The Mensural Codex of Saint Emmeram


The mensural codex of the Benedictine monastery of Saint Emmeram in Ratisbon (present-day Regensburg) is one of the most important, if not the prime, source for the tradition of the international polyphony in Central Europe that has been preserved from the late Middle Ages. It shows in a special way the gradual acceptance of the international style in “backward” Central Europe. The codex, Clm 14274 in the Bavarian State Library, is a paper manuscript containing, on 160 leaves, some 280 monophonic and polyphonic compositions as well as an index. It is believed to have been created from 1435 to 1443; the majority of the work was inscribed by Hermann Pötzlinger, a schoolmaster and book collector. Pötzlinger bequeathed his library to the religious house of Saint Emmeram in Ratisbon, where he had been active as schoolmaster. In the course of secularization in 1812 his books passed together with Saint Emmeram’s monastery library into the ownership of the Königlich Baierische Hof- und Zentralbibliothek, today’s Bavarian State Library. The mensural codex of Saint Emmeram is also the primary source for quite extensive parts of the oeuvre of Guillaume Dufay, the foremost influence on the development of Europe’s musical voice from the Middle Ages up to the Renaissance. The collection from the Saint Emmeram library also includes works of Gilles Binchois and John Dunstable, as well as those of such lesser-known composers as Hermann Edlerauer and Urbanus Kungsperger.

Last updated: November 16, 2017