LitteraVisigothica.com as a teaching resource

 

Fellow readers, a quick question: are you using LitteraVisigothica.com for teaching? Do you recommend your students to visit the site?

I would very much appreciate hearing from you! Could you kindly drop me an email or leave a comment below?

More news to come!

Thank you.

A.

 


 

Queridos lectores, pregunta rápida: ¿usáis LitteraVisigothica.com en docencia? ¿Recomendáis a vuestros estudiantes visitar la web?

Os estaría muy agradecida si os pusiéseis en contacto conmigo por email o dejando un comentario abajo.

Más noticias próximamente!

Gracias.

A.

 




LitteraVisigothica in Lisbon!

#Palaeography #Music #Art

 

I am delighted to announce that this year, in addition to the London International Palaeography Summer School, I will be teaching Visigothic script at an interdisciplinary workshop in Lisbon!

The workshop is Palaeography of Old Hispanic Manuscripts: Music, Text and Beyond. It is envisioned as a skills training event designed for 20 participants (hurry up and book your place!). The event, which is open to members of the public, involves the active participation of the attendees who will be stimulated to develop critical thinking around what they see and will be encouraged to ask questions and comment. Junior scholars, as well as experienced Medievalists interested in the topic, will be welcome to apply.

It will take place at the CESEM – Centro de Estudos de Sociologia e Estética Musical, in Lisbon (Portugal) on 4 May 2017.

Workshop goals:

  • Build a bridge between Medieval Iberia and modern scholars.
  • Provide the participants with basic training to tackle Old Hispanic musical manuscripts and understand their contents.
  • Encourage attendees to keep studying these manuscripts after the Workshop.
  • Establish an international network of scholars interested in Old Hispanic chant and script.

Besides yours truly, I will conduct the teaching together with three amazing people: Carmen Julia Gutierrez – Reader in Musicology at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid -, Rose Walker – art historian specialised in Medieval Spain -, and Elsa de Luca – music palaeographer and postdoctoral research fellow at the CESEM.

*Funding from ‘Plainsong and Medieval Music Society’ will be used to offer some travel bursaries to enable qualified students to attend.

For more information please contact: elsa (at) campus.ul.pt

And here is the official poster and programme:




Littera Visigothica at the London International Palaeography Summer School

You might remember that last year I offered a full-day course on Visigothic script at the London International Palaeography Summer School (more here). Well, this year I have been invited to participate again, and it will be even better for I will teach a full-day course on Medieval Spanish Palaeography! The date, Friday 16th of June 2017. Applications will open in January 2017. All welcome!

 

Introduction to Medieval Spanish Palaeography (8th-15th centuries)

Dr Ainoa Castro Correa (King’s College London)
Full day – from 10.00 to 17.00
Maximum: 15 students
Venue: Senate House

During the Middle Ages Iberian Peninsular written production was marked by graphic change: from national written systems to European ones, and back to graphic particularism. This process was neither received nor developed in the same way throughout the Iberian soil, consequently highlighting not only the cultural diversity that characterises medieval Spain but also the particular configuration of its kingdoms. In this course, students will gain knowledge about the traditional Iberian script, Visigothic, to then move forward to the specifics of the Spanish Caroline minuscule, and to the Spanish Gothic scripts, both dissimilar to the graphic models practised in Europe.

This course is open to everyone interested in medieval manuscript production with a focus on the Iberian Peninsula’s manuscript material. Its main aim is to familiarise the participants with the graphic particularism experienced in medieval Spain in comparison with Europe. No previous experience is required. However, since the course involves some practical exercises, students with at least a basic training in palaeography will particularly benefit from the course. A basic knowledge of Latin and Spanish would be useful but is not essential.

Bibliography (You can also check the Bibliography page above)

  • J. Alturo Perucho, A. Castro Correa and M. Torras Cortina (eds.), La escritura visigótica en la Península Ibérica. Nuevas aportaciones (Bellaterra, 2012).
    Mª J. Azevedo Santos, Da visigótica à carolina, a escrita em Portugal de 882 a 1172 (Lisbon, 1994).
    M. C. Díaz y Díaz et al., Corpus de códices visigóticos (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1999).
    A. Millares Carlo, Tratado de Paleografía española (Madrid, 1983).
    I. Velázquez Soriano, Documentos de época visigoda escritos en pizarra (Turnhout, 2000)

 

Hope to see you there!!

