I seem to be on a medieval manuscript wave length lately -- they just appear on my computer unexpectedly, and I lose a morning to them, ogling their beauty and enjoying their peculiar sense of peasant humor. There are animal tales and fairy tales, tales of revenge, tales of hunting, eating, farming, battling giants and devils, being chased and chasing wildmen and beasts, playing dice, carding wool, and rabbits jousting. Here is a wonderful example of this teaming life in the margins from the catalog of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Museum listed as the Detailed record for Royal 10 E IV, edited by Raymond of Penafort, with gloss of Bernard of Parma, titled Calendarium, Decretals of Gregory IX with glossa ordinaria (the Smithfield Decretals.)These marginal bits of art are especially inspiring right now as I have signed up to do the Sketchbook Project. I love how these 14th century French artists created such visually compelling stories in such small spaces on the page.
There are over 300 of these marginal images in this collection and here is a very small selection. Note many of the images are placed horizontally along the bottom of the pages -- but some of the most interesting (and fantastic bits) are the vertical images in between columns of text. There is really no empty space in this manuscript as though the calligraphers took time out out from the tedium of lettering to doodle far more interesting dramas.