Mobility & Travel
The portability of medieval books allowed them to circulate freely along the trade routes of the Middle Ages, enabling artistic exchange across enormous cultural and geographic divides. This section highlights manuscripts with dramatic provenance histories; as they moved through different regions these books inspired artists to emulate the art of distant times and places.
Pitt’s facsimiles allow the juxtaposition of manuscripts that were produced in separate kingdoms but share the same models. In this way the section comes full circle to connect mobility to the theme of ‘making copies’: in this video the Utrecht Psalter, brought from France to England by the 10th century, is juxtaposed with pages from the Anglo-Catalan Psalter that are modeled after its evocative designs. In borrowing designs from its model but translating them into its own contemporary, local style, the copy offers a vivid example of how books could transmit artistic knowledge across great temporal and spatial expanses.
Encounters across cultural and geographic divides are also evoked by maps that gave medieval people glimpses of faraway peoples and places. Often designed to facilitate imaginary rather than literal travels, maps of the world (mappa mundi) established contrasts between the familiar ‘here’ of the local and the distant ‘there’ of the foreign. Such manuscripts are evocative reminders that medieval people were indeed aware of a world that extended far beyond provincial borders.