Gateways to the Middle Ages: Electronic Resources for Medieval Studies

WESS Newsletter

Vol. 20, No. 2 (Spring, 1997)

By Tom Izbicki, Johns Hopkins University
and Chuck Spornick, Emory University

The tools and sites listed below are among the most significant electronic aids for the pursuit of medieval and Renaissance studies. They are, however, only a portion of the resources available. Among the other matters worth noting are the creation by major institutes and research collections of their own homepages-some of which are listed below-and the creation of Websites retaining images from significant exhibitions. Projects digitizing large portions of manuscript texts or artistic images from manuscript repositories and museum collections are under development.

Reference Works & Guides

  • Abbreviationes (Turnhout: Brepols, 1995).
    • The first electronic dictionary for medieval Latin abbreviations used in written and early printed texts.
  • In Principio (Turnhout: Brepols, 1993- ).
    • This CD-ROM database contains almost 300,000 incipits (opening phrases of works in manuscripts) from the Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes, Paris. The third edition of the database will contain more than 48,000 incipits from the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, Collegeville, Minnesota.
  • Index of Christian Art
    • This index to artistic motifs, including extensive medieval holdings, still is under development.
  • International Medieval Bibliography (Turnhout: Brepols, 1995).
    • This CD-ROM database not only cumulates entries from 20 individual volumes (1984-1993), it provides cross references not available in the print form. The second release will add 1994 and 1980-1983.
  • Iter: The Bibliography of Renaissance Europe (1300-1700). (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1996- ).
    • This bibliographic tool, still in development, is intended to provide references for all aspects of European history and culture in the period covered.
  • Iter Italicum (Leiden: Brill, 1995).
    • The classic reference tool by Paul O. Kristeller for the study of Renaissance manuscripts in electronic form with numerous search options.

Web Gateways

  • Labyrinth
    • This is the largest and best maintained web site for medieval studies. Labryinth, provides the greatest number of links to other WWW sites that would be of interest to medievalists. Deborah Everhart and Martin Irvine, Co-Directors, Georgetown University.
  • Medici Archive
    • Online access to the contents of the archives of the Medici grand dukes of Tuscany provided by Johns Hopkins university.
  • NetSerf
    • This gateway site for medieval studies resources is maintained by Beau Harbin, The Catholic University of America. Its arrangement is simpler than is that of Labyrinth, but it makes fewer links.
  • ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies
    • This site serves the purposes of gateway, reference tool (including the¬†ORB Encyclopedia), and teaching support (including the Internet Medieval Sourcebook, listed below).
  • University of Kansas HN Source
    • This WWW site is a “list of lists.” Contained are hundreds of sites for electronic resources for historians. The list is available in alphabetical form, by “subject tree,” country and epoch. Maintained by Lynn Nelson, University of Kansas.
    • Further down the hierarchy of the server is a list of bibliographies, also from Lynn Nelson. The bibliographies (on the crusades, feudalism, and castles) are not exhaustive, but are intended as starting points for study.

WWW: Full-Text & Image Resources

  • CCAT at the University of Pennsylvania
    • This is a large collection of texts, ranging from classical studies to modern fiction and poetry. For medieval studies, CCAT includes patristic writings (Ambrose, Gregory the Great, and Augustine), selected French royal charters (11-12th c.), writings of Abbot Suger, works of Boccaccio, and Spanish and Arabic medieval texts. Also included are numerous editions of scriptural texts. Conditions and terms for the availability of the texts can be found in the Legend for the Public Archive list. Selected texts are available for full-text searching, via a WAIS index: editions of Beowulf, Chaucer, and Augustine’s Confessions.
  • Charrette Project
    • As described in the preface, this site is “a multi-media electronic archive containing a medieval manuscript tradition-that of Chretien de Troyes Le Chevalier de la Charrette (Lancelot, ca. 1180).” Maintained by the Dept. of Romance Languages, Princeton University.
    • Images of medieval manuscripts in several libraries in Europe and North America.
  • Internet Medieval Sourcebook
    • An extensive collection of translated sources provided through ORB (see above).
    • Also available though EURODOCS

Medieval and Early Modern Europe

  • A collection of texts in translation intended to support teaching.
  • Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts from the Atrium Site
    • This site provides images, transcriptions of texts and English translations of them.
  • Online Medieval and Classical Library
    • The purpose of this archive is to “provide a free and easy way for the average computer user to access some of the most important literary works of Classical and Medieval civilization.” Included in the archive are works of Chaucer, Norse sagas, and medieval legal texts. There is no search engine associated with the texts. Maintained by Douglas B. Killings at Cal. Berkeley.
  • SEENET at the University of Michigan
    • The Society for Early English and Norse Texts has begun a series of electronic texts of Old Norse, Old English and Middle English texts. The first title in the series is an electronic edition of the Piers Plowman.
  • TEAMS Middle English Texts
    • TEAMS, the Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages, the University of Rochester, and the Medieval Institute of Western Michigan University have provided electronic editions for 17 Middle English texts. Included are editions of The Avowying of Arthur, The Greene Knight, and Why I Can’t Be a Nun. There is no search engine associated with the texts.
  • Rabanus Maurus, De rerum naturis.
    • This is W. Schipper’s transcription of this ninth century encyclopedic compilation, taken from the manuscript at Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, MS Augiensis 93 and 68. Also included is a list of manuscripts; a bibliography is in progress. There is no search engine for the text. Maintained at University of Newfoundland.

Stand Alone Full-Text Sources

  • Admyte (Madrid: Biblioteca National; Micronet, 1994).
    • Over sixty 15th and 16th century texts, including literary and scientific works, chronicles, and legal texts. Most of the texts are incunabula, and may be displayed either in their medieval script or in modern transcription.
  • Archive of Celtic-Latin Literature (Turnhout: Brepols, 1994).
    • This CD-ROM database includes the complete works of authors such Patrick and Geraldus Cambrensis, as well as numerous lives of saints.
  • CETEDOC Library of Christian Latin Texts (Turnhout: Brepols, 1992).
    • This database includes the entirety of the Series Latina and the Continuatio Medievalis of the Corpus Christianorum. Also included are the Rochais edition of the works of Bernard of Clairvaux, the Latin Vulgate Bible, and texts from the Source Chretienne and the CSEL, for the purpose of augmenting the complete works of Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great.
  • The Electronic Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Munich: Brepols, 1996- ).
    • This project will provide complete electronic versions of one of the most venerable collections of medieval texts, one particularly useful for the study of the Germanic regions.
  • Patrologia Latina Database (Alexandria Va.: Chadwyck-Healey, 1995).
    • This database includes the entirety of this 221 volume monumental source for medieval studies. A Web interface has been developed.
  • Thomas Aquinas. Collected Works. (Charlottesville, Va.: Intellex, 1994).
    • This CD-ROM database consists of the collected works of Aquinas in English.

Homepages of North American Institutes, Organizations and Specialized Collections