Medieval & Renaissance History Collections


Let’s start this Medieval & Renaissance Period after 1066, e.g. a strong focus on the High Middle Ages (1000 to 1300) and the Late Middle Ages (1300 to 1500). This includes the Renaissance (1300’s to 1600’s), through the Age of Discovery (1400’s to 1700’s), and at least in part is allowed to include what has been termed the Early Modern Period (1500‘s to 1700‘s) through until the Age of Revolutions, with the American Revolution (1775-1783).

Medieval History

Medieval Studies is (still) a major academic topic and many universities host resources pages, e.g.

  1. -you can search on the Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts of Beinecke Library in Yale (see also the Mellon Project)

  2. -look at the links of Fordham University Medieval Studies

  3. -Louisiana State University host a site called The Middle Ages Online, and the Internet Databases in Medieval Studies is part of it.

  4. -the University of Connecticut has extensive resources with link pages on digitised catalogues, manuscripts & databases, Latin language and literature, Old English, Middle English, Old French, and Celtic

  5. -University of California, Berkeley, has an extensive resources page, covering bibliographies, gateways, art history, French, German, Italian, and manuscripts

  6. -the University of Minnesota has a nice list of academic sites for medieval studies

  7. -West Virginia University has put 17 volumes (through to 2000) of its Essays in Medieval Studies freely online (also here), and volume 18 (2001) through to volume 30 (2014) is also freely available here 

  8. -the Institute of Historical Research (University of London) has made available 704 pod-casts (36 on the medieval period, and 85 on the 16th-17th C) on topics such as 17th C monasteries, the Mongol Empire, and the economic impact of cloth making

  9. -The University of Toronto publishes Aestimatio a freely accessible critical review in the history of science. When I visited, topics included Hippocrates, Kepler’s Astrology, Celestial Cartography, the origins of the gas-light industry, and the history of mathematical proof (the same university also publishes the site Baptisteria Sacra, on baptismal fonts)

  10. -Inter Libros wants to be a virtual gateway for classical and medieval research at Harvard University and beyond, and covers full-text collections, online catalogs, dictionaries and lexicons, and reference sources

  11. -Online Resources for Medieval Art and Architecture touches on topics such as architecture, sculpture, glass and other arts, as well as paleography, cartography, etc. is well worth a visit, since it covers almost everything happening in medieval studies, e.g. places to see, films, articles, books, etc.

Iter (Gateway to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance) is a subscription-based bibliography covering the period 400 to 1700. However it also provides free access to 161 books and journals, etc., including volumes 1-5 on the Renaissance and the Reformation, Literature and Religion in the Late Middle Ages, and Shakespeare’s English Histories.

Creating French Culture, which contains the treasures from the Bibliothéque Nationale de France, has a section on Monarchs and Monasteries (late 8th C to late 15th C).

The Humanist Discussion Group is a very large online community run through a listserv, described on its website as “an international online seminar on humanities computing and the digital humanities”.

The Digital Medievalist Community of Practice includes a listserv, website, online (peer-reviewed) journal, and wiki.

Consulting Medieval Manuscripts Online links to over 13,000 digitised medieval manuscripts.

Monastic Manuscript Project tries to link to everyplace involved in the topic, from the e-codices (the Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland), to (Austrian Middle Age Manuscripts).

DMMmaps links to more than 400 digital libraries home to more than 20,000 medieval manuscripts. The nice thing about this site is that it uses a mapping interface.

The Early Books and Manuscripts Collection of Houghton Library includes material dating from approximately 3000 BC to 1600 AD, and ranges from papyri to early and illuminated manuscripts to early printed books. This includes bibliographic data for and images of a growing number of Digital Medieval Manuscripts.

The Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilizations is a series of maps and geodatabases bearing on multiple aspects of Roman and medieval civilization, covering the Roman empire, medieval Europe, and the medieval Mediterranean world. 

The BVMM (Bibliothéque virtuelle des manuscrits médiévaux) is a virtual library of medieval manuscripts in French libraries, containing reproductions of a large selection of medieval and early Renaissance manuscripts. An initiative of the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des texts in Paris (IRHT-CNRS), the BVMM currently contains more than 1000 complete manuscripts in color, 600 others in black and white, as well as portions of 4200 illuminated manuscripts and incunables.

