February 18, 2016

The Persian Gulf. An Historical Sketch from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century

Sir Arnold Talbot Wilson (1884-1940) was a British colonial administrator, soldier, and politician. He graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1903 and served as an officer in the British Army in India. He was transferred to the Indian Political Department and subsequently sent to the Persian Gulf. Wilson was the British civil commissioner in Baghdad in 1918–20. Although he was credited with improving the country’s administration, he was criticized for his violent repression of the 1920 Iraqi revolt against the British. At the 1919 Paris Peace Conference that followed World War I, he successfully recommended changing the Greek name “Mesopotamia” to the Arabic “Iraq.” However, the British government ultimately rejected his view that Iraq should not be granted independence, and he was removed from his position. Wilson later became a member of Parliament. With the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. He served as a pilot officer and was killed in action in northern France. The Persian Gulf. An Historical Sketch from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century is a concise history of the region. Wilson begins with the writings of Greek, Roman, and Muslim geographers, followed by chapters on the arrival of European powers, beginning with the Portuguese, the British, and the Dutch. A later chapter discusses the growth of the British influence, starting in the 18th century. Other topics covered in the book are piracy, the slave trade, and the growth of Arab principalities.

South-West Arabia (The Yemen and the Aden Protectorate). Transliteration of Names

Shown here is the third edition (October 1941) of South-West Arabia (The Yemen and the Aden Protectorate), a booklet issued by the British Colonial Office. First produced in 1933, the purpose of the pamphlet was to standardize the spelling of Arabic names among the various departments and offices of the Aden Protectorate. It is divided into two parts, with Part I covering “Proper and Tribal Names,” and Part II “Place Names.” A table at the beginning provides a key to the transliteration of Arabic alphabet into Latin script, which follows a system developed by the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names and the Royal Geographical Society. This edition, published in 1941, was revised by Lieutenant Colonel M.C. (Morice Challoner) Lake, originally of the British Indian Army, who served in various military and political capacities in Aden from 1913 to 1940 and was at the time the political secretary. Lake was also the first commanding officer of the Aden Protectorate Levies (APL), a military force that he raised and organized for local defense. The British presence in what is now Yemen began in 1839, when Britain occupied this strategic area to secure the trade routes to India. The Aden Protectorate, like the Trucial States of the Persian Gulf and the tribal areas of India’s Northwest Frontier, was based on British treaty arrangements with local tribes, the first of which was concluded in 1886. Until 1917 the protectorate was administered by the government of British India, before control was transferred to the British Foreign Office. The protectorate system ended in the 1960s, when the area gained independence and became known as South Yemen. In 1990 it was united with the northern part of the country to form the Yemeni state that exists to the present.

Bible in Old Swedish with Commentaries

This manuscript contains an abridged version in Old Swedish of the Pentateuch with three connecting short tracts, accompanied by the books of Joshua, Judges, Judith, Esther, Ruth, Maccabees, and Revelation. Translation of the Pentateuch—or paraphrase, as translation in the modern sense of the word occurred only marginally in the Middle Ages—goes back to the early 13th century. The paraphrast is unknown. The three connecting historical and philosophical tracts in the manuscript are by Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas. Like the biblical texts, they are equally loose paraphrases of their Latin originals. The other Old Testament books in the manuscript were translated in the late 14th century (circa 1500): Joshua and Judges by Nicolaus Ragvaldi (died 1514), the confessor general at Vadstena monastery in Sweden, and Esther, Ruth, Judith, and Maccabees by Jöns Budde (circa 1437‒91), a monk at the Birgittine monastery of Nådendal in Finland. The translator of the Book of Revelation is unknown. The manuscript is the first known translation into Swedish of the Bible or a large part of the Bible. The colophon states that it was produced at the expense of the Vadstena nun Ingegärd, daughter to Torsten Bowastason. Ingegärd’s mother donated the parchment and an anonymous Vadstena nun was the scribe. She asks in the colophon to be remembered by readers in their prayers. The manuscript is decorated by two hand-colored woodcuts, one of which, attributed to the German artist Hans Sebald Beham (1500‒1550) or his school, is the only known copy of this print. The manuscript was in the possession of the Birgittine Monastery in Vadstena and was acquired by the Royal Library (National Library of Sweden) in 1780.

