77 results in English
History of Byzantium
This Greek manuscript on parchment dating from the 12th to the 13th centuries is one of the most valuable codices in the National Library of Spain, treasured for the richness of its illumination. The work, by Ioannes Scylitza (flourished 1081), is a history of the Byzantine emperors from 811 to 1057, covering events from the proclamation of Michael I Rangabe in 811 to the reign of Michael VI in 1056–57. The manuscript contains 577 miniatures by different artists. Most of the scenes are accompanied by a caption that explains ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
The Seville Bible
Biblia hispalense (The Seville Bible), also known as the Toletanus Codex, is a manuscript from the first half of the tenth century, in Latin written in lower-case Visigothic script by at least four copyists. The titles also appear in Hebrew, and there are notes in Arabic in the margins. The manuscript consists of booklets of eight sheets each, on parchment, with the text in three columns of 63–65 lines. Included are the texts of the Old and New Testaments, with a preface, prologues, and commentaries by Saint Jerome, Saint ...
Contributed by National Library of Spain
Al-Bukhāri's Abridged Collection of Authentic Hadith
This work is the earliest Arabic manuscript in the National Library of Bulgaria. Incomplete and fragmentary, it is a 1017 copy of Volume 3 of Sahīh al-Bukhārī (Al-Bukhārī’s authentic hadiths). Muhammad ibn Ismā‘īl al-Bukhārī (810–70) was born in Bukhara, in present-day Uzbekistan, and died in Khartank, near Samarkand. He is considered by Sunni Muslims to be the most authoritative collector of hadiths—reports of statements or deeds attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. This work, completed in 846, is al-Bukhārī’s best-known collection. It was the first work ...
“The Scientific Essay on the Need for Compound Remedies” from the "Canon of Medicine"
Abu Ali al-Husayn Ibn Sina (980–1037) was one of the intellectual luminaries of the medieval world. Known in the Latin West as Avicenna, this Persian polymath was often referred to by Muslim authors as al-Shaykh al-Ra'īs, in acknowledgement of his role as one of the foremost savants of the Islamic world. A prolific author, Ibn Sina wrote on topics as varied as metaphysics, theology, medicine, psychology, earth sciences, physics, astronomy, astrology, and chemistry. His fame in Europe rests principally on his Canon of Medicine, which was translated into ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
al-Bukhari's Collection of Authentic Hadith, Followed by a Qurʼanic Exegesis in the Fourth Volume
Muhammad ibn Isma‘il al-Bukhari (810–70) was born in Bukhara, in present-day Uzbekistan, and died in Khartank, near Samarkand. He is considered by Sunni Muslims to be the most authoritative collector of hadiths—reports of statements or deeds attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. This work, completed in 846, is al-Bukhari’s best-known collection. It was the first work of its kind exclusively dedicated to hadiths, and is the most authoritative of the so-called Six Books—canonical collections that were written down some 200 years after the death of Prophet ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Damascus Pentateuch
The Damascus Pentateuch, from around the year 1000, is one of the oldest extant Hebrew biblical manuscripts. It includes full vocalization, accentuation, and Masoretic annotation. The manuscript is defective in its beginning, as it starts with Genesis 9:26; Exodus 18:1–23 is also missing. Written on parchment in oriental square script, the text is in three columns per page, 20 lines per column. The manuscript belonged to the Jewish community of Damascus (hence its name) until 1915, when it was acquired by the collector and bibliophile D.S ...
History of the Five Dynasties
Wu dai shi ji (History of the Five Dynasties) was the original title of this work by Ouyang Xiu (1007–72), statesman, historian, essayist, calligrapher, and poet of the Song dynasty. It traditionally has been called Xin Wu dai shi (The new history of the Five Dynasties) to distinguish it from another work entitled Jiu Wu dai shi (The old history of the Five Dynasties), by Xue Juzheng (912–81). This was the only authorized history compiled privately after the Tang dynasty and before the publication of Xin Yuan shi ...
Contributed by National Central Library
The Veritable Records of the Song Emperor Taizong
Chinese court officials often recorded a reigning emperor’s daily activities and words spoken in court, especially those that affected the country. These records, such as Qi ju zhu (Diaries of activity and repose) and Ri li (Daily records), were sources for the compilation of shi lu (veritable records) by a committee. Other sources consisted of materials collected from provinces, ministerial papers, and other documents. The official histories were written based on these veritable records. Such records no longer exist from before the Tang dynasty (618–907). The only ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Greek Codex from the Abbey of Grottaferrata
Saint Nilus the Younger (circa 910–1005) was born in Rossano (Calabria, southern Italy) into a notable and wealthy family. Calabria was at that time a district of the Byzantine Empire and members of Nilus’s family held important offices under the Byzantine emperors. He distinguished himself from a young age by his voracious reading and learning. Later in life he founded libraries devoted to the production of manuscripts and the teaching of calligraphy. He became a monk at about age 30 and, as a follower of the teachings of ...