Manuscripta Mediaevalia, a collaborative project of German manuscript libraries and repositories funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, provides access to descriptions and digital images of over 90,000 manuscripts in German collections.

The Labyrinth is a US-based free resource for medieval studies. It tries to connect to databases, services and documents across a variety of categories, including archaeology, architecture, furniture, philosophy and medicine. Just as an example “architecture” had 17 links touching on Islamic architecture, cathedrals, castles and Romanesque sculpture.

NetSERF is a medieval resource, with more than 2,400 links, 1.300 news items, and 1500 glossary terms. When I visited the site the discussion was on the pest (bubonic plague, Black Death), and the way societies survived and even evolved.

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook is a US-based resource that looks valuable, even if the home page has not been updated since 2011. I checked out three links, and found one broken link, one active link to a secondary resource, and one link to an interesting page on the topic. So worth a look, even if it might not be fully maintained today.

The Medieval Review is a publication (1993-2015) of reviews on papers, books, etc. about medieval topics ranging from mathematical theologies to Viking-age towns. This page lists all the different resources at Indiana University, including the Indiana Magazine of History and the Museum Anthropology Review.

The Online Medieval & Classical Library is a collection of the most important literary works of the period (by title, author and genre). Not particularly rich, it links to about 50 titles.

The ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies looks like it is no longer maintained, however it is still a source of many active links. So it could still be useful.

The Folger maintains a good curated list of digital resources, covering everything from bibliographies to journals. The Folgerpedia is the Folger Shakespeare Library encyclopedia.

Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature covers Medieval, Renaissance, and through to the Restoration (1660 and Charles II). This means the medieval authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) and Thomas Malory (1415-1471), the Renaissance authors Thomas More (1478-1535), Thomas Sackville (1536-1608), Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), Walter Raleigh (1554-1618), and of course William Shakespeare (1564-1616). Through to the Restoration includes Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), Richard Lovelace (1617-1657), Isaac Newton (1642-1727), Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), Alexander Pope (1688-1744) and even James Boswell (1740-1795). 

The Rose & Chess site covers two medieval manuscripts Le Roman de la Rose and Le Jeu des échecs moralisé, both produced ca. 1365 in France by the so-called “Master of Saint Voult”. These are two illuminated manuscripts, one a courtly romance, and the other a treatise on medieval society using the game of chess as a framework. Here is a blog entry from the British Library also concerning the Roman de la Rose.

Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga, is a Smithsonian site dedicated to the discovery of the North America by the Vikings. The Perseus Digital Library Project is a major humanities resource, and hosts documents in Old Norse.

Explore Byzantium follows the Eastern Roman Empire from the 4th C through to the 15th C. Nice timeline, reasonable list of links, and a nice set of maps.

Art History Resources has a complete set of links, etc. on everything from prehistory art to the art of Pacific cultures, including the medieval period from early Christian art through to Gothic art.

De Re Militari, for the Society for Medieval Military History, has a good list of primary sources.

Medieval Architecture covers English and French architecture, as well as a glossary. It also points to Chartres: Cathedral of Notre-Dame and Vézelay, the Benedictine Abbey of Sainte-Marie-Madeline.

Passionate about medieval Latin, have a look at the Latin Library with it collection of authors from Ammianus to Vitruvius. Or you might like to visit the translations of variety of Latin authors at the so-called Remacle Website. On the other hand if you are struggling with medieval Latin, then check out Abbreviations Online which has more than 70,000 entries to help you decipher and transcribe old manuscripts. And here we have a Website dedicated to Latin place names. If you really want to know about more Latin resources then check out the Comité international de paléograhie latine with its catalogues, archives and glossary of codicology terms. The top-of-the-top must be the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes which performs fundamental research on the medieval texts and ancient manuscripts. If you are just trying to better understand the use of Latin in the middle ages, you might like to look at A Practical Handbook of Medieval Latin.  

Europeana Regia proves access to more than 1,000 rare manuscripts from the Middle Ages through to the Renaissance (8th C to 16th C). The Website provides 128 examples, and each example links to the full manuscript record. The project links to The European Library with its virtual exhibition of 34 manuscripts. There is also link to e-codices with its 1054 manuscripts from Swiss collections, and to the Website Manuscipta Mediaevalia and its 75,000 documents.

