How To Google For Illuminated Manuscript Inspirations

Calontir‘s current Monarchs, Logan and Ylva, are Norse-Viking and the scroll they want me to do is for a person with a 14th century Western European SCA persona. How do I blend those two?

I started by asking Google.

Trolling for manuscript images with Google is helpful if you know the way it searches. Its search results are based, in part, on a priority rank called a “PageRank”a way Google measures a web page’s importance. 

The first image(s), if any, are from the entered search term(s). After the most likely items, the search engine hunts for individual terms in your request. (This applies to text as well as images. Right now I’m looking for images.)

For example, entering “14th century Norse illuminated manuscript” Google first provides images and the first two are Viking style boats in 14th-century manuscripts. Spot on for my search terms. 

The next image Google provides is an English 14th-century illuminated manuscript. A ball-park result, 14th-century.

But there’s a problem here. If the person asking for the search doesn’t know or doesn’t follow through with calling up the original image, it’s possible to misinterpret the results. A Viking boat image in a 14th-century manuscript fits, but a pretty, English manuscript that doesn’t have Edda prose or similar is unsuitable.

The next image takes you to a list of 14th-century illuminated manuscripts at Wikipedia. Interesting to know what other manuscripts of the time look like, but less specific than my request.

The last images are an Armenian illuminated manuscript, showing Google was only searching “illuminated manuscript” at that point. The last is a blog post of new images at the British Library. Very remotely related to the full requested search.

When I googled 14th century Norse, I was surprised to find an image from an illuminated manuscript. I clicked on the image to enlarge it. Besides more images, that page described the picture as “King Harald in the 14th century Icelandic Flateyjarbok manuscript.” 

I’d never seen or heard of this manuscript before. So I googled the Flateyjarbok. Besides Wikipedia’s information, the search included other pictures from the manuscript, plus some from other manuscripts, as I expected.

 From the 14th century Icelandic manuscript Flateyjarbók
now in the care of the Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland.

My next step was to click on each image provided from the Flateyjarbok search. That click brought up the initial image searched and ways to access it. The image only or the web page that holds it. Since I was still looking for information on the manuscript I chose “visit page.”   

“Visit page” takes you to the source that holds the image. It can be risky or educational. It might be in a foreign language. It might not relate to your topic at all.

When I click “View image” the indicated picture opens on my screen, without possible accompanying text. Useful for reports and possibly this blog.

From these searches I now have information and inspiration for my assigned scroll. I saved the results and printed the best examples. Now to use them to design my assigned scroll.

Categories: How-to, Resources

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