Geographical Description of Tiantai Mountain
Tendaisan ki (Tiantaishanji in Chinese) is a geographical description of the Chinese holy mountain, Tendaisan (Tiantaishan in Chinese), located in Zheijiang Province. The author, Xu Lingfu, was a Taoist who lived in seclusion in order to discipline his mind and body. Xu lived on Tendaisan from 815 to 825, where he wrote this book. A Japanese monk studying in China may have copied the original in China or he may have brought a copy back to Japan, after which it was lost. This manuscript, held in the National ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
The Book of Literary Expressions
Published in 1885 by the Jesuit Fathers’ printing press of Beirut, the present volume contains an edition of one of the three extant versions of Kitāb al-Alfāẓ al-Kitābiyya (The book of literary expressions) by the tenth-century grammarian, ‛Abd al-Raḥmān ibn ‛Īsā al-Hamḏānī. This work presents a collection of difficult words and expressions found in classical Arabic literary texts. For each word or expression, the author offers a number of synonyms and paraphrases intended to guide the reader to a better understanding of the lexical, grammatical, and syntactical peculiarities of the ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
Refinement of Character
Tahdhib al-akhlaq (Refinement of character) is a guide to practical conduct by the famous Iranian polymath Ibn Miskawayh (died 1030). It is considered a primary contribution to the field of ethics. Its origins are firmly rooted in Greek philosophy rather than in Islamic texts and traditions. In his philosophical writings, Ibn Miskawayh presents rational rather than scriptural arguments. Often associated by scholars with Neo-Platonist methods, the author makes frequent reference to Aristotle in discussing human nature, requirements for happiness, and the virtuous life. Ibn Miskawayh is sometimes categorized with Shia ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
The Perfection of Eloquence: The Letters of Shams al-Maʻali Qabus ibn Washmakir
Kamāl al-balāghah wa huwa rasāʼil Shams al-Maʻālī Qābūs ibn Washmakīr (The perfection of eloquence: The letters of Shams al-Maʻali Qabus ibn Washmakir) is a critical edition of a little-known collection of letters by Ibn Washmakir. The letters demonstrate the writer’s badi’ (virtuosity), especially in rhymed prose. They were transcribed by one ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Yazdadi, who gave the compilation the title Kamal al-balaghah. The current edition is based on two manuscripts discovered in Baghdad in the early 20th century by bookseller Nu’man al-A’zimi. The work was extensively annotated ...
Contributed by Qatar National Library
"Imperial" Menologion
This manuscript, created in the Byzantine Empire in the second quarter of the 11th century, contains the biographies of saints whom the church commemorates in the month of January. It was originally part of a set containing volumes for each month of the year. A companion volume, with texts for March, now survives in Moscow (State Historical Museum, MS gr. 183). Each chapter in both manuscripts opens with a miniature depicting the death of a respective saint, or less often, another significant event from his or her life. Each text ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Gospels
Dated to the tenth century, this manuscript is the oldest Armenian codex in North America and the fifth oldest among documented Armenian Gospel books. The principal colophon, on folio 2 verso, records that Sargis the priest completed the text in 415 (966). Within the framed area, the commission of the codex is described: a priest, whose name was replaced by the later owner T’oros, commissioned the work "as decoration and for the splendor of [the] holy church and for the pleasure of the congregation of Rznēr." As the codex ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Reichenau Gospels
This mid-11th century Gospel Book is believed to come from the Abbey of Reichenau, on Lake Constance in Germany, on the basis of its script and illumination. The decoration of the manuscript places it in the so-called Luithar school of Reichenau. Its ornamental motifs compare very closely with those in Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Clm. 4453, and its palette is nearly identical to that in the Reichenau manuscripts of the Bamberg Cathedral Treasury. The work includes full-page miniatures of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and of the Holy Gospel of ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Corvey Gospel Fragment
This manuscript consists of four folios from a Gospel book that was likely made at the monastery of Corvey in western Germany during the mid-to-late tenth century. Dating to the reign of Otto I, these pages are a magnificent example of early Ottonian manuscript illumination. The heavily ornamented pages, which introduce the Gospels of Luke and John, shine with gold and jewel-like colors against dyed purple grounds. These pages combine monumental classicizing square capitals on purple grounds with rich and complex interlace. This fragment contains the opening pages of Luke ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Collection of Texts on Mathematical Astronomy and the Natural Sciences
This manuscript is a collection of texts on mathematical astronomy and the natural sciences dating from early in the ninth century. The illuminations are mainly of astronomical content and are based on models from late antiquity. They include the occupations of the 12 months, the earliest surviving medieval illuminations of this type (folio 91 verso); an astronomical map (folio 113 verso); the constellations (folios 115 verso−121 recto); and the 12 winds (folio 139 recto). The manuscript was copied in Salzburg, apparently from a northern French exemplar, and was presumably ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Gospels of Luke and John
This manuscript containing the gospels of Luke and John originally formed a whole with another gospel book fragment now preserved in Weimar. The Weimar manuscript contains prologues, canon tables, the gospels of Matthew and Mark, and, at the end, the argumentum (introduction) and breviarium (summary) to Luke. Each gospel begins with a portrait of the evangelist and a full-page initial. The manuscript, of high quality, is clearly the work of an important scriptorium influenced by that at Saint Gallen; it may have been written at Mainz.