The British Museum has placed in their digital archive more than 15,000 colourful Persian manuscripts. This is in fact just one example of what can be found in their collection of digitised manuscripts, which includes the Harley Golden Gospels, Beowulf, the Silos Apocalypse, Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebook, the Petit Livre d’Amour and the Golf Book. In addition they also have a specific Website dedicated to illuminated manuscripts, which includes a virtual exhibition on Royal Manuscripts (there are some other past virtual exhibitions also available here). And don’t forget that the British Library also has a separate blog on digitised medieval manuscripts. More generally the digitised manuscript collection includes 600 Greek manuscripts, 150 medieval and modern scientific manuscripts, 400 so-called Royal manuscripts, 120 contributions on botany in India between 1780 and 1860, music manuscripts, 11,000 works from Persia, as well as manuscripts from Thailand and Malaysia. For example the British Library has online over 400 paintings from the Mewar Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic commissioned around 1649. In the same format they also provide access to pages from Leonardo’s notebook, a Medieval Bestiary, The Bedford Hours from around 1430, the Genealogical Chronicle of English Kings, the Codex Sinaiticus, a copy of the bible dating from from the 4th C, a bible from Ethiopia dating from the 17th C, the Lisbon bible completed in 1482, and Sultan Baybars’ Qur’an dating from the 12th C. They have a separate exhibition on Henry VIII: Man and Monarch.

The Louvre has a visitor trail entitled “Decorative Arts, The Middle Ages”, with 15 examples from their collection. They also have one for the Italian Renaissance with 17 examples, another on the Decorative Arts, The European Renaissance, and yet another on the Decorative Arts, 17th C France.

Treasures in Full: Gutenberg Bible, a site with the texts of the two Bibles held by the British Library. The Gutenberg Bible dates from the 1450’s, and was printed by Johannes Gutenberg (1398-1468).

The Atlas of Early Printing looks at 2nd half of the 15th C and uses Google Maps to view the British Library Incunabula Short Title Catalog. It is a teaching resource, so it tries to be both complete (bibliographic and databases) and interesting (e.g. animated printing press model).

History of the Book is a flickr site, e.g. collection of photographs, covering books from about 1550. Just as an example there is a page of letters printed by Joannes-Jacobus Carlinus who was active in Naples in 1601. There is also a flickr site on Printing History and Historical Type and Lettering.

Arkyves is a collaboration (and reference tool) of the Rijksmuseum, the Herzog August Bibliothek, and the university libraries of Milan, Utrecht, Glasgow, and Illinois. For example it looks at what medieval people through animals looked like, but you can search on topics as varied as Saint Francis or dogs. There is also a collection of printing devices, ornaments and decorated initials.

Diapsalmata looks at book history, e.g. Little Gidding Harmony, and unusual version of the Gospels made in 1630. Unfortunately the blog was discontinued in Feb. 2016, but it is still available and interesting. And the author has started a new “zine” called Pounce! (a feminist zine on media history).    

Medieval Writing introduces medieval manuscripts, and who were the authors and what did they write about, and why. Remembering that the ability to write at the time was not a universal skill.

Regnum Francorum Online is a mapping software with overlay for French territories, places, and historical monuments. The focus looks to be about the nearly 6,000 early medieval monuments found in France today. It looks like it integrate the Base Merimée which is the French national inventory of architecture and culture heritage.  A blog called Early Medieval Mapping is also mentioned, but it appears not to have updated since April.

MAD is the Medieval Animal Data-Network, and it has a small but useful links page. It also mentions a Medieval Central Europe Research Network and the Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies.

Decameron Web, from the Italian Studies in Brown University, has sections on Boccaccio, and the general history, society, and art of the period (Italian and English texts).

Medieval Church, is an Internet Resource for studying the Church in the Middle Ages, e.g. theological resources.

Foundation of Medieval Genealogy is all about the study of genealogy and prosopography before 1500 AD.

The Britannia Lexicon, is a list of legal, feudal, chivalric, monastic, military and architectural terms from the Middle Ages.

Periodis Web, is a historical atlas and gazetteer of Europe from year 1 to 2000. It has a great set of maps allowing you to see both sovereign states and dependencies.

History for kids has a whole section on The Middle Ages.

