115 results in English
Antiphonary
This antiphonary (a book containing the choral parts of the Holy Office) was transferred to the Biblioteca comunale degli Intronati di Siena in 1811 from its place of origin, the Augustinian monastery of San Salvatore in Lecceto near Siena. By virtue of its specific liturgical function, the antiphonary, designed for the use of the monastic community, contains both the daytime and the nocturnal services. It was illuminated in 1442 as part of an extensive artistic program within the monastery promoted under priors Bartolomeo Tolomei and Girolamo Buonsignori. A bull by ...
Poem Concerning the Departure of the Magi
This 15th-century manuscript, in Renaissance script, contains a poetic composition (De profectione Magorum adorare Christum et de innocentibus interfectis ab Herode) by a "Gabriel Volaterranus." The author was in all likelihood Gabriello Zacchi da Volterra, the archpriest (acting dean, vicar to the bishop) of the cathedral, who was from a culturally sophisticated background and died in 1467 at the age of 33. The author dedicates the work to Tommaso del Testa Piccolomini, the secret assistant of Pope Pius II (folio 132r), to whom Pius had granted the privilege of kinship ...
The Perfect Pearl of Wonders and the Precious Pearl of Extraordinary Things
Kharīdat al-ʻajā’ib wa farīdat al-gharā’ib (The perfect pearl of wonders and the precious pearl of extraordinary things) by Sirāj al-Dīn Abū Ḥafṣ ʿUmar Ibn al-Wardī (died 1457) is a compilation of texts on geography, natural history, and other subjects. The geographical texts constitute the bulk of the work. They list and describe different places, with emphasis on the Middle East and North Africa, although sections on China and Europe also are included. The geographical information presented varies greatly in quality, even for those regions that are central to ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Collection of Poems by Shāhī
Dīvān-i Shāhī (Collection of poems by Shāhī) is a divan (collection) of verse by Amīr Shāhī Sabzavārī (died 1453; 857 A.H.), a prominent Persian poet of the Timurid era who composed in many of the classical forms of Persian poetry. Amīr Shāhī’s poetry belongs to the tradition of Persian mystical love poetry. The collection includes poems composed in the ghazal (a metrical form expressing the pain of loss and the beauty of love), qaṣīda (lyric poem), and rubā’ī (quatrain) forms. Amīr Shāhī was born in Sabzevar (present-day ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Meditations, or the Contemplations of the Most Devout
Meditationes, seu Contemplationes devotissimae (Meditations, or the contemplations of the most devout) by Cardinal Juan de Torquemada (1388–1468) is thought to be the first Italian book illustrated with a series of woodcut images. The first edition was printed in Rome in 1467 by the German printer Ulrich Han. Presented here is a 1479 edition, printed in Mainz by Johann Neumeister (circa 1440–circa 1512), a German cleric and printer who claimed to have been a student of Johann Gutenberg. The designs of the 33 woodcuts, although considered rough by ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
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 ...
The Tianyuan Jade Calendar in Verse Prose on the Auspicious and Unusual Signs
The author of this calendar is unknown. Traditionally it was attributed to Liu Ji (1311–75), an early Ming military strategist and statesman. This copy was issued in the 13th year (1477) of the Chenghua reign of the Ming. Several other editions were made, such as the one printed in 1619, a number of which are held by the National Central Library in Taiwan. Presented here is a one-juan handwritten copy, a rare early manuscript that is slightly damaged. The work lists 60 items, with four-character headings, such as “Heaven ...
Contributed by National Central Library
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 ...
Kyiv Gospel
The Kyiv Gospel was created in 1411 by a monk called Makarii in the Pustynno-Mykolaivskyi Monastery in Kiev, by order of the monk Ionah Bolakyrev, as recorded in one of the historic inscriptions on the work. This copy is one of the few 15th-century manuscripts from Kiev that specifies where it was made. The Gospel is known as a paleographic specimen of the “younger” semi-uncial script in Ukraine. Two headpieces of simple composition, headings, and initials are executed in dark-brown ink and vermilion. The manuscript was restored and bound in ...
