University of Leicester
2022 HendersonET PhD vol.1 and vol.2.pdf (63.91 MB)

Franco-Saxon Manuscript Illumination and Networks of Production in Ninth-Century Francia

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posted on 2022-05-23, 12:15 authored by Emilia T. Henderson

The so-called Franco-Saxon style is a category of Carolingian manuscript art that flourished particularly in the third quarter of the ninth century and is mainly associated with the monasteries of Saint-Amand, Saint-Vaast, and Saint-Bertin in north-eastern Francia. Although several famous illuminated manuscripts of the later Carolingian period are decorated in the Franco-Saxon style, it has been underserved in Carolingian art history. The most thorough survey, published in 2009, maintained the theoretical paradigm and categorisation of scholars of the first half of the twentieth century. This paradigm conceptualised the style as a uniformly developing, narrowly localised “school”, and restricted the corpus of manuscripts to examples from only three main centres, and only high-grade biblical or liturgical manuscripts comparable to the most famous examples of the style.

This thesis contributes to a more holistic conceptualisation of the Franco-Saxon style. It re-assesses the ambiguous and subjective criteria of the established definition of the style by close analysis of what is demonstrably  characteristic about the execution of Franco-Saxon features. Moreover, it moves away from the restrictions of the earlier paradigm, instead applying current approaches that more fully account for the surviving evidence. Motivated by the growing recognition of the role of, potentially itinerant, specialist artists and scribes in the Carolingian period, a network-informed approach is used. This allows for the identification of manuscripts that seemingly resulted from complex and interconnected production processes. Several such 'networked productions' of relevance to the Franco-Saxon style are discussed, some of which not previously properly acknowledged as Franco-Saxon. The manuscripts identified in this thesis as deserving of recognition as Franco-Saxon manuscripts help shed new light on the breadth and reach that the Franco-Saxon style attained — sometimes even outside the north-eastern Frankish area.



Joanna Story; Kathleen Doyle

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of History, Politics, and International Relations

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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