Millstatt Genesis and Physiologus

Manuscript 6/19 - Kärntner Landesarchiv (Klangenfurt, Austria)

Alternate Titles:

Die Millstätter Genesis- und Physiologus-Handschrift

Facsimile edition
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Alternate Titles

Die Millstätter Genesis- und Physiologus-Handschrift

Extent / Format

344 pages / 20.0 x 13.0 cm

12th century

Short description

The Millstätter Genesis- und Physiologus is an illuminated manuscript of great worth to art historians, bible historians, and linguists. It is the first truly illuminated manuscript to be written in German, and the contents of which are just as important as its adornment. This work is an asset to Bible historians interested in the Creation series due to its full Genesis cycle, and features the kind of artwork one would typically find in bestiaries.

Facsimile editions available


The Oldest Illuminated Manuscript in German

The Millstätter Genesis- und Physiologus manuscript is a monochrome facsimile of the well-known Carinthian manuscript in Middle High German. It is the earliest example of a richly illustrated codex in German. The codex is of literary and philological interest for its early Middle High German texts, including most importantly Genesis, Exodus, Physiologus, "Of Rights", and "Nuptials". The illustrations have received art historical attention for preserving a pictorial recension of Genesis, occurring most importantly in Cotton Genesis fragments in the British Museum, in a mosaic cupola at St. Mark’s in Venice, and in the Genesis frontispieces of the Carolingian bibles created at Tours.

A Tool of Bible Historians

Studies of these works have dealt principally with the Creation series; this publication greatly facilitates research on the full Genesis cycle, as well as the treatment of the Physiologus text and illustrations in relation to the Latin and Greek texts that gave rise to the 12th-century bestiary manuscripts, the iconography of which recurs here. The facsimile’s companion volume is not a full study but a paperbound description and good summary of literature on the manuscript, with full bibliography and eight color plates.

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