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Why have a Network for the Study of Visigothic script?


Madrid. Biblioteca Nacional. Ms. Vit. 14.2. Together we can fight the beast!

Madrid. Biblioteca Nacional. Ms. Vit. 14.2. Together we can fight the beast!

Although there is a catalog of codices written in Visigothic script already published (1999), from which I have made a summarized “online version” by updating the archive files [the ‘Codex of the month’ series] and adding links to their digital surrogates where available [Littera Visigothica timeline], the information we have for each one of the 359 books identified is, in most cases, far from accurate or reliable. It is not only the lack of specific studies for some codices, but also the inherent difficulties of their study which explains this situation. Approximately 310 of these codices have no colophon to use to date and locate the codex itself, and for those which provide this information, allowing us to date the first ones by comparison, no detailed graphical study has been published. This is not because such studies have not been made but because, unfortunately, the tools needed to share the information (like DigiPal) have not yet been well disseminated.

There are also thousands of charters written in Visigothic script. Their study would also help to contextualize those 310 codices since the same scribes who wrote codices wrote charters too. But there is no database of charters. There are, however, several collections of charters grouped by production center, although they have been gathered and published mostly for historical purposes and not for paleographical ones; thus, without including detailed information about the graphic characteristics of the script used by each scribe.

Consequently, there are many sources in Visigothic script that would allow us to deepen our understanding of the cultural, historical, economic, social and political context of medieval people throughout the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania that cannot be used since they have not yet been gathered, dated and localized.

The situation regarding the study of Visigothic script and Spanish medieval manuscript culture is disturbing if one thinks in the “big picture”; all that still waits to be studied. We lack interdisciplinary research gathering manuscript studies as well as history, linguistics, literature, music or art, to name but a few. But there are great previous studies which have helped and will continue to help future research [take a look]. Would you like to be part of this Network and help change the current state of the art about Visigothic script? This is the first step in organizing a network for studying Visigothic script, and the more the merrier!



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