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Abstract

Created in England in the late twelfth century, this manuscript was intended to be a scientific textbook for monks. The manuscript is brief at nine folios, and was designed as a compendium of cosmographical knowledge drawn from early Christian writers such as Bede and Isidore, as well as the later Abbo of Fleury. Those writers, in turn, drew on classical sources such as Pliny the Elder for their knowledge but adapted it to be understood through the filter of Christianity. The twenty complex diagrams that accompany the texts in this pamphlet help illustrate them, and include visualizations of the heavens and earth, seasons, winds, tides, and the zodiac, as well as demonstrations of how these things relate to man. Most of the diagrams are rotae, or wheel-shaped schemata, favored throughout the Middle Ages for the presentation of scientific and cosmological ideas because they organized complex information in a clear, orderly fashion, making this material easier to apprehend, learn, and remember. Moreover, the circle, considered the most perfect shape and a symbol of God, was seen as conveying the cyclical nature of time and the Creation as well as the logic, order, and harmony of the created universe. England is especially notable for the production of illustrated scientific textbooks, with the earliest examples produced during the Carolingian period under the influence of the noted Benedictine scholar Abbo of Fleury, who taught at Ramsey Abbey for two years. Although the grouping of texts and diagrams here is unique, the manuscript is related to other scientific compilations from this era, such as British Library, Royal Ms. 13 A.XI, Cotton Ms. Tiberius E.IV, and Oxford, St. John's College, Ms. 17.

Text Note

Text is a compilation of excerpts from early medieval scientific works, primarily by Bede, Isidore of Seville, and Abbo of Fleury: fol. 1v-2r: De ventis, Isidore, Etymologiae, XIII, xi; fol. 2r-v: De zodiaco circulo, Bede, De natura rerum, XVI; fol. 3r: De ortu solis, from Cui ideo, after Isidore, De natura rerum, XVII, 3; De solis equorum nominibus, pseudo Bede; De solstitio et equinoctio; De duodecim signis, Bede, De natura rerum, XVII; fol. 3v: De cursu et magnitudine solis, Bede, De natura rerum, XIX; De cursu planetarum, Bede, De natura rerum, XII; De stellis, Bede, De natura rerum, XI; De vario effectu siderum, Bede, De natura rerum, XI; De natura et situ lune, Bede, De natura rerum, XX; De eclipsi soli et lune, Bede, De natura rerum, XXII; De cometis, Bede, De natura rerum, XXIV; De aere, Bede, De natura rerum, XXV; De lacteo circulo, Bede, de natura rerum, XVIII; fol. 4r: Ubi non sit et quare, Bede, De natura rerum, XXIII; Denique luna totius zodiaci..., Abbonian text; fol. 4v: De cursu solis et lune; De cursu lunae per signa; De intervallis planetarum, Pliny, Naturalis historia II, xix-xx; Dimensio celestium spatiorum secundum quosdam, cf Isidore, De harmonia et coelesti musica, and Byrhtferth's gloss on Bede, De natura rerum; De absidibus planetarum, cf Pliny, Naturalis historia II, xii and xiii, and Bede, De natura rerum, XIV; fol. 5r: De positione et cursu septem planetarum, cf. Bede, De natura rerum, XII and Pliny, Naturalis historia, II, vi; fol. 5v: Sententia Abbonis de differentia circuli et spere; fol. 6r: Sententia Abbonis de cursu septem planetarum per zodiacum circulum; De ratione bissexti et embolismi; De quinque circulis, Isidore, De natura rerum, X, 1-2; fol. 6v: De quinque zonae caeli; De quinque circulis mundi et subterraneo siderum meatu, Bede, De temporum ratione XXXIV; fol. 7v: De partibus mundi, Isidore, De natura rerum, XI, 1-3; De quattuor temporibus, elementis, humoribus, from anon. iuxta Ysidorum; fol. 8v: De concordia maris et lunae; De aestu oceani, Bede, De natura rerum, XXXIX; fol. 9r: De trimoda ratione temporum et divisionibus corum, cf Isidore, Etymologiae, V, xxxv, 1, Bede, De ratione computi, I, Bede, De divisionibus temporum, I, Bede, De temporum ratione, II; He autem divisiones temporum (with table), cf Bede, de divisionibus temporum, I; fol. 9v: Quomodo ex minoribus temporum divisiones, cf. Bede, De divisionibus temporum I; Quibus modis soleat annus nominari

