The invention of the Bayeux Tapestry: an International Colloquium at the Bayeux Museum

BAYEUX (FRANCE) –(via @Minima Medievalia) The 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings (1066) marks an excellent occasion to reconsider the so-called “Tapisserie de Bayeux” not only for its historical value, which is already well known by scholars, but by highliting its artistic importance, far from being fully explored. An international Colloquium (“L’invention de la Tapisserie de Bayeux : NAISSANCE, COMPOSITION ET STYLE D’UN CHEF-D’OEUVRE MEDIEVAL”) will be held in Bayeaux from 22 to 25 September at the Bayeux Museum. Papers and talks will be presented by 23 scholars and researchers  working in different countries (France, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, Canada and United States) who will share knowledge and experiences from different disciplines and fields of study (textiles, history of Arts, archaeology, latin language, etc.).

Access is free. Lectures are in French only. Complete programme (also in French language) is available at this link.

DU 22 AU 25 SEPTEMBRE 2016
Direction : Cécile Binet, Pierre Bouet, Shirley Ann Brown, Sylvette Lemagnen, François Neveux, Gale Owen-Crocker

For more info, please visit the official Museum Website

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“Colour: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts” on display at Fitzwilliam’s in Cambridge

Colour: The Art and Science of Illuminated #Manuscripts on display at Fitzwilliam’s in #Cambridge @FitzMuseum_UK

CAMBRIDGE (UK) – A new exhibition in Cambridge, UK celebrates the Fitzwilliam Museum’s 2016 bicentenary with a stunning display of 150 manuscripts from its rich collections – many on display for the first time. “Colour. The Art and Science of Illuminated manuscripts” shows a collection which ranges from the prayer books of European royalty and merchants to local treasures like the Macclesfield Psalter, from an alchemical scroll and a duchess’ wedding gift to the ABC of a five-year old princess.

The Fitzwilliam preserves the finest and largest museum collection of illuminated manuscripts in existence, and manuscripts were at the heart of the Founder’s collection with which the Museum was established in 1816. Among the treasures which Richard, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion (1745-1816), bequeathed to the University of Cambridge were 130 illuminated manuscripts.

In his 1895 catalogue of the Founder’s collection, the Fitzwilliam Director Montague Rhodes James appealed to potential benefactors to think of the Museum as a place where their ‘manuscripts would be choicely valued, religiously preserved, and minutely investigated.’ Among the bequests and donations which flowed into the Museum over the next two decades was one of the largest and finest private collections of medieval manuscripts. In 1904, the astronomer and inventor Frank McClean bequeathed over 200 volumes and some 130 illuminated fragments. The 1912 bequest of Charles Brinsley Marlay’s eclectic collection included one of the largest groups of illuminated fragments ever amassed – well over 250. These bequests quadrupled and diversified the Museum’s holdings.

The collection grew further under James’ successor, Sydney Cockerell, the longest serving and most acquisitive Fitzwilliam Director (1908-1937) to date. His vision, scholarship and passion for manuscripts have inspired more recent acquisitions, notably the Macclesfield Psalter, purchased in 2005 with overwhelming public support.

The exhibit also showcases advanced research undertaken by the Fitzwilliam’s curators, scientists and conservators involved in the Cambridge Illuminationsand MINIARE projects. It celebrates modern-day discoveries inspired by collections assembled over 200 years.  These discoveries can be seen on display at the Museum until December  30th or can be explored online at this link.

 

Sorgente: “Colour: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts” on display at Fitzwilliam’s in Cambridge

MADRID / BNE announces exhibit on the Beatus “Commentary on the Apocalypse” corpus this autumn

b_facundus_43v1MADRID [©EP- Minima Medievalia/Perceval Archeostoria] – The BNE, Biblioteca Nacional de España, has announced a special exhibition dedicated to Beatus of Liébana’s Commentary on the Apocalypse to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the great exposition that reunited for the first time a great number of codices of the so-called “Beatus”. The exposition,  Beato. El misterio de los siete sellos (Beatus. The mystery of the Seven Seals), will be hosted by the BNE this autumn beginning on September 23rd and proposes to unlock all secrets of the most well known Commentary on John’s Book of Revelation.
Written in the eighth century by the Spanish monk and theologian Beatus of Liébana, the book is world famous for its splendid and icastic illuminated miniatures, which can be seen in  26 surviving copies decorated between the Xth and the XIth century. The illuminated versions represent the best known works of Mozarabic art, and had great  influence on the medieval art of the rest of Europe.

