A Few Words about Terminology
Historiated initials are sometimes called versal letters, although the latter term technically means any enlarged capital letter beginning a paragraph of text, whether illustrated or not. In medieval manuscripts, the term illumination specifically refers to the use of gold to reflect light, thus "illuminating" the text. However, in modern, vernacular usage, illuminated manuscript has become a catch-all term for any manuscript with colorful embellishments. Most surviving medieval illuminated manuscripts are liturgical books such as breviaries, antiphonaries, and psalters; and a type of Christian devotional book (dating to about the 13th century) known as a book of hours.
- Brown, Michelle. Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms. Looking At Series. J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994.
- De Hamel, Christopher. The British Library Guide to Manuscript Illumination: History and Techniques. University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division, 2001.
- Tanis, James. Leaves of Gold: Manuscript Illumination from Philadelphia Collections, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2006.