Echternach Pericopes of Henry III

Ms. b. 21 - Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek (Bremen, Germany)

Alternate Titles:

Echternacher Evangelistar Kaiser Heinrichs III.

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Echternacher Evangelistar Kaiser Heinrichs III.

Type
Extent / Format

254 pages / 20.0 x 15.0 cm

Origin
Date
1039-1043
Style
Genre
Language
Patron

Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor (1017-1056)

Illustrations

38 full-page minatures, 13 smaller miniatures and 5 decorative initials pages

Former owners

Rabordus Meghes
Melchior Goldast von Haiminsfeld
Bremen City Council

Short description

One of the magnificent manuscripts of the famous Echternach scriptorium: the Echternach Pericopes of Henry III. Measuring 19 x 15 cm, it is probably the smallest of the splendid works of the Echternach scriptorium – the emperor’s manuscript was presumably intended for travel – but the Pericopes impresses all the more due to its exuberant visual adornment. Homage is done in the famous dedication pictures not only to the Kaiser himself but also to his mother, Gisela von Schwaben. The Echternach Pericopes of Henry III grants a comprehensive overview into the glorious epoch of the Salian emperors!

Facsimile editions available

Description

Echternach Pericopes of Henry III

One of the magnificent manuscripts of the famous Echternach scriptorium: the Echternach Pericopes of Henry III. Measuring 19 x 15 cm, it is probably the smallest of the splendid works of the Echternach scriptorium – the emperor’s manuscript was presumably intended for travel – but the Pericopes impresses all the more due to its exuberant visual adornment. Homage is done in the famous dedication pictures not only to the Kaiser himself but also to his mother, Gisela von Schwaben. The Echternach Pericopes of Henry III grants a comprehensive overview into the glorious epoch of the Salian emperors!

A Jewel from the Imperial Abbey

In the famous miniature of the scribe and the King – the delivery of the manuscript to Henry III – the splendid work’s point of origin is also referenced in a famous inscription: “Oh King! This place, called Echternach, awaits your grace both day and night.” The Abbey of Echternach with its famous scriptorium was one of, if not the center of illumination during the Ottonian period. One of the most famous scriptoria of the entire Middle Ages! Grandiose testimonials to Echternach illumination are counted today among the highpoints of the art of this epoch, e.g. the Codex Aureus of Echternach or the Codex Aureus Escurialensis.

A Magnificent Manuscript as a Treasure

The Echternach Pericopes of Henry III, stored under the shelf mark Ms. b. 21 in the University of Bremen Library, is the smallest of the splendid works of the Echternach scriptorium with the format of 19.3 x 14.6 cm, which is relatively small for such a manuscript. Originating from the years 1039-1043, it probably served as a travelling manuscript for the emperor. On 254 pages, the Pericopes-texts are gorgeously illustrated with 38 large format miniature pages – which sometimes contains two scenes –, 13 smaller pictures, 3 ornamental pages, and 5 splendid initial pages.

Unique Motifs and Classic Depictions

The Codex Egberti from Trier probably served as a template for the imperial manuscript in addition to examples from Byzantine imagery. Nevertheless, the wondrous uniqueness of individual image motifs in the Pericopes is worthy of mention. Alongside the marvelous Maiestas Domini and the wonderful pictures of the four Evangelists, the dedication pictures are especially noteworthy: folios 3r and 3v present verses of praise alongside the depictions of Henry III, which present Henry III as a king, and his mother, the Empress Gisela von Schwaben.
In its unusual form as a splendid “small-format” manuscript, the Echternach Pericopes of Henry III offers an inside glimpse into the world of Echternach illumination during the 11th century!

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