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Medieval Manuscript Production in the Latin West

Miræus lectures, Wednesday 23 November 2011
Eltjo Buringh (Research Institute for History and Culture – Social Economic History)

In this paper Eltjo Buringh discusses the medieval manuscript production and the uses in eleven areas of the Latin West. Based on a sample from an extensive library and on additional information the numbers of manuscripts surviving from the period 500–1500 have been assessed statistically. Other data have been used to quantify the loss rates of such books in the Latin West. Combining both sets of data allowed the estimation of the medieval production rates of manuscripts. Book production during the Middle Ages can be seen as a century-average indicator of local economic output. With a number of explanatory variables (monasteries, universities) the medieval book production in the Latin West can be adequately explained.


Eltjo Buringh has had a training (MA and PhD) in environmental and occupational hygiene, which included a strong streak of epidemiology, at Wageningen University. For more than thirty years he worked for industry, government and academia in various research and policy positions and published nine books and dozens of articles on environmental and occupational hygiene and taught occupational hygiene at Wageningen University. After an early retirement in 2005 he got more time for his hobby of medieval manuscripts and turned the results of his studies into a second PhD thesis. Since September 2008 he works part-time as a postdoc at the Research Institute for History and Culture – Social Economic History.

Free entrance

Venue: Nottebohm Hall of the Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience

Hendrik Conscienceplein 4

B-2000 Antwerpen

The Miræus Lectures are an initiative of the Flanders Book Historical Society and are supported by the Antwerp Bibliophile Society, the Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience and the Instituut voor de Studie van de Letterkunde in de Nederlanden of the University of Antwerp