For many centuries, books could only be written by hand. This was a time-consuming occupation and it made books very expensive. The rich elite wanted books with a luxurious appeal. They had the texts ‘illuminated’ with exuberant illustrations. In some cases, such as this initial, real gold was even used for their decoration. The writing and the ornamentation were done by two different people: a professional scribe and a specialised illuminator. Since the books were made to order, each manuscript was unique.