61 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 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 ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
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 ...
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 ...
Contributed by National Central Library
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 ...
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 ...
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
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 ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
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 ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
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 ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Marginal Psalter
This manuscript, illustrated with 155 marginal paintings, is one the few surviving “marginal psalters,” in which images provide a pictorial commentary on the Biblical text. Other examples include the Khludov Psalter (circa 850, Moscow, State Historical Museum, Muz. 129), the Barberini Psalter (circa 1050, Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Barb. Gr. 372), the Theodore Psalter (1066, London, British Library, Add. Ms. 19,352), and a Cyrillic psalter made in Kiev (1397, Saint Petersburg, National Library of Russia, cod. OLDP, F6). The marginal psalter of the Walters Museum was apparently ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Ethiopian Gospels
This Gospel book was written in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, in the early 14th century, and was once owned by the church of Saint George in Debre Mark'os. It was written by the scribe Mäṭre Krǝstos in the official liturgical language of Ethiopia, Gǝ‛ǝz. Most notable is its prefatory image cycle, which makes references to holy places in Jerusalem, such as Golgotha and the Holy Sepulcher, as they appeared in the sixth century. The manuscript therefore appears to be based on a sixth-century exemplar containing images connected to the ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
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 ...
Contributed by National Library of China
Cervera Bible
The Cervera Bible is among the oldest and most significant Sephardi Bibles to survive the destruction of most of the Jewish communities in the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon beginning in 1391 and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1498. An extremely rare example of the Iberian Hebrew paleography of its time, this manuscript on parchment consists of 451 folios in two columns, each with 31 lines. Profusely illuminated in gold and color with Mozarabic and Jewish motifs, it includes the books of ...
Glagolitic Leaves in Hlohovec
These two fragments are among the oldest artifacts in the manuscript collections of the Slovak National Library. They are parchment folios, written on both sides, and are of Croatian provenance. It is believed that they came to the territory of Slovakia through the Franciscan friars or by the exchange of codices and printed books among Franciscan libraries or archives. They were discovered at the library of the former Franciscan monastery in Hlohovec in southwestern Slovakia in 1936. The folios contain parts of the Glagolitic service book from the end of ...
Contributed by Slovak National Library
A Pleasing Supplement to the Excellent Coverage Contained in the Essay “The Intellectual Hearth and Awakener of the Drowsy”
This manuscript, Tadhyil latif bi-dhikr masa’il hisan min risalah “Mawqid al-idhhan wa mawqiz al-wasnan” (A pleasing supplement to the excellent coverage contained in the essay “The intellectual hearth and awakener of the drowsy”), by an unknown author is a commentary on, or supplement to, a short grammatical treatise by the famous scholar Ibn Hisham al-Ansari (1309−60). The text about which this commentary is written, Mawqad al-Izhan (The intellectual hearth), treats of difficult points of Arabic grammar. Ibn Hisham was not a widely travelled person, having made only two ...
The Travels of Marco Polo
This manuscript from about 1350 is one of the oldest extant copies of Les voyages de Marco Polo (The travels of Marco Polo), the account by the Venetian merchant Marco Polo (circa 1254−1324) of his adventures in Central Asia and the Far East during the latter part of the 13th century. It is possibly one of five manuscripts relating to Marco Polo’s journey that belonged to King Charles V of France (reigned 1364−80). Later it was part of the library of the French book collector Alexandre Petau ...
Book of Hours: Images of the Life of Christ and the Saints
This manuscript, a book of hours from the late 13th century, is comprised of 87 full-page illuminations illustrating scenes from the life of Christ and the lives of saints. The book is a Cistercian church calendar in Latin. The other text to be found in the work is a short caption under each image. When it was first created, the codex included 90 illuminations. A masterpiece of gothic illumination, the manuscript shows how important religious images were for the devotions of its owner. This most likely was a wealthy lay ...
Franc à cheval, John II
The franc à cheval was ordered issued on December 5, 1360 to finance the ransom of King John II (born 1319; reigned, 1350–64), who had been taken prisoner by the English at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, during the Hundred Years’ War. The ransom totaled a vast 3 million écus, and the fact that the coin was used to secure the release of the king gave rise to the name by which it was known: franc, meaning free. The value of the coin was set at one livre ...
