VisigothicPal: anotacion

En los dos post anteriores [intranet y terminología] hemos visto la terminología de descripción paleográfica definida en las plataformas “Pal” y cómo se adapta específicamente al caso de VisigothicPal. En este post veremos como estos términos funcionan de forma práctica, esto es, al hacer una anotación.

Anotar, desde el punto de vista de DigiPal, consiste en hacer un recorte dentro de la imagen original de nuestro manuscrito de estudio de un área que resulte relevante a nivel paleográfico y describirla pormenorizadamente. Las anotaciones, el proceso de hacer anotaciones, es lo que nutre la base de datos con la información necesaria para que después podamos realizar búsquedas detalladas de características gráficas. Digamos que nos interesa ver como el trazo descendente de la letra “g” ha ido evolucionando a lo largo de nuestro corpus. Para ello tendremos que no solamente haber “recortado” ejemplos de letras “g” sino haber descrito sus componentes y los rasgos de los mismos: si el trazo descendente (o como queramos llamarlo) es recto, se curva a la izquierda o a la derecha, está cerrado… Por supuesto, también podemos limitarnos simplemente a pedir a la base de datos que nos muestre ejemplos de letras “g”, sin tener en cuenta el diseño de su caído. Todo dependerá de las particularidades de nuestro corpus y del grado de detalle al que queramos llegar. Eso sí, antes de hacer una anotación hemos tenido que nutrir a la base de datos con los caracteres, alógrafos etc. a analizar como indicado en el post anterior.

Para hacer anotaciones hemos de seleccionar una imagen y abrirla con el modo de visualización simple, es decir, clicamos en ella. Una vez abierta, es más cómodo trabajar a pantalla completa seleccionando la primera opción del menú que nos aparece en el lateral izquierdo.

En ese mismo menú tenemos más opciones. De arriba a abajo: herramienta de seleccionar/deseleccionar, zoom, refrescar, editar anotación, guardar, borrar, modificar y marcar anotación. Veamos cómo hacer una anotación.

Seleccionamos la última casilla dentro del menú y marcamos el carácter que queramos anotar. La casilla resultante puede ajustarse arrastrando desde las esquinas o editarse en el futuro con la herramienta de editar. La casilla del carácter que hayamos seleccionado aparecerá remarcada en color azul. Azul significa que esa anotación está seleccionada; pasará a rosa si no está seleccionada ni guardada; amarillo cuando está guardada; verde cuando está guardada y descrita.

Una vez remarcado un carácter, en azul, el proceso de anotación comienza en el menú superior derecho. En primer lugar hemos de enlazar el carácter con una mano/escriba, en segundo lugar seleccionar de entre el menú desplegable el tipo de alógrafo.

En la imagen arriba podemos ver que el carácter correspondiente con la letra “b” está seleccionado. También se ha marcado ya que corresponde con la mano 1 y con el alógrafo “b” en el menú superior. Si clicamos en el “ojo” que aparece a la derecha veremos cuantos otros alógrafos de la misma letra ya han sido marcados/anotados en la imagen. Una vez guardada, nuestra anotación pasará a color amarillo.

Pasemos a describir los componentes y rasgos de los mismos de nuestro alógrafo, carácter “b”. En el mismo menú de anotación están incluidas opciones para compartir directamente nuestra anotación a través de un link, guardarla o borrarla, o añadir notas.

Como vemos en la imagen arriba, si seleccionamos nuestra anotación clicando en ella dos veces se abrirá el menú de componentes y rasgos donde podremos definir exactamente el aspecto del alógrafo basándonos en la terminología que hayamos definido. Una vez hecho, la anotación pasará a color verde. Esto significa que si, en el buscador de la web, buscamos por letras “b” o por letras “b” con “bow” ovalado, nos aparecerá este resultado. Podéis leer más sobre el proceso de anotación, en inglés, aquí.

Puede parecer un proceso complejo pero una vez que hemos hecho unas cuantas anotaciones se vuelve bastante automático. Es muy posible que en este proceso veamos cambios necesarios; nuevos términos a definir, nuevos rasgos… Siempre podremos modificarlos o añadir nuevos a través de la intranet.

 

Hasta aquí la información básica para poder trabajar con el software creado por el equipo de DigiPal. ¿Qué os parece? ¿Os animáis a probarlo con vuestro corpus? ¿Dudas? ¿Sugerencias?

Espero que os haya resultado útil!




LitteraVisigothica at the Medieval Manuscripts seminar series

Hi there. Do you remember all the posts I wrote last year about the Silos Apocalypse (British Library, Add MS 11695)? Particularly these two: ViGOTHIC update: Making a medieval codex (I) and ViGOTHIC update: Making a medieval codex (II). Well, I am presenting the results of my research on this manuscript next week at the Medieval Manuscripts seminar series at Senate House London. Here is the official announcement. The event is FREE and anyone interested in the topic is welcome to join.

 

MEDIEVAL MANUSCRIPTS SEMINAR SERIES

Senate House London
Dr Seng T Lee Centre for Manuscript and Book Studies

31 January 2017 • 5.30 PM

Ainoa Correa Castro, PhD LMS
Marie Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow, King’s College London

The scribes of the Silos Apocalypse (London, British Library, Add. MS. 11695) and the scriptorium of Silos in the late eleventh century

In the late eleventh century Fortunio, abbot of the newly restored Benedictine community of Silos, near Burgos, commissioned the time- and cost-consuming task of replicating for the monastery one of the most significant best-sellers of the peninsular Middle Ages: a Beatus. In doing so, he was continuing a long-lasting Iberian, Mozarabic, tradition originating in the late eighth century.
In this seminar the Silos Apocalypse will be examined with the purpose of unveiling who were the scribes who intervened in its copying, what can be known about their professional connections, what was their cultural context, and how this codex fits within the written production of Silos in the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries.

Hope to see you there!




VisigothicPal: cómos y porqués

Muchos de vosotros habréis leído en post anteriores sobre el proyecto en el que trabajo, ViGOTHIC. La finalidad de este proyecto no es solamente continuar mi investigación sobre la producción manuscrita en escritura visigótica en la Península Ibérica, sino también evaluar la viabilidad de las nuevas tecnologías aplicadas al estudio de fuentes manuscritas peninsulares. Me interesan las Humanidades Digitales, sí. Me interesa todo aquello que sea “digital” porque es en el mundo en el que nos movemos hoy en día, para bien o para mal. Pero especialmente, ya sea en ámbito profesional como personal, me interesan porque nos hacen la vida más fácil. Y, volviendo al campo paleográfico, necesitamos esta ayuda, por divulgación, desarrollo, accesibilidad y nuevos retos.

Mi ámbito de especialidad es escritura visigótica. Aunque empecé mi carrera centrándome en un pequeño corpus de fuentes, ahora me encuentro estudiando todos los diplomas, códices, e inscripciones existentes, los particulares de este modelo gráfico en todas sus formas y variedades, el contexto cultural de los escribas que lo emplearon y la sociedad en la que se enmarcan, todo aquello relacionado con la Península Ibérica entre los siglos VI y XIII. Como resultará obvio, no es poco. El punto de partida de cualquier investigación en la que me involucro es, por formación profesional, los testimonios gráficos. Por suerte, éstos son bastante abundantes pero, ¿cómo ya no solo estudiarlos todos sino ser capaz de relacionarlos? Mi proyecto pretende abrir el camino para conseguir ver “en conjunto” los pormenores de la producción manuscrita en la península en la edad media en su contexto.

Un paleógrafo entrenado puede retener en la memoria varios cientos de ejemplos gráficos con detalle hasta el punto de recordar si ha visto la mano autora de un documento en otro y en cual. Recordar miles es imposible. Del mismo modo, ahora que muchos manuscritos pueden estar digitalizados o digitalizarse, un paleógrafo habituado a las nuevas tecnologías, puede practicar “paleografía asistida por ordenador”, que no “paleografía digital”, ayudándose de programas como Photoshop para hacer sus bases de datos de “recortes” como evidencia a las conclusiones obtenidas así como para ayudar a la memoria. Sin duda, es más fácil recordar 5 o 10 imágenes que 300, las que corresponderían por ejemplo a un códice. Los problemas vienen cuando el corpus, aunque se reduzca a solo unos ejemplos representativos de cada testimonio gráfico, es masivo.