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Sacramentary of Henry II
This sacramentary was written for Henry II (973–1024) before he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1014. It was executed by a workshop in Ratisbon (present-day Regensburg). There the influence of the Carolingian model of the Codex aureus, a ninth-century gospel written for Emperor Charles the Bald and preserved in the monastery of Saint Emmeram, was a crucial stimulus for the Ottonian school of illumination 100 years later. The picture of the emperor closely resembles that of the earlier exemplar, but was adapted to the current political situation by ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Gospels
This Gospel book from the Carolingian period is a product of the Mainz school of calligraphy and illumination, which was a successor to the palace (or court) school of Charlemagne. In its canon tables and portraits of the evangelists, it blends the Ottonian style from the tenth century with the traditions of the earlier Carolingian Ada group (late eighth century). The manuscript received its fine binding in the Ottonian period. Its most valuable parts are the two outstanding ivories. The baptism of Christ is represented on the front cover; on ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Sacramentary of Bishop Abraham
Many monasteries in Bavaria were destroyed during the devastating Hungarian invasions of Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries. In the period after the Hungarian wars, Bishop Abraham of Freising (957−94) nevertheless succeeded, despite temporary banishment, in enlarging his see, pushing ahead the mission to the Slavs, and promoting completion of the cathedral library and school in Freising. This sacramentary is the only high-quality liturgical manuscript surviving from this time, albeit in poor condition. The prominence given to Saint Corbinian identifies it as a Freising work. Obituary entries in ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Evangeliary of Michaelbeuern, Four Gospels with Illuminations of the Evangelists
The Gospel book from the Benedictine monastery at Michaelbeuern is considered a work of the Salzburg school because of its similarity to other Salzburg manuscripts. Whether it was brought to Michaelbeuern in the first half of the 11th century (when that monastery was being reestablished from Saint Peter’s in Salzburg) or later cannot be determined with certainty. Besides canon tables and lesser initials, it shows, on double leaves, which are interpolated but which always have formed part of the manuscript, four illustrations of the evangelists facing ornamental initial pages ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Pericope (Sections) from Saint Erentrud. Gospels for the Mass According to the Usual Rite, Preceding the Capitular Gospels
This book, which contains the “lessons,” or portions of scripture appointed to be read at divine service, was written around the year 1150, probably in Salzburg, a diocesan town situated near what is today the border between Bavaria and Austria. The manuscript was owned by the Benedictine convent of Saint Erentrud auf dem Nonnberg, which was founded by Saint Rupert in Salzburg in 711−12, and where Rupert’s niece Erentrud was the first abbess. With its 56 miniatures depicting scenes from the New Testament and the life of saints ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Sacramentary of Augsburg
This Ottonian manuscript dates from the early 11th century and was executed for the cathedral of Augsburg. It bears all the hallmarks of an ambitious project, but it was left incomplete for some reason. The text alone, interspersed with gold letters on every page, creates an impression of luxury. The prayers for special ecclesiastical fields feature decorated initials with gold tendrils, which stand out against a colored ground. For the principal festivals of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun, full-page ornamental initials were planned but not finished. Similarly, the pictorial decoration of ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Gospel