 




VisigothicPal: the year ahead

In September 2015 the Marie Curie funded project ViGOTHIC: Towards a typology of Visigothic script: the Beatus British Library Add. 11695 and its potential for dating and localising Visigothic script manuscripts kicked off. The first year was devoted to the thorough palaeographic and codicographic analysis of the Silos Apocalypse – the codex mentioned in the very long title above – about which you can read more here. I am quite happy with the results I got after a year of hard work, and I am sure the next year of research will bring interesting results too.

This year I will be adapting DigiPal to Visigothic script to test how the programme behaves with sources in this writing system. That is, I will see how to change as much as I can to refine it for myself and other scholars working on Iberian Peninsular manuscript sources.

Besides making the software even more gorgeous, I intend to answer the question that I am sure all the scholars working on palaeography, particularly those more inclined to the traditional methodology, have asked: is all this fuss useful? Well, as a digital medievalist, I immediately see the benefits of adding resources as this. It is my aim to articulate specifically why I do so. The year ahead traditional palaeography will meet digital palaeography, and all pros and cons will be pondered. Will I be able to convince everyone working on Visigothic script material to go along and incorporate VisigothicPal? Will I?

As last year, I will write monthly updates sharing how the project – and my little crusade – evolves.




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.




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).

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.




Littera Visigothica at the IMC Leeds 2016

Around three months ago, I sent a call for papers asking for speakers to participate in at least one session on the change from Visigothic script to Caroline minuscule in the Iberian Peninsula as part of the International Medieval Congress organised in Leeds every year. Well, the call was an extraordinary success, with many abstracts received approaching the topic from many different points of view. I am very grateful to all of you who contacted me, as well as to those who help to spread the call. As a consequence of the interest shown, not only one but four very interesting sessions came to be, were proposed to the IMC Leeds Committee, and accepted! Thus, if you are interested in medieval manuscripts from the Iberian Peninsula, in Visigothic script, in medieval musical notation in the Iberian Peninsula, in Peninsular Arabic-Latin scribes, in Caroline minuscule, or in Gothic scripts, to name but a few of the key topics that will be discussed in these four sessions, your place will be Leeds, 2016, 6 of July. We would love to see you there!

From Visigothic script to Caroline minuscule, from Caroline minuscule to Gothic scripts. 

The reception and evolution of Caroline minuscule in the Iberian Peninsula.

Sponsor: Network for the Study of Caroline Minuscule

Organiser: Ainoa Castro Correa, Department of History, King’s College London

Abstract: While in 11th-century Europe Caroline minuscule was the main writing system used in manuscript production, in most of the Iberian Peninsula this script was just beginning to be used. The persistence of the traditional peninsular script, Visigothic, led to a long and unequal transitional phase towards the new imported graphic system. At the same time, once the change was accepted, its graphic model arrived lacking its essential nature evolving thus quickly to a variety of proto-Gothic scripts which gave back to the Peninsula its graphic particularity. With works on scribes developing their careers in the periods in between writing systems, these sessions aim to explore the contexts of graphic change and polygraphism lived in the Iberian Peninsula from the 11th to the 14th century.

Session I: Visigothic Tradition Fading

This first session kicks off discussion by looking into how Visigothic script began to fade as main writing system in both manuscript and epigraphic sources. [Moderator/Chair: Ainoa Castro Correa, King’s College London]

  • ‘La escritura toledana, mourisca o visigótica en Portugal en el siglo XI’ – María José Azevedo Santos (Universidade de Coimbra)
  • Los centros escriptorios en el Reino de León: la transición de la visigótica a la carolina a través de la escritura publicitaria’ – María Encarnación Martín López (Universidad de León)
  • The Corsini Beatus: A Transition from the Visigothic Tradition’ – Barbara Shailor (Yale University)

