Medieval manuscripts are counted among the greatest glories of Western civilization. With their gold and painted decoration and their charming miniatures, they have always had immense appeal, and images from them can be seen everywhere - from greeting cards and wrapping paper to expensive facsimiles. This entertaining and authoritative book is the first to provide a general introduction to the whole subject of the making of books from the Dark Ages to the invention of printing and beyond. Christopher de Hamel vividly describes the widely different circumstances in which manuscripts were created, from the earliest monastic Gospel Books to university textbooks, secular romances, Books of Hours and classical texts for humanist bibliophiles. As the story unfolds the wonderful variety of manuscripts and their illumination is revealed, and many fundamental questions are answered - who wrote the books, what texts they contained, who read them, how they were made and what purposes they served. Illuminated manuscripts have alway been highly valued, and among them are some of the world's great masterpieces of art. With its lively narrative and many new and superb illustrations, this new edition of a much-praised book provides the perfect introduction to a large and fascinating subject.