98 results in English
The Defeat of Montaperti
This manuscript is an illustrated account of the events relating to the famous Battle of Montaperti of September 4, 1260, which is mentioned by Dante in The Divine Comedy. The battle resulted in the victory of the armed faction of the Ghibellines, supporting the Holy Roman Emperor and led by Siena, over the Guelphs, supporting the pope and led by Florence. The manuscript was written and illustrated throughout by Niccolò di Giovanni di Francesco di Ventura da Siena, who signed it and stated that he completed the text on December ...
Minor Works of Dante Alighieri
This small manuscript, dating to the late-15th century, in Renaissance script, contains poems from the Rime (Rhymes) by the great Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265–1321). These are so-called minor works that are distinguished from Dante’s Vita nuova (The new life), his book of sonnets recounting his early love for Beatrice, and his all-encompassing allegorical masterpiece, La divina commedia (The divine comedy). On the front cover is a 15th-century note, now almost totally faded, which states: "Di Cosimo de' Medici e degli Amici" (Belonging to Cosimo de’ Medici and ...
Treatise of the World's Creation
This manuscript, which contains a Tractatus de creatione mundi (Treatise on the World's Creation) from the Book of Genesis followed by a narration of the Passion of Christ (folios 99r–128v), is one of the most significant examples of late-13th-century Sienese illumination. The pictures, partly watercolor drawings and partly proper illuminations, were made by an extremely sophisticated Sienese artist who was heavily influenced by Transalpine miniaturists and active from around 1290 through the next decade. The illustrations, sketched by a fast, concise hand, stand out for their strikingly smooth ...
The Wonders of Creation
Zakarīyā ibn Muhammad al-Qazwīnī (circa 1203–83), was a distinguished Iranian scholar who was conversant in poetry, history, geography, and natural history. He served as legal expert and judge in several localities in Iran and at Baghdad. After traveling throughout Mesopotamia and Syria, he wrote his famous Arabic-language cosmography, 'Aja'eb ol-makhluqat wa qara'eb ol-mowjudat (The wonders of creation, or literally, Marvels of things created and miraculous aspects of things existing). This treatise, frequently illustrated, was immensely popular and is preserved today in many copies. It has been translated ...
The Spiritual Couplets
The most significant contribution of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (popularly known in Persian as Mawlānā, and in English as Rumi, 1207–73), the renowned poet and mystic of Iran, to Persian literature may be his poetry, and especially his famous Masnavi (The spiritual couplets). This work, which is said to be the most extensive verse exposition of mysticism in any language, discusses and offers solutions to many complicated problems in metaphysics, religion, ethics, mysticism, and other fields. Masnavi highlights the various hidden aspects of Sufism and their relationship to the ...
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 ...
Book of the Passion of Saint Margaret the Virgin, with the Life of Saint Agnes, and Prayers to Jesus Christ and to the Virgin Mary
This volume is a compilation of three manuscripts produced in Bologna at the end of the 13th century. It begins with the Passion of Saint Margaret of Antioch, in Latin. This is followed by two texts in Italian, one describing the life and devotion of Saint Agnes and one containing prayers to the Virgin Mary. Each manuscript is written in a different hand; evidence suggests that the three parts were brought together and bound at the beginning of the 14th century. The only part of the book that is illustrated ...
The Divine Comedy
This celebrated manuscript of the Commedia of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) containing the complete text of the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso was copied in the hand of Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–75) and is one of the most splendid manuscripts in the collection of the Biblioteca Riccardiana. Boccaccio illustrated the manuscript with five pen drawings in the lower margin of a series of leaves in the Inferno. These images were authenticated in 1992 by the noted Florentine scholar Maria Grazia Ciardi Duprè dal Poggetto. The most complete drawing depicts Dante in ...
Apostle Lectionary
The Apostle Lectionary, written on parchment in the second half of the 13th century, is one of the important linguistic sources delimiting the early (Preslav) from the later (Athonite) redaction of this liturgical book. The lectionary contains the portions of scripture, the lessons, to be read at divine service on particular days of the church calendar. This manuscript is remarkable for the completeness of the readings from the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, and for its detailed menologion, a monthly calendar indicating the feast days of saints that ...
Dobreisho Gospel
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 ...