The Diary of Mansai
Mansai (1378−1435) was an abbot of the Daigo-ji Temple in the early Muromachi period (14th−15th centuries). Born into an aristocratic family, Mansai was adopted by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and ordained into the priesthood. He served three shoguns, not only as a priest but also as a political adviser and close associate. Mansai witnessed many important events in politics, foreign relations, literature, and society and was privy to the top secrets of the nation. Mansai jugō nikki (The diary of Mansai) is thus an important historical source. The National ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
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
The Rising of the Propitious Twin Stars, and the Amalgamation of the Oceans
This manuscript is volume one of Matla us-Sadain wa Majma ul-Baahrain (The rising of the propitious twin stars and the amalgamation of the oceans) by 'Abd al-Razzāq Kamāl al-Dīn ibn Isḥāq al-Samarqandī (1413−82). The book offers a semi-official account of the political history of the late Mongol khanates and Timurid polities in the Caucasus, Iran, Khorasan, and Mawarannahr. Volume one documents the period from 1316, when Abu Said Bahadur Khan, the last great Mongol khan, came to power in Persia, to the death in 1405 of Timur, founder of ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Judges’ Assistant for Issues Raised by Adversaries at Law
Mu’in al-Hukam fi-ma Yataraddudu bayn Khusmin al-Ahkam  (The judges’ assistant for issues raised by adversaries at law) is a handbook of Islamic law procedure. It was written in the 15th century by ‘Ali ibn Khalil al-Tarabulsi, also known as ‘Ala’ al-Din ibn al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Khalil al-Tarabulsi (or al-Tarabulusi), a Hanafi jurist in Jerusalem. After introducing his book with references to the singular importance of al-shari’ah (Islamic law) in the Qur’an and among the prophets, al-Tarabulsi proceeds to explain that he wrote in order to elucidate the ...
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
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
Loftie Hours
This mid-15th-century illuminated book of hours is written entirely in Dutch on fine parchment and is remarkable for its 18 grisaille miniatures. This technique, wherein the figures are modeled primarily in a gray wash, became a favorite in the Netherlands. The hand behind the miniatures in this manuscript has been identified with one of a group of artists known as the Masters of the Delft Grisailles. The manuscript has been grouped with more than a dozen related works, including New York, Morgan Library Ms. M.349; London, Victoria and Albert ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Duke Albrecht's Table of Christian Faith (Winter Part)
This manuscript is a document of the first importance in the history of Dutch manuscript illumination and contains an important medieval Dutch devotional text. The Tafel van den Kersten ghelove (Table of Christian faith) is a compendium of Christian knowledge written by a learned Dominican, Dirc van Delf. The text is in two parts, one for winter, another for summer. This manuscript is of the winter part and is incomplete, omitting the prologue and chapters 13, 14, and 35−57; chapters 23−24 are in inverse order. The arms of ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Book of Hours
In the Byzantine world, this book would have been known as a horologion, or book of hours. Illustrated books of hours in Greek are extremely rare, and this example is one of only two surviving horologia with image cycles. The manuscript includes many full-page miniatures, which show interaction between the late-Byzantine and Gothic artistic styles. The manuscript may have been copied on the island of Crete, which in the 15th century was under Venetian rule. Unlike the images found in Western books of hours, which typically are drawn from the ...
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
The Biographical Account of Timur
Kulliyat-e Farsi Taymurnamah (literally, The biographical account of Timur) is a biography of Timur or Tamerlane (1336−1405), the Turkic-Mongolian founder of the Timurid dynasty and lineage. It chronicles in detail his personal, political, and military life, including campaigns and conquests, and events in the regions of present-day Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Iran. Many biographies of Timur were produced during his lifetime and after. This lithographed version was published in Tashkent by Matba-e Ghulam Hasan in 1912. The last page of the introduction (pages 2−7) states that this book ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Krtíš Glagolitic Fragment
This manuscript fragment contains part of an explanation of an unknown gospel. It was at one time bound into a Glagolitic copy of the manuscript book Historia Scholastica by Peter Comestor. The text of the fragment was written in the angular Glagolitic script invented during the ninth century by Saints Cyril and Methodius to translate the Bible and other ecclesiastical works into the language of the Great Moravia region. Around 1633 the folio was used to fill the book binding of the Czech translation of Pastorale Lutheri (The pastoral of ...
Contributed by Slovak National Library
Chronicle of the World
Weltchronik (Chronicle of the world) is a German translation of an original Latin text attributed to Joannes de Utino (also seen as Giovanni da Udine, died 1366). This copy was produced in the second half of the 15th century and features extensive decorative colored drawings by an unknown painter. It most likely was created in Bratislava sometime after 1458, during the period of Matthias Corvinus´s accession to the Hungarian throne. It was preserved in the library of the Bratislava Capuchins. The chronicle is a didactic work that would have ...
