[via The Guardian] The Exeter Book, an Anglo-Saxon poetry anthology dating back more than 1,000 years, which has inspired writers from WH Auden to JRR Tolkien, has been granted Unesco status as “the foundation volume of English literature”.
Housed in Exeter Cathedral since it was given to the institution by its first bishop, Leofric, in the 11th century, the Exeter Book was written around 970. It contains some 40 poems and 96 riddles, a number of which are found nowhere else. On Tuesday, June 21st 2016 it was placed on Unesco’s Memory of the World register, where it will sit alongside works such as the Magna Carta, the Bayeux Tapestry, the Book of Kells and the Diary of Anne Frank.
“It is one of only four surviving major poetic manuscripts in [the Old English] vernacular,” said Unesco. “Since it is the largest and probably the oldest of them, and since its contents are not found in any other manuscript, it can claim to be the foundation volume of English literature, one of the world’s principal cultural artefacts.”
Bernard Gui (1260-1331) was a Friar-Preacher perhaps best known as an Inquisitor against the Albigensians (or Cathars). He ended his career as Bishop of Lodève. This manuscript (R.4.23) includes various works by Bernard, but we are highlighting the beautifully illustrated genealogical tree – Arbor genealogie regum – which traced the lineage of the French Kings from their Trojan origins (ff. 49v-52v).
Each page is a sequence of illuminated pictures which narrate the succession and genealogy of the kings of France. Each king is represented standing in a medallion in which their name and the length of their reign is also written. The kings have the royal insignia – the crown and sceptre – and are dressed in gowns covered with the fleur-de-lys. Beside them there are usually some smaller medallions in which their ancestors, offspring and spouses appear.
The tree begins on f.49v with medallions representing the chiefs…
This exhibition is curated by Alessio Cotugno and David A. Lines (University of Warwick) and highlights the role played by Venice in the Renaissance interpretation and diffusion of Aristotle’s works, the most intensely studied philosopher of antiquity until 1700. Thirty manuscripts and printed editions show how Venice’s engagement with Aristotle expanded from Greek and Latin to Italian, which increasingly became a legitimate language for literary and philosophical studies in the sixteenth century. Greek and Latin manuscripts (some of them extremely old and belonging originally to the humanist, Greek émigré, and cardinal Bessarion, † 1472) and printed editions testify to Venice as a significant centre of learned scholarship on Aristotle and his commentators.
But its position as one of the great capitals of the European printing industry made Venice the chief promoter of a lively cultural movement to make Aristotle’s works available to a broader public, which came to include women, princes, participants in Academies, and educated amateurs interested in literature, philosophy, and science.
Exhibition opens on April 21st at noon and closes May 19th, 2016.
Call for Contributions: edited volume After the Carolingians: Manuscript Illumination in the Tenth–Eleventh Centuries Deadline: Jun 1, 2016
A great deal of research remains to be done on the substantial and
wide-ranging corpus of illuminated manuscripts produced in continental
Europe between the late ninth and late eleventh centuries. Whether
tucked away in footnotes or relegated to the status of comparanda, the
extant manuscripts from this difficult period of history — particularly
from the regions of modern-day France and Flanders — rarely receive the
focused attention they deserve. Yet many manuscripts from the tenth and
eleventh centuries have the potential to challenge our understanding of
fundamental issues of historical inquiry, including the nature of
artistic originality, various processes of transmission, the working
relationships between artists, patrons and scribes; even the essential
character and functions of illumination.
We seek papers that offer new perspectives on the culture of illuminated books produced between…