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Medieval Manuscripts: The Golden Bible

Officially it is called Biblia Pauperum, meaning the “Bible of the Poor”. Yet this illuminated codex, with almost 100 miniatures decorated in silver and gold, was definitely not destined for the common people of the Late Middle Ages.

The purpose of a Biblia Pauperum was to underline the connections between the Old and New Testaments, and thus to contradict heretical movements such as that of the Cathars. Each of the Golden Bible’s seventy pages contains a scene from the New Testament in the centre, with two scenes from the Old Testament on both sides.

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The folios were originally folded twice; readers would have to unfold each page individually to be able to see the pictures in all their splendour and intensity, probably painted by the same artist who crafted the Hours of Margaret of Cleves.

The Golden Bible originated in the first years of the 15th century in The Hague, which by then had developed into an independent centre of the arts. It is unclear how the codex reached England, where it was donated to the English King George III and bequeathed to the British Library by his successors.

Our thanks to Facsimile Finder for helping us create this post. You can learn more about this manuscript and see more images by visiting their website.

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