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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 tituli that follow the Vulgate accompany the miniatures; however, beneath the painted titutli are preliminary inscriptions penned in ink that follow the Vetus latina text.

Based upon stylistic, iconographical and codicological evidence, the Pentateuch appears to have been made in a late 6th- to early 7th-century Italian scriptorium. Twelve pages were added in the 8th century by scribes from Fleury; an additional restored page (fol. 33) was added in the 7th century by a Touronian scribe. The illustrations often deviate from the exact retelling of the biblical text. The column of smoke and fire, for example, in the story of the Crossing of the Red Sea is depicted as a large candle held in two hands, a reference to Easter Vigil liturgical ceremonies (fol. 68...


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.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....


Adam S. Cohen

revised by 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 (see Initial, manuscript). The decoration includes the finest examples of Winchester school borders, consisting of acanthus designs that fill the frame and shoot forth from the corner medallions. An inscription describes the manufacture of the book by the scribe Godeman and refers specifically to the ‘many frames well adorned’. The figural style, like the decorative and iconographic elements, is derived primarily from Carolingian models and is consistent with contemporaneous Anglo-Saxon art; what distinguishes the manuscript is its extremely luxurious illuminations and the complexity of its iconographic programme....


Carmela Vircillo Franklin

(b Berlin, Aug 18, 1911; d Cambridge, MA, Sept 6, 2006).

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 tesi di laurea in ancient history in 1935 and his diploma di perfezionamento in 1937. He then participated in the excavations at Ostia, Rome’s ancient port, which was an important site in the revival of Italian archaeology under Fascism. At the outbreak of World War II, he immigrated to the USA, and began his teaching career in 1941 at Harvard University’s Department of Classics, where he remained until his retirement in 1982. His experience of totalitarianism shaped both his personal and professional beliefs.

Bloch applied a deep knowledge of epigraphy, history and material culture, art history, literary and archival sources to his research and he had a propensity for uncovering the significance of new or neglected evidence. One such area was Roman history. His first publications, on ancient Rome’s brick stamps (many of which he discovered ...


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 c. 900 in a Gaelic-speaking milieu at an unknown location, possibly in north-east Scotland, perhaps at Deer itself. The scribe appears also to have been the artist. Despite its small size, the Book follows many of the conventions of Insular book art and is comparatively heavily illuminated. Its programme consists of ‘three cruciform pages, five Gospel incipits with decorated initials, five full-folio and one half-folio figurative miniatures, and a variety of marginalia’ which relate to points of significance in the text (Henderson ...


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 ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...


(c. ad 485–580).

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 (reg 493–526); he served as consul in 514 and was intermittently a prominent minister and propagandist of successive Ostrogothic rulers. He was a friend of the scholar–monk Dionysius Exiguus (fl 520) and, with Pope Agapetus I (reg 535–6), planned a Christian university at Rome. Following the Byzantine reconquest of Italy in 542, he moved to Constantinople. He returned to Italy c. 552 to live a religious life in the monastery of Vivarium, which he founded on his Calabrian estates. His numerous writings include a collection of state documents, the Variae, which reveal much about the culture and values of the Ostrogothic regime and about Rome’s public monuments, buildings and conservation under it. His ...


Bernard Meehan

[Psalter of St Columba]

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.

The Cathach is incomplete at its beginning and end. From an original size of around 110 folios, it now has 58 folios, with a text running consecutively from Psalms 30.10–105.13. The script used is an early version of Irish majuscule. There are rubrics (in red ink) and enlarged initial words for each psalm, normally written using the technique of diminuendo (where the letters are written in diminishing size until they reach the size of the text block), and often surrounded with red dots. A variety of trumpet spiral, cross, fish and other decorative devices is employed. All of the surviving leaves have suffered damage through contact with the shrine, the hinged wooden box, covered with ornamental gilded silver and bronze plates from varying dates, in which it was encased late in the 11th century....


