The Latin Vulgate in the Thirteenth Century
Bibles produced in the thirteenth century, generally known as Gothic Bibles, were dramatically different from those copied formerly. A Romanesque Bible of the twelfth century, for instance, was often pretty large with rich illumination and majestic script, or heavily annotated with the Glossa Ordinaria and, therefore, divided into individual books so the entire scripture could be spread over more than twenty codices. The thirteenth-century Bible, however, was pretty small, portable, and written in a tiny angular script. In fact, the writing was so compact that all parts of the scripture could be easily comprised in a single volume.
Regarding the decoration, thirteenth-century Bibles contained small illustrated initials in red, blue, and sometimes gold at the start of each new book. Also, there were small initials announcing new chapters, as well as title headings in red and blue running across the top of each page allowing the reader to search for the right book easily. While the text was based on the Latin Vulgate of Saint Jerome, some new texts were added and others disappeared, such as the Canon Tables for the Gospel.
The copy displayed here is an example of this type of Bible. It opens at the beginning of Saint Paul's letter to the Galatians, starting with a magnificent "P" that contains a portrait of the Saint holding a scroll. Other interesting features on these pages include the drawings of little fingers or "manicles" that an attentive reader has added to highlight particular passages. One could also detect a small guide letter, a lower-case "d," which the scribe wrote to alert the artist about the right letter for the initial.