Hand note

Scholastic book script, of Gothic origin

Decoration Note

Twenty scientific diagrams in total, some containing human and animal components but most designed as non-figural schemata; seventeen circular diagrams formed of concentric bands or divided into sectors, averaging 12.5-13 cm in diameter, on fols. 1r, 1v, 2r, 2v, 3r, 4r, 5r, 6v, 7r, 7v, 8r, 8v, and 9r; group of seven small roundels on fol. 5r measuring 1.5 cm across each; two square-shaped diagrams, one on fol. 5v measuring 13.4x13.8 cm, other on fol. 7v measuring 11x8.3 cm; diagrams drawn in red and dark brown ink with same, as well as green, used to write inscriptions; portions of diagrams filled with red, green, blue or yellow pigment; green and red initials throughout ranging from one to seven lines in height; rubrics in red; text in dark brown ink

Contributors

Principal cataloger: Smith, Kathryn

Cataloger: Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Editor: Noel, William

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Contributor: Bockrath, Diane

Contributor: Emery, Doug

Contributor: Houston, Daniel

Contributor: Kauffman, Nicholas

Contributor: Noel, William

Contributor: Tabritha, Ariel

Contributor: Toth, Michael B.

Conservator: Owen, Linda

Conservator: Quandt, Abigail

Bibliography

De Ricci, Seymour. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935, p. 826, no. 412.


Edson, Evelyn. Mapping Time and Space: How Medieval Mapmakers Viewed Their World. London: British Library, 1997, p. 70.


Bober, Harry. "An Illustrated Medieval School-Book of Bede's 'De Natura Rerum'." Journal of the Walters Art Gallery, 19-20 (1957): pp. 64-97.


Destombes, Marcel. Mappemondes, A.D. 1200-1500: Catalogue préparé par la Commission des cartes anciennes de l'Union géographique internationale. Amsterdam: N. Israel, 1964, pp. 166-167, cat. no. 49.


Howard, Donald. The Idea of the Canterbury Tales. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976, p. 204, fig. 11 (fol. 1v); p. 206, n. 79; pp. 204, 206.


Caviness, Madeline. Images of Divine Order and the Third Mode of Seeing. Gesta 22, no. 2. (1983): pp. 99-120 (does not cite Ms. by number, but refers to Bober article, pp. 104, 117, n. 29).


Eastwood, Bruce S. and Gerd Grasshoff. Planetary Diagrams for Roman Astronomy in Medieval Europe, c. 800-1500. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 94, pt. 3. Philadelphia: American Philosophical , 2004, p. 11 n. 26.


Eastwood, Bruce. Latin Planetary Studies in the IXth and Xth Centuries. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1996, fig. 11 (fol. 5v); p. 221.


Kline, Naomi Reed. Maps of Medieval Thought: The Hereford Paradigm. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2001, pp. 21-23 (fols. 1v, 2r, 8r).


Feltman, Jennifer M. "Inscribing Order: The Didactic Function of The Walters Art Museum Ms. 73." Athanor 25 (2007): pp. 7-16.


The Calendar and the Cloister: A Full Digital Facsimile of the St. John’s Computus, Oxford, St. John's College Ms. 17, with commentary, background essays, and other apparatus and material; http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/ms-17/index.htm.


Cleaver, Laura. "On the Nature of Things: The Content and Purpose of Walters W.73 and Decorated Treatises on Natural Philosophy in the Twelfth Century." Journal of the Walters Art Museum 68-69 (2010-2011): pp. 21-30, figs. 1 (fol. 1v), 4 (fols. 6v-7r).


Gerry, Kathryn. "A Medieval Scientific Book for Monastic Use." In Melanie Holcomb, Pen and Parchment: Drawing in the Middle Ages. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009, pp. 108-110, no. 29.


Bede. 'On the Nature of Things' and 'On Times.' Trans. with introduction, notes, and commentary by Calvin B. Kendall and Faith Wallis, Translated Texts for Historians, vol. 56. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010, pp. 42, 45.


These are pages that we pulled aside that disrupted the flow of the manuscript reader. These may be bindings, inserts, bookmarks, and various other oddities.

Upper board outside

Lower board outside

Spine

Fore-edge

Head

Tail

Keywords
Cosmology
Illustration
Medallion
Science
Astrology
English
England
Chart
Science -- Medicine
Romanesque
Treatise
Christian
12th century

Origin Place

England

Date

Late 12th century CE

Form

book

Binding

Non-original Binding

Binding Description

Bound in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century by Léon Gruel in Paris; brown calf over mill-board, scorched line border, gold fillet on board edges, three gold fillets on turn-ins; title scorched in spine "Cosmographia"

