Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-md8df Total loading time: 0.437 Render date: 2021-12-08T05:42:45.872Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

7 - Monastic and cathedral book production

from Book production

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

Nigel J. Morgan
University of Cambridge
Rodney M. Thomson
University of Tasmania
Get access


Throughout the period covered by this book, as well as both earlier and later, English manuscripts were written in monastic communities, and by individual monks both within and outside of them. But it was the period c.1100–c.1175 that was dominated by the production of monastic scriptoria. This period, approximating to the first century after the Norman Conquest, was described by Neil Ker as

the greatest in the history of English book production. Manuscripts were perhaps better written in the eighth century and in the tenth, but they are not numerous. It is no exaggeration to say that a well-written English twelfth-century manuscript is something we have a good chance of being able to see in many of our towns… They are the considerable remains of the large number of books produced by the scribes of this period; accurately copied, competently and often beautifully written and decorated, well spaced, fully punctuated, and neatly corrected.

These qualities were the direct consequences of the aims and organization of monastic life, and of the monastic notion of the role and status of the book within it. Books were vehicles for sacred texts, the most central and fundamental ones biblical and patristic, or for writings that were at least aids to the study of those texts, such as primers of grammar and exemplars of rhetoric. The central texts were regarded as of enormous value, to be read meditatively (lectio), whether sub voce, privately, or out loud in the monastic church or refectory.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2008

