iOS devices. Manuscript database, basic info on each of them, typography galore… 

The origins of this app lie in online exercises in palaeography developed for postgraduate students in the Institute for Medieval Studies at the University of Leeds in West Yorkshire, U.K. The aim is to provide practice in the transcription of a wide range of medieval hands, from the twelfth to the late fifteenth century. 


Truth be told, some of the pages might be in higher resolution, but still, it’s one of the best edu apps I’ve seen lately. 

Hey, pulltheotheroneithasbellson! I found another tower! 😀

From the Beinecke Rare book and Manuscript Library’s record:

La Sfera
Creator: Dati, Gregorio, 1362-1436
Language: Italian
Date: [between 1450 and 1500]Subjects:
Astronomy, Medieval
Italian poetry–15th century
Illumination of books and manuscripts, Medieval
Manuscripts, Medieval–Connecticut–New Haven
Early maps
Navigation–Early works to 1800
Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in Beinecke Library
Dati, Gregorio,–1362-1436

This is folio 17r.

The Dialogus Creaturarum

Incunabula are books that were printed in the early days of the printing press in Europe, from the 1450s to the end of the 15th century. Because this technological advancement came when books were still hand-copied and decorated (manuscripts) the typography and decoration was designed to mimic their more time-intensive predecessors. Because that’s what books looked like, you know?

The Dialogus creaturarum optime moralizatus (or, Dyalogus creaturarum moralizatus) is a collection of 122 fables in Latin and conversations of creatures. It was the first book ever printed in Sweden, in 1483 by Johann Snell. Five copies of the original printing survive today.

From WikipediaThe fables are organised in sections according to the different kinds of protagonists: first the astronomical, then the elements, followed by living things. The fables tell of the interactions of various anthropomorphized animals and ends with a moral explanation. Common human problems are solved according to the teachings of the Bible, church fathers or classical Greek or Roman philosophy. The author is unknown, but surviving manuscripts suggest the fables may have been gathered and edited by either Mayno de Mayneri (Magninus Mediolanensis) or Nicolaus Pergamenus, both active in the 14th century. A number of the fables are from Aesop, such as The Lion’s Share, The Frog and the Ox and The Wolf and the Lamb.

The first English edition of Dialogus creaturarum was published in 1530.

Color digitization, from the Ghent University Library, Belguim: [Link]

English Translation: The dialoges of creatures moralysed: a critical edition, by G. C. Kratzmann and Elizabeth Gee (1988): [Worldcat] [AbeBooks]

Excerpts from English translation with original illustrations: [Wayback Machine]

And, because of the ones I have found in English so far, this is my favorite:

About the Monkey who wrote Books: Dialogue 97


Symea, a monkey, used to write the most beautiful of books; but he was never completely whole-hearted about what he was doing. He would rather talk with other people, or listen to what they were saying, and because of that he used to spoil his books by writing in them what he was saying, or what he heard the others say. But since he refused to improve himself, no-one would offer him any work, and from his poverty he said:

Nichil scriptor
corde si non meditatur

– “Nothing the scribe writes will have its effect if it is not meditated in the heart.”

Scribal Documentation Template.docx – Google Drive

Scribal Documentation Template.docx – Google Drive

Erik Kwakkel

Erik Kwakkel

Hi! I’m a bb!scribe and I was wondering if you knew anywhere to find reference pictures for buildings in manuscripts. I got challenged to do a scroll with a tower on it, and my usual haunts for this weren’t turning anything up (my google fu is weak). I tend to spend more time in later period French, but any time frame is good for the challenge (except for the hyper-realistic Dutch that I cannot draw and paint to save my life). Thank you so much!

Ohmygosh tell me about it. Trompe-l’œil makes me cry. It’s beautiful, but I am a paste-eating child when I’m asked to attempt it. Tasty, tasty paste.

BTW, I’m totally doing the mental super-sekrit-scribal-handshake. Rock on, scribes! And welcome! (Also, bb!scribe makes me giggle. <3)

First of, Google is weird when it comes to finding specific images in illuminated manuscripts. My two absolute favorite resources are the British Library and the Bodleian Library. There are, of course, plenty of other libraries and institutions that have digitized cataloges that you can search, but BL and Bodl are my go-tos.

I have written about how to search these two resources – you can find those blog posts here: [British Library 1] [British Library 2] [Bodleian Library]

Okay – Towers.

BableStone: 72 Views of the Tower of Babel – This blog has a cool run-down of various images of the Tower of Babel in manuscripts, along with citations (yea citations!) and links. If the links don’t work, use the shelf/manuscript number to search the collection (those links should work) and find it. (I’m having some issues with it, so if you run into problems, let me know and I will help you track down individual images.

I really like this one.

illustration by Michiel van der Borch to Jacob van Maerlant’s Rhimebible
MMW, 10 B 21 folio 9v
Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague, Netherlands
Netherlands (Utrecht), 1332

“Tower of Babel” or “Babel” would be good search terms to use in Bodley and BL. “Building” and “architecture” aren’t bad, but you will get less.

A lot of 12th and 13th century portraiture use architectural elements for framing, like this portrait of King Solomon:


Additional 11639  f. 116
Miscellany of biblical and other texts (‘The Northern French Miscellany’ or earlier ‘the British Museum Miscellany’): including the Pentateuch, Haftarot, Tiqqun Sofrim, Five Scrolls, prayer book for the entire year with Haggadah, legal texts, poetry, calendars, Book of Tobit in Hebrew, etc.
France, N.

The Visconti Hours also has some cool architectural elements to it, but it’s a later period. It’s not tromp, but it’s still more realistic than earlier stuff. It’s not fully digitized online, but you can pick up a facsimile copy (with notes) for fairly cheap.


LF 155, Visconti Hours – The Gates of Gaza
National Library, Florence
Facsimile to purchase: [Abebooks]Facsimile in libraries: [Worldcat]

I hope that helps! Let me know if you need more. 🙂

Lindisfarne Gospels and Luttrell Psalter

The British Library has a lot of digitized manuscripts online, which is awesome for SCA Scribes. Two of their best known treasures haven’t yet made the move from their old site, “Digitized Manuscripts”, to the new one, “Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts” – the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Luttrell Psalter. That’s because the Lindisfarne is a Cotton manuscript and the Luttrell is an Additional, and both of these collections haven’t yet made the transition yet.

The old site (DM) is actually really cool – when you click “View Bindings,” you get a viewer that allows you to page through the digitized manuscript and zoom in on elements. The new site (CIM) only gives you one high-res image and one slightly smaller one (in additional to thumbnails). They do have some detail scans, but it’s not the same (as you can imagine).

Lindisfarne Gospels (Cotton MS Nero D.IV)

[Link]c. 700-3rd quarter 10th Century
Lindisfarne, Northumberland
Eadfirth, Bishop of Lindisfarne (690-721)

Luttrell Psalter (Add MS 42130)

for Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, Irnham, Lincolnshire

You can see the BL’s Access/Reuse/Copyright notes concerning images here: [Link]

Images used in this post are from Wikipedia.

44 Medieval Beasts That Cannot Even Handle it Right Now


The following list of “44 Medieval Beasts That Cannot Even Handle it Right Now” comes from [this] BuzzFeed post, and completely made me fall off my chair laughing this morning 🙂

Read More

No less than four people (I lost count after awhile) wanted to make sure I saw this. Sharing here, because each has a lovely link to the source in the British Library’s collection.