In a strict sense illuminated manuscripts are manuscripts decorated with gold and silver, but the term is widely used for all sorts of illustrated manuscripts. Illustrations in manuscripts can have different forms and play different functions. They may be pictures independent from their surrounding elements, then they are called miniatures. They can also appear as decorated initials at the beginning of a chapter or a paragraph of a text. Illuminations can also take a form of decorative frames surrounding a text or a miniature, called borders, or marginal drawings and squiggles, called marginalia. In some cases, illuminations play an important role in identifying the manuscript's monastery of origin.
Explore sections listed below containing further explanations and examples of the different types of illuminations.