Si seleccionamos un conjunto de, digamos, 1,000 diplomas y laboriosamente “recortamos” al menos un ejemplo de cada letra, cada abreviatura, signo, etc. como representativo de cada escriba, lo que ya de por si es agotador, tendremos unas 50 x 1,000 imágenes más o menos. Navegar por lo que sería esa base de datos de imágenes para hacer comparativas es imposible. Si nuestro conjunto pretende incluir todo aquello de interés para extraer resultados viables y objetivos, aún más. Si queremos interrogar nuestros resultados de análisis con preguntas más concretas, quimérico. Hace años me planteé ese dilema: cómo gestionar tal volumen de datos en imágenes sin volverse loco de manera eficiente. Por suerte, no era la única persona con el mismo problema. En 2005 nació la paleografía digital.

La paleografía digital viene a ser la incorporación de nuevas tecnologías en el trabajo paleográfico, no solamente para acelerar el proceso de análisis siguiendo el método tradicional sino para poder dar respuesta a nuevo retos de investigación que nacen del trabajo con corpora de datos masivos. Como nueva disciplina ha ido evolucionando a base de prueba y error (os recomiendo leer los volúmenes de la revista Digital Medievalist como punto de partida). Desde mi punto de vista y de entre las opciones que parecen proveer resultados, la más práctica es la plataforma DigiPal.

He escrito sobre DigiPal en más de una ocasión. La parte digital de mi proyecto ViGOTHIC se basa en ese software. Como resultado, hace unos meses nació VisigothicPal, la adaptación de DigiPal a paleografía visigótica. Mi intención es al menos dar los primeros pasos para crear una base de datos de todas y cada una las muestras gráficas conservadas en escritura visigótica sobre la que después continuar nuevas vías de investigación. Así, VisigothicPal no es/será solamente una base de datos de fotos donde cada aspecto está debidamente clasificado, sino una plataforma que te permita interrogar ese conjunto proporcionando nueva información sobre tendencias gráficas por zonas o períodos o sobre prácticas de escuela.

DigiPal, VisigothicPal y los demás proyectos nacidos de éste, están pensados como herramientas de colaboración y comunicación permitiendo el trabajo simultáneo de varios investigadores y favoreciendo la divulgación del proceso científico. En estos meses en los que trabajo en su puesta en marcha quiero compartir aquí exactamente los pasos a seguir con la intención de animar a más personas a implementar el sistema o a adaptarlo a su corpus de estudio.

 

[ seguir leyendo ]

 




ViGOTHIC update: Making a medieval codex (III)

I started this small series by summarising the general steps needed to construct a codex to then delve into what I think was the process of making the Silos Apocalypse, the British Library Add. mss. 11695. In this second post, I asked myself many questions that, to me, were particularly important for they help understand not the codex per se, what is amazing, but its cultural context, which is better.

I asked about who were the scribes who copied the Silos Apocalypse, from where did they come from (training center/school), who called them in, how did they interact with each other, who made the illuminations, how did he – or they – do it… and, what does the codex mean within the written production of the Benedictine monastery of Silos in the late 11th century, which books were already in the monastery’s library by that time, from where did they come from, what happened while the Silos Apocalypse was being copied (how was the scriptorium organised), did its scribes write something else, what happened after the codex was made, which other books were copied, why were they copied… So, plenty of questions for which, I am glad to say, after several months of work, I have been able to propose answers all based on graphic evidence and its historic contextualisation.

My intention when writing the first post was to share some of these answers here, at least the most relevant or curious. I did not know then how elaborate and dense will they be. Therefore, I made all my findings into an article that I hope will be published soon and to which I will refer updating the post in the future.

With this research on the scribes of the Silos Apocalypse I close the first year of my Marie-Curie funded project ViGOTHIC. Next academic year started its digital counterpart, VisigothicPal!

Suggested Citation: Castro Correa, A. “ViGOTHIC update: Making a medieval codex (III)″. Littera Visigothica (June 2016), http://litteravisigothica.com/visigothicpal-project-vigothic (ISSN 2386-6330).

EUlogo

Project VIGOTHIC has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 656298. This post reflects only the author’s view and the Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.




ViGOTHIC update: Making a medieval codex (II)

We are in the scriptorium of the Benedictine monastery of Silos in the year 1091, when abbot Fortunius and his monks undertook the task of providing for their monastery one exemplar of the most well-known and copied medieval best-seller of the Iberian Peninsula, a Beatus. We are revising the steps it entailed to make the British Library Add. mss. 11695, the Beatus of Silos, and we are in step 2: the scriptorium had a trained specialist who provided a fair amount quantity of parchment made, more likely, from calfskin, as well as monks skilled enough to elaborate carbon ink and many different tones of bright red, yellow, green, and blue inks (see previous post here). What next?

Beato de Tábara. © Madrid, Archivo Histórico Nacional, cód. 1097, fol. 167v.

Beato de Tábara. © Madrid, Archivo Histórico Nacional, cód. 1097, fol. 167v.

The miniature in fol. 167v of the 10th-century Beatus of the monastery of Tábara (Madrid, AHN, cod. 1240), also reproduced in fol. 183 of the early 13th-century Beato de las Huelgas (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, ms. 429, fol. 183), depicts the next steps in the making of the Silos Beatus – common in medieval manuscript production. It represents the oldest extant image of a medieval scriptorium, where two scribes are seen working in a room adjacent to the tower of the monastery, taking measurements and ruling the parchment, while another figure is cutting presumably a piece of parchment with scissors.

Diagram of the pricking pattern and ruled lines on a typical page of the Beatus (© A. Castro Correa).

Diagram of the pricking pattern and ruled lines on a typical page of the Beatus (© A. Castro Correa).

In order for the Beatus of Silos to start taking shape, the parchment needed first to be organised and prepared. The medieval standard for organising the pieces of parchment into codices is by making quires. After that, the folios were pricked and ruled (read more about this process here and here). We do not know whether, in this period as a general rule or if in Silos particularly, it was the scribe also the one in charge of preparing the pieces of parchment, folded into quires and ruled, before starting the process of copying of the text. If we think about what must have been the size of the community of monks who lived in Silos about that time, in the late 11th century, I think the most probable option is that he was. Following the clues embed in the layout of each one of the 27 quires that make the Beatus, almost all quaternions, it does seem so too. So, abbot Fortunius had to find amongst his community a well-trained scribe able to not only write but make all the previous arrangements required. Did he find one?

Here we find ourselves in a conundrum. There is no doubt Florentius found skilled scribes, or at least one to begin the project, within his community, but who were they? In the year the production of this Silos Apocalypse began, 1090, the monastery was in a brand-new stage since it had been just restored by Saint Domingo, around the 1060s. Before Domingo, current scholarship seems to agree in that there was no scriptorium in Silos. So, did Domingo bring with him someone else from Cogolla to Silos in order to set up the atelier? Or did he worked with what he had, training the resident monks at Silos? Was the scribe who started the Silos Beatus from Silos? We do not know. Paleographically speaking, both production centres have a very similar style, yet not the same. Could have it been the same to then gradually evolve into a distinctive one? From my point of view, the relation between both monasteries needs to be studied in depth. I do not see how it is possible for a group of scribes to accomplish such a calligraphic style so quickly without external help.

Beato de Fernando I y Sancha. © Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, vitr. 14-2, fol. 30r.

Beato de Fernando I y Sancha. © Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, vitr. 14-2, fol. 30r.

Another missing piece of the puzzle. Florentius aimed to copy the Beatus, but which one was the exemplar he used and from where did it come from? Specialists in the textual content of the Silos Apocalypse have determined that the Silos Beatus belongs to the IIa family – all the extant Beatos have been classified according to their text and, mostly, their illumination programme, into three different families or groups to establish the stemma. From that family, the extant codices, predating this one from Silos, are: the Beato de San Miguel de Escalada (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, ms. 644), copied at San Miguel de la Escalada (León) by Magius around 920s; the Beato de Valcavado (Valladolid, Biblioteca de la Universidad, cod. 433), copied at Valcavado (Palencia) by Oveco circa 970; the Beato de La Seu d’Urgel (La Seu d’Urgell, Arxiu Catedral, ms. 26), copied probably in Valcavado in the 1000s; and the Beato de Fernando I y Sancha (Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, vitr. 14-2), copied by Facundo in León in 1047. It has not been determined whether one of these was the model Silos used for its copy, although bearing in mind that the exemplar now in Urgell was there already in the first half of the 12th century, if any of these, maybe the one now at Valladolid?

