Primers and Textbooks
Created for the education of young princes and princesses, illuminated primers are among the rarest manuscripts to survive the Middle Ages. In a time when book production was prohibitively expensive, most primers were simple workbooks to guide medieval students, who learned largely through memorization and recitation.
Thus, an illuminated primer was a true luxury and was usually only created for the children of royal families like Claude de France or Emperor Maximillian I. They typically give an introduction to the alphabet along with important prayers and various sayings meant to give the young pupil a foothold in their education.
Some of the finer specimens thereof were created by great masters and are in no way inferior to contemporary commissions for adult recipients. More advanced primers usually contained biblical texts and classical authors like Virgil were presented as paragons of Latin grammar. General reference works were also common, ranging from broad encyclopedias to guides for medical self-treatment to textbooks on the art of making love. These instructive texts offer a unique glimpse into the medieval mindset and worldview.