In early 2017 I was informed about a Webpage entitled Medicine and Health in the Middle Ages, a Webpage pointing to a number of very useful resources. Topics covered range from Medieval Medicine, through Medieval Diseases and Humors, to the Black Death and Smallpox.

Renaissance History

The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History is a great place to start when looking at any period in human civilisation. The search on Renaissance, a simple but very “precise” word, produces nearly 3,000 results. But top of the list are some key descriptions of the period, e.g. Architecture in Renaissance Italy, Northern Italian Renaissance Painting, Bronze Sculpture in the Renaissance, Painting the Life of Christ in Medieval and Renaissance Italy, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Florence and Central Italy 1400-1600 AD, and Titian. The power of this Website is the way it also delves into the less obvious topics, e.g. Gardens in the French Renaissance, European Tapestry Production and Patronage 1400-1600 AD, Anatomy in the Renaissance, and Weddings in the Italian Renaissance

The Artcyclopedia (9,000 artists and 160,000 links) is another great place to start for the Renaissance. We start with The Early Renaissance, its break from Byzantine Art, and great artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Paolo Uccello and Piero della Francesca. At that time the Renaissance advanced along with Gothic Art, and more generally what has been termed the Northern Renaissance. Then came the High Renaissance with Michelangelo Buonarroti, Raphael Sanzio and Leonardo da Vinci. This was followed by Mannerism, with Correggio, Tintoretto, El Greco, and Michelangelo Buonarroti. We leave the Renaissance with the appearance of the Baroque, and the artists Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Velázquez.

The Art Encyclopedia has only about 5,000 images, but it has 1,000’s of articles, including on topics such as sculpture, architecture, and photography. There is a major section on Renaissance Art, including in Florence, Rome, and Venice. The nice thing is also that it does not just stop with Renaissance paintings, but looks at architecture, portraits, and sculpture. And there is nice section on the Colour Palette of Renaissance painters.    

Web Gallery of Art, with its more than 39,000 reproductions, is another good starting point. Here you really have to know what to look for. A search on Velázquez produced 131 pictures from 4 different artists. A search on Raphael produced 33 pictures, none from the Renaissance artist, but search on Raffaello Sanzio and you find 366 paintings all by the Renaissance master.

For Renaissance Architecture check out Renaissance Architecture, Renaissance Architecture in Great Buildings, Renaissance Architecture in the Gentleman’s Gazette, and the Italian Renaissance Architecture in the Art Encyclopedia. Have a look at this book on Medieval and Early Architecture, and Renaissance Architecture.

Explorable has a nice entry level set on the Renaissance, starting with Renaissance Science, running through Astronomy, Architecture, Medicine, and through to the Enlightenment.

Renaissance Secrets, an series of OU and BBC programmes, looks a variety of lesser known facts about the period. It is a web of pages covering such things as the hanging of Roderigo Lopez (1517-1594) for trying to poison Elizabeth I, or how exactly was the dome of Florence Cathedral actually built.

The Renaissance forum ran from 1996 through to 2004, but the collection of articles is still available. The last issue included articles on James VI (or James I if you prefer) and Jacobean plays, but previous issues also included topics such as Shakespeare’s plays and clothes and costumes in drama set in the 1630’s.

Hanover College has the Internet Archive of Texts and Documents, and their Historical Texts Collections. It also has a section dedicated to The Italian Renaissance, as well as The Catholic Reformation (1545-1648) and The French Revolution. The part on the Italian Renaissance includes texts, articles (many in JSTOR) and links to art web sites. The Catholic Reformation concluded with the end of The Thirty Years War (1618-1648), a period of 30 years which was said to have been one of the most destructive conflicts in European history.

Project Wittenberg is about Protestant reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546), and Lutherans. It has quite a collection of selected works, including other related authors.

The Scientific Revolution makes reference to the scientific revolution that is said to have begun in 1543 with Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) and ended in the late 18th C, possibly with Isaac Newton (1642-1727). The site has a descriptive part, and also includes biographies and primary texts. 

The Galileo Project, is all about the life and work of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), and includes also a Catalog of the Scientific Community of the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Waves of Empire, is about how national sovereignty projected across international waters, and how that shaped trade and geopolitics. Not specifically about the Renaissance, it appears to start around 1500, and have a particular focus on the West Indies. It has a nice interactive map interface.