Banitsa Gospel
The Banitsa Gospel, written on parchment in Church Slavonic in the late 13th century, is one of the manuscripts testifying to the end of the anonymity of Bulgarian men of letters at around this time. The colophon indicates that the scribe who made the manuscript was the priest Ioann at Saint Nicholas Church in the village of Banitsa (presumably in the Vratsa region of present-day northwestern Bulgaria). The characteristic script and the ornamental illumination, elaborated in black, red, and yellow ink, reflect a local manuscript tradition. The menologion (calendar) includes ...
Menaion for June-August with Synaxarion
This parchment manuscript of the Menaion for June–August with synaxarion (a collection of brief biographies of the saints) can be dated to the second half of the 13th century. It is important as the earliest known manuscript to include the service of Saint Ioakim Osogovski (Joachim of Osogovo), hermit and founder of the monastery known as Sarandapor. His memory, celebrated on August 16, was popular in Bulgaria and elsewhere in the Balkans during the Middle Ages and in the period of the Bulgarian National Revival of the 18th and ...
The Encyclopedia of Medicaments
This book is a printed edition of the Pandectarum Medicinae (Encyclopedia of medicaments) by Matthaeus Sylvaticus (died circa 1342), consisting of an alphabetized list of medications (primarily of herbal origin). Sylvaticus relies on the work of Simon of Genoa (flourished end of 13th century), who provided a lexicon of Latin, Greek, and Arabic medical terms in his dictionary, Clavis Sanationis. Sylvaticus also draws upon works by Greco-Roman authorities such as Galen, Dioscorides, and Paulus Aegineta (seventh century). Among his other sources were the writings of important scientists from the Islamic ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
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 ...
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The Greater Luminary
This volume contains Luminare Maius (The greater luminary), and an antidotarium (book of antidotes), by Joannes Jacobus de Manliis (1490). It is based on the works of the Nestorian Persian physician Yūḥannā Ibn Māsawayh (circa 777–857), known in the Latin West as Mesue, and “other distinguished physicians.” Also included is an edition of Pandectarum Medicinae (Encyclopedia of medicaments) by Matteo Silvatico (also known by his Latinized name, Mattheus Sylvaticus, circa 1280–circa 1342), which consists of an alphabetized list of medications, primarily of herbal origin. Sylvaticus relied and expanded ...
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The Radiances of Revelation and the Mysteries of Exegesis
Kitāb anwār al-tanzīl wa asrār al-ta’wīl (The radiances of revelation and the mysteries of exegesis) is the best-known work of the 13th century savant, ʻAbdallāh ibn ʻUmar al-Bayḍāwī (died circa 1286). As the title indicates, the subject of the work is Qur’anic exegesis. After an introduction in which al-Bayḍāwī praises the science of al-tafsīr (exegesis) as the principal religious science and the basis for sharia (Islamic law), the text of the Qur’an follows, with each ayah (verse) appearing in red ink accompanied by an explanatory passage in ...
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Towards Salvation through Fervent Prayer
This manuscript of devotions attributed to Butrus al-Sadamanti appears to have been copied in the 19th century by an anonymous scribe. The manuscript includes a 40-page introduction to the devotions. The title is not found in the work itself, but is noted on the inside front cover. The binding is small and tight and the text block is generally sound except for the last pages, which are missing. Little is known of the life of the presumed author, named in the incipit as anba (bishop) and qiddis (saint) Butrus al-Sadamanti ...
Hebrew Bible
This manuscript Hebrew Bible with full vocalization, accentuation, and Masorah annotation was created in Spain in around 1300. The Bible is illustrated and decorated in color, silver, and gold. The books of the Bible are arranged in the conventional order later adopted in Hebrew printed editions, with the exception that Ecclesiastes precedes Lamentations. Written on parchment in Sephardi square script, the manuscript has three columns per page, with 35 lines per column. The Masorah Magna notes are written in micrography. Masorah refers to the collection of critical notes, compiled in ...
Partial Hebrew Bible
This manuscript, possibly a remnant of a complete Hebrew Bible, includes books from the Nevi’im (Prophets) as well as the books of Chronicles and Psalms from the Ketuvim (Hagiographa or writings) section of the Bible. (The tripartite division of the Hebrew Bible includes the Torah, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa.) It includes full vocalization and accentuation, as well as some Masorah Parva notes. The latter are very brief notes on the side margins or between columns, which are part of the Masorah, the collection of critical notes, compiled in ...
