Hitda Codex

Cod 1640 - Hessische Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek (Darmstadt, Germany)

Alternate Titles:

Hitda-Evangeliar, Darmstädter Hitda-Codex, Evangeliar der Hitda von Meschede

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Hitda-Evangeliar
Darmstädter Hitda-Codex
Evangeliar der Hitda von Meschede

Type
Extent / Format

219 pages / 29.0 x 21.8 cm

Origin
Date
Around 1000
Style
Genre
Content

Contains an evangeliary, a selection of passages from the Gospels. The Hitda Codex is the only surviving series of illuminations of the Cologne school of this period exhibiting the Life of Christ.

Language
Patron

Gero (c. 900 - 29 June 976), archbishop of Cologne or Hitda, abbess of Meschede

Illustrations

58 decorated and miniature pages

Short description

The so-called Hitda Codex is considered to be one of the gems of medieval Ottonian illumination. Probably originating from Cologne ca. 1000, the manuscript is directly tied to the noble cloister of St. Walburga in Meschede. The splendid codex was commissioned by Abbess Hitda, who was immortalized in the dedication picture. Additionally, the name of Archbishop Gero of Cologne has also been found in research as an additional possible patron of the manuscript. The manuscript’s 58 miniatures of biblical scenes with their exceptional style make the codex something special!

Facsimile editions available

Description

Hitda Codex

The so-called Hitda Codex is considered to be one of the gems of medieval Ottonian illumination. Probably originating from Cologne ca. 1000, the manuscript is directly tied to the noble cloister of St. Walburga in Meschede. The splendid codex was commissioned by Abbess Hitda, who was immortalized in the dedication picture. Additionally, the name of Archbishop Gero of Cologne has also been found in research as an additional possible patron of the manuscript. The manuscript’s 58 miniatures of biblical scenes with their exceptional style make the codex something special!

The Noble Abbess or the Archbishop?

The Hitda Codex is an exciting work of illumination from Cologne ca. 1000. Today, the codex is named after one of its possible commissioners: the Abbess Hitda von Meschede. She was likely a person of high rank, possibly from the family of the counts of Werl. As abbess, she presided over the St. Walburga Cloister in Meschede, a noble nunnery during the Carolingian period. The precious manuscript could have been a valuable present to the cloister, because a directory of their numerous donations was recorded in the handbook – albeit later. Among the items listed there are a splendid gold cross and a valuable statue of the Virgin Mary.

Hitda, the Mother of Gero

Another famous name, which can probably be brought into connection with the manuscript as a patron, is Gero. This Gero (ca. 900-976) was the Archbishop of Cologne and is famous as the donor of the famous Giro Codex. The Hitda Codex could have been one of this costly commissions, in order to fulfill the legacy of his mother who died in Jerusalem ca. 969/70.

Stylistically Excellent Painting

The evangeliary is illustrated with large-format biblical scenes. These scene are presented on 58 image pages with generous use of gold leaf. Broad, colorful frames surround the central depictions with large figures in the center. Nevertheless, it is the expressive design vocabulary and remarkable coloring that makes these miniatures special. A depiction showing the namesake Hitda can be seen in the dedication picture, as she dedicates the evangeliary to Saint. Walburga. Similarly, the famous miniature of Calming the Storm has developed into an icon due to its unbelievable expressiveness.

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