Funny medieval doodles
With their wild hair and frantic gaze, these doodled men look like fools. They are waving as if to seek contact with the reader. The thing is, the reader is busy singing and listening to a sermon. That is because these 800-year-old images are found in a Missal, a book used during Holy Mass. What a shock it must have been for the serious user of the book, to flip the page and suddenly find yourself face to face with these funny creatures. And what a great contrast: a serious book with silly drawings.
Pic: Paris, Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, MS 95 (Missal, 12th century). More about the manuscript here.
Manuscript Monday: A Twelfth-Century Grammar Book
This week’s manuscript is a late twelfth-century copy of Priscian’s Institutiones grammaticae. Although Special Collections holds manuscript fragments that are older, this is the oldest intact manuscript in the collection. It is a work on grammar, written in Latin with passages in Greek. And there’s marginalia! You can see someone’s notes in the margins in one of the photos above.
The binding of this manuscript is later than the text, but it is also interesting because it’s a good example of a fifteenth-century German binding in blind-tooled pigskin. The back board still shows discoloration from the former site of a metal clasp.
For more images and information about this manuscript, see the Digital Scriptorium.
Legend of the monk who adored St. Peter while a monk is carried off by devils, c.1327
Claricia’s Medieval Selfie
Claricia was a German illuminator who included a self-portrait in a South German psalter produced circa 1200 CE.
In the self-portrait, she depicts herself swinging from the tail of a letter Q with her name inscribed over her head. Her uncovered head, braided hair, and style of dress (close-fitting tunic, long-waisted dress, long flowing sleeves) suggests that she was a lay student at the convent.
c, 1200 A.D.
A copy, dated 1243, of the Lübeck law (more interesting than it sounds, considering what it did to spread a common civic culture around the Baltic Sea, traces of which are still very visible), bound in an unusually charming limp binding.
Thomas of Cantimpré, Liber de natura rerum, France ca. 1290.
Valenciennes, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 320, fol. 117r