Saturday, May 14, 2011

Illuminated Manuscript, De Rectoribus Christianis, Decorated Initial, Walters Art Museum, Ms W.12, fol. 9v

Created in the mid-twelfth century in Germany, this manuscript contains the much earlier writings of the Irish scholar Sedulius Scotus. Writing in the mid-ninth century at St. Lambert in Liege, Scotus famously penned this treatise on the duties and ideals of the Christian king or prince, and it is the earliest version of a genre that would become popular in the later medieval and Renaissance periods, often known as "Mirrors for Princes." This manuscript is the second oldest copy of Scotus' treatise known, the earliest being the ninth century Bremen Stadtbibliothek C. 36. The text is virtually complete, missing only its first and last folios, and is written in a clear Romanesque Caroline script. The nine inhabited initials, which include dragons and cranes, as well as the seven foliate initials have been left unfinished.