Individual Manuscripts

Obviously not an exhausive list, these manuscripts are of particular interest to the student of Middle English and/or manuscripts I often teach from. Note that Chaucer has his own page of manuscript links, and the Major Authors page also points you to some fully digitized manuscripts.

  • The Auchinleck Manuscript at the National Library of Scotland
  • The Murthley Hours (an early 13th c. Book of Hours) at the National Library of Scotland
  • The St Albans Psalter (a highly illuminated, mid-12th c. Psalm-and-prayerbook created for the anchoress Christina of Markyate) at the University of Aberdeen
  • The Burnet Psalter (15th century), also at the University of Aberdeen
  • The Claricia Psalter (12th c, Germany) from the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore
  • The gloriously illuminated Hours of Catherine of Cleves, at the Pierpont Morgan Library
  • Matthew Paris's History of Edward the Confessor, Cambridge, University Library MS Ee.3.59.
  • British Library, Harley MS 4431, the collection of her works that Christine de Pizan designed for and presented to Isabeau of France. (For more on Christine's manuscripts, see her section in the Middle English: Major Authors page.)
  • The Lindisfarne Gospels at the British Library Digitized Manuscripts site (scroll down and click on any of the images to get the page-through screen). Want to know more? See the British Library's Medieval Manuscripts Blog article on them. You can also view them with on the BL's Turning the Pages website.
  • The Book of Kells (yes, the Book of Kells).
  • The Beowulf Manuscript at the British Library Digitized Manuscripts site (scroll down and click on any of the images to get the page-through screen).
  • The Yates Thompson Life of Cuthbert, a beautifully illuminated saint's life at the British Library Digitized Manuscripts site (scroll down and click on any of the images to get the page-through screen).
  • The Eadwine Psalter, a beautiful c. 1150 illustrated Psalter (from Trinity College, Cambridge)
  • The Book of Margery Kempe, via Southeastern Louisiana University. That manuscript is also available from the British Library Digitized Manuscript site (scroll down and click on any of the images to get the page-through screen).
  • This page will link you to full and partial facsimiles of Marie de France manuscripts.
  • A personal favorite, John Lydgate's Lives of Edmund and Fremund via the British Library Digitized Manuscript site (scroll down and click on the flyleaf image to get the page-through screen).
  • The University of Pennsylvania library has digitized a late medieval genealogical roll-chronicle.
  • A glorious late medieval Book of Hours from Harvard University Library.
  • Lichfield Cathedral in England has digitized, with some distinctive multi-spectral photography features, two crucial manuscripts: the St Chad Gospels (c. 730, slightly later than the Lindisfarne Gospels), and a Wycliffite New Testament (c. 1410).
  • The Book of Hours website (highlighting Books of Hours for sale through a European bookseller) offers a slick peek into some beautiful pieces of manuscript art.
  • The website is in German, but you can still enjoy the beautiful Psalter of Isbella of England
  • The University of Victoria has produced an online digital facsimile of a beat-up, workaday manuscript of John Lydgate's Fall of Princes (choose "Indexes & Images). You can read more about the manuscript at the University of Victoria's Special Collections website.

The British Library's special "Turning the Pages" website includes several partial or whole facsimiles of medieval manuscripts:


Collections of Full Manuscripts

Primarily provided by major repositories, in England and in the US. These sites include both full facsimiles and individual images. You might double-check the catalogue of online catalogues provided by the ACRL and the one by Sian Echard at the University of British Columbia. New additions (12/18) have been starred.