Interestingly enough, the monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla (header image), with which the monastery of Silos had a close bond particularly on its earlier decades, did produce its own codices with the Commentary on the Apocalypse. Three of them are still preserved and pre-date that of Silos: the so-called Beato Emilianense (Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, Vitr. 14-1), copied around 920s-940s, the Beato de El Escorial (Monasterio de El Escorial, Biblioteca, ms. &.II.5) dated mid-10th c., and the Beato de San Millán (Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, ms 83), which although seems copied in San Pedro de Cardeña in the 10th c. had its illumination programme done in Cogolla in the 11th c. All these three codices, however, have been classified by the specialists as belonging to the I family, and thus not the same as that of the Silos Beatus. But, scholars have also noted that the illumination programme of the last one, that now in the Real Academia, is closely related to that of the IIa family. Could this theory, if verified, prove that members of the scriptorium of Cogolla were also involved, directly or not, in the manuscript production that was to be developed at Silos? Will I have time to figure this out before the project ends?

 

> continue reading <

 

Suggested Citation: Castro Correa, A. “ViGOTHIC update: Making a medieval codex (II)″. Littera Visigothica (May 2016), http://litteravisigothica.com/vigothic-update-making-medieval-codex-ii (ISSN 2386-6330).

EUlogoProject VIGOTHIC has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 656298. This post reflects only the author’s view and the Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.




ViGOTHIC update: Making a medieval codex (I)

During the last few weeks, I have been trying to figure out how the many people who were involved in producing the exemplar of Beatus kept at the British Library worked together; who made what and how they interacted. As a palaeographer, at first I was mostly concerned with the identification and description of the graphic specifics of each one of the scribes who, as copyists, made the text as is now displayed. But, once I had the hands individualised, since they are remarkably intertwined throughout the quires, I soon realised how the whole process of making the codex was much more complex than expected. There are not only five hands which, in a very short period of time, collaborated in copying the main text contained in the Beatus, the Commentary on the Apocalypse per se, plus the additional texts as the excerpts of the Etymologiae, Jerome’s Commentary on Daniel, and other miscellaneous texts – which, by the way, I am having difficulties to find edited or at least correctly attributed to -, but also different authors for the miniatures who made the illumination programme for which the codex is so worldwide famous. It is obvious that there is much more to a codex than the scribes, but it is somehow easy to forget how not only time consuming but expensive to make a codex like this one must have been; surely a remarkable event for the scriptorium that speaks of its own conception, means, and managerial skills. Moreover if we bear in mind, following the current state of the art, that this codex, the Silos Beatus, was one of the first ever made at the monastery of Silos.

As many of you may know, revising all the relevant bibliographic references, the palaeographical and codicological analysis of this British Library codex, is the objective of the first part of the project in which I am working now, ViGOTHIC. Having the graphic analysis done, the clues found in defining the collaboration among scribes made me expand the project to incorporate also a revision on the illumination programme, the style and its authors. All this research will be made into an article I expect to finish soon. Meanwhile, I thought about writing here how I picture, at this stage of the project, the whole process of making this medieval codex was.

*

Making a medieval codex (I)

 

It must have been around the year 1090 when abbot Fortunius, who had been abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Silos (in what is now Burgos) for some twenty years at that time, considered for his monastery to have the resources enough to make a copy of one of the most significant bestsellers of medieval Iberia, a Beatus. Silos was still a very recently revived cenobium, founded around the mid-10th century but in decadence as a consequence of the Muslim razzias around the northern Meseta. Fortunius’s Silos was, however, powerful enough thanks to the reorganisation his predecessor, abbot Domingo, had undertaken commissioned by king Fernando I. Domingo was called into to restore the ecclesiastical community living at Silos from the nearby monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla, in La Rioja, and although Cogolla’s monastery and, particularly, its written production was still of higher quality than that of Silos, Domingo’s dedication proved extraordinary. He was canonised as saint soon after his death in 1073. When Fortunius took his place, he not only knew how to maintain Domingo’s will but continued to improve Silos’s well-being making the most of his predecessor’s fame. When Fortunius undertook the task of for his monastery and newly created scriptorium producing a codex, it was a Beatus (The Silos Beatus, BL Add. mss. 11695). But, how was the process?

The Silos Apocalypse. © London, British Library, Add. mss. 11695, f. 21 Appearance of Christ in a cloud

The Silos Apocalypse. © London, British Library, Add. mss. 11695, f. 21 Appearance of Christ in a cloud

The first step the Silos’s scriptorium needed to accomplish to make the codex possible was to gather parchment enough for the work that was to be copied. Bearing in mind the actual measures of a page of the Silos’s Beatus, 380 x 240 mm, and the length of the volume, some 270 folios, this meant to buy or at least to use some of the monastery’s livestock for the purpose of providing the basic raw material for making the codex. Giving the quality of the parchment, quite pale and thin, it must have been, more likely, from calves. If we consider that one calf could have provided at least 2 bifolia, folded twice (quarto) with the measurements of the Beatus, that makes 8 folios of parchment and thus around 34 calves. But first, they needed to make parchment out of the skins.

© Staatsbibliothek Bamberg, msc. Patr. 5, fol. 1v. 12th c.

© Staatsbibliothek Bamberg, msc. Patr. 5, fol. 1v. 12th c.

To produce parchment was a very tedious and cumbersome process that required a specialist (see this short video). The animal skin had first to be removed from the slaughtered animal. The hair then had to be removed as well from that skin by soaking it in a lime bath. After that, the hair and remaining flesh would have been scraped off using a curved knife, sometimes referred to as a “lunellum” for its crescent shape using the Latin word for moon. Once that had been done, the surface had to be treated further so that it would hold ink and pigment painting, and this involved polishing the surface with a pumice stone occasionally applying a very thin layer of chalk.

Parchment was not the only basic material required, especially for a codex like this one with such an intricate illumination programme. The scriptorium needed ink – and quills to apply it! Monks were required to manufacture all the pigments the work they aimed to copy demanded. Ink for the text, carbon ink, and ink for drawing. Many different colours were used for the illuminations; besides different tones of red and a bright yellow, the Silos Beatus displays a special, for its uniqueness, range of dark blue and green inks. A specific analysis of the components of each of the inks used in this manuscript would be of great interest. In the meantime, I recommended you to take a look at this book (particularly from p. 47 on).

Once the scriptorium had the basic materials required, the work on the manuscript could begin.

 

> continue reading <

Suggested Citation: Castro Correa, A. “ViGOTHIC update: Making a medieval codex (I)″. Littera Visigothica (April 2016), http://litteravisigothica.com/vigothic-update-making-medieval-codex-i (ISSN 2386-6330).

EUlogo
Project VIGOTHIC has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 656298. This post reflects only the author’s view and the Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.




Charla en el Archivo Histórico Nacional de Madrid

“Humanidades Digitales, Paleografía Digital. El proyecto ViGOTHIC”

El próximo martes 29 de marzo tendrá lugar en el Salón de Actos del Archivo Histórico Nacional de Madrid (Calle Serrano, 115), a las 10.00 de la mañana, una charla informal en la que debatiremos sobre Humanidades Digitales, Paleografía Digital, y el proyecto de investigación en el que trabajo, ViGOTHIC, sobre el que podéis leer más aquí y aquí.

He pensado esta charla como una oportunidad abierta a todo aquel que quiera participar para poner en común nuestras ideas sobre el campo de la paleografía digital, las opciones actualmente disponibles, sus ventajas e inconvenientes. Será un placer contar con vosotros !

 

Actualización 31 de marzo

Quería desde aquí dar las gracias a todos los asistentes al evento así como al magnífico equipo del Archivo Histórico Nacional no solo por hacer posible la charla sino por su participación tan activa en la misma! Poca veces se encuentra uno un público tan predispuesto. Sin vosotros, sin todas vuestras ideas en relación al proyecto, no habría sido tan provechoso como sin duda ha sido.

Para todos aquellos que no pudísteis seguir la charla en vivo o a través de mi cuenta de twitter, os dejo a continuación un resumen de la misma.

storify

[click aquí o sobre la imagen]

Y también podéis acceder al PowerPoint completo de la presentación en mi perfil de Academia.edu.

 

Gracias!




