The word marginalization, despite its many uses, originally referred to putting something on the margins of a page. In the Middle Ages, marginalia served as a means to highlight, illustrate, or explain something toward the center of a page, just as footnotes, headers, and footers do for us today. Marginalia might also include doodles, pen tests, or simple notes written on a convenient spot.

This site, however, investigates ways in which medieval manuscripts illuminate marginalization in the modern sense of the word. In some cases, manuscripts allow us to see how marginalization worked in the Middle Ages, as medieval producers of texts wrote people out of their histories. In other cases, we see how collectors preserved manuscripts in ways that marginalize people who had once held more central roles in their societies. The following manuscripts are examined:

Matthew Delvaux is a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows and a Lecturer in the Humanities and History. He guided examination of these manuscripts for a course he developed, HIS 462: Difference and Deviance in the Early Middle Ages, taught in Spring 2022 at Princeton University. The main contributors are Sophie Lockwood, Juan José López Haddad, Charlotte Root, Madison Stewart, and Juliana Wojtenko. All manuscripts are held by the Manuscripts Division of the Princeton University Library. Special thanks go to Eric White and Gabriel Swift of the Princeton University Library Special Collections, Ben Johnston of the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, and the Princeton Department of History, the Humanities Council, and the Program in Medieval Studies, for their support.

Preferred Citation

Sophie Lockwood, Juan José López Haddad, Charlotte Root, Madison Stewart, and Juliana Wojtenko, Marginalization in Medieval Manuscripts (2022). Online:


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