The manuscript on the right is one I've become very familiar with very recently, as I've been copying it out for an assessment piece within the guild. It's Psalm 105 from the Albani Psalter, a beautifully illustrated and illuminated 12th century prayer book. Out of all the pages in the manuscript though, this one is particularly interesting (although I'll admit I picked it initially because I needed a good quality image to work from). While illuminated letters were normally added to manuscripts last, this isn't exactly the case here - instead, the illuminated letter was produced on a small, separate piece of vellum, and was then pasted into the corner for some reason. The join was expertly made though, as the edges of the patch were tapered to meet the page. After this the tag (the text above the letter) was written on, which we know because the green ink of the tag seeped through onto the next page, whereas the same ink used on the illumination did not. The tag on this page is also the only one not to be lifted from the text of the psalm. Oddly enough, the individual responsible for this illumination appears nowhere else in the work, and the illustration is quite unique in style (typical that I chose this one to learn the style from, then...), however the scribe who added the tag can be identified elsewhere by the style of writing he uses. I'm finding all of this quite fascinating, as it's a subject that I've never looked at before but am starting to dig more deeply into. If anyone's interested in finding out more about the psalter, there's an excellent link here.
In traditional Latin, a construction called the ablative absolute exists ('with the prisoner having been freed'), however during the medieval period authors begun to use other cases in this type of construction. This was not universal, as members of the clergy tended to know better, and their Latin was closer to that of the Classical period. However the laity who could write in Latin were not so well taught, with the above result. Another common grammatical mistake was in the perfect and pluperfect tenses in the passive (ie. 'portatus sum'). Medieval authors thought that it made no sense for the perfect tense to include the present tense of the verb to be, so they changed it to be 'portatus fui' instead. Finally, there was a very major addition to medieval Latin, the middle voice. Ancient Greek had this voice, which is often reflexive in meaning, and it took the same form as the passive voice. That it developed in Latin during this later period is both rather interesting, and also helpful in understanding ancient Greek a bit better.
To some of you that last paragraph probably made not so much sense, but there you have it - a run down on some of the basics of medieval Latin and a look at a really quite interesting page of a manuscript. Next time I'll probably be looking at the Roman political system during the republic, a topic that we've just covered in lectures. Until then, thank you for reading, and feel free to leave a comment.