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Alexander, J. J. G. 1970 Norman illumination at Mont St Michel 966–1100, Oxford.Google Scholar
Alexander, J. J. G. 1978a ‘Scribes as artists: the arabesque initial in twelfth-century English manuscripts’, in Parkes, M. B. and Watson, A. G. (eds.), Medieval scribes, manuscripts and libraries: essays presented to N. R. Ker, London 1978.Google Scholar
Avril, F. and Stirnemann, P. D. 1987 Manuscrits enluminés de la Bibliothèque nationale: Manuscrits d’origine insulaire, Paris.Google Scholar
Bede, : Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, ed. and tr. Colgrave, B. and Mynors, R. A. B. 1969, rpt 1992, Oxford Medieval Texts.Google Scholar
Bishop, E., ’On the origins of the feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary‘, in Bishop, 1918.
Burnett, C. S. (ed.) 1987 Adelard of Bath: an English scientist and arabist of the early twelfth century, London.Google Scholar
Cahn, W. 1975St Albans and the channel style in England’, in The year 1200. A symposium, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art.Google Scholar
Cavanaugh, S. H. 1988Royal books: King John to Richard II’, The Library. Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, 6th ser., 10.Google Scholar
Clark, J. G. 2004 A monastic renaissance at St Albans: Thomas Walsingham and his circle c. 1350–1440, Oxford.Google Scholar
Coates, A. 1999 English medieval books: the Reading Abbey collections from foundation to dispersal, Oxford.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cochrane, L. 1994 Adelard of Bath; the first English scientist, London.Google Scholar
David, C. W. 1929The claim of Henry I to be called learned’, in Anniversary essays in medieval history by students of C. H. Haskins, ed. Taylor, C. H., Boston and New York.Google Scholar
De Ghellinck, J. 1910La table de matières de la première édition des oeuvres de Hugues de Saint-Victor’, Recherches de science religieuse, 1.Google Scholar
De Hamel, C. F. R. 1984 Glossed books of the Bible and the origins of the Paris booktrade, Woodbridge.Google Scholar
Dodwell, C. R. 1954 The Canterbury school of illumination 1066–1200, Cambridge.Google Scholar
Dodwell, C. R. 1993 The pictorial arts of the West 800–1200, New Haven CT.Google Scholar
Doyle, A. I. 1990b ‘Book production by the monastic orders in England (c.1375–1530): assessing the evidence’, in Brownrigg, .
Dronke, P. 1984Peter of Blois and poetry at the court of Henry II’, in his The medieval poet and his world, Rome.Google Scholar
Edwards, K. 1949, 1967 The English secular cathedrals in the middle ages, Manchester; 2nd edn 1967.Google Scholar
English episcopal acta 11: Exeter 1046–1184, ed. Barlow, F. 1996, Oxford.Google Scholar
Fasti ecclesiae anglicanae 1066–1300 3: Lincoln, ed. Greenway, D. E. 1993, London.Google Scholar
Fasti ecclesiae anglicanae 1066–1300 4: Salisbury Cathedral, ed. Greenaway, D. E. 1991, London.Google Scholar
Galbraith, V. H. 1929An episcopal landgrant of 1085’, English Historical Review, 44.Google Scholar
Gameson, R. 1997The Gospels of Margaret of Scotland and the literacy of an eleventh-century queen’, in Women and the book: assessing the visual evidence, eds. Smith, L. and Taylor, J. H. M., London.Google Scholar
Gameson, R. 1999a The manuscripts of early Norman England (c.1066–1130), Oxford.Google Scholar
Geddes, J. 2005 The St Albans Psalter. A book for Christina of Markyate, London.Google Scholar
Geoffrey, Gaimar: L’Estoire des Engleis, ed. Bell, A. 1960, Anglo-Norman Text Society.Google Scholar
Geoffrey, of Monmouth: Historia regum Britanniae, ed. Griscom, A. 1929, London; ed. Wright, N. 1984, Cambridge.Google Scholar
Gibson, M. T. and Smith, L. 1995 Codices Boethiani: a conspectus of manuscripts of the works of Boethius. I. Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, London.Google Scholar
Gibson, M. T., Heslop, T. A. and Pfaff, R. W. (eds.) 1992 The Eadwine Psalter. Text, image, and monastic culture in twelfth-century Canterbury, Publications of the Modern Humanities Research Association, 14, London and University Park PA.Google Scholar
Gilbertus, Universalis: Glossa ordinaria in Lamentationes Ieremie prophete: Prothemata et liber I, ed. Andrée, A. 2005, Stockholm.Google Scholar
Goering, J. 1992 William de Montibus (c.1140–1213). The schools and the literature of pastoral care, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Studies and Texts, 108, Toronto.Google Scholar
Goulburn, E. M. and Symonds, H. 1878 The life, letters and sermons of Bishop Herbert de Losinga, 2 vols., Oxford and London.Google Scholar
Goy, R. 1976 Die Überlieferung der Werke Hugos von St Viktor, Stuttgart.Google Scholar
