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 boldly expressive figures with their imperious gestures, Reichenau illumination attains the sublime. For the binding, precious materials were provided by the emperor, who is again named in an inscription. The Crucifixion ivory from the time of Charles the Bald may possibly have come from the back cover of the Codex aureus, a ninth century Gospel written for Charles the Bald and preserved in the monastery of Saint Emmeram. The Byzantine enamels of Christ and the Apostles are pieces of a woman’s or votive crown, which may well have come from the heritage of Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (980−1002), as was the case with many a precious codex. The delicate cloisonné enamels with Evangelists’ symbols in the corners were, like the rest of the gold work, made specifically for the cover. This cover was produced in Regensburg or Bamberg, and not in Reichenau. In 2003 the manuscript was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

Last updated: August 28, 2015