Victorius of Aquitaine. Martianus Capella. Remigius of Auxerre. Gregory the Great

This manuscript opens with a one-page text by Victorius of Aquitaine (fifth century). The rest of the work consists of two distinct parts. The first part, written in the second half of the 11th century, presents a work of Martianus Capella (fifth century) on the Seven Liberal Arts, followed by an important commentary on this text by Remigius of Auxerre (circa 841−908). A full-page pen drawing, which depicts numerous gods and demons of the ancient world, is situated between the text and the commentary. Because of its stylistic features, the drawing is generally attributed to the Ratisbon school of illustration. The second part of the manuscript (folios 56−109), contains homilies of Saint Gregory the Great (circa 540−604) and was created around 1100 in southern Germany. The manuscript once belonged to the Benedictine monastery of Saint Emmeram in Ratisbon (present-day Regensburg) and came to Munich in 1811.

The Six Books of the Hexaemeron (The Six Days) by Ambrose

In his Hexaemeron, Saint Ambrose treats the six days of creation. In this manuscript, written in the Benedictine monastery of Saint Emmeram in Ratisbon (present-day Regensburg), Bavaria, the six days are illustrated with full-page pen drawings; another representation of the creator resting on the seventh day concludes the cycle. Representations of the Hexaemeron appear from the late 11th century onwards as a new subject of Romanesque illumination, above all in Bibles or in liturgical works, such as choir books and missals. The Ratisbon school of illumination, responsible for this work of art, however, was famous for the illustration of elaborate theological themes, and, unsurprisingly, the cycle is here transmitted in an exegetical text. Its favorite medium was line drawing, which reached its highest point in Ratisbon in the 12th century. The drawings of the Hexaemeron are impressive in the monumentality of the representations, and in the delicate use of variously colored inks in red and violet or red and brown.

Hrotsvitha's Poems

This 11th century manuscript is the only to survive to transmit the complete text of the epic and dramatic works of the first German poetess, Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim. Corrections and marginal notes are entered in the hand of the humanist Konrad Celtis, who used the manuscript as a printer's copy for his edition of Hrotsvitha's works published in Nuremberg in 1501. The manuscript once belonged to the Benedictine monastery of Saint Emmeram in Ratisbon (present-day Regensburg) and reached Munich in 1811. Born around 935, Hrotsvitha was a canoness in the German convent at Gandersheim. She wrote Latin poems, stories, plays, and histories during the reign of Emperor Otto the Great (962−73).

Gospels for the Year

This lavishly illuminated manuscript represents a fine example of a gospel lectionary, a liturgical book that—in contrast to the usual gospel books containing the full texts of the gospels—comprises only those parts of the gospels that are used for the liturgical readings during the ecclesiastical year, presented in chronological order. The manuscript’s miniatures display the main events in the life of Jesus Christ, which correspond to the main religious feasts: from Nativity to Ascension to the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. All the miniatures are decorated with a splendid gilt ground and are framed with richly painted silver bands. The style and coloring of the miniatures follow a Bavarian tradition of book illumination, the so-called Bavarian monastic school. Because the liturgical feast days of Saint Alto and the patron saints of Altomünster, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, are particularly emphasized, it can be concluded that the manuscript was intended for Altomünster Abbey. It therefore belongs probably to a particular group of codices that were created in the scriptorium of Tegernsee on behalf of other monasteries. In 1489 the manuscript was adorned with a lavish metal cover with semi-precious stones and rock crystals. The engraving on the front depicts one of Saint Alto's miracles; on the back can be seen the monogram of Jesus, IHS.

Gospel Lectionary

This gospel lectionary was created around 1130. A lectionary is a liturgical book, which—in contrast to usual gospel books containing the full texts of the gospels—comprises only those parts of the gospels that are used for the liturgical readings during the ecclesiastical year, presented in chronological order. The book features two pen-and-ink-drawn initials, several decorated initials in gold and silver ink, and four full-page miniatures, each showing one of the four Evangelists. The style and coloring of the miniatures follow a Bavarian tradition of book illumination, the so-called Bavarian monastic school. This manuscript, intended for Altomünster Abbey in southern Bavaria, was most likely executed in the workshop of the Benedictine abbey of Weingarten.

