From Manuscript to Print: the Evolution of the Medieval Book


horizontal rule
The rise of Western universities from the 11th century onwards stimulated the market for a growing number of secular texts, a development that led to greater diversity in writing styles and a proliferation of books. When printing came on the scene in the 1450s, early printers closely imitated the look of medieval manuscripts, modeling their letterforms and page layouts after those of professional scribes. It took the rise of Italian humanism, with its revival of roman letterforms and its emphasis on scholarly presentation of classical knowledge, to transform the book into the modern format we know today.

horizontal rule
Lombard Gradual. Northern Italy, mid-fifteenth century.
horizontal rule

view image

continue reading


the Sacred Word
Private Prayer
Leather and Chains
Medieval Music
How the Classics Survived
Manuscripts in the Age of Print
Evolution of the Book
Appetite for Destruction
Manuscript Facsimiles
Cornell's Medieval Books
Cornell University Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections Cornell University Library

Copyright 2002 Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections
2B Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853
Phone Number: (607) 255-3530. Fax Number: (607) 255-9524

For reference questions, send mail to:
If you have questions or comments about the site, send mail to: webmaster.