Manuscripts for travelers

Une des sessions de la 43rd Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies, qui aura lieu à la Vatican Film Library, Saint Louis University (St. Louis, Missouri) les 14-15 Octobre 2016 prochains, portera sur “Manuscripts for travelers”.

Elle comportera les trois interventions suivantes (avec leur résumé) :

  • Travelling Books in Byzantium: Is Size All that Matters?
    Barbara Crostini (Uppsala University)
  • In this paper, I would like to assess the criteria that lead scholars to state whether a certain book was destined to travel with its owner and indeed was originally created for such a purpose. Size is often the most striking factor in determining such judgments: but is a diminutive size the only, or even the most relevant, criterion for such retrospective assessments? My presentation will discuss one specific and I think very interesting case of a small Greek psalter, MS Bodleian Library, E.D. Clarke 15. In a recent article, Marc Lauxtermann has evaluated this psalter’s epigrams as witnesses to a spiritual journeying in terms that, he argues, match the travelling nature of this production, borne out of its small size. However ingenious this hypothesis sounds, the luxury quality of the manuscript, that emerges from many other characteristics, begs the question of whether size could alone account for such a use, and whether the metaphorical terms of the poems it contains must be related to physical journeying also. In examining this case, I will research a context for evaluating such conclusions from paleographical and codicological data in Greek manuscripts.

  • A Program of Dragons in a Travel Manuscript: Bodley MS 264
    Paul Acker (Saint Louis University)
  • The claim that medieval maps wrote “Here Be Dragons” in their margins has been debunked or at least demoted; one known globe and its twin contain the Latin inscription “Hic sunt dracones,” with no accompanying images. The Borgia map from about 1430 depicts a dragon in India with these words written beneath it: “Hic … sunt etiam serpentes tante magnitudinis, ut unum bovem comedant integrum” (Here there are also serpents [or dragons] so huge that they eat an ox whole). Other medieval maps depict monstrous races (such as dog-headed men and cyclopes) and sea monsters in various places, but only the occasional dragon. The thirteenth-century Ebstorf Map depicts many of the monstrous races and (in Africa) many of the creatures classed in bestiaries as serpentes, including Draco, with bestiary text written in the margin.

    In my own search for and research about dragons in the Middle Ages, I have found one codex that is particular dragon-rich: Oxford, Bodley MS 264. It is a deluxe manuscript that preserves two travel accounts: one concerning Alexander the Great, and the other by Marco Polo. The texts describe the dragons encountered by Alexander in India and Marco Polo in China; the latter extends the Wonders of the East tradition from one locale to the other. Marco Polo describes decorative dragons he saw in the palaces of Kubla Khan; these represent the first account of Chinese “dragons,” which were immediately subsumed under western conceptions of the composite monster.

    Artists added many miniatures of dragons in Bodley 614, illustrating Alexander’s dream of conquest; his several combats with dragons in India; and fiery dragons that cause thunder and lightning among the clouds. In the Marco Polo account, a miniature depicts the “monstrous races” of the east, including cyclops and dog-headed people, one of whom is striking a dragon with a club. The dragon represents and is a kind of shorthand for the sort of creature one might expect to see in a foreign land populated with such strange humans. Dragons continue to play a role in other levels of the manuscript’s decoration, including historiated initials. A Mongol with a scimitar strikes a dragon; a peasant woman wields her distaff against a husband trying to escape from a dragon in the border. Dragons also help make up the letters themselves, such as two opposing, dog-headed dragons who meet to form the letter M. Finally, hybrid dragons disport themselves in the margins. One has the head of a bearded man and strains against a leash held by a pale, naked man while they hunt down a rabbit. In this way the activities and landscapes of medieval French and English “armchair travelers” hybridize with and domesticate the distant and exotic settings of the primary texts.

  • Mapping Ducal Devotions: Pilgrim Badges in the Prayer Books of Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy
    Megan Foster-Campbell (Illinois Central College)
  • In the late Middle Ages, pilgrims travelling to popular holy shrines often purchased small, inexpensive metal badges to commemorate their visit. While these souvenirs were frequently worn on one’s clothing, hat, or bag, pilgrims began sewing the badges into the pages of their private prayer books by the second half of the fifteenth century. Although the owners of badge-filled books often remain anonymous, some patrons are known. Among these is the fifteenth-century Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy, whose large territorial holdings resulted in Philip living peripatetically for decades. This presentation examines traces of now-lost pilgrim souvenirs in three of the duke’s favored devotional manuscripts. I connect legible pilgrim badge offsets on manuscript folios with pilgrimage shrines visited by Philip the Good, based on the duke’s documented travel itineraries. While many of these destinations exemplify Philip’s strong personal devotions, I also explore how several of the duke’s pilgrimage destinations reflected underlying secular concerns in defining and maintaining newly acquired lands of the Burgundian duchy.

Le programme complet du colloque peut être consulter ici.

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