Contributed by Slovak National Library
Dismantling the Essences of “The Most Wondrous of Existences”
This 40-page manuscript, Tahdim al-Arkan min Laysa fi-al-Imkan Abda’ mima Kan (Dismantling the essences of “The most wondrous of existences”), by Ibrāhīm ibn ʻOmar al-Biqāʻī (1406 or 1407−80) concerns a philosophical dispute in the Islamic world over the possibility of the Creator fashioning a more perfect world than the one that exists. This issue had been raised by the renowned philosopher-theologian al-Ghazzali (1058−1111), who answered in the affirmative. In this text, al-Biqāʻī refutes al-Ghazzali, stating that “it is impossible for God’s creation to be more perfect than ...
The Path of the Vexed Towards Achievement
This manuscript is a qasidah (poem) of eight pages by Zayn al-Din Sha’ban ibn Muhammad al-Athari (1364−1425) praising the Prophet Muhammad. The poet lists the perfections of the Prophet and his stature above all of God’s creatures. He then proceeds to the miracle of the Isra and Miraj, Muhammad’s night journey to heaven. He addresses the Prophet directly, asking him to “take him by the hand.” He exalts ahl al-bayt (the family of the Prophet) and declares that prayers are “blocked and nugatory” if they do ...
Curiosity Abated by Wonders of Old Related
This manuscript, Mushtaha al-‘Uqul fi Muntaha al-Nuqul (Curiosity abated by wonders of old related), is a list of extraordinary facts, or marvels, compiled by al-Suyuti (1445−1505), one of the most prolific Muslim authors of late medieval times. The facts concern religion and history. The first entries cover the wondrous size and power of angels. These are followed by entries on such disparate topics as a census of Baghdad, the size and expense of the Umayyad army, the feats of learning and preaching of early Muslim scholars, and short ...
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 ...
Correction of “The Method,” i.e., “Minhaj al-talibin” by al-Nawawi
This manuscript comprises five volumes of a six-volume work (volume two is missing) on Islamic law. It is a practical manual for judges of the Shafi’i legal tradition. It offers principles and precedents, with few of the linguistic and other digressions often found in legal writing. The work covers many topics including treatment of prisoners of war, alcoholic drinks, and chess. The manuscript is ascribed to jurist ‘Umar ibn Raslan al-Bulqini (1324−1403), but it may have been written by another of the several scholars of his family, there ...
The Hidden Secrets to Clear Thinking
Kashf al-asrar ‘amma khafiya ‘an al-afkar (The hidden secrets to clear thinking) covers numerous topics of a scriptural, devotional, and ritual nature. The author, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Ibn al-ʻImād al-Aqfahsī (1378−1462), states in his introduction that in the book “I provide responses to problematic issues and obscurities hidden from the rational mind of the learned and the wise whose thinking is confused about them.” He uses a question-and-answer format in which he poses a question, which is then followed by citations from earlier authorities and explanations or interpretations of ...
Careful Study of Authentic Revelation
This 14th-century manuscript of a work by Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Qurqul (1111−74) is an analysis of lexical problems arising from the canonical hadith texts of al-Bukhari and Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj. Ibn Qurqul’s work is modeled after the better known work by Qadi ‘Ayad, Mashariq al-Anwar `ala Sahih al-Athar (A dawn light upon authentic revelation). This is the third and final portion of a set that begins with the letter ‘ayn and continues to the end of the alphabet. The text typically begins with a review of the ...
Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden
The Revelations of Saint Birgitta (or Bridget) of Sweden (circa 1303–73) is one of the most important and influential works of Swedish medieval literature. According to contemporary sources, Birgitta received her revelations in the form of visions, beginning in the 1340s and continuing until close to her death. Although her revelations related mostly to spiritual matters, they included some messages of a practical and political character, one of which was the command to found a new religious order, which resulted in the establishment of the Order of the Most ...
On Time; On Divine Ideas; On Matter and Form; Reply on the Universals; On Universals
This codex contains four philosophical treatises by the English theologian and reformer John Wycliffe (also seen as John Wyclif,) (circa 1330−84). The works are The works are De tempore (also called De individuatio temporis) (On time); De ydeis [De ideis] (On divine ideas); De materia et forma (On matter and form); and De universalibus (On universals); as well as a work by an unidentified author entitled Replicacio de universalibus (Reply on the universals). According to the colophon, the manuscript was written by Jan Hus, an early proponent of ecclesiastical ...
Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden
The Revelations of Saint Birgitta (or Bridget) of Sweden (circa 1303–73) is one of the most important and influential works of Swedish medieval literature. According to contemporary sources, Birgitta received her revelations in the form of visions, beginning in the 1340s and continuing until close to her death. Although her revelations related mostly to spiritual matters, they included some messages of a practical and political character, one of which was the command to found a new religious order, which resulted in the establishment of the Order of the Most ...
Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden
The Revelations of Saint Birgitta (or Bridget) of Sweden (circa 1303–73) is one of the most important and influential works of Swedish medieval literature. According to contemporary sources, Birgitta received her revelations in the form of visions, beginning in the 1340s and continuing until close to her death. Although her revelations related mostly to spiritual matters, they included some messages of a practical and political character, one of which was the command to found a new religious order, which resulted in the establishment of the Order of the Most ...
Book of Hours for Use in Paris: The Hours of René of Anjou
This book of hours was written around 1435−36 in the workshop of the Rohan Master in Paris for René of Anjou (1409−80), the second son of Louis II of Anjou. The portraits of Louis II and René are to be found on folios 61 and 81 respectively, along with René’s coat of arms and emblems. These are death wearing a crown, the eagle holding the Cross of Lorraine (in reference to his first wife, Isabelle of Lorraine, from whom he inherited the duchy in 1431), and the ...
Hours of Notre Dame
Books of hours are collections of prayers used for private devotion. They were the most common illuminated works of the Middle Ages. Heures de Notre-Dame (The book of hours of Notre Dame) was made in Bruges (present-day Belgium) around 1470. The manuscript, written in Latin and on vellum, is most likely the work of William Wyelant or his studio. Wyelant, also known by the Flemish spelling of his name, Willem Vrelant, was an influential illuminator who was active in Bruges from 1449 until his death in 1481. The leaves of ...
Contributed by Irish College in Paris
Encyclopedic Manuscript Containing Allegorical and Medical Drawings
In the Middle Ages, medicine was very much intertwined with astrology and other nonscientific superstitions. This manuscript on vellum, produced in southern Germany around 1410, contains pen and ink drawings with explanatory texts in German and Latin. The first drawing shows the earth and seven planets. It is followed by Zodiac-man, a naked man shown with the 12 signs of the zodiac, each relating to a specific part of the body. Next are four bloodletting charts of the human body. Such bleeding charts or calendars were widely used in this ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Sixth Map of Asia
Several editions of Ptolemy’s Geographia (Geography), translated into Latin from the original Greek, were published in Europe in the 15th century. This map is from the 1478 edition, which was published in Rome. Ptolemaic atlases included 12 maps of Asia. The “Sixth Map of Asia” covered the Arabian Peninsula. The outlines of this map are crude, but many geographic features, including the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and different features of the peninsula are clearly recognizable.
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Aesop's Fables
This is the second Augsburg edition of the Fables of Aesop, translated from Latin into German by Heinrich Steinhöwel. It is illustrated with 208 woodcuts, cut in the Augsburg style, which is characterized by thick contour lines outlining the figures, a reliance on white space rather than highly detailed embellishment to decorate the image, and little background or landscape to create perspective. The publishing history of the Fables is extensive. Over 150 separate editions of the work were printed between 1465 and 1501. Little is known of Aesop’s life ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
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 ...
A Guide for the Perplexed on the Drawing of the Circle of Projection
The author of this work, Ibn al-Majdī (1366-1447 [767-850 A.H.]), was a renowned mathematician, geometrician, and astronomer. He was linked with the influential Marāgha School through his teacher, Jamāl al-Dīn al-Māridīnī, who in turn had studied with Ibn al-Shātir al-Dimashqī’. As a descendant of a powerful local family with Mamlūk ties, Ibn al-Majdī served as the official astronomer and timekeeper at Al-Azhar. The work is divided into three chapters and a conclusion. Chapter 1 covers the procedure for projecting the circle of projection (fadl al-dā’ir) onto planes that ...
Comprehensive Reference on Algebra and Equations
This manuscript is a didactic work on arithmetic and algebra, composed in versified form, as a qasīda of 59 verses. It was composed by Ibn al-Hā’im al-Fardī in 1402 (804 A.H.). The beginning of the work also names ‛Alī b. ‛Abd al-Samad al-Muqrī al-Mālikī (died Dhu al-Ḥijja 1381 [782 A.H.]), a scholar and teacher who had come to Egypt and taught at the ‛Amr b. ‛As madrasa for several years. The main part of the qasīda begins by introducing and defining key terms in arithmetic and algebra ...