Visualizing Venice looks at generating digital models and maps of Venice.

Tudor History is a site all about The House of Tudor, founded with Henry VII in 1485, and dissolved with the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. The site is part of the so-called Tudor History Web Ring, which includes: Thomas Nashe, Tudor and Stuart in the Weiss Gallery, All My Tudors... a history chat (chat site on the topic), Elizabeth I, Mary Tudor, and Tudor Place.

Le Poulet Gauche is a guide to life in 16th C France. Not only does it have sections on history and politics, but it also has a section on tavern life as part of everyday life.

The Perseus Digital Library Project hosts resources on early modern English, and Italian poetry in Latin.

Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies is a site of the Victoria University in the University of Toronto. The site has a bit of everything, from a few featured rare books, an area for their Confraternities Collection, Erasmus‘ Complete Works, and a Web resources page. They also point to the Finino Listserv, an unmoderated bulletin board for the Renaissance and Reformation periods (1350-1700).

Finino listserv is in fact just one of many academic discussion groups on the 16th C and 17th C (e.g. Humanist or Restoration Culture). Check out Early Modern Literary Studies for more information (dates from 2009 so might need some updating). Here is another list of Literary Academic Discussion Groups as well as Medieval Academic Discussion Groups.

There is the Medieval and Renaissance Websites, which looks quite comprehensive (but I’m not sure of its original date and if it has been kept current). It list study programs, text collections, some Websites, and discussion groups.

Witches in Early Modern England looks to be a highly specialised topic, but it is treated in a very imaginative and creative way, well worth the visit. It has a kind of “random” access view with the “Throwing Bones” and the “Reading Leaves”. The “Mapping Witches” has a nice GIS interface, and there is always a full text search.

The Digital Michelangelo Project was about creating a 3D model of Michelangelo’s David. The project finished in 2003, but the Website has been maintained through to 2015. 

The Medici Archive Project (see also MAP) provides access to 24,000 documentary records, 18,000 bibliographic entries, 87,000 geographical and topographical tags, 300,000 digitised images from 292 volumes of the Mediceo del Principato (the Medici Archival Collection). You can search the Website, and there are project-like modules on topics such as “France and the Medici”. The search I made on “London” produced 25 results, including a blog post on “luxury” and pointer to the project “The Birth of News”. Oddly enough “Michelangelo” only produced 9 results, most blog posts. Fortunately “Cosimo” produced 55 results, again mostly blog posts. There is also an access point to the images in the archive, but I think that you have to register to get access.

The Old Bailey Proceedings Online makes available a fully searchable, digitised collection of all surviving editions of the Old Bailey Proceedings from 1674 to 1913, and of the Newgate Prison Accounts between 1676 and 1772. It allows access to over 197,000 trials and biographical details of approximately 2,500 men and women executed at Tyburn.

Locating London’s Past provides an intuitive GIS interface enabling researchers to map and visualize textual and artifactual data relating to 17th C and 18th C London against the 1746 map of London by John Rocque and the first accurate modern OS map.

There is a Website called Art and the Bible which has quite a collection of famous paintings inspired by Biblical events.

Archives Portal Europe looks to provide access to archival material. To date “you can search across more than 36 million descriptive units linked to more than 125 million digital objects from 267 institutions”. A couple of examples are provided to demonstrate the type and quality of the content available, namely the Confederation of Warsaw dated 1573 and the Ådalen shootings in Sweden in 1931. This project was initiated as APEnet, and is now continuing with europeana as APEx, a network of excellence on archives.

Arachne provides access (you need to register) to around 500,000 scans and 250,000 objects, and specifically mentions 2,000 prints from the 16th C to 19th C.

Early Modern Literary Studies is a referred journal on English literature, literary culture and language during the 16th C and 17th C. Issue cover the period 1995 through to 2012 or even 2014, plus special editions

18th Century Bibliography is quite self-explanatory, it is a list of texts that appeared between 1680 and 1810, that can be browsed by decade and author. (It does not link to external sources

Gladius is a freely accessible Spanish-language journal on everything from prehistory through to the 19th C. I have put it in this section on the Renaissance because I came across this journal whilst researching the topic of the financial power of Renaissance Florence.

The Cervantes Project, about the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), includes publications and links to his works (including Don Quixote).