Current Issue Article Abstracts
Fall 2020 Vol. 5.2
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The Tudor period saw a revolution in antiquarian histories of Britain. Their networks of transmission largely circle around major collectors such as Matthew Parker and William Cecil. One prominent figure in Cecil’s orbit was Laurence Nowell, the antiquarian whose name is famously associated with the Beowulf manuscript (the “Nowell Codex”). Nowell made copies of the Itinerarium Kambriae and Descriptio Kambriae, both texts by Giraldus Cambrensis, from differing sources, resulting in the defective manuscript London, British Library Additional MS 43706. His colleague William Lambarde used the Add. MS 43706 as the basis for his copy of Descriptio Kambriae. However, before Lambarde finished his transcription, he made annotations in Nowell’s copy. This paper will examine the marginal annotations in Add. MS 43706, which include several annotations in Nowell’s hand too. Nowell and Lambarde must have exchanged the manuscript back and forth, as demonstrated by their crossing out and correcting of each other’s annotations. This correspondence on the physical pages of the manuscript speaks to their differing attitudes towards prominent aspects of Giraldus’s text, including how to read and interpret marvels, natural history, and the twelfth-century discord between Wales and Anglo-Norman England. Nowell’s more conservative attitude led him to derisively identify many of the anecdotes as “superstitio”, “ridiculum”, and “fabula”, whereas Lambarde resists such disparaging comments by crossing them out and then justifying them with notes such as “mais miraculu[m]”. This article ultimately argues that reading conflict in the margins highlights the value of studying marginalia in order to better understand the transmission practices of the antiquarians, including how they read medieval texts and how they interpret, translate, excerpt, and summarize them.
Islamic manuscript illumination production in the eastern Iranian city of Shiraz in the late fourteenth century marked an aesthetic sea-change from mid-fourteenth-century styles that were characterized by polychrome palettes and thick, gold strapwork. The new style of illumination, which was produced under the Muzaffarid dynasty (1314– 93), was distinguished by the dominance of deep blue pigments as well as black and gold and the use of minute floral sprays and ‘baroque- edged’ inscribed cartouches. This profound visual shift eventually developed into the elaborate styles of Timurid, Turcoman and Safavid illumination of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries onwards and is thus of central importance to the history of the Islamic arts of the book. This article builds upon existing scholarship by bringing to light an illuminated manuscript from late fourteenth-century Shiraz that is currently unknown to scholarship. This manuscript – an undated copy of the Kulliyat (Collection) of the Shirazi author Saʿdi (d. 1291) – is richly illuminated and is thus a significant addition to the body of known material from the region. The article gives an account of the political and artistic contexts in which the manuscript was produced before providing a brief overview of known contemporary manuscript material. After an examination of the manuscript itself, the article highlights its visual links to other Muzaffarid and early Timurid material, in an effort to narrow the possible date range of production. Finally, in an effort to advance the general study of Muzaffarid manuscripts and the late medieval Islamic arts of the book, all but one of the article’s reproductions have never before been published.
The Roaring Lion and the Horse of God: The Enigma of the Evangelist Portraits in the Harkness Gospels (New York Public Library MA 115)
This paper addresses the question of sources for the idiosyncratic representations of the Evangelists created by ninth-century Breton monks and explores what might have prompted the occasional substitution of the horse for the traditional symbol of Saint Mark, the lion. Challenging the assumption of a “Celtic” connotation of equine imagery, this study suggests that the monks were directly influenced by Gregory the Great’s allegorical interpretation of the horse given in the Moral Reflections on Job 39. Echoing Gregory as he draws a parallel between the emblematic qualities of the horse (strength, perseverance, courage) and those required of a servant of God, the innovative iconography of Saint Mark unites the lion and the horse in celebratory remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection and glorifies in the image of the Evangelist the tireless preacher, the devoted and fearless Horse of God.
In spring 2019, the University of Pennsylvania Libraries launched the transcription phase of “Scribes of the Cairo Geniza,” a crowdsourcing project to sort and transcribe Cairo Geniza fragments. This article describes the results of the sorting phase of the project, and initial progress results for the transcription phase of the project.
A New Look at “Didacus” in a Late Twelfth-Century Manuscript from Santa María de Benevívere (Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 22)
Matthew J. Westerby
The manuscript Lewis E 22 at the Free Library of Philadelphia has an uncommonly complete provenance. Written in the late twelfth century at Santa María de Benevívere in the Tierra de Campos of Palencia, Spain, an ex libris inscription on the last lines of the final folio records its origin, with an enigmatic addition by a later hand with the name “Didacus.” Following the exclaustration of Benevívere in the nineteenth century, the manuscript passed through a series of collections in England and Canada before it arrived in the United States with John Frederick Lewis, including those of William Bragge and George Dunn. Furnishing new evidence for its provenance and contextualizing its creation at Benevívere, this paper offers a new interpretation of the Didacus inscription as a memorial to the monastery’s founder, Diego Martínez de Villamayor (d. 5 November 1176).
Bryan C. Keene, ed. Toward a Global Middle Ages: Encountering the World Through Illuminated Manuscripts.
Bill Endres. Digitizing Medieval Manuscripts: The St. Chad Gospels, Materiality, Recoveries, and Representation in 2D & 3D.
Thomas Forrest Kelly. The Role of the Scroll: An Illustrated Introduction to Scrolls in the Middle Ages.
Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh. The Missing Pages: The Modern Life of a Medieval Manuscript, from Genocide to Justice.
David Rundle. The Renaissance Reform of the Book and Britain: The English Quattrocento.
Frank Klaassen, ed. Making Magic in Elizabethan England: Two Early Modern Vernacular Books of Magic.
Barbara H. Traister