Graduate Architecture Students in Professor Vidar Lerum‘s studio course took on the challenge of designing a new home for the magnificent collections of the University of Illinois’ Rare Book & Manuscript Library. With librarians and curators servings as their “clients,” and adhering strictly to their stated needs for special spaces to house, research, care for, and celebrate the collections, the students came up with 16 innovative and creative solutions to the pressing need to create a worthy space for these world-class collections. The designs are all environmentally-friendly and all make good use of available space. Now, if only we could get Oprah Winfrey or another amazing philanthropist to realize that the opportunity of a lifetime awaits to put one’s name on one of the greatest rare book and manuscript collections in the country. Enjoy the creativity of our students—and think seriously about the very real need to house these collections more appropriately.
This charter records a privilege granted to the city of Como, Italy, by the German king and Holy Roman Emperor, Henry V (1086-1125).
Henry V is mostly known for his role in drawing up the Concordat of Worms, which brought the investiture controversy to a close. His life tends to pale next to that of his father Henry IV, who deposed a pope and was excommunicated in turn. Henry V did his best to live up to his father’s example. He took a pope prisoner, for example, to extract an imperial coronation out of him. However, this charter gives us insight into more subtle tactics of persuasion.
The dating clause states that it was granted “In the ninth indiction, in the year 1116 of the Incarnation, when Henry V had reigned eleven years as the King of the Romans and six as emperor.” The charter was one of many he made on a trip to Italy to secure his inheritance. His wife, Matilda had died in 1115. During her lifetime she had changed her mind several times about how to dispose of her lands, signing them over to the church, then back to Henry again. En route, he granted a number of urban privileges to gain the support of locals.
This charter grants the right of imperial protection to the cities of Como and Menaggio:
“We order that no bishop, duke, margrave, dignitary, or any person, great or small, shall presume to subjugate or harm the aforementioned men, or deprive them of their lands. For whoever shall do it, let him know that he will gather one thousand pounds of the best gold to be shared between our court and the aforementioned citizens. ”
It is authenticated with an imperial monogram. Henry had two monograms. Here he used his imperial monogram. It stands for HEINRICUS DEI GRA[TIA] QUARTUS ROMANORUM IMPERATOR AUGUSTUS [Henry, by the grace of God, the Fourth annointed emperor of the Romans]. (He was the fifth Henry, but only the fourth to become emperor). Each letter of the sentence is only represented once, and the same lines recombine to form different letters.
Burchard von Holte writes the recognition clause. He was the bishop of Muenster, but seems to have preferred accompanying Henry around the Empire to putzing around his diocese.
The charter is the oldest document in the Archivio Cavagna Sangiuliani in Zelada portion of the Cavagna Collection, which consists of both manuscript and printed materials relating to local history of Italian cities and towns, institutions, societies, and families. Please contact a staff member if you would like to request this item for use in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. JC
More fun facts about the Salian dynasty can be found in,
Fuhrmann, Horst. Germany in the High Middle Ages, c. 1050-1200. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
Scholarly sources on royal and imperial monograms of the Middle Ages are scarce. The best source I have been able to find is,
Baudis, Gottfried Leonhard. Monogrammatum Imperatorum Ac Regum Germanicorum A Carolo M. Usque Ad Excessum Conradi III….Leipzig: Breitkopf, 1737
The John “Bud” Velde Visiting Scholars Program
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
CALL FOR APPLICATIONS, 2016-17 Program Cycle
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library annually awards two stipends of up to $3,000 to scholars and researchers, unaffiliated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who would like to spend a month or more conducting research with our materials.
The holdings of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library are substantial. Comprehensive collections support research in printing and printing history, Renaissance studies, Elizabethan and Stuart life and letters, John Milton and his age, emblem studies, economic history, and works on early science and natural history. The library also houses the papers of such diverse literary figures as Carl Sandburg, H. G. Wells, William Maxwell, and W. S. Merwin. In addition, it is anticipated that the Gwendolyn Brooks Papers will be open to researchers in time for this program cycle.
For information about this program, how to apply, and to find out more about The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, please visit our Web site at:
Please contact the Public Programs Manager, Dennis Sears, with further questions about the program or the Rare Book & Manuscript Library:
Or email Dennis: dsears (at) illinois (dot) edu.
Deadline for application: *5 February 2016*.
This wonderful historiated initial comes from the opening of our copy of the La regle saint Benoit, a French translation of the Rule of Saint Benedict. The illustration shows Saint Benedict addressing four attentive nuns. The artist incorporates suggestive details that give the scene a liveliness that is surprising for so small a picture. The nun closest to Benedict points to a passage, as if asking for clarification. Benedict holds his book closed, appearing to keep his place with his index finger as he pauses to answer a question.
Decorated initials are among the most striking features of manuscripts, but they were not widely attested until the Middle Ages. Books were rarely decorated in the ancient world because, even though literacy rates were higher, oratory remained the principal means of delivery while the physical books and scrolls were relegated to supporting roles.
During the Middle Ages, with the influence of Christianity, the book became important both symbolically and practically as an instrument of textual transmission. Decorated initials helped to reveal the structure of a text by emphasizing the beginnings of works, sections and verses. Historiated initials such as this one tended to be reserved for major divisions, while smaller initials might break a text into sections. A memorably decorated initial would help a reader locate its associated text. This is especially so when it reflected the text’s meaning, as in this case, where the initial introduces the sentence, Escoute fille les coma[n]demens de ton maître [Listen, daughters, to the commandments of your teacher]. It may seem odd that the initial, so appealing to the eye, introduces the injunction to “listen.” It reflects a cultural milieu in which the reception of texts was both auditory and visual.
Our copy was produced in northeastern France toward the end of the thirteenth century. In addition to the Rule, it also contains other devotional works, including Li livres des tribulations, Chanson d’amors de pure povreteit, and three short treatises. The French has feminine inflections, suggesting that the book was made for a female readership. An inscription pasted into the book by Claude de Grilly, a nun at the Abbey of Sainte-Glossinde, suggests the book may have been made for that convent. JC
It is not unusual to run across insects in old books: flies and spiders get squashed in the margins, and paper-loving silverfish perish between the pages they’ve been dining on. However, it is out of the ordinary to find one embedded in a book’s actual paper, as RBML cataloger Linda Bial did recently!
This unfortunate spider evidently fell into the mold where fresh paper was dried during the paper-making process. Paper in the days of handpress books was a precious and pricey commodity, and undoubtedly the printer saw no reason to discard a perfectly good piece of it just because of one little arachnid. The spider portion of the paper ended up being incorporated into the final blank leaf of gathering 3R and none of the previous owners opened the uncut top edge, perhaps seeing no reason to expose the spider any more than it already was.
The book, a mathematical work by Gerardus Vossius, was printed in Amsterdam in 1650 and the paper was likely manufactured in the same area, making this a Western European spider. It appears to be of the family Pholcidae, known informally as “cellar spiders.”
Like the ghostly handprint which cataloger Chloe Ottenhoff found in the paper of a book earlier this year (https://nonsolusblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/putting-the-hand-back-in-handpress/), the material presence of the spider makes book production from over 350 years ago seem like it happened just yesterday. SL
Gerardus Joannes Vossius. Gerardi Ioannis Vossii De quatuor artibus popularibus, de philologia, et scientiis mathematicis. (Amstelaedami : Ex typographeio Ioannis Blaeu, MDCL )
839.38 V93q: http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_2452747/Description