Gullick, M. 1990The scribe of the Carilef Bible: a new look at some late eleventh-century Durham Cathedral manuscripts’, in Brownrigg, .
Gullick, M. 1994The scribes of the Durham cantor’s book (Durham, Dean and Chapter Library, ms b. iv. 24)’, in Anglo-Norman Durham 1093–1193, eds. Rollason, D., Harvey, M. and Prestwich, M., Woodbridge.Google Scholar
Gullick, M. 1998a ‘Professional scribes in eleventh- and twelfth-century England’, English Manuscript Studies 1100–1700, 7.Google Scholar
Gullick, M. 1998b ‘The scribal work of Eadmer of Canterbury to 1109’, Archaeologia Cantiana, 118.Google Scholar
Gullick, M. 1998d ‘The origin and date of Cambridge, Corpus Christi College ms 163’, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 11.Google Scholar
Gullick, M. 1998e ‘The hand of Symeon of Durham: further observationson the Durham martyrology scribe’, in Rollason, .
Gullick, M. 2001The English-owned manuscripts of the Collectio Lanfranci (s. xi/xii)’, in The legacy of M. R. James, ed. Dennison, L., Donington.Google Scholar
Haskins, C. H. 1922King Harold’s books’, English Historical Review, 37.Google Scholar
Haskins, C. H. 1925Henry II as a patron of literature’, in Essays in medieval history presented to Thomas Frederick Tout, eds. Little, A. G. and Powicke, F. M., Manchester.Google Scholar
Holzknecht, K. J. 1923 Literary patronage in the middle ages, Philadelphia PA.Google Scholar
Huneycutt, L. 1989The idea of the perfect princess: the Life of St Margaret in the reign of Matilda II (1100–1118)’, Anglo-Norman Studies (formerly Proceedings of the Battle Conference of Anglo-Norman Studies), 12.Google Scholar
Hunt, R. W. 1978The library of the abbey of St Albans’, in Parkes, M. B. and Watson, A. G. (eds.), Medieval scribes, manuscripts and libraries: essays presented to N. R. Ker, London 1978.Google Scholar
James, M. R. 1912a A descriptive catalogue of the manuscripts in the library of Corpus Christi College Cambridge, 2 vols., Cambridge.Google Scholar
Kauffmann, C. M. 2003 Biblical imagery in medieval England 700–1550, London and Turnhout.Google Scholar
Ker, N. R. 1960a English manuscripts in the century after the Norman Conquest, Oxford.Google Scholar
Ker, N. R. 1972b ‘The English manuscripts of the Moralia of Gregory the Great’, in Kunsthistorische Forschungen Otto Pächt zu seinem 70. Geburtstag, eds. Rosenauer, A. and Weber, G., Salzburg.Google Scholar
Ker, N. R. 1976The beginnings of Salisbury Cathedral library’, in Alexander, J. J. G. and Gibson, M. T. (eds.), Medieval learning and literature. Essays presented to R. W. Hunt, Oxford 1976, rpt in Ker, N. R., Books, collectors, and libraries. Studies in the British heritage, ed. Watson, A. G., London 1985.Google Scholar
Keynes, S. 1985King Athelstan’s books’, in Lapidge, and Gneuss, .Google Scholar
Knapp, U. 1999 Buch und Bild im Mittelalter, Hildesheim.Google Scholar
Kurz, R. 1979Zur handschriftlichen Überlieferung der Werke Hugos von St Viktor. Ergänzung zu Goys Handschriftenverzeichnissen’, Zeitschrift für Bayerische Landes-geschichte, 42.Google Scholar
Lapidge, M. and Sharpe, R. 1989 A bibliography of Celtic Latin literature 400–1200, Dublin.Google Scholar
Legge, M. D. 1963 Anglo-Norman literature and its background, Oxford.Google Scholar
Legge, M. D. 1969L’influence littéraire de la cour d’Henri Beauclerc’, in Mélanges offerts à Rita Lejeune, 2 vols., Gembloux, I.Google Scholar
McLachlan, E. Parker 1978a ‘The scriptorium of Bury St Edmunds in the third and fourth decades of the twelfth century’, Mediæval Studies, 40.Google Scholar
Memorials of St Edmunds Abbey, ed. Arnold, T. 1890–96, 3 vols., Rolls Series.
Miracula S. Virginis Mariae, ed. Dexter, E. F. 1927, Wisconsin Studies in Social Science and History.Google Scholar
Munk Olsen, B. 1982–9 L’Étude des auteurs classiques latins aux xie et xiie siècles, 3 vols. in 4, Paris.Google Scholar
Mynors, R. A. B. and Thomson, R. M. 1993 Catalogue of the manuscripts of Hereford Cathedral Library, Woodbridge.Google Scholar
Oakeshott, W. 1981 The two Winchester Bibles, Oxford.Google Scholar
Pächt, O., Dodwell, C. R. and Wormald, F. 1960 The St Albans Psalter, London.Google Scholar
Reynolds, L. (ed.) 1983 Texts and transmission: a survey of the Latin classics, Oxford.Google Scholar
Riedmayer, J. 1994 Die “Lambeth-Bibel”: Struktur und Bildaussage einer englischen Bibelhand-schrift des 12. Jahrhunderts, Frankfurt am Main.Google Scholar
Rotuli litterarum patentium, 1201–1216, ed. Hardy, T. D. 1835, Record Commission, London.Google Scholar
Rouse, R. H. 1990a ‘Concordances et index’, in Martin, and Vezin, .Google Scholar
Sheppard, J. M. 1988Magister Robertus Amiclas: a Buildwas benefactor?’, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 9.Google Scholar
