Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Die Mittelalterlichen Nichtliturgischen Handschriften Des Zisterzienserklosters Salem

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Die Mittelalterlichen Nichtliturgischen Handschriften Des Zisterzienserklosters Salem

Article excerpt

Wilfried Werner, Die mittelalterlichen nichtliturgischen Handschriften des Zisterzienserklosters Salem, Kataloge der Universitatsbibliothek Heidelberg 5 (Wiesbaden: Reichert, 2000). lxv + 428 pp.; 14 colour plates. ISBN 3-89500-047-7. Eur. 102.00.

Salem, one of the great German Cistercian abbeys, was founded in 1138. It played a leading role in the political, cultural, and economic life of the region around Lake Constance throughout the Middle Ages and early modern period until the dissolution in 1803, after which the abbey's lands and property fell to the grand duchy of Baden as part of the compensation for the loss of territories on the left-hand bank of the Rhine to France. In 1827 the library, into which books and a few manuscripts from the Benedictine abbey of Petershausen in Konstanz had now been incorporated and which was estimated as some 60,000 items (of which 442 were manuscripts), was sold by the Grand Duke to Heidelberg University Library.

Of the surviving manuscripts some 194, according to my investigation of the inventories in Heidelberg (and some spot-checking of the books themselves), date from before the mid-sixteenth century. This is only a small part (perhaps a sixth?) of the original library which we may suppose to have existed in an abbey of such importance, but, as Wilfried Werner's fine catalogue of the `non-liturgical medieval manuscripts' in the Salem funds shows, the body of what survives has a distinctive profile and contains items of exceptional importance (for example, four of originally five volumes of the Salem Bible from c.1220-30 and the strikingly illustrated Scivias of Hildegard of Bingen, to mention just two items). The Salem collection is notable for a good range of theological codices produced by skilled craftsmen in house, most significantly a group of high-quality manuscripts produced under Abbot Eberhard von Rohrdorf (1191-1240), an abbot whose connections with the Hohenstaufen dynasty took him to the court of King Philipp of Swabia and to Emperor Frederick II in Sicily. There are not, however, as many manuscripts of this type as we have in the Bodleian and British Library collections from the Cistercian abbey of Eberbach in the Rheingau. …

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