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Article

Dorothy Verkerk

Illuminated manuscript of the first five books of the Old Testament (now incomplete), dating from the late 6th or early 7th century (Paris, Bib.N., MS. nouv. acq. lat. 2334) and named after the English collector Bertram Ashburnham. Also known as the Pentateuch of Tours, the Ashburnham Pentateuch is one of the oldest surviving pre-Carolingian Vulgate manuscripts of the Old Testament. In its present condition, it lacks the last verses of Numbers and all of Deuteronomy; while 18 pages of illustration and 1 frontispiece survive from the original 65 pages with illustrations. The illustrated pages comprise several scenes generally arranged in two or three bands, although some pages have one or two large scenes, others combine illustration and text. Painted ...

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time....

Article

Adam S. Cohen and Shirin Fozi

Illuminated manuscript (292 × 225 mm; London, BL, Add. MS. 49598) containing liturgical prayers recited by the bishop, produced in Winchester between ad 971 and 984 for Aethelwold, Bishop of Winchester, a leader of Anglo-Saxon monastic reform. It is a sumptuous work, with 28 full-page miniatures (another 15 have been lost) and 2 historiated initials lavishly executed in gold and vibrant colours (...

Article

Carmela Vircillo Franklin

German historian of antiquity and the Middle Ages, active also in Italy and America. Bloch was trained at the University of Berlin under the historian of ancient Greece Werner Jaeger, art historian Gerhart Rodenwaldt and medievalist Erich Caspar from 1930 until 1933, when the rise of National Socialism convinced him to move to Rome. There he received his ...

Article

Katherine Forsyth

Illuminated Gospel book (Cambridge, U. Lib., MS. Ii.6.32) made in the 10th Century. This is the oldest extant Gospel book with a securely Scottish provenance. Housed since 1715 in Cambridge University Library, it belonged in the early 12th century to the monastery of Deer, Aberdeenshire, as shown by a series of property grants recorded in its margins. These notes constitute, by some three centuries, the oldest surviving documents in Scottish Gaelic. The Book is a small-format, abbreviated Gospels intended for personal devotion and intimate pastoral use. As such it is an exceptional survival from the period. It contains the complete Latin text of John’s Gospel, and the beginnings of the other three. At an early date the text of a communion service for the sick and dying was inserted on a separate leaf. The Book was produced ...

Article

In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ...

Article

Roman statesman, monk and writer. He was a relation of the philosopher Boethius (c. 480–525) and was born into a leading south Italian family of landowners and civil servants. His rhetorical talents commended him to Theoderic the Great, the Ostrogothic ruler of Italy (...

Article

Bernard Meehan

Irish Psalter (Dublin, Royal Irish Acad., MS. 12.R.33) that can be dated to c. ad 600 and is perhaps the earliest surviving Irish manuscript. It was traditionally believed to have been written by St Colum Cille (St Columba; d 597). As the chief relic of the O’Donnell family, the Cathach (‘battler’) and its shrine (Dublin, N. Mus.) were carried into battle to ensure victory. According to a late medieval tradition, the Cathach is identified as the copy, made at night by St Colum Cille, of a Psalter lent to him by St Finnian. When a dispute arose over the ownership of the copy, King Diarmait Mac Cerbhail stated, ‘To every cow her calf, to every book its copy’, a judgement frequently cited as an early example of copyright law....

Article

Adam S. Cohen

Oldest extant complete Vulgate Bible (505×340 mm; Florence, Bib. Medicea–Laurenziana, MS. Amiatinus 1), produced in Monkwearmouth–Jarrow, Northumbria, around ad 700 at the behest of Abbot Ceolfrid. The Codex Amiatinus is notable for its immense dimensions and size; its 1030 folios likely required over 1500 calves to produce enough parchment. More remarkably, there were three such pandects (single-volume Bibles), one each for the monasteries at Monkwearmouth and Jarrow (only fragments survive), while the Codex Amiatinus was destined for the papacy in Rome (Ceolfrid died on the journey in 716). The script imitates Italian uncial and was based on an exemplar of the 6th century. Bede reports that Benedict Biscop, founder of the double monastery, and Ceolfrid travelled to Italy and returned with books; one was almost certainly Cassiodorus’s Codex Grandior, a 6th-century pandect from Vivarium, now lost. The relationship of the illustrations in the Codex Amiatinus to the Codex Grandior has long been debated. Some of the contents and certainly the style of illustration in the Codex Amiatinus, above all the portrait of ...