Third Series of Maxims, Number 16 / Bernard of Clairvaux. The External and Internal Composition of Man (Fragment) / David von Augsburg. Sermon against Jews, Pagans and Aryans / Quodvultdeus of Carthage (Pseudo-Augustin). Muspilli

The fragmentary Old High German poem “Muspilli,” on the fate of the soul after death, the Day of Judgment, and Armageddon, is written on blank leaves and in the margins of a manuscript of the pseudo-Augustinian sermon Sermo contra Judaeos, Paganos et Arianos (Sermon against Jews, Pagans and Aryans). The sermon itself was written in Salzburg in a fine Carolingian minuscule and bears a dedication in rustic capitals (folio 120 recto) from Adalram, archbishop of Salzburg from 821 to 836, to Ludwig, Duke of Bavaria (later King Louis the German, 843−76). The sermon is by Quodvultdeus, bishop of Carthage circa 437−54. Pseudo-Augustinian works are those by various authors erroneously attributed to or purporting to be by Saint Augustine of Hippo.

Prayer of Wessobrunn

This manuscript, dating from the early ninth century, contains the Wessobrunner Gebet (Prayer of Wessobrunn) and many other short works. The prayer itself, in prose, which gives the text as a whole its name, is preceded by a short creation poem, which, in nine lines of alliterative verse, seeks to explain the creation of the world out of chaos. This small literary monument is among the earliest written examples of poetry in Old High German. It has come down to us in a composite (mainly Latin) manuscript written before 814 (the death of Charlemagne is mentioned on the last page) in the diocese of Augsburg, Bavaria, more probably in the monastery of Staffelsee rather than of Wessobrunn. The manuscript includes 70 other short, mainly theological, texts. Folios 1 verso−21 recto contain the legend of the True Cross, of which the primitive illustrations, probably Bavarian, form one of the earliest cycles of non-biblical content in the history of German illumination. The manuscript is written in Carolingian minuscule and shows the influence of Anglo-Saxon script in the use of runes.

Dialogue in Praise of the Holy Cross

Dialogus de laudibus sanctae crucis (Dialogue in praise of the Holy Cross), written between 1170 and 1180, and once owned by the Benedictine monastery of Saint Emmeram in Ratisbon (present-day Regensburg), Bavaria, contains a text in praise of the Cross, which has come down only in this manuscript. The text, written by an unidentified author, is in the form of a didactic dialogue between “Magister” and “Discipulus,” the teacher and a pupil. It relates the history of salvation to the Holy Cross in the so-called typological exegetical tradition. The text is accompanied by an extensive pictorial cycle with 47 small outline drawings, executed in the Ratisbon school, which is difficult to locate and was probably situated in the monastery of Saint Emmeram or the convent at Prüfening. It is one of the earliest typological cycles to survive and a forerunner of the Biblia pauperum (Pauper’s Bible).

Exegetical Works

This manuscript of works by Honorius Augustodunensis (also seen as Honorius of Autun) is one of the rare examples of an illustrated commentary on the Old Testament Song of Songs, preserved mainly in manuscripts from southeastern Germany and Austria. The manuscript, written in the monastery of Benediktbeuern, Bavaria, around 1170, features a title piece and three miniatures on books two to four, that is, the full cycle of illuminations. Honorius follows the allegorical interpretation of the marriage of Christ and his Church, depicted in the title piece. In books two to four, the allegorical marriage is followed through four epochs: ante legem (before the law), represented by the daughter of Pharaoh; sub lege (under the law), represented by the daughter of Babylon; sub gratia (under grace), represented by Sunamitis (i.e., the unnamed Shulamite woman to whom Solomon professes his love in the Song of Songs); and sub antichristo (under the anti-Christ), represented by Mandragora. In accordance with Honorius's text, the bride appears in dual form: as Ecclesia (the Church) in the New Jerusalem, and as a personification of the Church remaining in this world, which embodies all mankind. Honorius was a theologian and philosopher who was active in southern Germany in the first third of the 12th century.

Collection of Sermons, Treatises, Liturgical Formulae and Canons. Slavic Liturgical Formulae (Freising Monuments)

This manuscript, assembled in Freising, Bavaria, at the behest of Bishop Abraham (died 994), is famous for three texts, the so-called Freising manuscripts (also Freising folia, fragments, or monuments). These are the first continuous texts in a Slavic language written in Latin script and the oldest documents in Slovene. They contain a confessional formula (folio 78 recto), a sermon on sin and repentance (folios 158 verso−161 recto), formulae for abjuration and confession, and a penitential prayer (folios 160 verso−161 recto). The second and most important literary text is thought to be a paraphrase of an Old Church Slavonic text. The Slavonic texts and the other parts of the manuscript written in Latin, which are both of religious and legal nature, were probably assembled to serve as a bishop's (pastoral or pontifical) handbook, useful in a missionary context. Since some of the legal documents contained in the codex refer to an exchange of lands in Carinthia, it seems plausible that the manuscript was written during Abraham's exile in the eastern Alps (974−83). The manuscript remained in Freising's cathedral library until 1803.