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 ...



D. A. Bullough

[Eginhard; Einhart]

(b c. ad 770; d 837).

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 (c. 735–804) and others. His most notable product was the Life of his patron Charlemagne, written in the late 820s. It was after Charlemagne had died that his son Louis the Pious elevated Einhard to the post of private secretary. It was in this post and under Louis’s patronage that he wrote the Vita Karoli Magni, which is still one of the principal sources for much of our knowledge of Charlemagne. Contemporaries recorded his small stature and lively conduct, and his nickname Be(se)leel, after Bezaleel, the worker in precious metals in Exodus 31:2–5....


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 bc and is the focus of élite burials from the Early Bronze Age (c. 1900 bc) through to the Pictish era. Cinead mac Alpín (Kenneth mac Alpine), the king traditionally identified with the foundation of the Gaelic kingdom of the Scots, died at the palacium (palace) of Forteviot in ad 858. It was eclipsed as a royal centre by Scone in ad 906, but remained a significant royal estate until the 13th century.

The only surviving fabric of the palace is a unique monolithic arch, presumably a chancel arch, carved with three moustached Picts in classical dress flanking a crucifix (now in the Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh). Fragments of at least four additional sandstone crosses indicate the presence of a major church, perhaps a monastery. The celebrated Dupplin Cross (now in Dunning Church) originally overlooked Forteviot from the north. This monolithic, free-standing cross (2.5 m tall) bears a Latin inscription naming Constantine son of Fergus, King of the Picts (...


Chiara Stefani

[the Great]

(b Rome, c. 540; elected 590; d March 12, 604; fd 3 Sept).

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 c. 578 Pelagius II sent him to Constantinople as nuncio to Emperor Tiberios II (reg 578–82). After his return, six years later, he served as abbot at St Andrew’s until his election to the papacy.

As pope he fervently believed in his mission to support the Church and devoted himself to improving the secular and religious situation in Rome, as well as throughout Europe. He made peace with the Lombards (592–3) and converted them from Arianism. He was unswerving in his aim of eliminating abuses and violence within the Church. He defended the Jews’ right to worship and in 597 sent St Augustine, later first Archbishop of Canterbury (...


May Vieillard-Troïekouroff

(b Clermont-Ferrand, 30 Nov ad 538; d Tours, Nov 17, 594; fd 17 Nov).

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 Liber pontificalis and differ markedly from the poetic descriptions of his friend Venantius Fortunatus. The sanctuaries Gregory mentioned, including St Symphorien, Autun, and the cathedrals of Lyon and Chalon-sur-Saône, must have been comparable to the contemporary Roman basilicas of S Maria Maggiore and S Sabina, with their colonnades, inlaid marbles, and mosaics or paintings representing scenes from the Old and New Testaments. There were also sanctuaries with centralized plans, as at La Daurade, Toulouse, and with oval plans as at St Gereon, Cologne, where ‘admirable mosaic work makes it shine as if it were truly made of gold, so that the residents have called it the House of the Golden Saints’. The Christian monuments of his day seemed to Gregory grander and more beautiful than those they replaced....



Joan Stanley-Baker

[Kuan-hsiu; original family name Jiang; zi Deyin; hao Chanyue

(b Lanxi, Zhejiang Province, ad 832; d Chengdu, Sichuan Province, 912).

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.

According to contemporary sources, Guanxiu deviated from current fashions in depicting the Buddhist luohan (Skt arhats; enlightened beings) in his paintings with Tatar features and Indian faces. Like those of his predecessor, Yan Liben, these ascetics had long, trailing eyebrows, enormous, deep-set eyes, huge ears and bulbous noses. Guanxiu said that his inspiration ‘came from dreams’. Although he is said to have used only ink wash, his dexterity in that medium produced the effect of a full-colour spectrum. He reputedly sat in meditation in a room perfumed by incense and, when a genuine vision of the Buddha came to him, leapt up and rapidly depicted two or three ...