Understanding manuscript illumination

The one thing that has always capture my attention from Visigothic script manuscripts, long before I was able to crack the script and even before knowing that Manuscript Studies existed, is the images, the fascinating depictions of strange human figures standing just in front of me, staring. For me, I guess that especially for being so young ‒ the first time I saw a Beatus I was about 10 ‒, these figures quickly spoke; they were communicating in a way that no other figural representations had done before. I now know a bit more about the manuscripts in which they stand, about their context. These miniatures, illuminations, this type of medieval art, it was developed for people who, like me when I first saw them, could not understand the passage of text to which they were linked to, so even those who cannot read could understand. I did indeed. The fighting serpent-like monsters that populate the Beatos, stood in my mind for years, unconsciously urging me to learn palaeography and now to decipher them. Here my first incursion into the world of manuscript illumination.

I feel I should add a disclaimer. I am a palaeographer, not an art historian. I am not specialised in distinguishing, in dating and placing, representations of art of a magnitude as that of the illumination programmes found in Visigothic script manuscripts by schools, scriptoria, or masters as some of you might. But, I am curious and always open to discovering new things, and since I am reading a lot about the topic lately, I want to learn more. I started with the basics, everything by John Williams on Spanish manuscript illumination, and will continue with more specific readings.[1] I recognise my limitations to judge art history. So, If you are an expert on Mozarabic and/or Northern Peninsular manuscript illumination, my apologies for the inconsistencies that might be in what you are about to read ‒ and, please, you are welcome to share your expertise here if you like. What follows is a very succinct sketch of how I see the world of illumination in Visigothic script manuscripts developed, from the early 8th to the early 12th c.

Verona Orational, c. 720, Tarragona (Verona, Bibl. Capitular, 89)

Verona Orational, c. 720, Tarragona (Verona, Bibl. Capitular, 89)

Before manuscripts in Visigothic script only were written in the Iberian Peninsula, thus with not just some notes or maybe some paragraphs in that script ‒ which roughly corresponds with the proper period of the Visigothic Kingdom ‒, the few examples preserved of manuscript illumination link peninsular production with the Classical tradition (Byzantine). As shown in the image above (Verona Orational), the drawings were marked just by lines, and the occasional figures or geometrical frames were not coloured. In doing so, Visigothic master illuminators show a continuity with the past that will soon be reinterpreted, and, more significantly, the ascription of the peninsula to a shared supranational Mediterranean style.

La Cava Bible, early 9th c., Asturias? (Cava dei Tirreni, Archivio della Badia, ms. 1)

La Cava Bible, early 9th c., Asturias? (Cava dei Tirreni, Archivio della Badia, ms. 1)

Soon after, in the 8th/9th centuries, extant Christian written production moved to the north (Asturias), and there, in semi-isolation, the intense creativity of the easily recognisable medieval peninsular style began to show. The illumination contained in the manuscripts there produced, still scarce, intertwined both traditional (La Cava Bible) and exogenous styles in a way not seen before anywhere.

Cross of Oviedo, 9th c., Cogolla (Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, Cód. 26) and Relief panel with cross (San Martín de Salas, Oviedo; mid-10th c.)

Cross of Oviedo, 9th c., Cogolla (Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, Cód. 26) and relief panel with cross (San Martín de Salas, Oviedo; mid-10th c.)

There was a still strong Classical style, with linear, compass-drawn figures, and framed titles (see La Cava Bible above). But, these features, like for example a typical motif of the Classical style as the Canon Tables, created in the 6th c., were reinterpreted in a very personal way. Designs that took shape from antecedents not altogether clear but that, nonetheless, will become quite popular in Visigothic script manuscripts settled. For example the labyrinths or carpet pages, and the Asturian crosses – Cross of Oviedo (see above manuscript Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, Cód. 26 and the relief panel, and also the reliquary ‘The Cross of the Angels’).

Tendencies that will become familiar later on as predominant, as the brilliant and contrasting hues (red, green, yellow) in frame ornament, and decorated initials based on geometric forms and representations of animal and human figures can also be pinpointed to this period. As for from where this animal/human-like fashion applied to initials came from, J. Williams added a very interesting note on the topic in his book Early Spanish Manuscript Illumination. Paraphrasing, he wrote that although commonly associated with 8th-c. Merovingian illumination, primitive examples appear in Visigothic manuscripts at least as early, and that both Merovingian and Visigothic examples could point to an unknown common ancestry rather than direct influence. And, even scarce, in the first extant examples of illuminated manuscripts it can also be noted the influence of southern features, as the elongated, tear-shaped eyes, or the influence of Kufic script in geometrical-based initials.

Vimara’s Bible, c. 920, León (León, Archivo de la Catedral, ms. 6)

Vimara’s Bible, c. 920, León (León, Archivo de la Catedral, ms. 6)

By the early 10th c., all these styles merged together and were wisely exploited by Leonese monastic scribes in a general cultural revival, showing a “radically expanded notion of the art of book decoration” (J. Williams words). Here is where the plane figures so characteristic of Visigothic script manuscripts took shape, dominating the space as full-page miniatures no longer just restricted to blank spaces next to the text. There is no dimension beyond of height and breadth, no perspective in a classical execution, but flat patterns filled with intense primary colours. They were experimenting with colour and with the Classical conventions of human representation, creating something new, dynamic and full of character, where figures interact with one another surrounded by mostly irregular but still geometric patterns (with preference to circular forms), fish and birds.

Codex Hispalensis, c. 925 (Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, Vitr. 13,1)

Codex Hispalensis, c. 925 (Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, Vitr. 13,1)

But, what I find particularly interesting is that, at the same time, manuscripts produced by Christian (Mozarabic) communities in the south, show a prevalence of the Classical, more realistic, style (see the Codex Hispalensis), highlighting, thus, that the explosion of colours was a feature of northern scriptoria. The Islamic influence sought in earlier centuries, though, continued and expanded during this period too. Significantly, architectural formulas as the horseshoe arch (Visigothic, but greatly developed by the Umayyads), ornamental designs based on palm trees and acanthus, peacocks, and the adoption of the seated posture associated with Muslim life when representing figures, among others.

Libro de Horas de Fernando y Sancha, c. 1055, Sahagún? (Santiago de Compostela, Biblioteca Universitaria, Ms 609)

Libro de Horas de Fernando y Sancha, c. 1055, Sahagún? (Santiago de Compostela, Biblioteca Universitaria, Ms 609)

In the second half of the 10th c. Leonese illumination pivoted towards the Carolingian Empire, adopting the designs of geometrical-based, interlaced, initials (Franco-Saxon school), and a sense of “less abstraction” when representing figures, now with a clear narrative purpose.

Initial from the prayer book of Fernando y Sancha (Santiago de Compostela, Biblioteca Universitaria, Ms 609) vs. the same design from a book of Homilies from San Millán de la Cogolla (Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, Cód. 39, f. 134r)

Initial from the prayer book of Fernando y Sancha (Santiago de Compostela, Biblioteca Universitaria, Ms 609) vs. the same design from a book of Homilies from San Millán de la Cogolla (Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, Cód. 39, f. 134r)

Perspective was assimilated to the conception of space, and movement was embraced by the still in plain colour figures through complex drapery patterns. Motifs that were not native, as the Christ in Majesty (school of Tours), were also reproduced. However, the, what must have been felt, traditional style continued yet to be used, most likely with a conscious intention to express alliance to customs about to be discarded, as can be seen by the late 11th/early 12th c. illumination programme developed for the Beatus exemplar copied in the monastery of Silos, the BL Add. 11695.

“The Silos Beatus is the swansong of the Leonese style. With its almost exaggerated concern for emphatic pattern and color it pays homage to the style in brilliant fashion at the very moment when Spain was participating in the fashioning of the new Romanesque art whose stylistic premises were based on the plasticity so effectively banished by the Leonese painters” (J. Williams, Early Spanish Manuscript Illumination, 27-28).

Suggested Citation: Castro Correa, A. “Understanding manuscript illumination″. Littera Visigothica (February 2016), http://litteravisigothica.com/understanding-manuscript-illumination (ISSN 2386-6330).

[1] Another basic I found quite interesting is The Art of Medieval Spain, AD 500-1200 (available online thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art), particularly because of the way the authors wisely merge politics, society, liturgy, art (broadly understood), and manuscripts.




