Missing Books in the Folk Codicology of Later Medieval England
The Mediaeval Journal
Manuscripts underpin the study of the Middle Ages, but the numbers which survive are thought to be a small proportion of those once produced. These missing books can be studied through the physical descriptions in medieval records, texts which I frame as a form of ‘folk codicology’. A survey of 1511 such descriptions from later medieval England extends our knowledge of the appearance and handling of books. Through their practical taxonomies these descriptions also show how readers sometimes thought about the age, quality and beauty of manuscripts. At other times, however, readers were not interested in the physicality of books, or found that physicality to be a hindrance.
codicology, manuscript studies, material text, taxonomy, wills, book lists, England, later middle ages, materiality, aesthetics