manuscript lab

Reconstruction of the history of a manuscript:
chronology and “Händescheidung”

Case Study: Codex germanicus 6

The Codex germanicus 6 consists of a compilation of twelve different texts. It is an excellent example of a manuscript with a complex history. The 614-page manuscript was created around 1450. Most of the twelve different texts are composed in Middle High German. The whole manuscript was written and rubricated by a scribe who names himself Jordan – of whom little else is known – for his personal use, as he conveys in two colophons on two pages. According to the codicological research, the sequence of the texts in Cod. germ. 6 doesn’t correspond to the order in which they were penned. The codex begins with the two Meisterlieder König Artus’ Horn and Luneten Mantel. Apparently, they were added after the binding of the codex because one sheet has been inserted so that they can be placed before the beginning of the Parzival text. Moreover, the index, also written by the scribe Jordan, doesn’t mention all the texts. Either Jordan forgot to note the additional texts in the index or they were penned after the index was composed. The analyses focus on the XRF examination of the red inks at relevant points in the manuscript – especially where one text ends and another begins. The analyses reveal seven different red inks that were apparently used within the manuscript without a consistent system. However, the combination of classic codicology and scientific analysis assisted in clarifying the chronology of the production process (Rabin et al. 2014).

Excerpt from the XRF spectra collected from the paper and selected red inks (Enlarge)