ViGOTHIC update: learning new things

As many of you might know given that you are reading this post and maybe even other entries on this site, since last September I am working on a Marie Curie funded project called “ViGOTHIC: towards a typology of Visigothic script. The British Library Beatus and its potential for dating and localising Visigothic script manuscripts”, based at King’s College London. The project has two parts: the first one entails the palaeographical analysis of the codex BL Add. Ms. 11695, while the second is focused on comparing traditional time-consuming manual palaeographical analysis with digital palaeographic analysis by applying the software made here at King’s called DigiPal. Yes, I/we are developing a VisigothicPal! This first year of the project, though, my time is devoted to the first part, pure palaeography.

Layout, BL Add. Ms. 11695 (© Ainoa Castro)

Layout, BL Add. Ms. 11695 (© Ainoa Castro)

Although I am supposed to do only the palaeographical analysis of the Beatus, I could not help myself and have also done the codicological analysis, because I want to really understand the codex, the process of making it. As so, I can say with some confidence I now know how many scribes intervened in its copy, how they arranged the text, how was their collaboration. However, I came to a standstill: I identified the quires, the layout of their folios, which scribe wrote each part, but what about the illuminations?

The Beatus is well-known because of its illumination programme. A collection of miniatures that defy imagination by adding to the text of the Apocalypse ‒ that is what the Beatus is all about ‒ a full set of representations of its main topics in a comic-like fashion, so people who were unable to read could easily understand the dreadful text. But, who drew all those images, not only full-page miniatures but also small anthropomorphic figures, and historiated initials?

© BL., Add. Ms. 11695, Beatus, f. 275v (http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_11695_f005v)

© BL., Add. Ms. 11695, Beatus, f. 275v

One of the colophons added in the codex (f.275v) tells us that all the work as for the images was done by only one master illuminator, Pedro. But, was so? I read several articles on the decoration of the Beatus lately, and (surprise!) scholars who have published on the topic do not seem to agree. Some wrote that each scribe did also the miniatures of their corresponding quires while some others that was only that Pedro, who drew them all. Likewise, some included within each opinion the initials and anthropomorphic figures, others did not mention differences. Thus, although not required for the project, I wondered, which is, at least more likely, the correct answer? Because let’s face it, when thinking about the cultural context of the manuscript, it is not the same to have a full set of skilled scribes who were also exceptional illuminators, that great scribes paired with an amazing illuminator. Even better, it is not the same to have one illuminator than several, working together at the same place at the same time, right?

Am I capable of scientifically analyse miniatures to identify authorship? I am a palaeographer, not an art historian, so no, I am not, or not yet. But I decided to give it a try. And why not to post about it? What follows is a very succinct sketch of the world of illumination in Visigothic script manuscripts.

 

[              Understanding manuscript illumination              ]

 

 

 

Suggested Citation: Castro Correa, A. “ViGOTHIC update: learning new things″. Littera Visigothica (February 2016), http://litteravisigothica.com/vigothic-update-learning-new-things (ISSN 2386-6330).

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Project VIGOTHIC has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 656298. This post reflects only the author’s view and the Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.




ViGOTHIC: collaboration among scribes in the BL Beatus

In my last ViGOTHIC/VisigothicPal update, I managed to synthesize the initial problems arisen after what was a first approach to the “the DigiPal software meets Visigothic script” theme. That is, the undeniable need to determine a new and specific terminology to describe Visigothic script itself, one usable by palaeographers in writing and for a computer in organising palaeographical “thoughts”, before going back to work on the case study BL Beatus. I also alluded to the other objective accomplished during the first four months of the project: to determine how many scribes intervened in the copy of the Apocalypse of St John of Patmos included in the codex British Library Additional ms. 11695; their graphic characteristics and differences. For those of you who are familiar with this copy of the Apocalypse, so-called Beatus (I wrote a post about it a year ago), for me to have set this objective might sound silly since it is well-known it was copied by two scribes, Dominico and Nuño. But, was it so? Surprisingly, and excitingly, it was not.

Methodology for palaeographical analysis

ViGOTHIC: collaboration among scribes in the BL Beatus. Minuscule alphabet

Example of the palaeographic analysis of one of the hands who intervened in the copy of the BL Beatus. Minuscule alphabet.

All palaeographers have a methodology to apply in order to not only describe a specific hand but have enough (palaeographic) arguments to further differentiate one scribe from another. That is, there is a list of things we focus our attention on, what makes what I was taught to call the fundamental elements of a script (their characteristics making those that define a specific hand). These elements are:

  1. Graphic quality (calligraphic to rudimentary) – some palaeographers prefer to distinguish between usual writing and calligraphic style, and indeed this differentiation should be taken into account for specific types of corpora (epistolae, inventories, catalogues, notes, etc.);
  2. Stroke speed (cursive versus minuscule);
  3. Angle of inclination, distinguishing between upright and leaning to the right or left;
  4. Contrast of the strokes (shading), expressed according to the subdivi­sions “pronounced”, “moderately pronounced” and “slightly pronounced”;
  5. Modulus – the proportions of the letters – expressed according to the subdivisions “flattened”, “rounded” and “slender”;
  6. Letter forms – all forms and their allographs;
  7. Ductus – the sequence and direction of the different strokes that make up each graphic sign;
  8. Ligatures and nexus, between letters and between words;
  9. Abbreviations (signs and forms);
  10. Punctuation (signs and forms);
  11. Text structure – aesthetic separation between each part of the diplomatic structure, proportion of the space left within the parchment for signatures, etc. – and variations in the course of the base line;
  12. Linguistic features (orthography and influences);
  13. Decoration, flourishes and other signs.

It might be that, in reading a publication on palaeography, you will find that the author did not specifically added a bulleted list with all these aspects on studying, determining, and defining each hand, but you can be sure he or she had them in mind. And, this list is nothing new. In fact, it was more or less set around the 1960s (you can find bibliographic references about this on A. Castro Correa, “Palaeography, computer-aided palaeography and digital palaeography. Digital tools applied to the study of Visigothic script”, in Analysis of Ancient and Medieval Texts and Manuscripts: Digital Approaches, ed. by T. Andrews and C. Macé. Lectio: Studies in the Transmission of Texts & Ideas, volume 1. Turnhout: Brepols, 2014, pp. 247-272).

What happens then when we apply this methodology to the analysis of the 200 and so folios that make the BL Beatus exemplar?

ViGOTHIC: collaboration among scribes in the BL Beatus

Surprisingly, and although the first hand who works on the Beatus does a lot of work, he is not the only scribe we can find in there, individualised by a highly calligraphic minuscule Visigothic script. Nor was he helped in his task by just one scribe more, also using a very similar script.

ViGOTHIC: collaboration among scribes in the BL Beatus. The first two hands.

Example of two – very similar – hands found in the BL Beatus. © British Library, Add. ms. 11695.

I am not going to unveil here how many scribes intervened in the copy of the Beatus – I do not want to spoil what will become a very nice article I plan to write –, just highlight that it was a collaborative task to copy the whole Apocalypse and add the illumination program. Rather, what I would like to share here is a reflection: bearing in mind that a hand evolves over time, how can we be sure that two – from our point of view different – hands are not the same? I mean, how many differences, or what graphic variations, are enough to allow us to state that we are dealing with two different scribes?

ViGOTHIC: collaboration among scribes in the BL Beatus. Same hand different aspect

Example of what seems to be the same hand in different folios of the BL Beatus. © British Library, Add. ms. 11695.

It is not easy, moreover considering that the scribes working in the copy of the Beatus were doing so in a period of graphic change, from Visigothic script to Caroline minuscule, in the late 11th-early 12th century, and thus, many features of the Carolingian writing system were naturally added, over time, to each hand as a result of this graphic acculturation.

Relying on our experience, we eventually came to a conclusion, justified by graphic examples of all those variations and similarities. However, what I – and I guess every palaeographer – find more difficult is, once detected, to explain why they exist. Why can we find two hands which are almost identical but not the same? Where they master and pupil? Was one trying to imitate the other, and if so, why? To what degree was a scribe able to vary his/her hand still using the same script? How many different allographs, or different ways to abbreviate the same word, or different punctuation signs, was a medieval/Visigothic script scribe able to recognise and use? How did they perceive these differences? It would have been very nice of them to let us know.

Within the group of scribes who copied the BL Beatus, I found one hand that is particularly helpful in discussing what should be considered a different hand or just the same hand’s natural evolution/variation, due to either graphic acculturation or to something else we will never know. You will find more about this hand/scribe soon in a guest post I am writing for the ‘Manuscript Collaboration Hub‘ blog [update March 2016: Blog post ‘Spot the differences. Playing with medieval handwriting’ available here].