VISIONS OF A JUDGEMENT – As reported on the World Digital Library, around the year 776, a monk by the name of Beato or Beatus, possibly the abbot of the monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, wrote a work entitled Comentarios al Apocalipsis (Commentary on the apocalypse), which had an extraordinary success in the following five centuries. Thanks to his great erudition, Beato combined in this text, as a summa, many commentaries on the topic of the apocalypse by such authors as Saint Irenaeus of Lyon, Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Isidore of Seville, and the 4th-century scholar Ticonius. The genre of apocalyptic literature appeared in the Jewish tradition in the second century BC and had never ceased to be practiced. Obsessed like his contemporaries with the imminent coming of the end of the world, which, according to the calculations of the six ages was to take place in the year 800 (838 in the Spanish era), Beato wrote this work for the edification of his monks. He emphasized that, after the final terrifying catastrophes announced by Saint John the Evangelist, good would triumph over evil.
The original codex, which most likely was illuminated, has not been preserved. Even though the dreaded date passed without the world coming to an end, copies of Beato’s work continued to be made in the monasteries of the peninsular north (only one extant manuscript was written abroad). Then came the terrifying year 1000 and other feared dates, so the text, linked to a fixed cycle of illustrations, continued to appeal to readers. Thirty-five manuscript copies dating from the ninth century to the 13th century have survived. By semantic extension, these manuscripts are called beato, and 26 of them are illuminated. Two are preserved at the BNE, the National Library of Spain.
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Beatus by Facundus, f°233v (Wikipedia)

EXPO & WEBSITE – The BNE exposition will mainly feature the most iconic manuscript of the corpus, the Codex Vitr/14/2, commissioned in 1047 by King Fernando I of León and Castille and Queen Sancha, and possibly done byFacundo in San Isidoro de León. Its 98 miniatures, endowed with amazing expressiveness, are distributed mostly on colorful horizontal stripes in a unique and unmistakable style that blends the Romanesque with various Mozarab and North African influences. Prominent among them are the Four Horsemen, the vision of celestial Jerusalem, the seven-headed snake, and the destruction of Babylon. The manuscript, owned by the Marquis of Mondéjar in the late 17th century, was confiscated with the rest of his library by Philip V during the War of the Spanish Succession.

The BNE has also announced the creation of a website entirely dedicated to the  corpus of manuscripts. The series of the Beatus codexes have been included in the Unesco Memory of the World Register in 2015.

minima medievalia

#MADRID / BNE announces exhibit on the Beatus “Commentary on the Apocalypse” corpus this autumn
#medieval #manuscripts @bne @BNE_museo @BNE_directora  

b_facundus_43v1 Beatus by Facundus, f°43v (Wikipedia),

MADRID [©EP- Minima Medievalia/Perceval Archeostoria] – The BNE, Biblioteca Nacional de España, has announced a special exhibition dedicated to Beatus of Liébana’s Commentary on the Apocalypseto commemorate the 30th anniversary of the great exposition that reunited for the first time a great number of codices of the so-called “Beatus”. The exposition,  Beato. El misterio de los siete sellos (Beatus. The mystery of the Seven Seals), will be hosted by the BNE this autumn beginning on September 23rd and proposes to unlock all secrets of the most well known Commentary on John’s Book of Revelation.
Written in the eighth century by the Spanish monk and theologian Beatus of Liébana, the book is world famous…

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“Discoveries that changed the world”: an exhibition at Cambridge University Library

@theUL  #Discoveries that changed the world”: an #exhibition @cambridgeuniversitylibrary

CAMBRIDGE (UK) –  (via Cambridge University Library) The wills of William Loring and William Hunden, both dated March 1416, bequeathed books to the library of the University of Cambridge. Their gifts are the earliest surviving references to a library specifically associated with the University. Six hundred years on it has grown from a small collection of manuscripts kept in chests into one of the world’s greatest university libraries. Today, the Library  holds over eight million items, ranging from ancient clay tablets, illuminated medieval manuscripts and early printed books to electronic journals, e-books and digital archives. The physical library now fills more than 128 miles of shelving and unseen terabytes of digital content support a global community of scholarship. This long fascinating history is the main feature of Discoveries that changed the world. Lines of thought, the oustanding exhibition open at the Cambridge University Library until Sept. 30th, 2016.

