A Fragment of the Lorsch Annals

Cod. Vindob. 515 - Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)

Alternate Titles:

Fragment der Lorscher Annalen

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Alternate Titles

Fragment der Lorscher Annalen

Extent / Format

16 pages / 23.5 x 16.8 cm

9th century
Artist / School

Author: Bishop Richbod of Trier

Short description

Eyewitness accounts of the life and reign of Charlemagne are among the most precious artifacts of the Middle Ages. A facsimile edition has been made of such a source from the Nationalbibliothek in Vienna: A Fragment of the Lorsch Annals. It is an important primary source on the reign of the mighty Frankish warlord and patron of the arts with information filled in year by year. Possibly originating from Trêves, it was later appended at the great scriptorium of Reichenau.

Facsimile editions available


An Unusually Rare Fragment

The keeper of this manuscript presents A Fragment of the Lorsch Annals in this small, handsome book as a full facsimile edition of the remarkable little Ms. 515 of the Nationalbibliothek in Vienna. Although nowadays it contains no more than 8 leaves measuring no more than 235 mm heighth and 168 mm width, it is still of uncommon value because of its early date and of the texts contained in it. Interest in this manuscript has been very great, as is proved by the impressive bibliography on p. 26-29. The most important text in it is the large fragment of the Annales Laureshamenses, beginning with the year 794 and ending in 803: it is the original manuscript of this primary source on the history of Charlemagne; the important facts of the reign are filled in year by year.

A Witness to Charlemagne

Its author was probably Richbod, Bishop of Trêves, who was abbot in Lorsch from 784 till 791/2; he died in 804, which fits in with the annals' ending in 803; however the bad latinity makes it impossible that it was written or dictated directly by him. It was not written in Lorsch, but in a scriptorium of south-west Germany, perhaps Trêves. Later the manuscript went to Reichenau, where the Old High German poem was written on a blank space and where the first apograph of the annals was made. The last text in the manuscript has recently been recognized as an important fragment of the Instructio ad competentes by Niceta Remesiana, a contemporary of Ambrosius, whose works are nearly completely lost.

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