On Keeping Shop: A Guidebook for Preparing Orders
This highly informative work, compiled by a Jewish apothecary in 13th century Cairo, provides a wealth of information on his craft as practiced at the time. The author, Abu al-Munā Ibn Abī Nasr Ibn Hafāż, known as Cohen al-Isra’ī'lī al-Hārūnī, completed the work in 1260 (AH 658), shortly after the Mongol sacking of Baghdad in 1258, an event that reverberated throughout the Arab world. The manuscript contains notes by the author, to be passed to his son and descendents, who would be taking over the apothecary shop after ...
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 Rose Garden
The Persian poet and scholar Muṣliḥ ud-Dīn Sadī Shīrāzī (circa 1213-1292) is known primarily as the author of Gulistan (The rose garden), one of the great masterpieces of Persian literature, which he completed in 1259. The work has a didactic and ethical character, and is still widely read, in the original Persian and in translations in many languages. This manuscript copy is written in the ta’liq script in two different hands, and contains numerous explanations and remarks in the margins and in the text. The manuscript is dated 1585 ...
On Explaining the Wiqaya Book
This book by Ubaydullah ibni Masood Taj ush-Shari’a (also known as Taj ush-Shari’a the younger, died 1346 [747 AH]) was written to explain an earlier work by the author’s grandfather and mentor, Mahmoud ibni Sadr ash-Shari’a (the elder), the monumental Wiqayat ar-Riwaya min Masa’il al-Hidaya (The trusted narrative on issues of guidance), which is often shortened to al-Wiqaya (Book). Both works are about Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence) in the Hanafi school of thought. The work was transcribed by Hassan b. Mahmood in 1588 (996 AH). The ...
The Four Books in Chapter and Verse with Collected Commentaries
The Analects is one of the important classics for Ruist (Confucian) scholars. It was compiled by the disciples of Confucius and their disciples. It mostly records conversations and dialogs relating to Confucius and his disciples that reflect the views and principles of Confucius as applied to administration, ethics, morality, and education. The generally accepted version of The Analects has 20 sections. Zhu Xi (1130-1200) of the Song dynasty took “The Great Learning” and “The Doctrine of the Mean” from The Book of Rites and combined these extracts with The Mencius ...
Contributed by National Library of China
The Breakthrough in Remedying all Ailments and Complaints
This important work is a long but well-organized and clearly-written treatise on medicine, hygiene, diet, and the art of preserving good health. It focuses on simple and composite medicinal remedies. With the aid of tables, diagrams, and numerous examples, it presents a comprehensive, but accessible, synopsis of medical knowledge and medicinal treatments known at the time of its composition. The work is by the son of the well-known man of letters Nūr al-Dīn Ibrāhīm Ibn Sa‘īd al-Maghribī al-Gharnātī (1214-86 [610-85 AH]), and is dedicated to Shams al-Dīn Abū ‘Abd-Allāh ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Book of Proof of the Secrets of the Science of Weights and Measures (Part 3)
This manuscript consists of a section of Kitāb al-burhān fī asrār ‘ilm al-mīzān (Book of proof of the secrets of the science of the weights and measures) by the Persian alchemist Aydamur ibn ´Alī ibn Aydamur al-Gildakī (also seen as al-Jaldakī, died circa 1342). His name indicates that he was born in Jaldak, in present-day Afghanistan. Over the course of 17 years, al-Gildakī  traveled to Iraq, Asia Minor, West Africa, Egypt, Yemen, Hejaz, and Syria. These journeys are recounted in another of his works, Kitāb nihāyat al-ṭalab fī sharḥ kitāb ...
The Lifting of the Veil in the Operations of Calculation
The establishment of the Berber-Muslim dynasty of the Almohads in North Africa and Andalusia in the 12th century coincided with the decline in scientific advances in many fields of knowledge, including medicine. This was not the case with mathematics, and the treatise preserved in this manuscript together with other works by the same author stand as clear proof of the liveliness of this field under the rule of the Almohads and of the Marinid dynasty that followed. Abū ‛Abbās Ahmad Ibn al-Bannā was born in the second half of the ...
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