Monks Preserve Knowledge (03:27)
Other than churchmen, most people in the Middle Ages are illiterate. Fighting the devil with pen and ink, monastic scribes labor to preserve knowledge and chronicle the events of their times.
Making a Book (01:36)
Illustrations in an old manuscript show the steps in creating a book from scraping the animal skin to making the hasp for the book, and finally teaching from the completed book.
Hardships of Monastic Scribes (05:31)
Scribes work in harsh conditions from bad weather to difficult texts, aching hands, weary bodies, and demanding abbots. Believing, however, that their labor expiates a lifetime of sins, monks are willing copyists.
Cultural Changes Increase Book Trade (02:42)
In the 13th century, sweeping changes spread throughout Europe. Flourishing cities and trade makes reading a requirement for business. Universities spring up, surrounded by a thriving book trade.
Middle Ages: Luxury Book Trade (04:14)
Near the end of the Middle Ages, the luxury book trade flourished, from large Psalters to tiny prayer books and from histories to romances. In the margins remain “All sorts of mayhem” such as personal commentary and instructions for artists.
Printing Press Replaces Scribes (02:22)
The advent of the printing press marks the end of the era of scribes and illuminators, yet the work, devotion, ill temper, and personalities of these mostly anonymous artists has endured.
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