Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Bmiel, J. Sura

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art


Illumination of books and manuscripts


This thesis discusses two aspects of manuscript illumination in the period of the Carolingian Renaissance (ca. 768-870 A.D.). Chapter I deals with the role of the illuminated manuscript, and Chapter II deals with the sources of manuscript illumination from which the Carolingian artists drew their models. In both cases, an attempt was made to relate the illuminated manuscript to Charlemagne's efforts to institute a renovatio of the late antique-Early Christian Roman Empire with all of its political and cultural accomplishments. In Chapter I, it is shown how Charlemagne, his coterie of scholars, and his artists revived the forms of the late antique-Early Christian artistic tradition (fourth through sixth centuries A.D.). Moreover, they revived the spirit and purpose of the illuminated manuscript of the Imperium Romanorum and turned them to the purposes of Church and State. In Chapter II, the manner and paths by which the classical and Hellenistic stylistic traditions of the Imperium Romanorum reached the Carolingian artists are traced. It is also shown how these traditions resulted in the productions of the two major groups of "schools" under the direct sponsorship of Charlemagne, the so-called "Ada" group, or the first palace school, and the so-called "Schola Palatina," or second palace group. The style of the first palace group is seen to stem from the neo-Attic tradition of the Eastern Mediterranean region and to have arrived at the court of Charlemagne from Graeco-Italian models of the sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries A.D. The style of the second palace group is seen to stem from the Hellenistic tradition likewise of the Eastern Mediterranean region and to have arrived at Charlemagne's court via models produced at a Graeco-Italian center, possibly Rome or Ravenna, of the seventh or eighth century. The stylistic tradition of the second group is then traced further in the works of the Rheims group, where it was transformed by the native Germanic artistic tradition into a style which was to influence European manuscript illumination for centuries to come. Included in the source material of this thesis are books, monographs, and magazine articles by noted scholars in the field of manuscript illumination, ranging from works by early pioneers in the field to recent studies by contemporary scholars. I have, where relevant, added my own personal views on the topics under discussion. Moreover, an attempt has been made to break down the various typological themes so as to be able to generalize about their role and origin.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [105]-109)


120 pages




Northern Illinois University

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