Center for Medieval Studies

College of Liberal Arts


Latin Palaeography and Manuscript Studies:
Basic Bibliography for MMRL

The following list of books is intended as a starting point for study. The first item, Boyle's bibliography, is the most important, because it will point you in any direction you want to go. Consult with the MMRL program coordinator for more information .

(Prices and availability as of January 2006)

Essential Books for Latin Palaeography & Codicology:

*** Boyle, Leonard, Medieval Latin Palaeography: A Bibliographic Introduction , (Barnes & Noble $23.95, , or ; essential bibliography covering the whole field of manuscript studies, not just palaeography in the narrower sense;
updated edition in Italian by Maria Elena Bertoldi & Fabio Troncarelli, Paleografia Latina Medievale, Introduzione bibliografica con supplemento 1982-1998 , available from about $35; if not available there, also from, about $79)

*** Cappelli, A., Dizionario di Abbreviature latine ed italiane, (also listed as Lexicon abbreviaturarum),(known simply as "Cappelli," this is the must-have vademecum for anyone looking at Latin or European vernacular manuscripts; buy this even if you don't buy anything else; from from , $53.85; or at Blackwell's Online, about $50, )

*** Brown, Michelle, Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms, (from, $11.53). Although the title specifies "illuminated" manuscripts, this is a great glossary for all western manuscripts.

*** Bischoff, Bernhard, Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages, (English version, or some might prefer the original German!) ( or $32.99, also available used from about $20, search )

Palaeography Textbooks Recommended:

* Aris, Rutherford, Explicatio formarum litterarum, (textbook based on Dr. Aris' many years of teaching palaeography at U of MN; softcover (i.e. spiral bound with no cover) available from Dr. Diane Anderson, $15 payable to the Colleages of Calligraphy (email ); or probably still availabe in hardcover from John Neal Bookseller for $27.50 ; phone: (800) 369-9598)

* de Lasala, Fernando, Esercizi di paleografia latina. Trascrizioni, commenti e tavole, con CD-ROM, excellent workbook, plus CD-ROM (available from, about $37); although we recommend purchasing this, you can visit the web site for a smaller version (including limited English version):

Derolez, Albert, The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books : From the Twelfth to the Early Sixteenth Century ($100.80 at; expensive, but long-awaited, and the best for this time period.

Thomson, S. Harrison, Latin Bookhands of the Later Middle Ages, 1100-1500. Copy on reserve for use in our study room.

Kirchner, Joachim, Scriptura Gothica Libraria. Copy on reserve for use in study room..


Other books and reference tools used/referred to in Lab:

Bruckner & Marichal, edd., Chartae Latinae Antiquiores = ChLA

Lowe, E. A., ed., Codices Latini Antiquiores = CLA

De la Mare, Albinia C., The Handwriting of the Italian Humanists.

Hoffmann, Hartmut, Buchkunst und Königtum im ottonischen und frühsalischen Reich, 2 vols.

-----, Schreibschulen des 10. und des 11. Jahrhunderts im Südwesten des Deutschen Reichs, mit einem Beitrag von Elmar Hochholzer. 2 vols.

Newton, Francis L. The Scriptorium & Library at Monte Cassino, 1058-1105.

Parkes, Malcolm, Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West.

Mantello, F.A.C., and A.G. Rigg, edd., Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide. Excellent resource for manuscript studies; articles are organized by the following broad categories: General Reference & Research Tools (great bibliography); Latin Philology; Varieties of Medieval Latinity (covers the. extensive range of subject matter, from the sublime to the mundate); Varieties of Medieval Latin Literature (organized by genre).

Reynolds, L.D., ed., Texts and Transmissions: A Survey of the Latin Classics. An excellent and concise guide to the manuscript transmission of classical Latin authors.

Drogin, Marc, Medieval Calligraphy: Its History and Technique.


Background and History of Western Books (a small selection):

Shailor, Barbara A., The Medieval Book. ( $29.95, $28.95; used from about $20 including )

Lowe, E. A., Handwriting.  (available used from $23-$42; search on ); very good short introduction to manuscripts and palaeography.

Ullmann, B. L., Ancient Writing and its Influence, by B.L. Ullmann, Julian Brown ( $14.95).

Greek Letters: From Tablets to Pixels, by Michael Macrakis; e-doc download from $5.95;  or book from from $50; follows history of Greek, but ideas apply to other alphabets and history of type, printing & publishing, computers, etc.

Scribes and Scholars: A guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature, by L.D. Reynolds & N.G. Wilson ( or $47.50; used from $25 at; a famous history of books and the transmission of texts, from papyrus to print.

A Splendor of Letters : The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World,by Nicholas A. Basbanes ( $18.87; used from about $3); one reviewer calls this a " bag of scholarly/literary potato chips"; maybe a good easy read for a trip to Chicago.

The Hand-Produced Book, by David Diringer ( from $20)

Libraries in the Ancient World by Lionel Casson ( new $26, used from $5)

Reading and Editing Texts:

Innumerable books and articles have been written on reading and editing texts. Here are a few significant items to start with. Also find your specific topic in Boyle's bibiography (above), especially chapter 6, "Textual Setting,"

How to Decipher and Study Old Documents , by E. Thoyts ( from $20)

Reading Papyri, Writing Ancient History, by Roger Bagnall ( $27.95; introduction to papyrology)

Medieval Manuscripts and Textual Criticism, edited by Christopher Kleinhenz (try the library or , from $60.00)

The Grammarian's Craft: An Introduction to Textual Criticism, by L. Bieler (see Boyle item no. 1956)

Marginal Scholarship and Textual Deviance: The Commentum Cornuti and the Early Scholia on Persius , by James E.G. Zetzel ; newly published and highly recommended, especially for classicists and medieval Latin; available from Amazon-UK, $83.


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