I recently came across these excellent guides to palaeography from the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (St John’s University). As well as access to a number of helpful resources, they have virtual courses in Latin, Syriac, and Arabic scripts, as well as guides for manuscript transcription.
Introduced last year, the online catalogue Medieval Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries provides descriptions of the 10,000-odd Western medieval manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, as well as those of a few Oxford colleges, and saves one entering the somewhat bewildering world of the Bodleian’s print catalogues.
I’ve only just stumbled across this website, run by Oxford University Press. It provides annotated bibliographies on a whole host of medieval topics, from ‘Anglo-Saxon Art’ to ‘Women’s Life Cycles’ – particularly useful if you are making a foray into a new topic or genre, such as medieval liturgy, and need a brief guide to the state of the primary sources as well as recommendations on the best entry secondary sources.
Another good set of bibliographical lists for various aspects of medieval studies.
Two invaluable online resources that have been lifesavers for me as I’ve started to work with unedited manuscripts:
A. Cappelli’s Dizionario de Abbreviature – The indispensable and definitive guide to Latin abbreviations, this online version of the Italian edition is much more comprehensive than the later English edition.
Some academic libraries (including the Bodleian) also have subscriptions to Abbreviationes Online, which allows you to search a growing database for any medieval Latin abbreviation.
Enigma – In what I can only imagine was the result of an inspired friendship between a medievalist and a computer programmer, this brilliant tool allows you to enter as much of the word as you can make out, together with a host of wildcard options, and then provides you with a list of every possible option, courtesy of Whitaker’s Words. Particularly cleverly, it allows each minim (the identical vertical strokes found in ‘i’, ‘u’, ‘m’, and ‘n’) to be entered as a ‘!’, so for example, ‘!!!!!!!ere’ spits out only three possible options (innuere, munere, numere) which you can then narrow down based on context.
Gallica is the digital library of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF) and is one of the best freely accessible digital archives online, crammed full of brilliant historical sources. It’s fairly easy to navigate, and you can register to save documents and books to your digital workspace.
I’ve personally been using it a lot lately to access all the 19th-century editions of my medieval primary sources from the comfort of my bed, instead of having to trot all the way out to the Bodleian Upper Reading Room!
Word Tools: Thanks to the wonders of the internet, there are now various Latin word tools that will tell you not only what any Latin word means, but also that it happens to be a genitive singular future passive participle, or whatever the ‘case’ may be.
Whitaker’s Words – My personal favourite, partly because it does take into account some medieval spelling and vocabulary changes)
Health Advisory: While brilliant for making your way through a tricky translation, I would recommend using online word tools sparingly when it comes to actual Latin study – it’s easy to get dependent and forget to actually learn the vocabulary and grammar yourself, which comes back to haunt you later . . .
Dictionaries: Most Latin-English dictionaries only reflect classical usage and vocabulary. The best dictionary for medieval Latin is the recently completed Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (DMLBS) published by Oxford University Press, which is also available as a subscription service online and through the Latin/Green online dictionary search Logeion.
Medieval bestiaries are essentially animal encyclopedias, ranging in subjects from the domestic cat, to the exotic elephant, to the fantastic phoenix or griffin. They were more theological than scientific in nature, focusing on the moral or allegorical dimensions of the natural world. Loads of fun to be had on these sites clicking through the indexes of animals or admiring the beautifully illuminated illustrations.
Online digitized facsimiles of some of the best of the Bodleian collections, including quite a few medieval manuscripts.
Tip: The Digital Bodleian manuscript viewer interface isn’t the most user friendly if you’re trying to look through the manuscript as a whole instead of just one image, but if you look in the right-hand panel under the metadata, there are icons to view the manuscript in Universal Viewer or Mirador, both of which are quite good.
Two levels of Latin tutorials (not as helpful for the grammar, but really good for medieval Latin vocabulary from common types of medieval documents), some paleography tutorials, and a couple other goodies.