How Medieval Manuscripts are Made: A Guest Post by USA Today Bestseller @RuthACasie #medieval #books
One of the tools a writer uses for authenticity in their story is research. Whether it’s how to disassemble and clean a Glock, which poisons are quick killing and leave no trace or what women wore in the 14th century it all takes research. The better you know your facts, the more authentic your story. As a result you become somewhat of an authority on the topic. The added benefit is you are now the go to person when you play trivia and you can play a mean game of scrabble.
Writing historical fantasy, even though it’s may not be factually accurate, still requires a level of authenticity. Several of my stories are based on people who are researchers. Whether it’s my heroine, Rebeka, the renowned history professor in my Druid Knight Tales or Cari, the exception art appraiser in my upcoming series, River of Time, my stories require research.
Knight of Rapture, required an understanding of old
manuscripts. While I researched several sites I came across an online class offered by Stanford University. I had a smattering of knowledge about manuscripts but this class explained the making of manuscripts, interpreting manuscripts, working with manuscripts and transcribing them. It’s been several years…hmmm… decades since I was in school but the lure of unearthing the details was too much to pass up. I took the plunge.
What is a manuscript is and how is it made? Manuscript means, literally, handwritten from manus and to write from scriba. Another word for is chirography. Basically, anything that is handwritten using any implement from a quill to a modern biro (pen) is a manuscript.
There are hundreds of thousands surviving documents today from circa 500 to 1500 CE. Medieval manuscripts can be found in repositories throughout the world.
The early papyrus manuscripts were made from the pulp of reeds found along the Nile River in Egypt through southern Sudan. This medium or substrate (the surface scribes used to make their books and scrolls) was used before animal skins were processed and stretched to create parchment and vellum. Papyrus parallels the use of parchment and vellum until about 800 CE. After this time the use of papyrus rapidly declines.
Vellum is made from cow skins while parchment comes from sheep. Goat and deer skins were also used. To prepare the animal skins they are dipped in lime for a number of days to clean it of any animal material. It’s then rinsed thoroughly and pinned to a frame to dry. Once the skin is dry it is sanded until it is smooth. Finally, it’s cut into a page or bifolium. These are folded into gatherings or quires. Several quires are stacked together to form the traditional medieval manuscript.
The class went into detail on how papyrus, parchment and vellum are made. It also discusses the early rag paper technology. We not only learned about how the manuscripts were produced we also learned how to transcribe manuscripts. While the details on making the substrates (I’m proud I can use that word in a sentence) it is how the manuscripts are transcribed and interpreted that attracted me to the course.
Understanding how the manuscript is produced gave me some good technical sound bites for my story. The class was fun and, to be honest, I enjoy learning. I certainly impressed my son when we were at a museum in Boston and came across a display of medieval manuscripts. I had a small group around me as I told him how it was made.
Title: Knight of Rapture
Author: Ruth A. Casie
Genre: Time Travel Romance, Historical Fantasy, Medieval
He crossed the centuries to find her…
For months Lord Arik has been trying to find the right combination of runes to create the precise spell to rescue his wife, Rebeka, but the druid knight will soon discover that reaching her four hundred years in the future is only the beginning of his quest. He arrives in the 21st century to find her memory of him erased, his legacy on the brink of destruction, and traces of dark magick at every turn.
A threat has followed…
Bran, the dark druid, is more determined than ever to get his revenge. His evil has spread across the centuries. Arik will lose all. Time is his weapon, and he’s made sure his plan leaves no one dear to Arik, in past or present, safe from the destruction.
But their enemy has overlooked the strongest magick of all…
Professor Rebeka Tyler is dealing with more than just a faulty memory. Ownership of Fayne Manor, her home, has been called into question. Convenient accidents begin happening putting those she cares for in the line of fire. And then there’s the unexpected arrival of a strange man dressed like he belonged in a medieval fair—a man who somehow is always around when needed, and always on her mind. She doesn’t know who to trust. But one thing is certain. Her family line and manor have survived for over eleven centuries. She won’t let them fall, not on her watch… in any century.
“The day appears promising.” Rebeka’s voice brought a smile to his lips. She tugged her shawl closer around her shoulders. “M’lord.” Soft puffs of breath surrounded her mouth. There was indeed a chill in the morning air. She gave him his discarded shirt and waited while he shrugged into it before handing him his ale.
“Yes. It will be a good day.” It was always a good day when it began with her at his side. “Almost as good as last night.” They drove each other mad with their verbal banter and soft touches yesterday until she surrendered to him. His reward was to tease her until she yielded last night. Who knew who would yield today? Either way they both won.
Her gaze slid from his chest to his face. Her searing expression brought back the warmth of their passionate evening. Her flushed skin was her silent response.
He returned his gaze to the valley pretending to be interested in the smoke now rising from a distant chimney. He turned his attention back to her.
Faith, how he loved sparring with her.
Out of the corner of his eye he caught her blank stare. But the challenge was given and he understood it had been accepted. With a long pull on his ale he returned his attention to the curling smudge in the sky and like a game of chess waited for her to make the next move.
She rose on tip toes and bathed his ear with her soft breath. “But not as good as tonight will be,” she whispered. “We celebrate Samhain tonight.”
RUTH A. CASIE is a USA Today bestselling author of historical swashbuckling action-adventures and contemporary romance with enough action to keep you turning pages. Her stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. She lives in New Jersey with her hero, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and vice president at an international bank where she was a product/ marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. She hopes her stories become your favorite adventures. For more information, please visit RuthACasie.com or visit her on Facebook, @RuthACasie, Twitter, @RuthACasie, or Pinterest RuthACasie.
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