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 ...
Contributed by National Central Library
A Romance at a Post-House
Qing you chuan qi (A romance at a post-house), also known as Qing you ji, is a play in two juan, written by Wu Bing (1595–1647), a famed late-Ming playwright from a family of officials in Changzhou. After achieving his jin shi degree, Wu Bing assumed the post of magistrate of Puqi, Hubei Province. Among his other posts were assistant superintendent of education in Jiangxi and service in the Bureau of Rivers and Canals, the Ministry of Works. He was known as an able, just official, but he later ...
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Newly Compiled Pocket Astrological Calendar
This calendar was compiled by Lei Yingfa of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). The pocket-size book in two volumes has 66 pages. The paper is a dark yellow; the character type is of the early Yuan dynasty. The surface of the printed pages is blurred and the paper has suffered some damage. The calendar is based on the 60-year cycle, and records dates by year, month, and day. The title and the name of the compiler appear on the first leaf. The label at the end of the first essay ...
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Book on Children’s Diseases and Their Treatments
Zeng Shirong (1252–circa 1332), a native of Hengzhou (present-day Hengyang), Hunan Province, was a Chinese pediatrician of the Yuan dynasty. In addition to this work, he was the author of Huo you kou yi (Treatise on children’s oral diseases and treatments), in 20 juan. The present work is in three juan, each of which has a subtitle. The first, Jue zheng shi fu (Diagnoses in verse), has 75 entries, each containing a brief diagnosis in verse of a childhood illness. The second juan, called Ming ben lun (On ...
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The Great Song Baoyou Calendar Produced in 1256
This work is a rare Qing copy of the 1256 Southern Song manuscript calendar, copied by painter Cheng Xugu in 1815. The first page records the location of the god of the year 1256, the nine constellations, the seven-color spectrum, and the size of the moon. Following this page is the report, dated the tenth month of the third year of the Baoyou reign of the Southern Song (1255) and submitted by the Astrological Service Bureau, responding to the imperial order to print the calendar. The report was signed by ...
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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 ...
Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden
Saint Birgitta (or Bridget) of Sweden (circa 1303–73) was known for her revelations, which she reportedly wrote down in Swedish and then had translated into Latin by one of her two confessors. When she took ill, she changed her usual practice, and dictated her revelations to one of the confessors, who then translated them into Latin. In the manuscript collection at the National Library of Sweden is preserved a document that offers a unique insight into the origins of Birgitta’s revelations. It consists of three leaves of paper ...
Abridged Version of “De arte phisicali de cirurgia”, “Fistula in ano”, Including an Obstetrical Treatise
Manuscript X 188 in the National Library of Sweden dates to around 1425–35 and contains two works by John Arderne (active 1307–70), an abridged version of De arte phisicali et de cirurgia (Of the physical arts and surgery) and Fistula in ano. Also included is a tract on obstetrics by another author, Muscio. De arte phisicali et de cirurgia is a textbook on medicine and surgery; Fistula in ano deals with rectal disorders. The manuscript is written in two long columns on a parchment roll that is 542 ...
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. Manuscript B 59 in the National Library of Sweden is the only complete copy of the law and is Sweden’s oldest book. The manuscript is a composite of 77 leaves, consisting of three parts bound together. It was written mainly by four scribes and dates to the beginning of ...
The Lectionary (Orsha Gospel)
This gospel, believed to have been created in Polotsk (present-day Belarus) in the second half of the 13th century, is one of the oldest monuments of the Cyrillic Slavonic alphabet and one of the most ancient decorated Belarusian manuscripts. It contains two multicolor miniatures with gilding portraying the evangelists Luke (folio 42 verso) and Matthew (folio 123 verso). The miniatures reflect the influence of the early Palaeologian (relating to the last Byzantine dynasty, reigned 1259–1453) Byzantine style in old Belarusian art. The images are vividly depicted in bright colors ...