Article

Einhard  

D. A. Bullough

German patron, writer, and possibly metalworker. He married Emma, sister of Bernharius, Bishop of Worms, and they possibly had a son, Hussin. He received his early education at Fulda Abbey, where he wrote documents between 788 and 791, although he was not ordained or professed as a monk. He then moved to the court at Aachen, which had recently been established, to continue his studies under Alcuin (...

Article

Stephen T. Driscoll

Scottish royal centre in Perthshire, which reached its zenith in the late Pictish period (8th–9th centuries ad) and is the source of an assemblage of high quality ecclesiastical sculpture. Occupying the fertile heart of Strathearn, Forteviot has been more or less in continuous use as a ceremonial centre since the 3rd millennium ...

Article

Chiara Stefani

Italian saint, pope, and writer. Born into a noble family, he received a broad cultural education that was later enriched by biblical and patristic studies. His activities as pope also indicate that he had a good grounding in law. After serving as Prefect of Rome (573), he retired from the world, devoting his wealth to the relief of poverty and the foundation of monasteries, one of which, St Andrew’s in Rome, he entered as a monk; but ...

Article

May Vieillard-Troïekouroff

Gallo-Roman saint, bishop, and writer. He was appointed Bishop of Tours in ad 573. He came from a distinguished family that played a pre-eminent role in Gaul. His writings, the History of the Franks and books of miracles of the saints, provide reliable evidence of 6th-century buildings and monuments, documenting, for example, the existence of 408 sanctuaries. A sanctuary would be built over the tomb of a saint at the same time that a bishop, in an attempt to institute a cult in that saint’s honour, commissioned a life of the saint. As Gregory often had to decide questions concerning the construction or decoration of churches he must have looked closely at the buildings he visited. His accounts of Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral, St Martin, Tours, and Old St Peter’s, Rome, with their measurements and details of the number of columns and windows, recall the dry listings of the ...

Article

Guanxiu  

Joan Stanley-Baker

Chinese painter, calligrapher, poet and Buddhist monk. During the reign (ad 901–3) of the Tang emperor Zhaozong (reg ad 888–904), he visited Sichuan Province and was honoured by the King of Shu, who bestowed on him the title of Master. At that time, Daoism and Buddhism flourished in Sichuan, prompting many temple-building projects and giving an unprecedented impetus to the liturgical arts and figurative painting. Of the 50 or more painters recorded as then working in Sichuan, most were producing Daoist and Buddhist figure paintings....

Article

Roger Goepper

Chinese calligrapher, theorist and scholar–official. The only reliable source about his life is a memorial text by his friend, the poet Chen Zi’ang (ad 656–95), which reports that Sun lived in poor circumstances and died young. It is known that he served in minor positions at the court of the Tang empress Wu (...

Article

Xie He  

Keith Pratt

Chinese painter and writer . A portrait painter at the court of the Southern Qi dynasty in Nanjing, he is renowned as the author of the earliest extant Chinese text on the theory of painting and one of the most influential. His work Gu huapin lu...

Article

Kukai  

Japanese, 8th – 9th century, male.

Born 774, in Boyobugaura; died 22 April 835.

Painter, calligrapher, poet.

Kukai was a priest and founder of Shingon (‘true word’) esoteric Buddhism in Japan. He is best known as Kobo Daishi (‘propagator of the Dharma’), his posthumous name. He founded temples in Nara on Mount Koya and the Toji temple complex outside Kyoto. After a lengthy visit to China, Kukai brought back techniques that were to have an important influence on the birth of Japanese art....

Article

Constanze M. Schummer

(b Pavia, c. ad 920; d c. 970–73). Frankish historian, diplomat and Bishop of Cremona. His two unusually informative accounts of missions to Constantinople are of great art-historical interest. The Antapodosis (Book of Revenge) enthusiastically describes the union of art, culture and ceremonial he observed on a visit to the court of Constantine VII in 949, introducing Western readers to Byzantine self-representation. The ...

Article

Saint, scholar, teacher, and Archbishop of Mainz. He joined the abbey at Fulda before 801, when he was made a deacon. After studying with Alcuin (735–804) at Tours he returned to the Fulda to run the abbey school. In 822 he was promoted to abbot, and in this capacity he was credited with overseeing the decoration of the abbey and directing other building projects. He resigned from his post in 842 and was appointed Archbishop of Mainz in 847....

Article

Judith K. Golden

French illuminated manuscript (London, BL, Add. MS. 10546) made in Tours in the 9th century. After being appointed abbot of St Martin’s abbey in Tours in ad 796, Alcuin undertook the writing of a new edition of the Bible, beginning a tradition of large-format, single volume Bibles produced at Tours (...