Language

The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Provenance

Created in England, late twelfth century, for monastic use

Gruel and Englemann collection, Paris, no. 131, bookplate inside upper board

Acquired by Henry Walters from Léon Gruel, June 9, 1903

Acquisition

Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest

← search Cosmography W.73

Origin Place

England

Date

Late 12th century CE

Form

book

Language

The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Provenance

Created in England, late twelfth century, for monastic use

Gruel and Englemann collection, Paris, no. 131, bookplate inside upper board

Acquired by Henry Walters from Léon Gruel, June 9, 1903

Acquisition

Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest

Manuscript Overview

Abstract

Created in England in the late twelfth century, this manuscript was intended to be a scientific textbook for monks. The manuscript is brief at nine folios, and was designed as a compendium of cosmographical knowledge drawn from early Christian writers such as Bede and Isidore, as well as the later Abbo of Fleury. Those writers, in turn, drew on classical sources such as Pliny the Elder for their knowledge but adapted it to be understood through the filter of Christianity. The twenty complex diagrams that accompany the texts in this pamphlet help illustrate them, and include visualizations of the heavens and earth, seasons, winds, tides, and the zodiac, as well as demonstrations of how these things relate to man. Most of the diagrams are rotae, or wheel-shaped schemata, favored throughout the Middle Ages for the presentation of scientific and cosmological ideas because they organized complex information in a clear, orderly fashion, making this material easier to apprehend, learn, and remember. Moreover, the circle, considered the most perfect shape and a symbol of God, was seen as conveying the cyclical nature of time and the Creation as well as the logic, order, and harmony of the created universe. England is especially notable for the production of illustrated scientific textbooks, with the earliest examples produced during the Carolingian period under the influence of the noted Benedictine scholar Abbo of Fleury, who taught at Ramsey Abbey for two years. Although the grouping of texts and diagrams here is unique, the manuscript is related to other scientific compilations from this era, such as British Library, Royal Ms. 13 A.XI, Cotton Ms. Tiberius E.IV, and Oxford, St. John's College, Ms. 17.

Text Note

Text is a compilation of excerpts from early medieval scientific works, primarily by Bede, Isidore of Seville, and Abbo of Fleury: fol. 1v-2r: De ventis, Isidore, Etymologiae, XIII, xi; fol. 2r-v: De zodiaco circulo, Bede, De natura rerum, XVI; fol. 3r: De ortu solis, from Cui ideo, after Isidore, De natura rerum, XVII, 3; De solis equorum nominibus, pseudo Bede; De solstitio et equinoctio; De duodecim signis, Bede, De natura rerum, XVII; fol. 3v: De cursu et magnitudine solis, Bede, De natura rerum, XIX; De cursu planetarum, Bede, De natura rerum, XII; De stellis, Bede, De natura rerum, XI; De vario effectu siderum, Bede, De natura rerum, XI; De natura et situ lune, Bede, De natura rerum, XX; De eclipsi soli et lune, Bede, De natura rerum, XXII; De cometis, Bede, De natura rerum, XXIV; De aere, Bede, De natura rerum, XXV; De lacteo circulo, Bede, de natura rerum, XVIII; fol. 4r: Ubi non sit et quare, Bede, De natura rerum, XXIII; Denique luna totius zodiaci..., Abbonian text; fol. 4v: De cursu solis et lune; De cursu lunae per signa; De intervallis planetarum, Pliny, Naturalis historia II, xix-xx; Dimensio celestium spatiorum secundum quosdam, cf Isidore, De harmonia et coelesti musica, and Byrhtferth's gloss on Bede, De natura rerum; De absidibus planetarum, cf Pliny, Naturalis historia II, xii and xiii, and Bede, De natura rerum, XIV; fol. 5r: De positione et cursu septem planetarum, cf. Bede, De natura rerum, XII and Pliny, Naturalis historia, II, vi; fol. 5v: Sententia Abbonis de differentia circuli et spere; fol. 6r: Sententia Abbonis de cursu septem planetarum per zodiacum circulum; De ratione bissexti et embolismi; De quinque circulis, Isidore, De natura rerum, X, 1-2; fol. 6v: De quinque zonae caeli; De quinque circulis mundi et subterraneo siderum meatu, Bede, De temporum ratione XXXIV; fol. 7v: De partibus mundi, Isidore, De natura rerum, XI, 1-3; De quattuor temporibus, elementis, humoribus, from anon. iuxta Ysidorum; fol. 8v: De concordia maris et lunae; De aestu oceani, Bede, De natura rerum, XXXIX; fol. 9r: De trimoda ratione temporum et divisionibus corum, cf Isidore, Etymologiae, V, xxxv, 1, Bede, De ratione computi, I, Bede, De divisionibus temporum, I, Bede, De temporum ratione, II; He autem divisiones temporum (with table), cf Bede, de divisionibus temporum, I; fol. 9v: Quomodo ex minoribus temporum divisiones, cf. Bede, De divisionibus temporum I; Quibus modis soleat annus nominari

