Project on pictorial encyclopaedias from the early 16th century receives funding

Symbolic picture for the article. The link opens the image in a large view.
Item of Erlangen, university library.Alle Inhalte, insbesondere Fotografien und Grafiken, sind urheberrechtlich geschützt (Copyright). Das Urheberrecht liegt, sowei

The world in pictures – and more: pictorial encyclopaedias around 1500 describe the known world and beyond. A new research project at the Lehrstuhl für Lateinische Philologie des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit (Prof. Dr. M. C. Ferrari) funded by the Manfred Roth Foundation is concerned with these fascinating works.

The cheque will be ceremoniously handed over at a press event.

From the second half of the 15th century onwards, encyclopaedias experience a notable increase in popularity. Medieval hand-written works are reproduced and popularized in early prints, but new texts also emerge – and new illustrations along with them. The medium of image, which had played a subordinate role in the encyclopaedic thinking of the Middle Ages, now gradually becomes an instrument of understanding itself.

Two valuable manuscripts from this time which were created around 1524 in the same manufacture (possibly in Passau) are now kept in the university library in Erlangen and the Jagiellonian Library in Krakow respectively. Compared to other manuscripts, they are rich in illustrations (“pictorial encyclopaedias”) and cover a broad spectrum of specialized knowledge: astronomy and medicine (surgery) are two main focal points, but they also contain and describe the seven wonders of the world, magic, and activities like card games, chess, fencing and wrestling as well as crafts. All of it comes to life for the viewer in intricate illustrations. The makers were remarkably well-informed: even America, the continent that had just been discovered at the time, can be seen in drawings in the two manuscripts.

An interdisciplinary research group at the Lehrstuhl für Lateinische Philologie des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit is working on examining these fascinating testaments to the early 16th century in the context of a research project funded by the Manfred Roth Foundation (Fürth), the Universitätsbund Erlangen-Nürnberg e. V. and the Sonderfonds für wissenschaftliche Arbeiten an der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.


The press event (ceremonial award of the funding cheque by the Manfred Roth Foundation): Mittellateinische Bibliothek, Kochstr. 4, 3. OG, Room 3.010, 91054 Erlangen, on Thursday, 14 October 2021, 1PM