Layers of glossing in MS 1158 BM Troyes 900 f 1r

Understanding Medieval Glossing

A network of researchers dedicated to advancing our understanding of medieval glossing—that is, practices of annotating texts between the lines or in the margins of books – has been set up

Medieval Glossing was a widespread cultural practice wherever books were being read, studied and taught, from western Europe to East Asia. Glossing fulfilled a variety of functions, including translation, guided reading, textual interpretation, education, and transmission of knowledge. Glosses—whether words or symbols—also reflect complex interactions between a wide variety of languages, from local vernaculars to international languages of high prestige.

Despite the huge number of glossed manuscripts that survive and their rich evidence for cultural and linguistic traditions, the field of glossing research remains underdeveloped. Much of the primary evidence has never been properly studied; we lack good interpretative frameworks; and exchange between different scholarly disciplines remains at a very early stage.

The purpose of this new network is to promote more and better collaboration between specialists in the field. The aim is to share information about new resources and events, to exchange ideas, to identify research opportunities, and to explore areas of mutual interest.

The central focus is on manuscripts of the medieval period (c. 5th to 15th centuries), and embraces not only glossing as narrowly defined but also closely related genres such as collected glosses (glossae collectae), glossaries, and commentaries. Participation from any researcher with an interest in glossing and related practices—regardless of language, region, or period i swelcomed

 Some current research interests:

  • Editions of glossed manuscripts
  • Glosses as evidence for reading strategies
  • Glosses as vehicles for transmission of knowledge
  • Comparison of cross-cultural glossing practices


It is possible to join the network in two ways:

Subscribe to the mailing list for news on new resources, events, etc. and post your own messages if you wish: just send a blank e-mail to

Add your details to the register of researchers. To do so, e-mail with the following details: name, institution, e-mail, web link, short description of scholarly interests, link to a profile picture (optional).


The Network for the Study of Glossing was founded in December 2015 by Alderik Blom (Oxford), Franck Cinato (Paris), Pádraic Moran (Galway), Andreas Nievergelt (Zürich), Mariken Teeuwen (The Hague), and Matthew Zisk (Yamagata).

As of the 10.03.2016 the network has 47 members


Network for the Study of Glossing


Layers of glossing in MS 1158 BM Troyes 900 f 1r. From: Medieval Fragments