Libraries of the carolingian era . in

libraries of the carolingian era . in
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One of the main ways a monk improved himself spiritually was by engaging in prayer. In the Carolingian period, the most important kind of prayer for monks was the liturgy. Monastic liturgy took the form of two main kinds of religious service. One was the Office, which was divided into eight periods of prayer throughout the day. The other was the Mass, which re-enacted the Last Supper and, by extension, commemorated the special status of Jesus in Christianity. While liturgical books were among the most common kinds of books produced and used in monasteries, there are relatively few in the virtual library because they would have been stored in the church or the sacristy (the room where presiders prepared to lead the liturgy) and not in the monastic library which is represented in the library catalogs.

"Knowledge of the Bible was the foundation of Carolingian intellectual life. Charlemagne's great capitulary, the Admonitio generalis, and his De litteris colendis leave no doubt that correct understanding of scripture, by both laity and the clergy responsible for communicating its message, was central to the king's efforts to lead his people to salvation. Biblical exegesis was the ovewhelmingly dominant form of literary production during the Carolingian epoch, not only in terms of the many original works but also in terms of the numerous copies made of older exegetical treatises. The substantial number of extant manuscripts of Carolingian exegetical writings strikingly demonstrates the transmission of this intellectual achievement to subsequent generations, whereby it exerted a well-documented influence on the twelfth-cenutry's new synthesis of biblical theology. This volume draws on recent scholarship which challenges the fifty-year old assessment by Beryl Smalley that Carolingian commentaries lacked originality and were worthy simply for transmitted their sources to the more original scholars of the eleventh century. The articles contained here show that the Carolingian period was a major turning-point in the history of the medieval approach to the Bible. Commentaries were composed for books of scripture ignored during the patristic era (such as the epistle to the Hebrews); new exegetical methods, such as the gloss, were invented; ninth-century exegetes selected and handled borrowings from earlier sources in an individualistic manner; and exegetical techniques impacted on poetry, homilies, artistic imagery and other manifestations of Carolingian intellectual life."--

literary production during the Carolingian epoch, not only in terms of the many original works but also in terms of the numerous copies made of older exegetical treatises. The substantial number of extant manuscripts of Carolingian exegetical writings strikingly demonstrates the transmission of this intellectual achievement to subsequent generations, whereby it exerted a well-documented influence on the twelfth-cenutry's new synthesis of biblical theology. This volume draws on recent scholarship which challenges the fifty-year old assessment by Beryl Smalley that Carolingian commentaries lacked originality and were worthy simply for transmitted their sources to the more original scholars of the eleventh century. The articles contained here show that the Carolingian period was a major turning-point in the history of the medieval approach to the Bible. Commentaries were composed for books of scripture ignored during the patristic era (such as the epistle to the Hebrews); new exegetical methods, such as the gloss, were invented; ninth-century exegetes selected and handled borrowings from earlier sources in an individualistic manner; and exegetical techniques impacted on poetry, homilies, artistic imagery and other manifestations of Carolingian intellectual life."--

The project is focused on the Carolingian period and aims to reconstruct communication and transformation processes of non-religious knowledge in the fields of the Septem Artes and medicine that had been passed on in schools and by scholars since the Antiquity. In particular, the research will be focused on the re-interpretation of traditions of knowledge and education under Christian auspices on the one hand, and the use of  this knowledge for representative and pragmatic purposes by the Carolingian rulers on the other hand. The subjects in concern are both the corpus of non-religious texts communicated at schools and collected in monastic and court libraries as well as the architectural ensembles of schools and libraries which were located at the court in Aachen and in palaces and monasteries all over the Frankish realm.

The sub-project investigates the archaeological and literary sources for Greco-Roman libraries by virtue of a new and comprehensive approach and interprets them with respect to both the contextualization of storerooms of knowledge within sanctuaries and imperial representation. In doing so, the question arises whether the localization, e.g., of Hellenistic libraries in sacred contexts served as prefiguration of the relationship of libraries and Christian cultic practices in Late Antiquity and medieval times. Also the integration of thermal baths as a precursor of the interconnection between bath and library in the Middle Ages will be discussed. Thereby it will be clarified whether ancient libraries – considering their functioning – should be regarded as a preliminary stage for later ensembles of storerooms of knowledge or whether they should rather be studied following a transcultural comparative approach.

Ancient and medieval libraries as well as late antique compendia (virtual libraries, as it were) are institutionalized storing processes, thus selecting and organizing religious as well as profane knowledge. Selection criteria indicate what knowledge was deemed relevant, while organizational principles point to the ways in which religious and profane bodies of knowledge served cultural or religious policies. The proximity to cultic institutions produced architectural, sociocultural and reflexive connections between cult and the transmission of knowledge that vary in closeness. Within such ensembles, storehouses of education could represent religion-based authority or communicate relations of medicine and cult, that is, healing and salvation.

In so doing each of the different case studies should provide us with a panorama of possibilities, its arrangement and rearrangements in a certain cultural center or context. From early on, most of the historical texts that were written in the early Middle Ages have not been copied as single and independent texts and narratives but thought of and put into context with other historical works but equally with other genres. The teams working on different cultural centers will try to establish an overview over the “historical library” in different places and how the available historical resources were further used copied, rewritten and complemented by new texts over several centuries. The specific conditions and histories in the different places will of course lead to the development of questions and approaches designed for the specific case. Taken together, however, they will allow us to put each case study in a wider context and a wider panorama of possibilities.

The project has started with series of seminars at which members of this group will present their approaches, ongoing work, or future projects. This should help us to establish a common base line, and develop a more focused project design and a shared data-base for a more comprehensive comparison of different texts, contexts and trajectories, various cultural topographies and degrees of convergence in the late and post-Carolingian world – from the Atlantic, to Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean world.

The Transformation of the Carolingian World-Network will sponsor four sessions at the upcoming Leeds International Medieval Congress (3-6 July 2017). See the IMC Leeds website for paper titles and participants: 

All manuscripts, which Bischoff and Hoffmann have localized in Lorsch, either as they were written in the scriptorium, or held in the monastic library, were integrated into the “Bibliotheca Laureshamensis – digital“. All manuscripts which definitely, probably and questionably (with corresponding notes in the descriptions) can be located to Lorsch have been included. This is primarily due to practical reasons, as the information on single manuscripts, in most cases, is distributed over numerous publications in different fields of research and it is difficult to collect and verify within a reasonable timeframe. Moreover, the works of Bischoff and Hoffmann most certainly comprise the largest part of known Lorsch manuscripts. And finally, the present focus on the work of two renowned manuscript researchers guarantees that the Virtual Monastic Library of Lorsch is built upon a firm basis, even if the localization of manuscripts in research is subject of debate.

The project depended on the cooperation of 73 libraries and archives in Europe and the U.S., which are in possession of a Lorsch manuscript or fragment. In numerous cases the holding libraries digitized the valuable manuscripts and fragments in their own digitization centres. Subsequently the holding libraries provided the digital images of the manuscripts and fragments as JPG-images. The remaining Lorsch manuscripts were digitized by Heidelberg University Library.

The project strived to digitize all manuscripts, which were once created in the Lorsch Abbey’s scriptorium and kept in its library, and has presented them in a uniform layout in the internet. Simultaneously, descriptions of all manuscripts were compiled and a separate manuscript database was set up. All Lorsch codices, fascicles, and fragments are described according to their codicological aspects and content, and are available for further research in the database.

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2/12/2021

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