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Book of the Week — Godescalc Evangelistary


“Golden words are painted [here] on purple pages,
The Thunderer’s shining kingdoms of the starry heavens,
Revealed in rose-red blood, disclose the joys of heaven,
And the eloquence of God glittering with fitting brilliance
Promises the splendid rewards of martyrdom to be gained.”

Darmstadt: Primus, 2011

Facsimile. The Godescalc Evangelistary was commissioned by Charlemagne and his wife Hildegard. Written by the scribe Godescalc, it was produced in the court scriptorium at Aachen between 781 and 783. The lectionary was made to commemorate Charlemagne’s march to Italy, his meeting with Pope Adrian, and the baptism of his son Pepin. The dedication poem includes details of Charlemagne’s march and is signed by the scribe. Charlemagne and Hildegard are both mentioned at the end of the manuscript as its patrons. The Godescalc Evangelistary is the earliest known example of Carolingian illumination, a fusion of Insular, early Christian, and Byzantine styles. The artist used elaborate shadings in light and dark to give the figures depth. The codex is decorated with four full-page miniatures of the Evangelists, all placed at the opening of the book. Two additional full-page miniatures depict Christ in Majesty and the Fountain of Life. The Gospel readings are written in gold and silver ink. The poem compare’s the book’s gold and silver with the stars, indicating the early medieval belief that the written words directly reflect Christ’s divine nature – the word made flesh. This was the earliest style to use miniscule script as a regular element of the script. The script is on a purple background within framed embellishments. The Godescalc Evangelistary is now preserved in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Facsimile binding with debossed Charlemagne monogram. Binding is hand-sewn according to the original foliation of the manuscript and attached to the book block through a traditional bookbinding process. Facsimile edition of 98 copies in Arabic numbers and XX copies in roman numbers.
Source: Rare Books (OpenBook) Blog

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