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Psalter of Frederick II
This remarkable illuminated psalter decorated in the Byzantine style was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Sicily (1194–1250) for his third wife, Isabella of England (1214–41). Frederick married Isabella in 1235. By design and execution, the manuscript illuminations combine the color palette of Byzantium with the stylistic rendering of the plasticity of the human body common to the Italian school of the period. Probably executed at the scriptorium in Acri, a hill town in Calabria, the manuscript is decorated with a full-page initial letter encompassing ...
This parchment manuscript, of which only a part has survived, is from the first quarter of the 13th century. The year 1221 was written on the manuscript at a significantly later date and may have been copied from an original colophon by a later owner. Known as the Dobreisho Gospel, the manuscript is an important witness to the history and early development of the Bulgarian language. Of particular interest is the rich illumination, including two full-page miniatures of the evangelists Luke and John. The portrait of the latter is accompanied ...
The Recension of Euclid's "Elements"
This work is a printed edition of Kitāb taḥrīr uṣūl li-Uqlīdus (The recension of Euclid's Elements) by one of the intellectual luminaries of the Islamic world, the Persian polymath Naṣīr al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Ṭūsī (1201–74). After his death al-Ṭūsī was referred to as al-muʿallim al-thālith (the third teacher, with Aristotle and Fārābī referred to as the first and second teachers, respectively). An extraordinarily prolific author, al-Ṭūsī made notable contributions to most of the intellectual fields of his era, writing on theology, mysticism, logic ...
The Story of the Secluded Chamber, with Li Zhuowu’s Critical Comments
You gui ji (Story of the secluded chamber), also entitled Bai yue ting ji (Story of the Moon-Worshipping Pavilion), is one of the five greatest Ming-dynasty long poetic dramas, called chuan qi. Attributed by some to Guan Hanqing (1220–1300), the Yuan playwright, and by others to Shi Hui (born 1295 or 1296), a native of Hangzhou and a Southern-style playwright at the end of the Yuan and the beginning of the Ming dynasty, the play has 40 scenes in two juan. The story takes place at the end of ...
Mirror of the Saxons
More than 400 manuscripts of the Sachsenspiegel (Mirror of the Saxons) survive, attesting to the wide dissemination and influence on the whole of Europe of this first law book in German. The most beautiful copies are the four illuminated manuscripts, all produced between 1295 and 1371, and now held in Heidelberg, Oldenburg, Dresden, and Wolfenbüttel. The most artistically valuable of these documents is the Dresden manuscript, preserved in the Saxon State and University Library. Its 924 image sequences on 92 pages are the most extensive of those in the four ...
The Dresden Codex
Only four Mayan manuscripts still exist worldwide, of which the oldest and best preserved is the Dresden Codex, held in the collections of the Saxon State and University Library. The manuscript was purchased for the Dresden court library in 1739 in Vienna, as a “Mexican book.” In 1853 it was identified as a Mayan manuscript. Consisting of 39 leaves, inscribed on both sides, and approximately 358 centimeters long, the manuscript originally was folded in an accordion-like manner. The chalk-coated writing material, amatl, is a paper-like matter produced from fig-tree fiber ...
Fragment of the Old Västergötland Law
Äldre Västgötalagen (Old Västergötland law) is the oldest legal text written in Old Swedish in Latin script and the oldest of Sweden’s medieval provincial laws. The law was formulated around 1220 and was used in Västergötland in western Sweden. This manuscript fragment dates to about 1240. It contains the oldest record of the law and, along with another manuscript in the holdings of the National Library of Sweden dating from the early 1290s, is the only source for the law. The two leaves come from the same manuscript and ...
Bible Pictures by William de Brailes
This manuscript comprises 24 leaves of Bible pictures by William de Brailes, an English artist active in Oxford in the middle of the 13th century. Seven leaves from the same set of images are now in the Musée Marmottan in Paris. These 31 leaves are all that remain of an image cycle that once contained at least 98 miniatures, and which was the longest cycle of Bible miniatures surviving from the 13th century in England. In all probability these Bible pictures were actually prefatory matter to a psalter (now Stockholm ...