Session II: Resistance to Caroline Minuscule

This second session discusses some of the most significant strongholds of Visigothic script tradition, displaying, through the analysis of manuscript and epigraphic sources, resistance to the graphic change. [Moderator/Chair: Elsa De Luca, University of Bristol]

  • ‘De la escritura visigótica a la carolina: Pasos hacia la nueva producción epigráfica en los centros de La Rioja’ – Irene Pereira García (Universidad de León)
  • Cultura escrita en el monasterio de Santa María de Monfero (A Coruña): Notarios y ‘scriptores’ de los ss. XII y XIII’ – María Teresa Carrasco Lazareno (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
  • Abbreviation by superscripted vowel: its arrival and use in documents and books from Castile’ – Francisco J. Molina (Universidad de Valladolid)

Session III: Parallel Changes – Outside the Conflict Visigothic Versus Caroline

At the same time as the collision of the two writing systems, Visigothic and Caroline, took place, other significant changes materialised in manuscript sources. This third session explores coeval changes in musical notation and language as well as in parallel cultural contexts. [Moderator/Chair: Irene Pereira García, Universidad de León]

  • ‘Graphical Changes in Old Hispanic Vertical Notation’ – Elsa De Luca (University of Bristol)
  • The Signatures in the Mozarabic Documents in Twelfth and Thirteenth Century Toledo’ – Yasmine Beale-Rivaya (Texas State University)
  • Modelos escriturarios arcaicos en la cultura manuscrita gallega siglos XIII-XIV’ – Ricardo Pichel Gotérrez (University of Birmingham)

Session IV: The Brief Life of Caroline Minuscule 

Once the Carolingian writing system was finally imposed, its troublesome introduction mirrored in a brief life fading against Gothic scripts. This fourth session closes the topic of graphic change by discussing the last years of Caroline minuscule in the Iberian Peninsula. [Moderator/Chair: Ricardo Pichel Gotérrez, University of Birmingham]

  • ‘De la carolina a la gótica en Cataluña: Contextos, lugares, nombres, problemas’ – J. Antoni Iglesias Fonseca (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
  • El proceso de gotización de la escritura carolina en Cataluña’ – Mireia Comas / Daniel Piñol (Universitat de Barcelona)
  • De escribas y escrituras en los documentos de Oña, 1107-1215′ – Concepción Mendo Carmona (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

 

 




Littera Visigothica at the London International Palaeography Summer School

Exciting news:

I am teaching a full-day course on Visigothic script for the London International Palaeography Summer School!

As you can read in its site, the London International Palaeography Summer School is a series of intensive courses in Palaeography and Manuscript Studies that takes place each Summer in London. The next year, 2016, it will run from the 13 to the 17 of June.

The Summer School is hosted by the Centre for Manuscript and Print Studies with the co-operation of the British Library, the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House Library, the Warburg Institute, University College, King’s College London and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Courses offered at the London International Palaeography Summer School range from a half to two days duration and are given by experts in their respective fields from a wide range of institutions (you can read about teachers’ affiliations and research interests here). Subject areas include Latin, English, Anglo-Saxon, German and Greek palaeography, history of scripts, illuminated manuscripts, codicology, vernacular editing and liturgical and devotional manuscripts (course overview). For the first time, next year there will be a specific course on Visigothic script too!


Introduction to Visigothic Script

Dr Ainoa Castro Correa (King’s College London)
Full day – from 10.00 to 17.00 – 14 June 2016
Maximum: 15 students
Venue: Senate House Library

Abstract:

Almost all written production in what is now Spain and Portugal from the 8th to the 12th centuries was done in what is called ‘Visigothic script’, which evolved in the Peninsula from the scripts of the Late Roman Empire just as Merovingian, Insular, and Beneventan scripts did in their corresponding geographical areas. In this course, students will gain knowledge about not only the origin of Visigothic script but also about its main typological and geographical variants and its stages of evolution throughout the centuries, these aspects being discussed through digital reproductions of significant manuscript examples.

