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De rerum naturis / Rabanus Maurus : manuscript fragment of a leaf


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  • Special Collections - Manuscript Collection
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    1. MISC 1852 must be paged/requested for in-library use only
Rabanus Maurus, Archbishop of Mainz, 784?-856
Earliest possible date:
Latest possible date:
Catalonia, Spain : [s.n.], 2nd half of 14th century.
  • Manuscript/Archive
  • 1 leaf, 283 x 210 mm (252 x 190 mm)]
Double columns, 37 lines remaining, ruled lightly in plummet, rounded gothic script.
Capitals touched in red, with a 6-line ILLUMINATED INITIAL ‘A’ on verso in red, blue and lilac against a burnished gold ground and enclosing a bird in the upper compartment and a grazing horse or donkey in the lower. Extensive marginal annotations in a contemporary hand. A comparable Spanish manuscript is Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz, MS lat. fol. 930 (a further fragment of which is New York, Columbia University, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, MS Plimpton 128).
Open for research; material must be requested at least 24 hours in advance of intended use.
From a luxury manuscript of Rabanus Maurus’s great encyclopedia De rerum naturis. The text here contains much of the first chapter of Book 2, ‘De Adam et posteris eius usque ad patriarchas’ and the beginning of the second chapter, ‘De patriarchis et ceteris eiusdem aetatis hominibus’. Many of the surviving manuscripts of De rerum naturis bear the evidence of close study by their medieval readers, and the present fragment is no exception. Traces of a border at the top of the right-hand column on the verso indicate that there was once a miniature there.The iconography of the initial here is rather mysterious, but may have related to the miniature which once appeared above it.
Purchased, 2013. Accession 2013-070.
Rabanus Maurus was a pupil of Alcuin. ‘Both as thinker and organiser he surpassed his master; and he was the founder of German education . . . . Like Alcuin he stressed the necessity of the seven liberal arts and justified the study of pagan writers, like the Platonists, as constituting an aid to Christian understanding – not for their own sake’ (Leff).
From the collection of Otto F. Ege, but apparently a discrete fragment and not from one of the manuscripts notoriously broken up for his portfolios.

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