This English manuscript was made in East Anglia in the mid-13th century for a patron with special veneration for Saint Olaf, whose life and martyrdom are prominently portrayed in the Beatus initial of Psalm 1. Known as the Carrow Psalter, because of its later use by the nunnery of Carrow near Norwich, it is more accurately described as a psalter-hours, as it contains, among other texts, the Office of the Dead and the Hours of the Virgin. The manuscript is striking for its rich variety of illuminations, including full-page cycles ...
This manuscript, written at the Cistercian abbey of Himmerode in Germany in the early 13th century, is one of 22 surviving Latin copies of the Speculum virginum (Mirror for virgins). Attributed to Conrad of Hirsau, the text was written in the first half of the 12th century as a guide for nuns, offering them theological lessons in the form of a hypothetical conversation between a teacher, Peregrinus, and his student, Theodora. The 12 illustrations in the manuscript portray the protagonists as well as the mystical visions and diagrams they discuss ...
Revised Zhenghe Edition of Classified and Practical Basic Materia Medica Based on Historical Classics
Chong xiu Zhenghe jing shi zheng lei bei yong ben cao (Revised Zhenghe edition of classified and practical basic materia medica based on historical classics) is an encyclopedic work on pharmacopeia by Song physician Tang Shenwei. Its origins range from Shennong ben cao jing (Shennong’s materia medica) of the Qin and Han dynasties to Zheng lei ben cao (Classified herbal medicine), also by Tang and published before this edition. The work lists 1,746 herbal medicines. It was widely known and recommended in medical circles for its rich contents ...
Book of Royal Gemstones
This work, by Abu al-‛Abbās Ahmad b. Yūsuf al-Qaysī al-Tīfāshī, a 13th-century writer and mineralogist who was born in Tunisia and worked in Egypt, describes precious gems found in the treasuries of kings and rulers. The author lists 25 gemstones and dedicates a chapter to each. They include the ruby (yāqūt), emerald (zumurrud), topaz (zabarjad), diamond (almās), turquoise (fīrūzaj), magnetite (maghnātīs), agate (‛aqīq), lapis lazuli (lāzward), coral (marjān), and quartz (talq). In each chapter, the author discusses the causes of the gemstone’s formation, provenance, criteria for appraisal of ...
The Codex Gigas (or Devil´s Bible) is a large 13th-century manuscript from Bohemia, one of the historical Czech lands. Renowned for its size and its striking full-page rendition of the devil (found on page 577), it contains a number of parts: the Old and New testaments, two works of Josephus Flavius, Isidore of Seville´s Etymologies, the standard textbook for teaching medicine in the Middle Ages known as Ars medicinae (The art of medicine), the 12th-century Chronica Boëmorum (Chronicle of the Bohemians) of Cosmas of Prague, and a calendar ...
The Black Book of Carmarthen
The Black Book of Carmarthen (so called because of the color of its binding and its connection with the Priory of Saint John the Evangelist and Teulyddog, Carmarthen) is thought by modern scholars to be the work of a single scribe writing at different times before and about the year 1250. This makes it one of the earliest surviving manuscripts written solely in the Welsh language. Apart from a small group of triads relating to the horses of legendary Welsh heroes, the Black Book is essentially a poetry manuscript. It ...
Golden Munich Psalter
This manuscript is one of the most lavishly illuminated psalters of the Middle Ages. It includes 91 full-page miniatures, most of which contain gold, in five picture cycles that give an overview of the most important scenes of the Bible, and especially the Old Testament, which is depicted in no fewer than 176 scenes. Among these, several very unusual motifs concerning heroic women are especially noteworthy. The style of the illumination is typical for the transition period between late Romanesque and early Gothic art. With its calendar, the texts of ...