Facsimile Editions: 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

Made on behalf of Theophanus, adorned with a breathtakingly splendor cover, written entirely in gold: arguably the most magnificent and beautiful manuscript ever

Echternach Abbey (Luxembourg) — 1020–1050

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Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

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

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

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Book of Kells

A UNESCO World Heritage document and arguably the most famous manuscript in the world: the mystical masterpiece of insular illumination

Monastery of Iona (United Kingdom) — ca. 800

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Pericopes of Henry II

Made at Reichenau by order of Germany's only canonized emperor: one of the most beautiful, splendid, and largest masterpieces of Ottonian illumination

Monastery of Reichenau (Germany) — 1007–1012

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Mainz Gospels

A German Codex Aureus in the Mainz cathedral treasure: written with golden ink and adorned with bright miniatures in a jagged style

Mainz (Germany) — 1230–1250

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Bible of Borso d'Este

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

Ferrara or Modena (Italy) — 1455–1461

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Black Prayer Book

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

Bruges (Belgium) — 1466–1476

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Stuttgart Psalter

Each individual Psalm meticulously detailed and accurately illustrated: the most richly illuminated Psalter of the Carolingian era, which has survived to the present day

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

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Rohan Hours

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

Paris or Angers (France) — 1430–1435

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Peterborough Psalter

Decorated with over 100 golden miniatures: scenes from the Old and New Testaments combined into a single radiant picture cycle

London or Norwich (United Kindgom) — Around 1300

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The Art of Falconry by Frederick II

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

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

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Morgan Crusader Bible

From Louis the Saint to the Persian Shah to New York City: one of the most richly illuminated and famous manuscripts of the Middle Ages

Paris (France) — ca. 1250

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Bedford Hours

The Bedford Master's magnum opus: one of the most spectacularly illuminated manuscripts of all time

Paris (France) — 1410-1430

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Bible moralisée of Naples

Image strips for the Old Testament and full-page miniatures for the New Testament: a pictorial masterpiece with more than 200 golden miniatures, created by the greatest artists of the early Italian Renaissance

Naples (Italy) — 1340–1350

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Boccaccio's Decameron - Codex Paris

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

Gramont (France) and Ghent (Belgium) — 1445–1450

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Gradual of St. Katharinenthal

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

Katharinenthal Abbey (Switzerland) — 1312

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Gulbenkian Apocalypse

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

London (United Kingdom) — 1265–1270

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Grandes Heures der Anne de Bretagne

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

Tours (France) — 1503–1508

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Codex Manesse

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

Zurich/Lake Constance area (Zwitzerland) — After 1310 until ca. 1340

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Dead Sea Scrolls

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

West Bank — ca. 120 BC – AD 70

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Historia Plantarum

A magnificently illuminated gift from Gian Galeazzo Visconti to King Wenceslas: Ibn Butlan's large and richly illustrated medical encyclopedia

Milan (Italy) — End of the 14th century

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