The Benedictine monastery of Tergernsee, located in southern Bavaria, was founded in 746 and is considered one of the most important imperial abbeys of the Holy Roman Empire. This manuscript was formerly attributed to Tegernsee's famous abbot, Ellinger (1017−26 and 1031−41), who was twice removed from office and spent his last years in exile in Niederaltaich. This is no longer the scholarly consensus, but the codex still maintains a key position in the series of magnificent Gospel books produced in Tegernsee up until the 12th century, a ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Fulda Sacramentary
The Fulda Sacramentary typifies the structural changes that sacramentaries underwent in Carolingian times, when artistic embellishment was increasingly concentrated on the canon. The opening letter T (of Te igitur; “Thee, therefore,” the first prayer of the mass) of the sacramentary has been transformed on folio 12 recto into a picture of the crucified Christ, surrounded by four medallions depicting, respectively, the hand of God, Saint Mary, Saint John, and a priest in adoration. Executed at the Benedictine monastery at Corvey in the last third of the tenth century, the sacramentary ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Four Gospels: The Evangeliary of Uta (Codex of Uta)
Illuminated for Abbess Uta of Niedermünster (1002−25), this Bavarian Gospel manuscript has been described by Georg Swarzenski as "perhaps the most important Western illuminated manuscript of its period." Its unique quality resides especially in the subtly articulated argument between the text and the accompanying miniatures. The text is drawn from such diverse sources as the Bible; the fields of theology, mathematics, and music; and the works of Pseudo-Dionysius, the Areopagite, in the translation by Johannes Scotus Eriugena (circa 800−circa 877). The scholar Bernhard Bischoff attributed the work to ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Prayerbook of Otto III
This small prayer book was once owned by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (980−1002). Although it hardly stands out when compared with other luxuriously illuminated manuscripts, it was intended for the sovereign’s private devotion and is one of only two royal prayer books from the early Middle Ages to survive. It was probably commissioned after the year 984, presumably by Archbishop Willigis of Mainz, when the four-year-old Otto was committed to the care of his mother and grandmother, the empresses Theophanu and Adelaide, after his father’s ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
New Edition of the Manual of Acupuncture Points on a Bronze Figure, in Seven Juan
One of the unique features of treatments in traditional Chinese medicine is acupuncture. During the Northern and Southern Song (960−1279), the science of acupuncture and moxibustion and the meridian and collateral theory flourished. This science consequently became gradually systemized and standardized. The work Xin kan tong ren zhen jiu jing (New edition of the manual of acupuncture points on a bronze figure) was actually a chapter dealing with acupuncture, called “Zhen jing,” included in Taiping sheng hui fang (Taiping imperial prescriptions for universal relief), an official standard textbook of ...
Contributed by National Library of China
January 13, 889. Consecration
In the ninth century, the castle of Tona, located on the plain of Vic in eastern Catalonia, guarded the surrounding territory and defended it from possible Saracen attacks during the struggle with the Muslims for control of Spain. The Church of Saint Andrew was built close to the castle by the village inhabitants. They provided it with ornaments, books, and liturgical objects, and supplied it with houses and lands for its upkeep. The bishop of Vic, called Gotmar, consecrated the church in 888 and gave to it a nearby house ...
The Compendium of Faith
Muḥammad ibn Jaʻfar al-Izkiwī was a leading Muslim scholar who lived in about 900. His name, al-Izkiwī, suggests that he came from Izkī, one of the oldest cities and centers of learning in the interior of Oman. Jāmiʻ al-adyān (The compendium of faith), sometimes referred to simply as al-Jāmiʻ (The compendium) or Jāmiʻ Ibn Jaʻfar (Ibn Jaʻfar’s compendium), is his best-known work. Shown here is an 18th-century manuscript containing the first part of Jāmiʻ al-adyān. As the title suggests, the book summarizes a wide range of topics in Islamic ...
