Magnificent Works from the Courts of Rulers

Ottonian book illumination reached its greatest peak in the magnificent codices which were commissioned by kings or for their use. The expensive liturgical manuscripts for example gospel books and sacramentaries were donations for the churches of the empire. In return, the donors expected prayers for the sake of their souls and the care of their memorial culture after their death.

Emperor Otto III (980–1002, emperor from 996) and Emperor Heinrich II (978–1024, emperor from 1014) preferred the Abbey of Reichenau and of Saint Emmeram in Ratisbon for the creation of magnificent "Herrscherhandschriften" (princely manuscripts). Ratisbon was the religious, scientific, and artistic centre of Bavaria. For the special ranking of Ratisbon speaks the gospel book of Abbess Uta (Clm 13601) and the Sacramentary of Heinrich II (Clm 4456) the binding of which can be studied in 3D on bavarikon in detail. From the island of Reichenau, four world famous splendid codices are shown: the gospel book of Otto III (Clm 4453), the lectionary of Heinrich II (Clm 4452), the gospel book from Bamberg Cathedral (Clm 4454) as well as the Bamberg Apocalypse (Msc.Bibl.140). They have belonged since 2003 to the world document heritage of UNESCO.

Among the particular achievements of this Ottonian period are the great royal imagery. For these representative images, two fundamental iconographical forms were chosen: the throne image and the coronation image. The coronation happens by the hand of God or Christ. These portraits represented a connection between the secular and sacred worlds and documented the sanctity of emperorship.

(cf: Elisabeth Klemm, "Die Handschriften der Karolingerzeit." In: Pracht auf Pergament. Schätze der Buchmalerei von 780 bis 1180. Exhibition catalogue. Munich 2012, pp. 138–149.)

The other part collections of "Splendour on Parchment" available on bavarikon

>> This collection is part of the holdings of "Splendour on Parchment" of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library) and of the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (State Library Bamberg).