Sheppard, J. M. 1990The twelfth-century library and scriptorium at Buildwas: assessing the evidence’, in England in the twelfth century, Proceedings of the Harlaxton Symposium 1988, ed. Williams, D. T., Woodbridge.Google Scholar
Sheppard, J. M. 1997 The Buildwas books: book production, acquisition and use at an English Cistercian monastery, 1165–c.1400, Oxford Bibliographical Society, 3rd ser..Google Scholar
Southern, R. W. 1958The English origin of the Miracles of the Virgin’, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 4.Google Scholar
Southern, R. W. 1970a ‘Humanism and the school of Chartres’, in his Medieval humanism and other essays, Oxford.Google Scholar
Southern, R. W. 1976Master Vacarius and the beginning of an English academic tradition’, in Alexander, J. J. G. and Gibson, M. T. (eds.), Medieval learning and literature. Essays presented to R. W. Hunt, Oxford 1976.Google Scholar
Stammberger, R. 2005Die Edition der Werke Hugos von Sankt Viktor (d.1141) durch Abt Gilduin von Sankt Viktor (d.1155) – eine Rekonstruktion’, in Schrift, Schreiber, Schenker. Studien zur Abtei Sankt Viktor in Paris und den Viktorinern, ed. Berndt, R., Corpus Victorinum, Instrumenta 1, Berlin.Google Scholar
Stirnemann, P. D. 1994Où ont été fabriqués les livres de la glose ordinaire dans la première moitié du xiie siècle?’, in Le xiie siècle: tournant et renouveau 1120–1150, ed. Gasparri, F., Paris.Google Scholar
Stirnemann, P. D. 1998Histoire tripartite: un inventaire des livres de Pierre Lombard, un exemplaire de ses Sentences et le destinataire du Psautier de Copenhague’, in Du copiste au collectionneur: mélanges d’histoiredes textes et des bibliothèques en l’honneur d’André Vernet, eds. Guarda, D. Nebbiai-Dalla and Genest, J.-F., Turnhout.Google Scholar
The original acta of St Peter’s Abbey, Gloucester, ed. Patterson, R. B. 1998, Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, Gloucestershire Record Series.Google Scholar
Thompson, D. V. 1972 Review of Roosen-Runge, H., Farbgebung und Technik frühmittelalterlicher Buchmalerei, Art Bulletin, 54.
Thomson, R. M. 1973Twotwelfth-century poems on the “regnum-sacerdotium” problem in England’, Revue bénédictine, 83 (rpt Thomson 1998, vi).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thomson, R. M. 1985 Manuscripts from St Albans Abbey, 1066–1234, 2 vols., 2nd edn, Woodbridge.Google Scholar
Thomson, R. M. 1986The Norman Conquest and English libraries’, in The book in medieval culture, ed. Ganz, P., 2 vols., Turnhout, II (rpt. Thomson 1998, xviii).Google Scholar
Thomson, R. M. 1989 Catalogue of the manuscripts of Lincoln Cathedral Chapter Library, Woodbridge.Google Scholar
Thomson, R. M. 1997Books and learning at Gloucester Abbey in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries’, in Books and collectors 1200–1700: essays presented to Andrew Watson, eds. Carley, J. P. and Tite, C. G. (rpt Thomson 1998, ii).Google Scholar
Thomson, R. M. 1998 England and the 12th-century renaissance, Aldershot.Google Scholar
Thomson, R. M. 2001a A descriptive catalogue of the medieval manuscripts in Worcester Cathedral Library, Woodbridge.Google Scholar
Thomson, R. M. 2001b The Bury Bible, Woodbridge.Google Scholar
Thomson, R. M. 2003 William of Malmesbury, 2nd edn, Woodbridge.Google Scholar
Van Houts, E. 1989Latin poetry and the Anglo-Norman court 1066–1135: the Carmen de Hastingae proelio’, Journal of Medieval History 15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vaughan, R. W. 1958 Matthew Paris, Cambridge.Google Scholar
Webber, T. 1989Salisbury and the Exon Domesday: some observations concerning the origin of Exeter Cathedral ms 3500’, English Manuscript Studies 1100–1700, 1.Google Scholar
Webber, T. 1992 Scribes and scholars at Salisbury Cathedral c.1075–c.1125, Oxford.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Webber, T. 1996The diffusion of Augustine’s Confessions in England during the eleventh and twelfth centuries’, in The cloister and the world: essays in medieval history in honour of Barbara Harvey, eds. Blair, J. and Golding, B., Oxford.Google Scholar
William, of Malmesbury: Gesta pontificum Anglorum, ed. Hamilton, N. E. S. A. 1870, Rolls Series; ed. and tr. Winterbottom, M., commentary by Thomson, R. M. 2007, 2 vols., Oxford Medieval Texts.Google Scholar
William, of Malmesbury: Gesta regum Anglorum, eds. and tr. Mynors, R. A. B., Thomson, R. M. and Winterbottom, M. 1998–9, 2 vols., Oxford Medieval Texts.Google Scholar
Wright, D. 2000Bischoff’s theory of exegesis and the Genesis commentary in Munich clm 6302: a critique of a critique’, Journal of Medieval Latin, 10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cited by

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats