The Codex & The Illuminated Manuscript | 300 AD – ~1450 AD

17 March, 2011


Example of a scroll:

Example of a Codex:

Example of an Illuminated Manuscript:


1.  Codex is derived from Latin meaning “block of wood”. Why? What did the codex evolve from?

The codex is made using papyrus, which is thicker than scroll paper, almost like a block of wood. The codex evolved from scrolls; they were easier to transport, more compact and steadier than scrolls were.

2.  What is the difference between “random access” and “sequential access”?

“Random access” refers to the Codex, where one can find anything, despite the order of the text. “Sequential access” refers to scrolls. In scrolls, to find anything one must completely unroll the scroll and read in sequential order (sequence) in order to find what they are looking for.

3.  What is the difference between the codex and the illuminated manuscript?

A Codex does not have many illustrations, it usually contains only the written word. Illuminated manuscripts on the other hand, are colourful, artistic pages written in detail with embroidery (usually), and colourful images. Codex manuscript, for the most part, replaced illuminated texts because the work for the ornamental pages was so tedious.

4.  What is craftsmanship? Why is it important?

A craftsman is one of great skill and high quality artwork. Whether it be in architecture or art, the work ethic is unique, strong, and of stupendous quality. It is important because the best works took time (Look at Rembrandt and Renoir). Craftsmanship is precise and on-time, never missing a beat. Also, without skilled craftsmen, many artistic features, buildings, etc. would not be available nor here, today.

5.  Why did the format of the codex/book gain so much popularity that we still use it today?

The codex/book is still popular today because it makes for simple storage and does not have as much upkeep as scrolls or illuminated manuscripts. They are not as time-consuming, nor as labourious.

6.  Name several examples of current technology that utilizes the format of the codex.

All modern books take on the form of Codex. Examples include The Bible and encyclopedias.



  1. Google image search led me to this image of the illuminated cross with Psalm 23 on it. That is an amazingly beautiful page! I wanted to print a large copy of it to hang on my wall. Do you have a larger scan of this image, or a better quality jpg? I would really appreciate it a lot! If so, please email it to me at jesusphreaq@gmail.com. Thank you!

    • Unfortunately, that is not my work and I do not have the original image. I gave credit where deserved, and did not take credit for that image. However, if you happen to find it via Google, please contact the owner of that page. Thank you!

  2. Reblogged this on bansheecloudadmin and commented:
    The classic Medieval look of an illuminated manuscript.

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