- Historical Background and Project Aim
- Selection of Manuscripts
- Digitization of the Manuscripts
- Manuscript Descriptions
Historical Background and Project Aim
Lorsch Abbey was founded in 764 and with the construction of a scriptorium and a library it became one of the most significant centres of knowledge in the Carolingian era. In the 9th century the collection of manuscripts, which can be reconstructed with the help of Carolingian library catalogues, comprised around 500 works, which for those days was an extremely large number.
The 330 manuscripts, which were written or held in Lorsch in the Middle Ages, are today scattered worldwide, some as fragments, over 68 libraries. It is the aim of the project “Bibliotheca Laureshamensis – digital” to reunite this cultural heritage in a virtual form, and thereby to make it accessible to different fields of research. The first steps were already taken in 2005 in cooperation with the Department for Medieval Art History at Heidelberg University (Prof. Dr. Liselotte E. Saurma) and with the financial support of the Gisela und Reinhold Häcker Stiftung.
The project strives to digitize all manuscripts, which were once created in the Lorsch Abbey’s scriptorium and kept in its library, and attempts to present them in a uniform layout in the internet. Simultaneously, manuscript descriptions are compiled and a database is set up. All Lorsch codices, fascicles, and fragments are described according to their codicological aspects and content, and they will be available for further research in the database.
Selection of Manuscripts
The selection of manuscripts presented in “Bibliotheca Laureshamensis – digital” is based on the research of the renowned palaeographe Bernhard Bischoff († 1991), who compiled a profound synthesis on the history of the Lorsch scriptorium as well as the library with his work Die Abtei Lorsch im Spiegel ihrer Handschriften. The studies by Hartmut Hoffmann from 1986 and 2004, which complete the list of the codices Laureshamenses that have survived until today, have also been included here. Bischoff had included the results of Hoffmann’s first publication in his 2nd edition of the compilation of Lorsch manuscripts, published in 1989.
All manuscripts, which Bischoff and Hoffmann have localized in Lorsch, either as they were written in the scriptorium, or held in the monastic library, are to be integrated into the “Bibliotheca Laureshamensis – digital“. All manuscripts which can definitely, probably and questionably (with corresponding notes in the descriptions) be located in Lorsch are included. This is primarily due to practical reasons, as the information on single manuscripts, in most cases, is distributed over numerous publications in different fields of research and it is difficult to collect and verify within a reasonable timeframe. Moreover, the works of Bischoff and Hoffmann most certainly comprise the largest part of known Lorsch manuscripts. And finally, the present focus on the work of two renowned manuscript researchers guarantees that the Virtual Monastic Library Lorsch is built upon a firm basis, even if the localization of manuscripts in research is subject of debate.
Therefore, as an extension to the project “Bibliotheca Laureshamensis – digital”, a list is provided which will at least summarize the manuscripts, which Bischoff and Hoffmann did not connect with Lorsch, or did not know of. In order to complete the list we depend on the cooperation and support of researchers, and welcome any according information. Please contact us.
Digitization of the Manuscripts
The project depends on the cooperation of 68 libraries and archives in Europe and America, which are in possession of a Lorsch manuscript or fragment. In numerous cases the holding libraries have digitized the valuable manuscripts and fragments in their own digitization centres. Subsequently the holding libraries have provided the digital images of the manuscripts and fragments as JPG-images. The other remaining Lorsch manuscripts have been digitized by Heidelberg University Library.
By far the largest collection of Lorsch manuscripts, amounting to 133 items, which once formed part of Heidelberg’s Bibliotheca Palatina, are today kept in the Vatican Library. In November 2010 Heidelberg University Library opened a digitization centre in Rome in cooperation with the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, on the grounds of the Vatican Library, in order to digitize all Lorsch manuscripts with a Graz Conservation Copy Stand. More >>
The descriptions of the manuscripts are based on existing manuscript catalogues, and on basic secondary literature representing the present state of research. They contain, in particular references to the origin and provenance, the exterior, and to the script as well as the content of the manuscript. The compiled information is played into a database. Here the Lorsch manuscripts can be systematically studied online. Furthermore, PDF-documents of the manuscript descriptions are linked to the presentation of the digital manuscripts. More >>