Codex Aureus

Codex Aureus is one of the most opulent of all surviving English medieval manuscripts. It was produced around the year 750 in the south of England, probably at Canterbury. The manuscript was written on alternate purple and uncolored leaves in uncial script in black, red, white, gold, and silver inks. Two of the four full-page portraits of the Evangelists have survived, made in Anglo-Saxon style with strong Byzantine and Italian elements. The uncial script, arranged on certain pages in patterns known as carmina figurata (figure poems), the miniatures of the Evangelists, and the use of purple parchment all emulate the splendor of imperial manuscripts from late antiquity. Three of the leaves are mutilated; half or the major part of each has been cut away, but without any missing text. The manuscript originally had at least a further five, and probably more, leaves. One endleaf is at the front, added perhaps after medieval times; the back endleaf is missing. According to an Anglo-Saxon inscription from the ninth century, the Codex Aureus was carried off by Vikings during a raid, but about a century later it was restored to Christ Church Cathedral in Canterbury. It is presumed that the codex subsequently remained at Canterbury Cathedral throughout the Middle Ages. Its postmedieval history is unknown until almost the end of the 17th century, when Johan Gabriel Sparwenfeld (1655‒1727), Swedish envoy and distinguished linguist and philologist, bought the manuscript in Madrid in 1690 from the famous library of Gaspar de Haro, seventh Marqués del Carpio (1629‒87). Sparwenfeld donated the Codex Aureus to the Royal Library (National Library of Sweden) in 1705.

Collection of Laws

This manuscript of Fuero Juzgo from the collections of the National Library of Sweden dates from around 1300 and is one of the oldest extant manuscripts of this text in Castilian. The Fuero Juzgo (“collection of laws”) was in principle a translation of the former Visigothic law code Liber Iudiciorum, or Lex Visigothorum, from 654, which after the Reconquista was first applied as local law in the reconquered regions. It was promulgated by King Ferdinand III of Castile in 1241 and used until the end of the 19th century, when it was replaced by the Spanish Civil Code. The Visigoths had a long and, for all of the regions they influenced, important history as lawmakers. The foundation for their written law was Roman law, but Visigothic law also was strongly influenced by Roman Catholic Canon law. Even during the centuries of Muslim rule, Christians were permitted to use Visigothic law, as long as it did not conflict with Muslim law. The Stockholm manuscript is on paper and comprises 169 leaves. It is decorated with two miniatures, one showing the Visigothic king Sisenand (reigned, 631‒36) as legislator and another illustrating a violation of the right of asylum. The manuscript was bought in Madrid in 1690 by the Swedish philologist, linguist, and diplomat Johan Gabriel Sparwenfeld (1655‒1727). It previously was owned by the Spanish statesman Conde-Duque de Olivares (1587‒1645). Sparwenfeld had been charged by the king of Sweden to acquire in foreign countries remnants from the time of the Goths, as they were considered ancestors of the Swedes. When Sparwenfeld did not receive reimbursement for his expenses, he retained the books he acquired, which he donated in 1705 to the Royal Library (National Library of Sweden) and to the University Library in Uppsala.

"Hortus Regius" or Queen Christina’s Genealogical Tree with Political Emblems

Hortus Regius (The royal garden) was given to the Swedish queen Christina about 1645 by its creator, the diplomat Shering Rosenhane (1609‒63). With this elegant manuscript, Rosenhane wanted to celebrate the first year of the queen’s reign. The volume is introduced by a full-length portrait of Queen Christina. Hortus Regius is an emblem book, in which each emblem consists of textual and pictorial elements. Elements from classical, medieval, and contemporary literature of a sententious character useful to a queen are combined with illustrations by the Dutch painter Pieter Holsteyn the Younger (circa 1614–73). The Hortus Regius is intended as a kind of mirror for princes—a book of instruction for a sovereign, in which the tone is set by virtue and where the essential principles are patience and prudence. Whereas the manuscript is largely based on other international emblem books, the illustrations are to some extent adapted to a Swedish context. The subtitle of the work, “Queen Christina’s Genealogical Tree with Political Emblems,” indicates the importance of genealogy in the emblematic genre. The manuscript is bound in red morocco and consists of two main parts, of which the first contains many illustrations alternating with genealogical trees and emblems. The emblems are accompanied by quotations in Latin, Italian, French, and Spanish. The second part of the volume is a list of contemporary princely houses in Europe. The manuscript was later in the possession of J. Alströmer, who in 1769 presented it as a gift to the future King Gustav III of Sweden. It was acquired by the National Library of Sweden at the end of the 18th century, along with the rest of the king’s library.