Suggested Citation: Castro Correa, A. “ViGOTHIC: collaboration among scribes in the BL Beatus″. Littera Visigothica (January 2016), http://litteravisigothica.com/vigothic-collaboration-among-scribes-in-the-bl-beatus (ISSN 2386-6330).

EUlogo

Project VIGOTHIC has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 656298. This post reflects only the author’s view and the Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

 

 




VisigothicPal: how do you call what you see?

It is amazing how time flies by. It has been almost four months since my project, ViGOTHIC, began, since I moved to London and the craziness that is to juggle amongst the many interesting conferences, seminars, exhibitions, workshops, and so to assist to, started. I have enjoyed every single bit. If you happen to be around London for next term, do not miss the chance to attend to an Earlier Middle Ages Seminar, a Medieval Manuscripts Seminar, some of the Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies gatherings or the London Palaeography Group Graduate Seminars, as well as the Teaching the Codex interdisciplinary colloquium (@TeachingCodex). That to name but a few of the things going on here that anyone interested in Medieval Manuscripts should look forward to. It makes a dense agenda, indeed. Anyway, as I was saying, the project started, and even in such a short time, the work already carried out has rendered its first results.

Project ViGOTHIC: objective 1 and Visigothic script going digital

For these first months my main objectives were two: first of all, to take a closer look at the software developed by the team of the DigiPal project in order to see how to adapt it to the study of Visigothic script, making the most of its features; next, to start to work directly with the copy of the Apocalypse of St John of Patmos enclosed in the British Library Mss. Additional 11695, with the main aim of to determine how many scribes intervened in its making, distinguishing their main graphic characteristics and differences. Both tasks developed while organising some outreach activities – for example, the four sessions organised for the International Medieval Congress at Leeds in July 2016 -, in addition to some others about which you will hear here in the site in due course.

I must confess that I am sometimes betwixt and between when it comes to digital tools and palaeographical analysis (= digital palaeography). I balance between an enthusiastic “we should do everything digital!” and a less cheerful “we should follow the old fashion, adding ‘digital stuff’ only to speed up the analytical process, if mandatory”. However, or maybe because so, the first task, to work on the “DigiPal meets Visigothic script” theme, has been and is a *FAVOURITE* (#cannotbelieveIamgettingpaidfordoingthis). Has been because we, the DigiPal team and I, met and discussed some initial problems found in this merging Visigothic+DigiPal thing. Is because these problems would need to be taken care of – I am so looking forward to that! The work done in the second objective described above, the identification of scribes, yielded interesting results, but nothing as world-shaking as would possible be to solve the “Visigothic script goes digital” problems. And, you might be wondering, which are these problems?

VisigothicPal: terminology ?¿

The problems found have to do with naming. If you have ever been in a palaeography meeting of some sort you would have noticed that palaeographers always tend to disagree when it comes to putting names to things. I mean, there is usually no consensus about how to describe or define a script, a particular hand, its general aspect, the letters that make the representation of the model the scribe had in mind when writing, its components… It is not only a problem, terminology, when working with a particular script, within a particular school, but rather it applies to all palaeographical studies, scripts, and groups of scholars.

When I started working on Visigothic script many years ago, I thought there must be some sort of universal list, something like a dictionary, accepted by all palaeographers, to help describe the hand of each scribe, how he drew each letter and sign. Then, when comparing hands, I would be able to register that a specific part of a specific letter varied, and describe how and maybe even why. Well, such a thing does not exist. There is no universal name for each of the parts that make each letter (although you will find some suggestions here). That is why palaeographers always argue on the matter of naming what we are seeing in a particular hand or in a script, how we see it was drawn. In my experience, since, so far, I have been part of the Spanish, American, Canadian, and now British academia, each one of us call the elements that form a letter in a different way, and it is not just a problem of language. Within each of these national schools, there are as many with their own terminology. As you can imagine, this is a big problem since we cannot understand each other unless we enclose an image of what we mean by using a term.

mano1_ductus

Ok, so we have the ductus, now let’s find names to describe every single part of each letter….

The problem with terminology reveals more excruciating when working collaboratively. I will use one set of terms, another scholar in my research group, working on the same source, will use another. And you might suggest ‘there is no problem, just agree in which terms to use’. And, which terms are the correct ones? Yours? Mine? It is not only what we, in our research group, decide to choose but what the other specialist on the field will think. Will they agree or, at least, understand the term chosen? As far as I am concern – and I think everyone should be – as long as the terminology is justified it should not be a problem to use one name or another. Right? Well… Now let’s go further. Considering that what I aim to do is developing a VisigothicPal, aka the Visigothic script version of DigiPal, how do I manage to make the computer understand what I mean when describing a disjointed part of a letter? I not only need to establish the terminology to use, but I need to think that whatever terms I select, they need to be understandable for a computer; they need to be simple, clear, coherent, and need to cover every possible stroke a Visigothic script scribe made. You see, no piece of cake.

Following the project’s schedule, I will come back to the definition of a terminology for Visigothic script and for VisigothicPal next September 2016. As I said, cannot wait!

Suggested Citation: Castro Correa, A. “VisigothicPal: how do you call what you see?″. Littera Visigothica (December 2015), http://litteravisigothica.com/visigothicpal-how-do-you-call-what-you-see (ISSN 2386-6330).

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Project VIGOTHIC has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 656298. This post reflects only the author’s view and the Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.




Codex of the month (X-XI): Visigothic script manuscripts at the British Library

This month’s ‘Codex of the month‘ is not one codex nor two, but 16; the full collection of Visigothic script manuscripts at the British Library.

As part of my ViGOTHIC research project [more here and here], in the next months I will be working with some of the precious codices kept at the British Library – Additional ms. 30848, 30850, and 30851, besides Additional ms. 11695, the so-called Silos Apocalypse -, and so I thought that it would be nice to take a look at the other codices also copied in Visigothic script here in London.

reference [date] centre content
1 Add. ms. 33610 early 9th c. Liber Iudicum (1 fol.)
2 Add. ms. 30852 9th c. Silos Liber Orationum  (115 fols.)
3 Add. ms. 30854 9th c. Gregorius Magnus, Liber dialogorum (182 fols.)
4 Egerton 1934 early 10th c. Chronicon (2 fol.)
5 Add. ms. 25600 10th c. Cardeña Passionarium Hispanicum (269 fols.)
6 Add. ms. 30846 10th c. Silos Breviarium Toletanum  (173 fols.)
7 Add. ms. 30853 late 10th c. Silos Homiliarium, Poenitentiale ecclesiasticum (324 fols.)
8 Add. ms. 30055 late 10th c. Cardeña Codex Regularum (237 fols.)
9 Add. ms. 30844 early 11th c. Silos / Cardeña Officia Toletana (177 fols.)
10 Add. ms. 30845 11th c. La Rioja / Silos / Cardeña Officia Toletana (161 fols.)
11 Add. ms. 30851 11th c. Silos Psalterium (202 fols.)
12 Add. ms. 30855 11th c. Silos Vitae Patrum (142 fols.)
13 Add. ms. 30847 late 11th c. Silos Breviarium (188 fols.)
14 Add. ms. 30848 late 11th c. Silos Breviarium (279 fols.)
15 Add. ms. 30850 late 11th c. Silos Antiphonarium romanum (241 fols.)
16 Add. ms. 11695 1091 – 1109 Silos Beatus, In Apocalypsin (279 fols.)

The results of my first approach to discover this collection were presented as an informal talk in the London Graduate Paleography Group at King’s College London, and are now available for all of you to read as a guest post in the British Library Medieval Manuscripts blog. Thanks for reading!

Discovering the collection of Visigothic script codices at the British Library

How to introduce something that should not require an introduction? It was in the year 1878 when the, back then, British Museum acquired a collection of 14 manuscripts and incunabula from the Spanish Benedictine monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos. The addition of these codices to the already well-populated treasuries of the Museum completed an extraordinary impressive corpus of medieval manuscripts written in the Iberian Peninsular most original script, Visigothic. In this post we will revise how these codices now at the British Library came to form the collection, highlighting its importance for studying the historical and cultural development of Iberia throughout the Middle Ages.