Lotus Sutra
The practice of printing Buddhist scriptures on the reverse of letters from the deceased to pray for the repose of his or her soul became common from the end of the Heian period (late 12th century) onward. The scrolls shown here contain the text of a Buddhist sutra called Myōhō renge-kyō (Lotus sutra). They are printed on the reverse of letters sent from Daitō Genchi, the second abbot of Kakuon-ji Temple in Kamakura. It is believed that Hōjō Sadatoki’s wife, to whom the letters are addressed, and some others ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
Spiritual Rhyming Couplets by Rumi
Masnavi-e Manawi (Spiritual rhyming couplets) is the famous poetic collection of the medieval ecstatic mystic scholar and Sufi, Mawlānā Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (1207−73), known in Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Iran as Mowlana or Mawlānā Jalaluddin Balkhi and in the West as Rumi. This Persian manuscript in nastaliq script is a complete 15th century copy of Masnavi, with all six volumes. Narratives, homilies, and commentaries appear throughout. Many stories have stock characters, such as beggars, prophets, kings, animals. Ethical concerns, traditional wisdom, and stories filled with jokes, including ones about ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Poetry Collection of Ṣafī al-Dīn al-Ḥilli
Scholars consider al-Hilli one of the leading poets of postclassical times, that is, the period following the fall of the Abbasid Empire in 1258. His Diwan (Collection of poems) is in 12 chapters, which cover a variety of personalities and occasions and recount in verse vignettes his travels with the Egyptian Mamluk ruler Qalāwūn (died 1290) on his campaign to Mardin in eastern Anatolia. The poems are preceded by an autobiographical note in saj’ (rhymed prose). Al-Hilli was a recognized master of all forms of classical and popular poetry as ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Students' Guide
Zakarīyā ibn Muḥammad al-Anṣārī, a Shafi’i jurist, teacher, and Sufi, was born in Egypt and studied at al-Azhar, the Sunni Islamic center of learning in Cairo. Throughout his long career (he lived about 100 years), al-Anṣārī held many positions as judge and Sufi authority. He is recognized as a major figure in medieval Sunni jurisprudence. He studied under the greatest teachers of the age and influenced later generations, being referred to by the honorific Shaykh al-Islam. Manhaj al-Ṭullāb (Students' guide) is an abridgement of Nawawī’s Minhāj al-Ṭālibīn (Path ...
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The Commentary of al-Allāma Ibn ʻAqīl on “al-Alfiya” by al-Allāma Ibn Mālik
This work is a commentary by Ibn ʻAqīl on the famous 1,000-line poem on the principles of Arabic grammar, al-Alfīya by Ibn Malik. ʻAbd Allah ibn ʻAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʻAqil was born in Cairo in about 1294 and died there in 1367. He was a leading grammarian of the Arabic language and wrote prolifically, but not much is known about his life. In addition to his commentary on al-Alfiya, his works include Taysīr al-istiʻdād li rutbat al-ijtihād (The facility of preparedness for the capacity of independent reasoning ...
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Book of Hours
This finely illuminated and iconographically rich book of hours was made in England at the end of the 13th century. The manuscript is incomplete and mis-bound. The original sequence of the parts of the manuscript cannot be reconstructed with certainty. The Abbreviated Hours were followed by the Hours of the Holy Spirit, the Seven Penitential Psalms, the litany and collects, the Fifteen Gradual Psalms, the Office of the Dead, and the Hours of Jesus Crucified. Whether the Prayers to the Crucified Christ, which were followed by the lections in the ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
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 ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Homilary
This richly illuminated 14th-century German homilary is particularly interesting for its rare bifolium of drawings bound in at the front of the book. The headgear worn by the nuns in the drawings is characteristic of Cistercensian and Premostratensian nuns in northern Germany as early as circa 1320. Evidence for dating and localization is also found in the manuscript's relationship with a second homilary in the Bodleian Library (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Douce 185). Despite minor codicological differences—page layout, text-block dimensions, and ruling—it seems likely that the two ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Carrow Psalter
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 ...
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T'oros Roslin Gospels
This Armenian manuscript was made in 1262 by T’oros Roslin, the celebrated illuminator who extended the iconographic repertoire by defining a narrative Gospel cycle beyond the traditional portraits of the Evangelists. This signed manuscript was created at the scriptorium of Hromkla (present-day Rum Kalesi, Turkey), which became the leading artistic center of Armenian Cilicia under the rule of Catholicos Constantine I (1221-67). As an extensive colophon starting on folio 406 verso explains, T’oros created this manuscript under commission from the nephew of Constantine, a priest also named T ...
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Speculum Virginum
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 ...
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