Book Series Studies in Medieval and Early Renaissance Art History, vol. 33

Illuminating the Law

Legal Manuscripts in Cambridge Collections

Susan L'Engle, Robert Gibbs

  • Pages: 272 p.
  • Size:305 x 230 mm
  • Illustrations:64 b/w, 115 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2002

  • ISBN: 978-1-872501-53-6
  • Hardback
  • Available

This catalogue offers introductory essays on the making and the use of medieval legal manuscripts in Cambridge collections, in order to call attention to the illuminated legal texts as splendidly decorated medieval manuscripts.


"...the handsome catalogue, Illuminating the law, with its generous quota of colour plates, does splendid justice to a small exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum (...), in which unexpected delights are found in apparently dry legal textbooks."   
(A. Payne in The Art Newspaper, December 2001.


Illuminated legal texts rank high among the most splendidly decorated medieval manuscripts. Their historical and artistic significance has largely escaped even specialists in art and legal history. The long-recognised discrepancy between the importance of the material and its relative inaccessibility, as well as the rich Cambridge collections, provided the incentive for an exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum. With the intention to bring this splendid material to the attention and the understanding of a wider audience, this catalogue offers introductory essays on the making and use of medieval legal manuscripts, detailed descriptions and analysis of representative examples, and rich illustrative material, aesthetically pleasing and thought-provoking.