The Gospels of Sta. Maria ad Martyres
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In den Beständen der Stadtbibliothek Trier finden sich unter den zahlreichen mittelalterlichen Handschriften auch bedeutende Quellen für die deutsche Sprach- und Literaturgeschichte. The Gospels of Sta. Maria ad Martyres (Trier, Stadtbibliothek, Cod. 23/122 a-b 2º) is a two-volume luxury manuscript dated ca. 800. Its extensive decorative program combines full-page gospel frontispieces featuring Christ alongside the symbolic depictions of the evangelists, numerous elaborate initials, and sixteen ornamented pages of canon tables. Intended as a gift from Alcuin to his benefactor and friend, the Frankish king Charlemagne, the manuscript’s carefully assembled textual and decorative components articulate the Anglo-Saxon scholar’s aspirations for Christian leadership projected onto the Carolingian ruler. The addition of a full-page depiction of Christ enthroned in majesty in the tenth century attests to the Ottonian elite’s ongoing engagement with the tangible, material remnants of the Carolingian past, and their shared ideological conception of Christian rulership. Stylistic, icono graphic, and technical parallels connect this miniature to the work of the Gregory Master, associated with the manuscript’s famous shelf mate, the Codex Egberti (Trier, Stadtbibliothek, Cod. 24), and the artistic patronage of Egbert, Trier’s ambitious Archbishop. The Gospels of Sta. Maria ad Martyres provides valuable insights into various intersecting aspects of book production in the era of Charlemagne, and problematizes certain assumptions pertaining to issues of classicism, taste, and luxury, as well as Alcuin’s debated impact and legacy.
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