Roger Goepper

[Sun Kuo-t’ing; zi Qianli]

(fl c. ad 687).

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 (reg ad 684–705). His Treatise on Calligraphy (Shupu) was the first systematic text on the art of Chinese calligraphy. Its preface survives as a copy, probably executed hastily by Sun from his original, consisting of 351 lines of cursive script (caoshu) in handscroll format (ad 687; Taipei, N. Pal. Mus.). The preface establishes grades of artistic rank to which calligraphers are appointed and places Wang Xizhi (see Wang family, §1) at the peak of a tradition originating in the 4th century ad. Sun treats the relationship between artistic form and expressive content, emphasizing the personality of the artist and establishing calligraphy as a creative activity. He discusses the advantages of different calligraphic styles and makes critical remarks about famous works. He also formulates four basic technical modes of calligraphy (...


Xie He  

Keith Pratt

[ Hsieh Ho ]

( fl c. 500–535 ad ).

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 (‘Classification of painters’) comprises an essay on the principles of art and a classification of 27 earlier painters into six categories. The former contains his famous ‘Six Laws’ (...


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 Legatio (Embassy) chronicled his failed mission for Emperor Otto I to Nicephorus II Phocas in 968, and mirrored the diplomatic difficulties between the two emperors as well as depicting the more sober atmosphere of Nicephoran Constantinople. In this work Liudprand fiercely attacked anything Byzantine, repeating old prejudices against the ‘treacherous and effeminate’ Greeks and emphasizing religious differences.

Although emotional and egocentric, these two accounts use accurately observed detail to justify their contradictory verdicts upon Byzantine culture. Antapodosis VI.5 is famous for its description of the mechanized artefacts of the imperial ...


(b Mainz, c. 780; d Winkel, Feb 4, 856).

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.

Rabanus wrote extensively, drawing heavily on the work of earlier writers in the creation of his own texts. In addition to his sermons, biblical commentaries, and encyclopaedic work (De rerum naturis or De universo), he produced treatises on subjects including computation (De computo), grammar (Excerptio de arte grammatica), and magic (De magicis artibus). Rabanus incorporated visual imagery and diagrams into some of his works. Most famously, he drew on a tradition of ...


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 (see Tours §2, (i)). Among the earliest of the illuminated Bibles, the Moutier-Grandval Bible likely was produced during the abbacy of Adalhard (834–43) and is named for the abbey in the Jura that had possession of the Bible in the 9th century. Like the other Tours Bibles, it is a single volume, comprising 449 folios, with the text in two columns of 50–52 lines, on folios measuring 510×375mm, requiring over 200 sheepskins with 24 scribes writing in 3 different styles.

Written in Latin, Moutier-Grandval has four full-page miniatures with tituli: the Genesis frontispiece illustrating eight events from the life of Adam and Eve from the creation of Adam, to life after the Fall (fol. 5...


Du Mu  

Haiyao Zheng

[Tu Mu; zi Muzhi

(b Chang’an [modern Xi’an], 803; d ?852).

Chinese poet and calligrapher. He was born into a high-ranking official family, his grandfather, Du You, having been a prime minister under the Tang dynasty (ad 618–907). He was educated by his family and at the early age of 26 received the civil-service degree of jinshi. He spent most of his life as an official both in and out of the court. He and the revered poet Du Fu were bracketed together by the respective nicknames Young Du and Old Du. His poetry was diverse: some poems expressed his thoughts on historical events and sites, others, usually thought superior, were lyrical descriptions of rural scenes. Du also wrote critical and prescriptive pieces on social evils, such as the prose–poem Afang Palace.

Documents from the Song period (960–1279) claim that his writing could be seen on the doors of the farmer’s house in Huzhou, Zhejiang Province, where he worked as a local governor and that his brushstrokes were vigorous and powerful. His only extant authentic work of calligraphy is the ...