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Parchment manuscript. MS Ii.6.32, ff. 29v (c) Cambridge University Library

 

Across six themes, this exhibition highlights key moments in the evolution of human thought. They show how the collections in Cambridge represent and underpin some of the most significant developments in human history.  Selected items from the exhibition have been digitised in full and added to the Lines of Thought collection in Cambridge Digital Library. Highlighted items from the exhibition are also available in an iPad app, Words that Changed the World, accompanied by discussions by Cambridge University experts; it can be downloaded free from the App Store. An introductory film gives an overview of the themes of the exhibition.

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Matthew Parker (1504–1575) De antiquitate Britannicae ecclesiae London: John Day, 1572 (c) Cambridge University Library

Weekly half-hour drop-in sessions, hosted by members of Library staff, introduce the exhibition every Friday morning at 10.30. More in-depth tours of the physical exhibition presented by specialist curators can be booked here.

VISIT VIRTUAL EXHIBITION.

1,000-Year-Old Manuscript of Beowulf Digitized and Now Online

1,000-Year-Old Manuscript of Beowulf has been digitized by theBritish Library and is now online. It is the oldest surviving manuscript of the longest epic poem in Old English.

Beowulf is the longest epic poem in Old English, the language spoken in Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman Conquest. More than 3,000 lines long, Beowulf relates the exploits of its eponymous hero, and his successive battles with a monster named Grendel, with Grendel’s revengeful mother, and with a dragon which was guarding a hoard of treasure.

The story of Beowulf

Beowulf is a classic tale of the triumph of good over evil, and divides neatly into three acts. The poem opens in Denmark, where Grendel is terrorising the kingdom. The Geatish prince Beowulf hears of his neighbours’ plight, and sails to their aid with a band of warriors. Beowulf encounters Grendel in unarmed combat, and deals the monster its death-blow by ripping off its arm.

There is much rejoicing among the Danes; but Grendel’s loathsome mother takes her revenge, and makes a brutal attack upon the king’s hall. Beowulf seeks out the hag in her underwater lair, and slays her after an almighty struggle. Once more there is much rejoicing, and Beowulf is rewarded with many gifts. The poem culminates 50 years later, in Beowulf’s old age. Now king of the Geats, his own realm is faced with a rampaging dragon, which had been guarding a treasure-hoard. Beowulf enters the dragon’s mound and kills his foe, but not before he himself has been fatally wounded.

Beowulf closes with the king’s funeral, and a lament for the dead hero.

When was Beowulf composed?

Nobody knows for certain when the poem was first composed. Beowulf is set in the pagan world of sixth-century Scandinavia, but it also contains echoes of Christian tradition. The poem must have been passed down orally over many generations, and modified by each successive bard, until the existing copy was made at an unknown location in Anglo-Saxon England.

How old is the manuscript?

Beowulf survives in a single medieval manuscript, housed at the British Library in London. The manuscript bears no date, and so its age has to be calculated by analysing the scribes’ handwriting. Some scholars have suggested that the manuscript was made at the end of the 10th century, others in the early decades of the 11th, perhaps as late as the reign of King Cnut, who ruled England from 1016 until 1035.

The most likely time for Beowulf to have been copied is the early 11th century, which makes the manuscript approximately 1,000 years old.

The contents of the manuscript

Apart from Beowulf, the manuscript contains several other medieval texts. These comprise a homily on St Christopher; the ‘Marvels of the East’, illustrated with wondrous beasts and deformed monsters; the ‘Letter of Alexander to Aristotle’; and an imperfect copy of another Old English poem, ‘Judith’.

Beowulf is the penultimate item in this collection, the whole of which was copied by two Anglo-Saxon scribes, working in collaboration.

Who owned the Beowulf-manuscript?

The first-recorded owner of Beowulf is Laurence Nowell (died c.1570), a pioneer of the study of Old English, who inscribed his name (dated 1563) at the top of the manuscript’s first page. Beowulf then entered the famous collection of Sir Robert Cotton (died 1631) – who also owned the Lindisfarne Gospels and the British Library’s two copies of Magna Carta – before passing into the hands of his son Sir Thomas Cotton (died 1662), and grandson Sir John Cotton (died 1702), who bequeathed the manuscript to the nation. The Cotton library formed one of the foundation collections of the British Museum in 1753, before being incorporated as part of the British Library in 1973.