This course is open to everyone interested in medieval manuscript production, with a focus on the Iberian Peninsula’s manuscript material. Its main aim is to familiarise the participants with a particular model of medieval script, with those letters, signs, and abbreviations that characterise Visigothic script. Therefore, no previous experience is required although students with at least a basic training in palaeography will particularly benefit from the course. There will be some transcription exercises where those students who wish to do so will have the opportunity to practice reading the script.

Some basic references you might find useful – if you want to come prepared:

  • J. Alturo Perucho, A. Castro Correa and M. Torras Cortina (eds.), La escritura visigótica en la Península Ibérica. Nuevas aportaciones (Bellaterra, 2012).
  • Mª J. Azevedo Santos, Da visigótica à carolina, a escrita em Portugal de 882 a 1172 (Lisbon, 1994).
  • M. C. Díaz y Díaz et al., Corpus de códices visigóticos (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1999).
  • A. Millares Carlo, Tratado de Paleografía española (Madrid, 1983).
  • I. Velázquez Soriano, Documentos de época visigoda escritos en pizarra (Turnhout, 2000).

(You can also check the Bibliography page above, and, of course, the contents of this site organised for teaching purposes).


There will be plenty of cool images, the key topics will be openly discussed. No need to be an expert! I would love to see you all there.

The inscription for this course will open in early January. In the meantime, you can check the London International Palaeography Summer School site for more info. Don’t miss it!




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.

screen_timeline

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.




How did scribes perceive the graphic change?

If you are reading this post, you more likely come from its first part “Visigothic script at the 19th Colloquium of the CIPL”. If not, some context: Earlier this month, I gave a paper at the 19th Colloquium of the Comité international de paléographie latine about the change from Visigothic script to Caroline minuscule. There, instead of going through a detailed list of graphic changes, what I did was to organize my presentation into four main unsolved questions which can be extrapolated to any period of graphic change aiming to foster discussion on the topic.

How did scribes perceive the graphic change from Visigothic script to Caroline minuscule? :

To what extent were the scribes aware of the graphic differences between writing systems?

Were early 12th-century Galician scribes polygraphic amanuenses?

How were scribes trained in the new script? Who taught them?

Was the social status of Visigothic and Carolingian script scribes the same?

FIG. 1. A glimpse of one of the earliest charters written in Caroline minuscule from Galicia (dated 1126)

FIG. 1. A glimpse of one of the earliest charters written in Caroline minuscule from Galicia (dated 1126)

Medieval scribes did not have the freedom to choose the form of the letters they were using to write as we have now. Rather, they had a model, a standard that was followed by a given geographical area, which usually corresponds to a political entity – meaning a country or group of kingdoms with a cultural link.

As for Visigothic script, as I guess as for many other medieval and modern scripts, it was not decided per se that everything needed to be written in Visigothic; the script just evolved developing to what we identify now as that particular graphic model. Caroline minuscule, on the other hand, was, in the Iberian Peninsula, imposed. From the late 9th century on, the writing system that is Carolingian was spread and prioritized instead of the Visigothic one in the scriptoria that populated the different kingdoms of medieval Spain. Scribes who were, until that moment, using Visigothic, needed, thereafter, to learn and apply Caroline minuscule. Some agree, some others did not.

Such a process of graphic change here roughly explained, offers an exceptional milieu upon which to study many different aspects and not just the scripts used. For example, those scribes who decided not to use Caroline, even when they were supposed to do so, show objection for a reason, be it respect for a prior cultural tradition for them worth preserving or just old age and reluctance to learn something new. They could belong to a scriptorium that was opposed to all Carolingian graphic, religious, and/or political influence, or they might just have had problems to find and/or afford a master of Caroline minuscule to teach them. As can be seen, the approach accepts a rainbow of possibilities, as many as you want.

The Harley Psalter, 1st half of the 11th c. © British Library, digitized at http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Harley_MS_603

FIG. 2. The Harley Psalter, 1st half of the 11th c. © British Library, digitized at http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Harley_MS_603

Regardless of how we want to interpret the graphic change, what is beyond question is that scribes were aware of it. They indeed perceived it. Let us leave aside the historical, political, cultural, and/or religious change to focus upon the graphic one. To what extent were the scribes aware of the graphic differences between writing systems? What my research has shown is that Visigothic script scribes did recognize Caroline minuscule, being aware of its peculiarities.