The Silos Apocalypse | London, British Library, Add. MS 11695

The Silos Apocalypse | London, British Library, Add. MS 11695

In 1840 which is now the gem of the Visigothic script collection of codices of the British Library and one of the most significant medieval manuscripts of the institution, entered the British Museum: Additional ms. 11695, the so-called Silos Apocalypse. The Museum bought it from José Bonaparte, who, while king of Spain from 1808 to 1813, added it to his personal collection. Additional ms. 11695 is one of the 32 codices of its type preserved, widely known as “Beatos”, which were copied from the late 8th to the 14th centuries. The Silos Apocalypse was finished in the scriptorium of Silos (Burgos) in the early 12th century; its text on 18 April 1091, its illumination programme on 30 June 1109, as their copyists inform us. It belongs to one of the most authentic manuscript traditions of the medieval Iberian Peninsula; it transmits a thorough, passionate, and lavishly illuminated commentary on the Apocalypse of St John of Patmos as well as other texts like the treatise De adfinitatibus et gradibus (a chapter from St Isidore’s Etymologies) and the commentary on Daniel by Jerome, that were commonly added to these volumes from the 10th century on. The Silos Apocalypse is an exceptional resource for art historians, but also to palaeographers since it is one of the only 49 codices of the almost 400 preserved written in Visigothic script that can be dated and placed with certainty and thus contextualised. As such, it is the focus of my current project ViGOTHIC about which you can read more here.

London, British Library, Egerton ms. 1934

London, British Library, Egerton ms. 1934

Merely 20 years after, in 1861, another unique piece arrive at the Museum. Within the binding of a mid-18th-century codex donated by the Egerton family, two folios of the Spanish Chronicle of 754. Currently under the shelfmark Egerton ms. 1934, these folios pair with four folios more now kept at Madrid (Real Academia de la Historia, ms. 81), and together constitute the earliest surviving copy of that chronicle since the only other two extant copies date from the 13th and 14th centuries. This Mozarabic Chronicle is supposed to have been compiled by an anonymous Mozarab living in a small city in south-east Iberia as a continuation of the Historia Gothorum by Isidoro de Sevilla. It covers the years from 610 to 754, and although it is focused mostly on Byzantine and Umayyad affairs, it is still an excellent historical source to dig in the first years of post-Visigothic Iberia.

The British Museum continued the acquisition of Spanish manuscripts by adding to its collection, in 1864, the manuscript identified as Additional ms. 25600, which must have been in private hands after the dissolution of monasteries in Spain in 1835. This codex was written in the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña by the mid-10th century and compiles passions of the most important Hispanic saints venerated by that time.

Another manuscript from the same provenance and copied around the same time arrived soon after at the Museum, being bought from Sotheby’s in 1876: Additional ms. 30055. It contains a collection of rules (Liber regularum; Leander, Isidorus, Fructuosus, Smaragdus) for monastic use, an essential book for the spiritual wellbeing of monks and the functional organisation of the community.

By the time there were, thus, already outstanding exemplars of Visigothic script codices at the British Museum the collection received considerable additions. Indeed, in 1878 the institution acquired an almost complete set of medieval manuscripts written in Visigothic script supposedly in the same monastery, Silos, or its dependencies. In 1835, because of the dissolution of monasteries, the abbot of Silos tried to preserve the cenobium’s rare collection of codices by taking them with him when he took refuge in an abbey dependency of Silos in Madrid. However, when he died, his successors, concerned about reconstructing Silos, saw in the books a source of income. Sixty-nine manuscripts and incunabula were sold to a Madrid bookseller, later on, bought by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and by the British Museum. The later acquired fourteen, now Additional mss. 30844 to 30857; all of them except for Add. mss. 30849, 30856, and 30857, examples of Visigothic script. Some highlights of this collection:

London, British Library, Add. MS 30845

London, British Library, Add. MS 30845

Add. mss. 30844, 30845 and 30846, containing a collection of monastic officia texts of the Mozarabic Liturgy, and Add. mss. 30847, 30848 and 30849, their equivalent for the Roman Liturgy, are a primary source to study how the transition from the Mozarabic to the Roman rite developed in the mid-late 11th century in the Iberian Peninsula. Although not the only extant exemplars to carry out such study, these are the best-preserved ones.

Add. Ms 30850 is an exceptional Antiphonary for monastic use from the Roman tradition, preserved in its entirety. The notation it contains is Visigothic, even though the repertoire is Gregorian. In the upper and lower margins of some of its leaves, there are numerous annotations in Aquitanian notation which are considered to be among the first examples of this type written in the Peninsula.

Add. ms. 30851, which contains Psalms, hymns and canticles for the Mozarabic liturgy, to which a selection of Liber horarum was added, and that has been described as the best example of Silense script – of the script used in the scriptorium of the monastery of Silos by the late 11th century. The small marks you see all over the text, they are glosses, and this manuscript is representative for the use of neumes as reference signs to these glosses added in the margins. It was, it seems, a common practice in many of the codices from Silos, although the others are lacking the precision of this one. The glosses are mostly synonyms in the Vulgate, but in many other cases, they consist of lexicographical or contextual commentaries. They provide equivalent in Latin, although there are some words in the Romance vernacular too.

Add. ms. 30853 contains a collection of homilies and of penitential canons concerning the penances to be done for various sins. It is dated, by the palaeographic characteristics of the different hands which intervened in its copy, as an example of the second half of the 10th century. It has also been supposed to be copied in Silos. The relevance of this manuscript resides in the glosses, called ‘Glosas Silenses’, which a late 11th-century reader added in vernacular.

Add. ms. 30854, a The Liber Dialogorum by Saint Gregory the Great, a collection of four books relating the life and miracles done by several holy men, mostly monastic, of 6th-century Italy, with the second book entirely devoted to Saint Benedict. This codex is the earliest of the only two extant exemplars of this work in Visigothic script. It has not been determined where or when it was written. No palaeographical study has been done. Bearing in mind the characteristics of the script, in my point of view, it could be attributed to a Castilian, and very prominent, production centre, copied in the early 10th century.

All these codices together, plus a fragment of an early 9th-century Liber Iudicum discovered at the British Museum soon after, now Add. ms. 33610 H, make up the collection of sixteen codices, whole books or fragments, in Visigothic script now at the British Library. Their chronology ranging from the early 9th century to the early 12th. Their topics common for medieval Iberian Peninsula but diverse: about law, a chronicle, and, of course, liturgical books for the daily Office and the celebration of the Mass and spiritual books for the transcendent and cultural training of the readers. They constitute an exceptional resource from which to study medieval written culture, and, from a non-scholarly perspective, beautiful books to look at.

 




VisigothicPal: project ViGOTHIC

[Continues from ‘VisigothicPal: when Visigothic script meets the DigiPal software‘]

Project ViGOTHIC is a two-year long project funded by the European Commission, Horizon 2020. I applied for and received a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship to develop it. It aims to facilitate and refine the study of Visigothic script and Visigothic script manuscripts, to make the scientific community aware of the needs and possibilities of conducting research based on these sources, and to disseminate the research that has already been carried out in the field or that is currently in progress. In summary, ViGOTHIC intends to open the study of Visigothic script to everyone interested in Manuscript Studies. It is located at King’s College London, where I started working last month, and is being supervised by Prof. Julia Crick with Peter Stokes as co-Investigator. All of this means: I now work at King’s College London [link to my official page 🙂 ], I will be merging Visigothic script and the DigiPal Software, and I will be doing very fancy stuff to help my field of research, Visigothic script, to move forward.

As you might be thinking, one cannot just put all things Visigothic within the database of the DigiPal software in a two-year long project. I needed to define a corpus with which to test DigiPal. I was first tempted to use my hundreds of charters from the north-western Iberian Peninsula, to see if I could make sense of the thousands of cuttings I have, and continue my work on them. However, there was and still is a very big problem with the idea of uploading surrogates of charters, particularly from this corpus since they come from several different archives with their own ethos: copyright restrictions! Although I will eventually get clearance, in the meantime a different corpus was needed. Bearing in mind that I would more than likely have had the same problem with a corpus of charters coming from a different area, I decided to take a look at the codices instead.

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Some time ago I was absorbed in the online catalogue of Visigothic script codices – I still am, but aim to do it better. All that knowledge and very few people work with these codices! In that catalogue, besides the problem (joy) of more codices continuing to appear but barely being looked at by anyone, the controversy of the attribution of dates and places of origin for some codices has also been highlighted [more about problems in the field here]. It is very difficult, or rather almost impossible, to establish these data with some certainty if the codex itself does not give any clues. Moreover, since we do not have a thorough catalogue of Visigothic script characteristics by dates and production centres… Hey! I would love to do that, it would be indeed useful. Every single one of the 350ish codices needs some care. Someone to study them thoroughly. And would it not be awesome if at the same time someone could create a database that other people could use? Imagine you have a codex written in Visigothic script and you do not know where and when it was written. You could search by centres and dates within the database and do some comparisons with other dated and placed sources to see how yours fits! Of course, I am not going to do that in the next two years, rather I am going to see if that idea is doable.

