Video by the Getty Museum
An illuminated manuscript is a book written and decorated completely by hand. Illuminated manuscripts were among the most precious objects produced in the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, primarily in monasteries and courts. Society’s rulers–emperors, kings, dukes, cardinals, and bishops–commissioned the most splendid manuscripts.
Excerpt: In the Middle Ages parchment was used to make the pages of books. Parchment was made from the skins of animals. The transition from a fresh skin to a surface suitable for writing was a slow and laborious process. The parchment maker selected skins of sheep, goats or calves. Skins were soaked in lime water for three to ten days to loosen the animals hair. The parchment maker then scraped away the hair and any remaining flesh after this the skin was soaking fresh water to remove the lime and then stretched tightly on a frame.