In comparison with Visigothic, Caroline minuscule has a different set of letterforms – particularly for a, g, I, and t -, and abbreviations – new to the system were, for example, those of noster/uester with theme in r instead of in s [you can read more about abbreviations and letterforms here and here]. Punctuation also has its nuances [more here]. The ductus is, however, not far from that of Visigothic minuscule. Anyway, there was a difference. So, what some Visigothic script scribes did was to start incorporating some of these new features into their hands, using a typology that we now describe as transitional Visigothic script [more here and here].

Did they do it consciously or not? It can only be guessed; say they did. Why? Were they learning the new system and, thus, did not master it yet? Were they trying to add some traces of trendiness even when they did not want to change? Again, those who did not add the new features, why did they preserve the Visigothic model? It is difficult to assess. What it can be said is that, through the close examination of extant charters, they seem to have been a bit confused at first about which features belong to which graphic model, since we find some hands that mixed scripts in a very particular way. See the image below; this is a Visigothic minuscule hand who wrote a Carolingian abbreviation adding also the Visigothic one.

Caroline nb + Visigothic -is Santiago de Compostela, AHUS., Blanco Ciceron, 188 (1122)

FIG. 3. Caroline minuscule nb + Visigothic script sign for -is © Santiago de Compostela, AHUS., Blanco Cicerón, 188 (dated 1122)

Does this mean that the scribes who mixed both scripts were polygraphic amanuenses, meaning that they were able to write in both scripts, Visigothic and Caroline? I do not think so. Some of them might have been, but not all. In my point of view, most of the scribes working on this transitional period of graphic change were either learning Caroline minuscule or irremediable influenced by it, consciously or not. Another question to ask is whether they were polygraphic Visigothic script scribes; I have already written about this here.

Codex Vigilanus seu Albeldensis, late 10th c. © El Escorial d.I.2

FIG. 4. Codex Vigilanus seu Albeldensis, late 10th c. © El Escorial d.I.2

How the process of learning a new script was for the scribes who decided to change? Leaving aside the dissimilarities between the two writing systems, Visigothic and Caroline do not look so different. Our brain needs to be reminded, though, that in medieval times written culture was not as today. Most of the population now is able to write, in the Middle Ages this was not the case. Thus, to learn a new script must have been a great deal. It is known that Carolingian masters came to the Iberian Peninsula to teach the new script to those who wanted to learn it, but there is no direct evidence to explain how the process itself was. For those who already knew Visigothic, it must have been easier to learn the new features, or maybe not? If we were now obliged to modify the form of our a or t, how long will take to our brain, eye and hand, to actually change? [see related posts about me learning to write in Visigothic script].

Learning to write in Visigothic script

FIG. 5. Learning to write in Visigothic script

Another difference between now and 12th century Iberian Peninsula is that, back then, writing was a laborious and slow process; it can be assumed their brain had enough time to realize the model the scribe’s hand should follow, or not? This could be another post. Let us just note here that examples of codices in which the copyist lost his thought and wrote some lines in another script have been preserved.

Finally, as for the last question, it has been suggested that those scribes and scriptoria that changed to Caroline were thus accepting and acknowledging Carolingian cultural pre-eminence. If so, it can be discussed whether Carolingian scribes held a higher status than Visigothic script scribes. In my opinion, to assess this question is tricky if not impossible. I guess that if a center felt powerful enough as to fight for the preservation of its own culture, it did not subdue; while if it was a minor center it could have done so? What do you think?

 

PD. If you know about publications tackling one or several of these questions, I would be grateful if you could please let me know.

 

– by Ainoa Castro

Suggested Citation: Castro Correa, A. “How did scribes perceive the graphic change?″. Littera Visigothica (September 2015), http://litteravisigothica.com/how-did-scribes-perceive-the-graphic-change (ISSN 2386-6330).




