Our Personal Favorites

There are now more than 1,200 different facsimile editions of manuscripts from the Middle Ages, but which are the most beautiful, the most opulent, the most interesting or the most exciting? In our very personal selection, we have taken into account not only the beauty of the original manuscript, but also the quality of the facsimile.

Codex Aureus of Echternach

Echternach Abbey (Luxembourg) — 1020-1050

Made at the behest of Theophanu, adorned with a breathtakingly splendid cover: perhaps the most magnificent and beautiful manuscript of all time

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Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

Paris and/or Bourges (France) — 1410-1416 and 1485-1489

Our picture of the Middle Ages, created by the Limbourg brothers for the Duke of Berry: one of the most beautiful, valuable, and famous manuscripts in the world

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Book of Kells

Iona Abbey (United Kingdom) — ca. 800

Included on the UNESCO World Heritage list and arguably the most famous manuscript in the world: the mystical masterpiece of Insular illumination

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Pericopes of Henry II

Germany — 1007-1012

Made at Reichenau on behalf of Germany's only canonized emperor: one of the most beautiful, splendid, and greatest masterpieces of Ottonian illumination

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Mainz Gospels

Mainz (Germany) — 1230-1250

A German Codex Aureus in the treasury of Mainz Cathedral: written in gold ink and adorned with luminous miniatures in the "jagged style"

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Bible of Borso d'Este

Ferrara or Modena (Italy) — 1455-1461

Each one of the 1,200 pages has been masterfully illuminated with incredible attention to detail: the grandiose climax of the Renaissance

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Black Prayer Book

Bruges (Belgium) — 1466-1476

Black parchment and luminous colors commissioned by Charles the Bold: one of only a handful of surviving black manuscripts

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Stuttgart Psalter

Scriptorium of St. Germain-des-Prés (Paris, France) — 820-830

Every single Psalm illustrated with great attention to detail: the most richly illuminated Psalter of the Carolingian era

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Rohan Hours

Paris or Angers (France) — 1430-1435

The beginning of a new era in book illumination: masterful, full-page miniatures in a lavishly illuminated book of hours

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Peterborough Psalter

London or Norwich (England) — ca. 1300

Over 100 golden miniatures: scenes from the Old and New Testaments, combined into a single image cycle

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The Art of Falconry by Frederick II

Rotunda or Naples (Italy) — ca. 1258-1266

De arte venandi cum avibus, one of the most famous manuscripts of the Middle Ages: the masterpiece on falconry written by the Staufer Emperor Frederick II himself

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Morgan Crusader Bible

Paris (France) — ca. 1250

From King Louis the Saint to the Shah of Persia to New York: one of the most beautifully illuminated and famous manuscripts of the Middle Ages

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Bedford Hours

Paris (France) — ca. 1423-1430

The famous Bedford Master's magnum opus : one of the richest and most beautiful illuminated manuscripts of all time

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Bible moralisée of Naples

Naples (Italy) — 1340-1350

Picture strips for the Old Testament and full-page miniatures for the New: a visually stunning masterpiece, created by the greatest artists of the Early Italian Renaissance

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Boccaccio's Decameron

Gramont (France) und Ghent (Flanders) — 1445-1450

100 famous short stories with 100 perfectly matching miniatures: a large-format masterpiece commissioned by the Burgundian Duke Philip the Good

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Gradual of St. Katharinenthal

St. Katharinenthal Abbey (Switzerland) — 1312

Magnificent miniatures on a golden background: one of the most beautiful Gothic manuscripts, used as a large choir book until the 19th century

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Gulbenkian Apocalypse

London (United Kingdom) — 1265-1270

Breathtakingly beautiful, golden miniatures for the Pope: one of the most beautiful English apocalypse manuscripts of the early Gothic period

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Grandes Heures der Anne de Bretagne

Tours (France) — 1503-1508

One of the most beautiful books of hours in the history of illumination and at the same time a herbolarium: miniatures and paintings created by the great Jean Bourdichon for the French Queen

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Codex Manesse

Zürich, Lake Constance region — after 1310 to ca. 1340

The famous great song manuscript from Heidelberg: a unique treasure of German literature, medieval history, and Gothic book illumination

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Dead Sea Scrolls

West Jordan — ca. 120 BC - AD 70

The most important archaeological find of the 20th century: the famous scrolls with 2,000-year-old texts from the Bible

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