Hand note

Scholastic book script, of Gothic origin

Decoration Note

Twenty scientific diagrams in total, some containing human and animal components but most designed as non-figural schemata; seventeen circular diagrams formed of concentric bands or divided into sectors, averaging 12.5-13 cm in diameter, on fols. 1r, 1v, 2r, 2v, 3r, 4r, 5r, 6v, 7r, 7v, 8r, 8v, and 9r; group of seven small roundels on fol. 5r measuring 1.5 cm across each; two square-shaped diagrams, one on fol. 5v measuring 13.4x13.8 cm, other on fol. 7v measuring 11x8.3 cm; diagrams drawn in red and dark brown ink with same, as well as green, used to write inscriptions; portions of diagrams filled with red, green, blue or yellow pigment; green and red initials throughout ranging from one to seven lines in height; rubrics in red; text in dark brown ink

References

Contributors

Principal cataloger: Smith, Kathryn

Cataloger: Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Editor: Noel, William

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Contributor: Bockrath, Diane

Contributor: Emery, Doug

Contributor: Houston, Daniel

Contributor: Kauffman, Nicholas

Contributor: Noel, William

Contributor: Tabritha, Ariel

Contributor: Toth, Michael B.

Conservator: Owen, Linda

Conservator: Quandt, Abigail

Bibliography

De Ricci, Seymour. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935, p. 826, no. 412.


Edson, Evelyn. Mapping Time and Space: How Medieval Mapmakers Viewed Their World. London: British Library, 1997, p. 70.


Bober, Harry. "An Illustrated Medieval School-Book of Bede's 'De Natura Rerum'." Journal of the Walters Art Gallery, 19-20 (1957): pp. 64-97.


Destombes, Marcel. Mappemondes, A.D. 1200-1500: Catalogue préparé par la Commission des cartes anciennes de l'Union géographique internationale. Amsterdam: N. Israel, 1964, pp. 166-167, cat. no. 49.


Howard, Donald. The Idea of the Canterbury Tales. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976, p. 204, fig. 11 (fol. 1v); p. 206, n. 79; pp. 204, 206.


Caviness, Madeline. Images of Divine Order and the Third Mode of Seeing. Gesta 22, no. 2. (1983): pp. 99-120 (does not cite Ms. by number, but refers to Bober article, pp. 104, 117, n. 29).


Eastwood, Bruce S. and Gerd Grasshoff. Planetary Diagrams for Roman Astronomy in Medieval Europe, c. 800-1500. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 94, pt. 3. Philadelphia: American Philosophical , 2004, p. 11 n. 26.


Eastwood, Bruce. Latin Planetary Studies in the IXth and Xth Centuries. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1996, fig. 11 (fol. 5v); p. 221.


Kline, Naomi Reed. Maps of Medieval Thought: The Hereford Paradigm. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2001, pp. 21-23 (fols. 1v, 2r, 8r).


Feltman, Jennifer M. "Inscribing Order: The Didactic Function of The Walters Art Museum Ms. 73." Athanor 25 (2007): pp. 7-16.


The Calendar and the Cloister: A Full Digital Facsimile of the St. John’s Computus, Oxford, St. John's College Ms. 17, with commentary, background essays, and other apparatus and material; http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/ms-17/index.htm.


Cleaver, Laura. "On the Nature of Things: The Content and Purpose of Walters W.73 and Decorated Treatises on Natural Philosophy in the Twelfth Century." Journal of the Walters Art Museum 68-69 (2010-2011): pp. 21-30, figs. 1 (fol. 1v), 4 (fols. 6v-7r).


Gerry, Kathryn. "A Medieval Scientific Book for Monastic Use." In Melanie Holcomb, Pen and Parchment: Drawing in the Middle Ages. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009, pp. 108-110, no. 29.


Bede. 'On the Nature of Things' and 'On Times.' Trans. with introduction, notes, and commentary by Calvin B. Kendall and Faith Wallis, Translated Texts for Historians, vol. 56. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010, pp. 42, 45.


Bindings & Oddities

These are pages that we pulled aside that disrupted the flow of the manuscript reader. These may be bindings, inserts, bookmarks, and various other oddities.

Upper board outside

Lower board outside

Spine

Fore-edge

Head

Tail

Keywords
Cosmology
Illustration
Medallion
Science
Astrology
English
England
Chart
Science -- Medicine
Romanesque
Treatise
Christian
12th century
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