A person engaged in the physical writing of books or documents.

A person engaged in the physical writing of books or documents. A number of scribes were also artists. In antiquity, scribes and notaries constituted a professional class. During the Early Christian period and the Middle Ages, they often worked within an ecclesiastical scriptorium as part of a team, or were attached to a court or an official chancery (a record office). Documents continued to be produced by independent scribes in certain areas, although to a very limited extent. Following the rise of the universities around 1200, scribes began to function independently, living alongside each other in urban centres and sometimes joining minor clerical orders. Both men and women served as scribes, and occasionally authors were themselves competent scribes (for example, Petrarch and Christine de Pizan in the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, respectively). Scribes sometimes employed assistants or colleagues on a project. They could even be attached to individual households. See also monastic production and secular production.

  • Amharic:
  • Arabic:
  • Armenian:
  • French:
    Copiste; Écrivain; Scribe
  • German:
  • Italian:
    Amanuense; Trascrittore; Scriba; Copista
  • Spanish:
    Escriba; Copista; Amanuense

Michelle Brown, Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts (Malibu, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum in association with the British Library, c1994).