Welcome to the Online Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, a searchable database of some of the western illuminated manuscripts in the British Library. The Library holds one of the richest collections of medieval and renaissance manuscripts in the world, and aims to provide access to images and information about its manuscripts to students, scholars, and the general public.
The Catalogue includes descriptions and images of western manuscripts with pictorial and decorative embellishments, from fully painted miniatures to decorated initials. Because it includes such a wide range of material, it serves as a useful resource for those working in a variety of disciplines. In order to maximize the number of images, the Catalogue includes digital scans of existing slides as well newly-commissioned digital images. As a result, the image quality can vary.
Users can devise their own search criteria in using the Catalogue. For details of how to use the system, see Search tips
Manuscripts included in the Catalogue:
The illuminated manuscripts in the following collections are included in the Catalogue: Additional, Arundel; Burney; Egerton; Hargrave; Harley; Henry Davis; Hirsch; King’s; Lansdowne; Sloane; Royal; Stowe and Yates Thompson (Oriental, for Hebrew illuminated manuscripts).
Manuscripts in the Additional collection are currently being added to the Catalogue. At the moment they consist primarily of around 675 illuminated miniatures cuttings and Hebrew manuscripts (see Italian illuminated cuttings and Hebrew illuminated manuscripts), and Anglo-Saxon manuscripts.
• perform a quick search (this searches for a word or number in all sections of each catalogue entry, including images);
• perform a simple search using keywords and dates;
• look for information about a particular manuscript if you know its collection name and manuscript number;
• perform an advanced search using different types or combinations of information;
• explore the virtual exhibitions of various aspects of the British Library's western illuminated manuscript holdings; and
• check the illustrated glossaries of terms.
• download digital images for further reuse such as in educational contexts, placing on your blog or sharing with others. Please see guidance notes on Access and Reuse.