Today is the one-year anniversary of the launch of our collaborative interpretative and digitisation project with the BibliothÃ¨que nationale de France, The Polonsky Foundation England and France Project: Manuscripts from the British Library and the BibliothÃ¨que nationale de France, 700-1200. A year ago we met in Paris as part of a three-day international conference to celebrate two new bilingual websites that provide unprecedented access to some of the riches of our two national collections. Thanks to generous funding from The Polonsky Foundation, each Library digitised 400 manuscripts made in either England or France before the year 1200. You can view all 800 of them on a website hosted by the BnF, and if you wish, select two or more to examine side by side (view the digitised manuscripts on the BnF website).
A second website, also fully bilingual, is hosted by the British Library (view the BL's interpretative website). Here you can read 30 articles on various topics, such as English manuscript illumination, French manuscript illumination, medicine, or history. Or, watch videos of Professor Nick Vincent discussing law-making in early medieval England or Professor Julia Crick discussing manuscript production after the Norman Conquest. We also commissioned two animated films based on the story of the crane and the story of the whale from a medieval bestiary manuscript. Some of the most popular films have been those on how to make a manuscript, commissioned from artist and calligrapher Patricia Lovett, with viewers spending an average of nearly 10 minutes on this topic. Thereâ€™s also a film produced by the BnF, which explains the background to the project.
Taken together, over half a million individual pages have been viewed by people all over the world. Early English manuscripts have been particularly popular. We know that you are loyal viewers, too, with over 30% returning for another visit to the interpretative website, and with many of you reporting how you are using the resources in your teaching, or for your own research. We love to hear how youâ€™ve been using the website and which features youâ€™ve particularly enjoyed, so please let us know in the comments field below.
Weâ€™ve received some great press coverage, including this BBC History podcast on the wonders of the Middle Ages, and a review in Hyperallergic. We have also been featured in La Revue FranÃ§aise de gÃ©nÃ©alogie (April 2019), Les VeillÃ©es des ChaumiÃ¨res (May 2019), and Femme Actuelle Jeux (May 2019).
The first printing of our project book by curators Kathleen Doyle and Charlotte DenoÃ«l, Medieval Illumination: Manuscript Art in England and France 700-1200, has sold out, and has just been reprinted. It is also available as Enluminures mÃ©diÃ©vales: Chefs-dâ€™oeuvre de la BibliothÃ¨que nationale de France et de la British Library, 700-1200. Charlotte DenoÃ«l and Francesco Siri are currently editing the Paris conference proceedings, and Charlotte DenoÃ«l has recently published an article 'Le programme Polonsky France-Angleterre, 700-1200: manuscrits mÃ©diÃ©vaux de la BibliothÃ¨que nationale de France et de la British Library: bilan et perspectives', in Bulletin du Bibliophile, 1 (2019), 3-10.
Cette collaboration entre la BnF et la British Library a permis dâ€™importantes avancÃ©es technologiques: dÃ©sormais, la BnF est en mesure de proposer dans Gallica marque blanche, lâ€™infrastructure numÃ©rique utilisÃ©e pour le site web du projet, ainsi que pour les nombreux autres sites crÃ©Ã©s par la BnF pour ses partenaires souhaitant disposer dâ€™une bibliothÃ¨que numÃ©rique sur le modÃ¨le de Gallica, de nouvelles fonctionnalitÃ©s, comme le visualiseur IIIF et le multilinguisme.
Nous espÃ©rons Ã prÃ©sent que de nouvelles collaborations et les retours des utilisateurs sur les deux sites permettront dâ€™actualiser et dâ€™enrichir le corpus initial du projet.
Thanks to all of you who have enjoyed and helped publicise the websites, and happy anniversary!
Kathleen Doyle and Charlotte DenoÃ«l
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