Poem on the Acts of the Apostles
Arator's De Actibus Apostolorum (Acts of the Apostles), written in the sixth century, is the last example of Roman Biblical verse epic in the classical tradition. This 10th-century manuscript is decorated with a pen-and-ink drawing depicting Arator as he hands his work over for correction to Florianus, abbot of a convent near Milan; it is the earliest portrait of Arator to be preserved. The manuscript, which was apparently much used in the Middle Ages, seems to have been written and decorated in southwest Germany towards the end of the ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Ingolstadt Gospel Book (Fragment)
The so-called Ingolstadt Gospel Book shares the fate of many other liturgical manuscripts, which over time gradually lost their status as religious objects and came to be reused for profane purposes. Only a fraction of the formerly 260−80 folios of this sumptuous manuscript from the middle of the ninth century have survived. Most of its pages were used in bindings of account books in the 17th and 19th centuries. One double leaf was in the possession of the German painter Carl Spitzweg in the 19th century. When and why ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Liudprand’s “Antapodosis,” “Chronicle of Otto’s Reign,” and Regino of Prüm’s “The Chronicle”
This is a historical miscellany written in Freising, Bavaria, under Bishop Abraham (died 994). It contains two works by Liutprand of Cremona (died approximately 972)‏, Liber de rebus gestis Ottonis (A chronicle of Otto's reign) and Antapodosis (Tit-for-tat); and Chronica quam Regino quondam abbas Pruniensis composuit (Chronicle of Regino of Prüm) by Regino,‏ ‎abbot of Prüm (840−915) and its continuation by Adalbert of Magdeburg (died 981). Liutprand's historical works narrate mainly the history of Italy in the ninth century and first half of the tenth century, but ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Bobbio Psalter
Together with two manuscripts in the Vatican Library, this psalter preserves the so-called diacritical Milan recension of the Psalms, which was carried out between the end of the eighth century and the middle of the ninth century. The Psalms, the core of the work, are preceded by a critical foreword on the text and by other introductory matter; biblical canticles and hymns in a typical Milan arrangement are annexed. According to recent research, the present copy was produced as early as the last decades of the ninth century in Milan ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Gospel Lectionary
The illumination of this early 11th century lectionary is a late example of the Ottonian tradition of book illumination. The manuscript features 292 golden majuscule initials, 30 initials in gold, and five decorated text pages, as well as a full-page initial and a miniature of Christ in Majesty. The 16-line introductory poem on folio 1 verso is written in gold rustic capitals on purple ground. On the opposite page is a depiction of Christ in Majesty: Christ making the sign of blessing sits enthroned within the mandorla, accompanied by the ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Pericopes (Sections) Book of Henry II
This Gospel manuscript, probably the most impressive work of the Reichenau school of illumination, was commissioned by Henry II (973–1024) for Bamberg Cathedral, which he founded in 1007 and dedicated in 1012. A dedicatory poem and a full-page miniature, in which Henry and his wife Cunegunda (also seen as Kunigunde) are crowned by Christ, commemorate the royal donor, who was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1014 and later was canonized. The generously proportioned manuscript, with its wide margins, combines great care in execution with extraordinary artistic power. In the ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
The Book of Instant Recovery
Kitāb burʼ al-sāʻa (The book of instant recovery) is a short medical tract by the famous Islamic scientist and physician Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya Razi (died circa 925). The work consists of 24 short sections, which list the remedies for common afflictions. The work includes sections on al-udāʻ (headaches), wajʻ al-asnān (toothache), and al-iʻyā wa al-taʻab (exhaustion). The colophon lists the scribe’s name as Ghulam Muhammad Pursururi and the completion date for the manuscript as Dhu Qa’da 17, 1173 AH (July 1, 1760). Based on ...
Contributed by Wellcome Library
Homiliary on Gospels from Easter to first Sunday of Advent
This 10th-century manuscript from the Bergendal Collection at the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto is the oldest extant copy of a book of homilies composed by Heiric (Eric) of Auxerre, France, around 865–870. Heiric, a Benedictine theologian and writer, was a monk at the Abbey of Saint-Germain d’Auxerre. He studied under Lupus of Ferrière, John Scotus Erigena, and Haymo of Auxerre. He was the teacher of Remigius of Auxerre and is an important representative of intellectual life in the Carolingian period. The manuscript was written, by ...
The Tale of Genji: Commentary on Key Words and Phrases, Volumes 55-57
Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji) is often considered the first great novel in world literature. The author of the work, Murasaki Shibuku, was born around 978 and spent most of her life at or near the imperial court in Kyoto. After a brief marriage to an older man, she entered the service of Empress Akiko (or Shōshi) around 1005 as a lady-in-waiting. The novel consists of 54 books or chapters that recount the life and romances of Prince Genji, the young, handsome, and talented son of an emperor. The novel ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Tale of Genji: Genealogy, Volume 58
Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji) is often considered the first great novel in world literature. The author of the work, Murasaki Shibuku, was born around 978 and spent most of her life at or near the imperial court in Kyoto. After a brief marriage to an older man, she entered the service of Empress Akiko (or Shōshi) around 1005 as a lady-in-waiting. The novel consists of 54 books or chapters that recount the life and romances of Prince Genji, the young, handsome, and talented son of an emperor. The novel ...
Contributed by Library of Congress