Visigothic script at the 19th Colloquium of the CIPL

Earlier this month I was giving a paper in Berlin at the 19th Colloquium of the Comité international de paléographie latine [for those of you who do not know it, you can join APICES – Association Paléographique Internationale. Culture. Écriture. Societé, which is the “public” counterpart of the Comité and runs a very useful mailing list – also has a journal]. The meeting had as main theme „Change“ in medieval and Renaissance scripts and manuscripts.

“Change” is history. It occurs in every aspect of human culture: political, technical, theological, ideological, legal, literary, etc. It can affect a single person, a group or an entire society. It has multiple temporal dimensions, from immediate decisions to long-term consequences. It is a process, which can be described and explained as the result of individual action, but also as the outcome of anonymous, collective, transformations. Like other sciences, palaeography and codicology have gradually developed their own concepts and terms to analyse change in medieval and early modern scripts and manuscripts. Some of these endeavour to offer more or less ambitious explanatory models, either for specific phenomena or for general trends. Many others are essentially descriptive, typological and chronological, but they too refer to implicit theories of historical evolution. All these notions deserve to be tested and discussed. “Change in medieval manuscripts” can refer to many phenomena, on different scales (a scribe, a scriptorium, a wider context). These are mostly intertwined and can be studied as causes or consequences of one another, e.g.: the structure and style of scripts; the visual and material appearance of books; the social organisation and economy of writing and book making; materials and technical processes; processes of disseminating, preserving and using written works… Preference will be given to proposals offering not only descriptive approaches but original reflections and interpretations, e.g. on the following: evidence of change; explanations of change; change as a turning-point (periodisation); factors facilitating or hindering change.

 You can read abstracts of all the presentations given here.

There was also an exhibit at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin: „Anatomy of Letters“ by Sigríður Rún. Really fascinating, check it -> here and here.

Exhibit "Anatomy of letters" by Sigríður Rún

Exhibit “Anatomy of letters” by Sigríður Rún

As could not be otherwise because of the organizer, the quality of the speakers was astounding. I particularly enjoyed the papers by Peter Stokes, Irene Ceccherini, Carmen del Camino, Colleen Curran, Orietta Da Rold, Martin Schubert, Elena Rodríguez, and Dominique Stutzmann (presentation order), although almost all of them have been useful for my research either because of the methodology applied, the main conclusions presented, or just the brainstorming to which they led trying to shed light in solving the “change” query from different points of view and different corpora. In a couple of years, more or less, I guess we will have the proceedings published; I will cherish this book as many of the previous ones [the 1987 colloquium was almost entirely about Visigothic script, see].

Visigothic script at the 19th Colloquium of the CIPL

Visigothic script at the 19th Colloquium of the CIPL

My paper was entitled “The regional study of Visigothic script: Visigothic vs. Caroline minuscule in Galicia”, and, as it suggests, it was about the graphic change but from a different point of view. Here is the abstract:

The last three decades of the 11th century were, for Galicia, a crucial period of cultural and political change. The effective political incorporation of the territory as a county of the Kingdom of León-Castile resulted in the replacement of the traditional local nobility for new aristocrats more consistent with the French preferences of the monarchy and the ecclesiastical elites. At the same time, this new centralized management promoted open paths for the massive arrival of European culture, leading to, among other things, the change from Visigothic script, the common writing system used in the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania from at least the early decades of the eighth century, to Caroline minuscule, the supra-national handwriting spread into general use throughout Europe. But, how did the scribes perceive this cultural and graphic change and adopted it?

Through the graphic examination of the first charters written in Visigothic script with Carolingian influence (c. 1070) to the first ones already written in the new script (c. 1110), this paper seeks to evaluate the impact that the change of writing system, from Visigothic to Caroline, progressively carried out reinforced by the central government and the new nobility, had on the scribes working in the main two Galician production centres, the sees of Lugo and Santiago de Compostela. It will be discussed the meaning of changing scripts for the scribes who used them; for the generation trained in Visigothic script that was driven to change its habits adopting the new writing system as well as for the new generation of those who learnt to write directly in Caroline minuscule within Galicia or, trained abroad, came to these main sees to develop their professional career. It is intended to deep in the social status of those two groups, asking if there were social differences between scribes from the old and the new scripts, and to debate how, through the graphic examples preserved, we can supposed their interaction was.