  • The British Library's Digitized Manuscripts website is their gateway into their ever-expanding collection of fully digitized manuscripts. (When you find a manuscript that interests you, click through to its detailed catalogue listing, then click on any of the images to get the page-through screen.)
  • Parker on the Web, the Parker Library of medieval manuscripts from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, hosted by Stanford University (it's a true gem):
  • The John Rylands Library Medieval Collection. It is sometimes difficult to navigate, but once you find a manuscript you want, use the "Reference Number" field in the left-hand nav bar to see all the images for that manuscript.
  • E-codices: the Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland. Interface is in English; the searching is quite granular, but the interface is clean and easy to use.
  • *BiblioPhilly is the online digitization of all the medieval manuscripts held in the greater Philadelphia area.
  • The NYPL's Medieval and Renaissance Western Manuscripts - there's a lot here to explore.
  • Gallica, the digital library of the Biblioth√®que Nationale de France. Website is in French; includes more than just medieval manuscripts. Enter your search query (in French!) in the "Rechercher" field at the top of the page, and choose "Manuscrit" from the dark pull-down next to it.
  • The Digital Scriptorium indexes and often houses many different libraries' digital manuscript collections.
  • The manuscripts of the Huntington Library in California are indexed in the Digital Scriptorium, but you can also search their online holdings directly (with full manuscript descriptions).
  • The Oxford Libraries' Western Manuscript Collection. Also somewhat difficult to navigate, I find, but selecting "Category Pages" from the main page will help you browse. Once you find a manuscript you want, use the "Shelfmark" field in the left-hand nav bar to see all the images for that manuscript.
  • The Beyond Words exhibition webpage includes links to many fully digitized manuscripts from the greater Boston area; choose "Catalogue" from the top nav bar then turn on the "Has Viewer" toggle switch to browse or search fully digitized manuscripts.
  • Cambridge University Library's Scriptorium, their collection of medieval and early modern manuscripts online.
  • The Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge, has digitized many of their medieval (and post-medieval) holdings.
  • National Library of Wales Medieval Manuscripts page. A rich collection of manuscripts, including famous Welsh codices and the Hengwrt Canterbury Tales.
  • Penn In Hand, the digitized medieval manuscripts from University of Pennsylvania. Many fragments, but also many codices and rolls.
  • The Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Manuscript website at Stanford.
  • The Christine de Pizan Scriptorium, a repository of many digitized Christine manuscripts.
  • You can also play in the British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts. Use the "quick search" box to see what they have. (A search for "Middle English" returns 329 hits, so there's plenty of space to explore.) However, you will only have access to select images, not full facsimiles; you can always take the manuscript's shelfmark back to the Digitized Manuscripts website to see if it has been fully digitized.
  • The John Rylands Library of Manchester has digitized many of their medieval manuscripts in their Rylands Medieval Collection.
  • The Pierpont Morgan Library in New York has digitized all of the illuminated pages of their numerous medieval manuscripts. You can access those images (and bibliographic information about the manuscripts) through Corsair, the library's catalog. (Be warned, though - I have found Corsair to be painfully slow.)
  • From the Walters Art Museum's Flickr stream, you can access images of their medieval manuscripts and link back to more complete digital facsimiles on the library's main website.
  • The Parker Library on the Web is partially accessible without a paid subscription. Matthew Parker was Elizabeth I's archbishop and an important collector/rescuer of medieval, especially religious, manuscripts, so his collection (now housed at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge) is a crucial witness to what religious manuscripts were saved from the ravages of the reformation -- and why. This website digitizes almost ALL of Matthew Parker's medieval manuscripts. Use the "browse" function to thumb through the collection.
  • The Reading Europe website (sponsored by the EC) collects together images and links of books (not only manuscripts) from the collections of major European libraries. If you click the "Timeline" tab, you can scroll backwards in time to find available manuscripts and early printed books.
  • University of Glasgow has an especially rich partially digitized collection.
  • The University of Edinburgh has catalogued online their western medieval manuscripts, to include some images.
  • The Middle English Compenium provides a list and links of some Middle English digitized manuscripts (both in whole and in part; note that some links are broken).
  • Early Manuscripts at Oxford University (note that this is an older website, and its images will load more slowly) The Middle English manuscripts in this collection are linked individually from the Middle English Compendium list above.
  • UT-Austin's Harry Ransom Center has digitized their database of medieval manuscripts, and provides some digital images from some manuscripts. You may also wish to read this press release describing the collection and project.
  • Yale University's Beinecke Library has a whole webpage devoted to their manuscript fragments. You can read more about that project on the library's blog.
  • One good finding aid for fully digitized manuscripts is UCLA's Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts. (You may also want to read a press release about the project.) This catalogue is structured for the scholar rather than the student (items in the catalogue are listed by their shelfmarks rather than the titles of their contents), but the "search" field on the "Search Manuscripts" page is "smart" and can help you match your keyword (Chaucer) with their index terms.

Online Exhibitions

These sites are typically the online versions of individual libraries' special collection exhibitions; they often provide more commentary (but fewer images) than fully digitized manuscripts. New additions (12/18) have been starred.

  • The British Library offers a variety of tours through their medieval manuscripts.
  • The Bibliotheque National de France has a nice overview of their illuminated manuscript treasures. Website in French.
  • *The BnF and the BL together have created an amazing resource of information on French and English manuscripts 700-1200: everything you could ever want to know (nearly):
  • The Beyond Words exhibition website is a treasure trove of information about manuscripts in the greater Boston area; choose "Audioguide" on the top nav bar for various tours.
  • * The Beineke Library at Yale recently acquired the Takiyama Collection of medieval manuscripts -- the greatest modern private collection of Middle English manuscripts -- and has an online exhibit that showcases highlights from the collection (Chaucer! Gower! Piers Plowman!)
  • Cornell University's Special Collections library offers an online version of their Evolution of the Book: From Manuscript to Print exhibition.
  • The "Leaves of Gold" website includes an exhibition or gallery of illuminated religious books.
  • The Beinecke Library at Yale University offers online exhibitions on Portable Medieval Manuscripts, Petrarch, and a monastic manuscript (the Speculum Theologiae).
  • The University of Glasgow's "World of Chaucer" online exhibition includes manuscripts by Chaucer, Gower, Lydgate, and the religious writer Nicholas Love.
  • "Every Codex Tells a Story" at King's College London provides an interactive online exhibition of vernacular (this time, French and German) anthologies.
  • The Getty Museum's online version of their "Miracles and Martyrs" exhibition provides nice background on the role of saints in medieval manuscripts. The audio tracks appended to the displayed miniatures also give really great examples of how to interpret these images. (You might also want to read about the exhibition -- and see additional images -- at the Getty Voices blog.)