Why is the manuscript damaged?

During the 18th century, the Cotton manuscripts were moved for safekeeping to Ashburnham House at Westminster. On the night of 23 October 1731 a fire broke out and many manuscripts were damaged, and a few completely destroyed.

Beowulf escaped the fire relatively intact but it suffered greater loss by handling in the following years, with letters crumbling away from the outer portions of its pages. Placed in paper frames in 1845, the manuscript remains incredibly fragile, and can be handled only with the utmost care.

Modern versions of Beowulf

Despite being composed in the Anglo-Saxon era, Beowulf continues to captivate modern audiences. The poem has provided the catalyst for films, plays, operas, graphic novels and computer games. Among the more notable recent versions are the films The 13th Warrior (1999), adapted from the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton (d. 2008); the Icelandic-Canadian co-production Beowulf & Grendel (2005); and Beowulf (2007), starring Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie.

Beowulf has also been translated into numerous languages, including modern English, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Telugu (a Dravidian language spoken in India).

Perhaps the most famous modern translation is that by Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laureate in Literature, which won the Whitbread Book of Year Award in 1999. A children’s version by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman, was published in 2006.

See a full set of images on our Beowulf Digitised Manuscript or view theElectronic Beowulf, a collaboration between British Library and Kentucky University.

Via The British Library

Sorgente: 1,000-Year-Old Manuscript of Beowulf Digitized and Now Online

 

The Secrets of Medieval Fonts

One of the fundamental things in a medieval book is letters – those symbols that fill up page after page and that make up meaning. Each one of us human beings writes differently and considering that medieval books were made before the invention of print, it follows that the scripts they carry show a great variety in execution styles. This is perhaps the most amazing experience of spending a day going through a pile of medieval books in the library: the immense variation in the manner in which the text is written on the parchment pages…. Please read this great article by ERIK KWAKKEL.

medievalbooks

One of the fundamental things in a medieval book is letters – those symbols that fill up page after page and that make up meaning. Each one of us human beings writes differently and considering that medieval books were made before the invention of print, it follows that the scripts they carry show a great variety in execution styles. This is perhaps the most amazing experience of spending a day going through a pile of medieval books in the library: the immense variation in the manner in which the text is written on the parchment pages.

No surviving artefact underscores this point of variation better than advertisement sheets of commercial scribes. The one in Fig. 1 was produced by Herman Strepel and through it he shows off his expertise – and in a sense his merchandise – to customers who visited his shop. The blank back shows that the sheet was hanging on the wall, like a menu in a fast-food…

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All about Mantua: Isabella d’Este’s world online

IDEA-banner-image

An instrument for scholars, students, and visitors, but also an exercise in imagination, exploration, and critical engagement. All this and much more is IDEA: Isabella d’Este Archive, a project which focuses on one of the most influential figures of the Italian Renaissance, Isabella d’Este (1474-1539).

IDEA offers users around the world new ways to explore the history and culture of early modern Europe through  a digitalized version of Isabella’s letters, music, and art collections, as they evolved during her reign as the marchesa of Mantua. These resources map a world where politics, art, music, family life, business, and social relations intertwined, prior to the modern separation of many of these concerns into separate spheres.

The IDEA Site is currently under construction but some contents are already available. Researches and contributors can join project teams as well as discuss in Forums.

DIRECTORS are:

Deanna Shemek, PhD
University of California, Santa Cruz

Anne MacNeil, PhD
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Dott. Daniela Ferrari
Ricercatore Indipendente
Già Direttore dell’Archivio di Stato
di Mantova e di Milano

More info & official website: http://isabelladeste.web.unc.edu/

 

 

 

Learning from Visigothic script: Littera Visigothica

We are delighted to present Littera Visigothica , a wonderful project on medieval manuscript sources written in Visigothic script, the first writing system used in the medieval Iberian Peninsula. It’s edited by prof. Ainoa Castro and hosts fantastic materials and updates not only on manuscripts, but also on publications, conferences, research projects,  digital editions, and workshops.

Please visit Littera Visigothica and sign up to site updates, courses and seminars.

Littera Visigothica is also on Twitter, Academia.edu, LinkedIn and Flickr.

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