As a final point, the cultural context in which the graphic change was framed will be broadly discussed; how the rhythm of adaptation was and how it affected the political milieu in which Lugo and Santiago were in relation to the central government of the kings of León-Castile.

My point. These 3-days colloquia are exhausting for everyone and I did not want to overload my colleagues with a large amount of data and images analyzing every single aspect of the process of graphic change from Visigothic script to Caroline minuscule. Rather, I wanted to encourage a collective discussion through asking some general unsolved questions which can be extrapolated to any period of graphic change:

How did scribes perceive the graphic change from Visigothic script to Caroline minuscule? :

To what extent were the scribes aware of the graphic differences between writing systems?

Were early 12th-century Galician scribes polygraphic amanuenses?

How were scribes trained in the new script? Who taught them?

Was the social status of Visigothic and Carolingian script scribes the same?

Wanna know more? click -> Why these questions? <-

 

– by Ainoa Castro

Suggested Citation: Castro Correa, A. “Visigothic script at the 19th Colloquium of the CIPL″. Littera Visigothica (September 2015), http://litteravisigothica.com/visigothic-script-at-the-19th-colloquium-of-the-cipl (ISSN 2386-6330).




IMC Leeds 2016 – Call for Papers session: The reception and evolution of Caroline minuscule in the Iberian Peninsula.

International Medieval Congress 2016

University of Leeds, 4–7 July 2016

Call for Papers

De la escritura visigótica a la carolina, y de la carolina a las escrituras góticas. La recepción y evolución de la escritura carolina en la Península Ibérica.

From Visigothic script to Caroline minuscule, from Caroline minuscule to Gothic scripts. The reception and evolution of Caroline minuscule in the Iberian Peninsula.

Sponsor: Network for the Study of Caroline Minuscule

Organiser: Ainoa Castro Correa, Faculty of History, King’s College London

 

Mientras que en la Europa del siglo XII la carolina era el principal sistema gráfico empleado en la producción manuscrita, en la mayor parte de la Península Ibérica esta escritura apenas comenzaba a ser usada. La pervivencia de la escritura tradicional peninsular, la visigótica, dio lugar a un largo y desigual período de transición hacia el nuevo sistema gráfico importado. Al mismo tiempo, una vez aceptado el cambio, el modelo gráfico de éste ya llegaba en gran parte desprovisto de su naturaleza evolucionando de forma rápida hacia una diversidad de escrituras proto-góticas que devolverán a la Península su particularidad gráfica. Con trabajos centrados en escribas desarrollando su carrera en períodos de transición, esta sesión pretende explorar los contextos de cambio y poligrafismo vividos en la Península Ibérica en los siglos XII y XIII.

While in 12th-century Europe Caroline minuscule was the main writing system used in manuscript production, in most of the Iberian Peninsula this script was just beginning to be used. The persistence of the traditional peninsular script, Visigothic, led to a long and unequal transitional phase towards the new imported graphic system. At the same time, once the change was accepted, its graphic model arrived lacking its essential nature evolving thus quickly to a variety of proto-Gothic scripts which gave back to the Peninsula its graphic particularity. With works on scribes developing their careers in the periods in between writing systems, this session aims to explore the contexts of graphic change and polygraphism lived in the Iberian Peninsula in the 12th and 13th centuries.

The organizer would like to invite papers on Caroline minuscule; its process of introduction, implementation, and evolution in the Iberian Peninsula. Please submit proposals which fit the overall topic of the session via email to Ainoa Castro by September 27, 2015 and please include the following information:

  • paper title and short abstract (ca. 100 words)
  • name, contact details and affiliation
  • a short CV
  • equipment needed

Papers are accepted in English, Spanish and Portuguese and should not exceed 20 minutes. Feel free to contact the organiser if you have any questions.