History Bible


Illustrated manuscripts of vernacular paraphrases of biblical history, so-called history Bibles, are probably the best-known products of the workshop of Diebold Lauber in Hagenau, Alsace. Like this manuscript, most of them transmit a recension that is based both on the prose version of the world chronicle by Rudolf von Ems and on Brother Philipp’s Life of the Virgin Mary. Lauber was a professional scribe who profited from his contacts at the bailiff’s office, through which he was able to find new customers. While Lauber’s name is first documented in the 1440s, his scribal workshop existed in various forms from circa 1420 to circa 1470, producing numerous manuscripts, of which around 70 have been identified. The wide assortment of products that he advertised suggests that Lauber may have kept a stock of his books. Lauber’s workshop is often viewed as a precursor of a printing house, because rationalized methods of production were employed in order to reduce the costs of labor. As can be observed here, the quires are composed of individual leaves and the text is written in simple Gothic cursive letters. The text is structured by means of indices, titles and chapter headings. Also, the simply colored pen illustrations drawn directly on the paper, in most cases without a border or background, reveal a tendency towards serial production. With a limited range of artistic means, a small number of iconographic types were used for various genres of texts. The illustrations most characteristic for Lauber’s workshop were created by the painters of the so-called “Malergruppe A,” a group of artists active between 1425 and 1450, who were also responsible for the drawings in the manuscript shown. The manuscript has lost three of its original illustrations.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Hagenau, Germany


Type of Item

Physical Description

II + 325 folios, paper : illuminated ; 40.7 x 27 centimeters


  • This description of the work was written by Elisabeth Wunderle.
  • BSB Shelfmark: Cgm 1101


  1. Bettina Wagner, editor, Als die Lettern laufen lerneten. Medienwandel im 15. Jahrhundert. Inkunabeln aus der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München (Wiesbaden, Germany: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 2009).

Last updated: October 17, 2017