An illuminated manuscript is a handwritten text featuring hand-painted visual decorations. The majority were produced in the Middle Ages (5-15th Century). Producing an illuminated manuscript was a tedious process that took months or years. Wealthy patrons commissioned personal copies of their most valued readings. These manuscripts, created before the invention of the printing press, were highly coveted. Manuscripts were produced for both liturgical purposes and as signs up wealth.
Medieval Scribes typically worked in low light settings with only the aid of a candle. Many were illiterate and eventually developed poor eyesight from the harsh working conditions. It was a highly respected position, though, as their contributions were greatly desired.
The illustrations for a codex (manuscript book) were important for a primarily illiterate society. The process of creating a manuscript with illustrations was highly complex. Quills were handsharpened and the ink was handmade from natural products. Paint was insect, mineral, and plant based. Manuscripts were made out of vellum, a parchment made of calfskin.