LitteraVisigothica_mainslider

The BL Beatus: Additional Ms 11695

From the 350ish list of codices, some 50 provide dates and places of origin through colophons, notes added by readers, and other documents copied on them. Of these 50, 25 are available online [you can take a look at the list here], amongst them the one I chose: the British Library Add. Ms 11695. This codex is not only one of the few that is digitised, but also one of the most significant ones from my point of view, given: (i) its production centre: it was copied in the Benedictine monastery of Silos – vip(lace); (ii) its content: it contains one of the most famous medieval bestsellers of the Iberian Peninsula: the Beatus – lovely Apocalypse; (iii) its date: it was copied in the late 11th – early 12th century, in a period when Visigothic script was heavily transforming itself because of the graphic influence of Caroline minuscule [you can read more on hybridization here]. Moreover, thanks to the Napoleonic visit to Spain, the British Library has a considerable number of codices in Visigothic script from Silos, some of them from the same date as the Beatus, thus allowing comparison among hands throughout the books. [I’m giving a talk next month at the KCL about this; send me an email for more info if interested]

Therefore, project ViGOTHIC, my project while I am here at King’s College working with Julia Crick and the team who developed the DigiPal software in the first place, is going to test digital tools applied to Visigothic script through the analysis of the Beatus. I will: (i) apply and evaluate computer-assisted techniques (DigiPal) to the study of Visigothic script; (ii) determine the viability and benefits of computerised semi-automated analysis; (iii) establish a point of reference for computerised analysis of Visigothic script codices by providing accurate graphic foundations to foster historical research. Also, since I will be analysing the codex, I set some extra objectives: (i) to determine how many scribes intervened in the copy of the codex, their graphic characteristics and differences; (ii) to analyse the evolution of the script by comparing hands and, thus, the period in which each scribe worked; (iii) to study the cultural context that led to the creation of this composite codex (comparison with coeval manuscripts).

By the end of this ViGOTHIC project, if everything goes as planned and the software is as useful as I foresee it is going to be, it will be time to think about the future. Can we also add the other 24 dated, geographically placed, and digitised codices to the database? Can we merge this database with an improved version of the online catalogue? Did I mention ViGOTHIC will probably have a full online counterpart (aka a website) named VisigothicPal?

Suggested Citation: Castro Correa, A. “VisigothicPal: project ViGOTHIC″. Littera Visigothica (October 2015), http://litteravisigothica.com/visigothicpal-project-vigothic (ISSN 2386-6330).

EUlogo

Project VIGOTHIC has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 656298. This post reflects only the author’s view and the Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.




VisigothicPal: when Visigothic script meets the DigiPal software

Tired of not being able to easily compare the graphic characteristics of a Visigothic script hand with other examples from the same graphic model? Annoyed about not knowing how to organise the hundreds of cuttings of letters and signs from Visigothic script hands you have collected over the years? Wondering how to share your research so other enthusiastic visigothicologists can understand your work and follow up with new discoveries? Wait no longer! VisigothicPal is here to help.

I am aware that most of you, dear readers, do not usually conduct palaeographic research on Visigothic script sources. But I am also aware that some of you work with Visigothic script codices and are concerned about the dates and production centres established for your manuscripts by current scholarship. Whether you are an art historian trying to figure out how an illumination program developed in a Visigothic script manuscript fits its artistic context, a musicologist examining how notation evolved in the early and high medieval Iberian Peninsula, or a historian looking at the dissemination of a particular work, you care about when and where your codex was written because your research builds on these details. You need to know these facts. Luckily, and I would like to think that maybe with a little help from this website, you will eventually find the information you were looking for. But what happens if you, seasoned expert but not visigothicologist, do not agree with what you find? Well, then you ask for help.

© BL, Add. ms 11695, Beatus

These “lollipops” tell us the names of the scribes who copied the codex. In other pages, we will find the place and date too © BL, Add. ms 11695, Beatus

I am glad to say that over the last few months I have received some of these queries, thanks mostly to this site. These have included emails from colleagues asking if I could take a look at their sources and verify whether the date and place attributed is correct. After years of looking at Visigothic script sources, it is easy for me to recognise if a hand more likely corresponds to a 9th-century or to an 11th-century scribe, bearing in mind the evolution of the script. To determine whether the script is from the 11th or 12th century, or the location of its production centre, is rather more difficult. Palaeographers work by comparing a written sample with one or more others that can be placed and dated with certainty. As you know, charters do usually include a date and, by their text and context, tend to be easy to place geographically. Codices, on the other hand, usually lack this information. In fact, of the 352 identified codices in Visigothic script, only 49 have colophons stating the production centre in which they were written, the year and sometimes even the names of the authors involved. So, in order to set a place and date for a manuscript, how do we proceed?

Here we know about the illuminator © BL, Add. ms 11695, Beatus

Here we know about the illuminator © BL, Add. ms 11695, Beatus

There is no mystery in knowing how to carry out palaeographical research: collect the corpus you are interested in and relevant bibliographic references, set the methodology to be used, and apply it. If your corpus provides a date and place of origin, after your analysis you will have a set of standard features of the script employed at that time at that particular place. If only some of the sources from your corpus give that information, then in order to build their context a standard needs to be established first by analysing the sources placed and dated and then by contrasting their graphic characteristics with those sources lacking that information.

In any case, if your research is fruitful, you will end up having a specific set of features that correspond to a place and to a period of written production, and enough information to build up their cultural context. Now comes the tricky part. You will also end up having hundreds of trimmings. Have you figured out how to organise them in your printed article? You will more than likely present a general image of the source or sources, and then highlight particular features by including some small images of, for example, a g, a t, perhaps something about the wedged design of ascenders, some abbreviations, etc. That will be fine, although you are not sharing your full research, just what was relevant to you in that moment, and, thus, it will be a bit difficult for another researcher to reach the same conclusion. Now let’s imagine a couple of years have gone by since you did that research. Would you be able to open the folder, look at the hundreds of trimmings, and make sense of all that information? Moreover, would another researcher be able to do it if he or she wanted to continue your research? It happened to me and I can tell you that, no, you will not understand more than a small portion of all that you accomplished back then. So, what should we do?

It seems harmless but it is a trick!!!!!!!

It seems harmless but it is a trick!!!!!!!

For me, as I guess for all of you, it is crucial to be able to share our research with others and with our future selves. We cannot just pass along that folder with all our notes, unorganised, to someone who does not have the same mental process or the same level of experience as we had when we first started that specific research. I have a folder with thousands of cuttings of around 300 hands writing in Visigothic script in the north-western Iberian Peninsula I collected some five years ago. Every single time I feel I want to go back and do something with all that information, because I know there is a lot that I can still do with it, I get a headache. I refuse to believe that there is no other way. Luckily, I am not the first one to think that. Here comes help, here comes the DigiPal software.

I am sure that most of you, if not all, are aware of the existence of several digital tools that have been developed to help us carry out our research and share it with others. The software developed by the DigiPal project team at King’s College London is one of these tools. It is a programme created to help organise sources, work with them (marking), and build from them libraries of features neatly organised into several fields. No logarithm will do the work for you, you will need to do your manual work digitally. You will select what is relevant, given your expertise, for your research. And other people will be able to understand why it was relevant, if you add notes when marking the manuscript, and to continue where you left off, or even to expand the research from their own point of view. It sounds amazing, but is it really?

I am a sceptic, but I am tired of always having the same problems when trying to organise and share my research. Thus, I want to test DigiPal by applying it to Visigothic script manuscript sources. Ta-dah! Project ViGOTHIC is born [official link].

More soon 🙂

 

Suggested Citation: Castro Correa, A. “VisigothicPal: when Visigothic script meets the DigiPal software″. Littera Visigothica (October 2015), http://litteravisigothica.com/visigothicpal-when-visigothic-script-meets-the-digipal-software (ISSN 2386-6330).

EUlogo

Project VIGOTHIC has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 656298. This post reflects only the author’s view and the Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.