Abstract: Illuminated manuscripts with non-religious content—texts on literature, medicine, science, warfare, geography, hunting, and history—typically derive from illuminated Classical and Late Antique texts. Over time, the direct, explicatory images accrued additional features and sometimes transformed into full miniatures with settings and humans performing actions or demonstrating effects. Artists relied mostly on convention and formulae but can be occasionally glimpsed responding to the necessity of producing an original image. As with religious books, secular programs can be analyzed to discern particular agendas, usually of commissioners or intended recipients, while the books themselves had practical application—instructions on building a siege machine or what plant not to consume—as well as serving as luxury products for reading, presentation, even performance.
Keywords: convention, chronicle, herbal, physiologos, siegecraft, romance, geography