Remember all the way back in January – the first #MedievalMonday post – when we met Z10 76 (Constantinus Africanus’ Viaticum), and that I mentioned it was the oldest thing in our collection until a few weeks ago? Well, this week, we will meet the oldest thing in our collection. It’s a binding.
The College holds just 10 medieval manuscripts (or those created before 1500), and we’ve explored many features of ALL of them over the past 10 months. In the next few weeks, I’ll be showing off some of our incunabula (books printed before 1500) that were bound in manuscript waste. Yes, not only were ‘old’ manuscripts used as binding support material (see this earlier post), but they were also used as covers.
It was common practice for early bookbinders to cut up and use pages from outdated or unwanted manuscripts as binding material. This practice lasted until the 17th century, when unwanted manuscripts became more difficult to find.
The College holds at least 4 incunabula bound in music manuscripts, and several others bound in text manuscripts.The next few weeks we’ll be looking at some of them.
Over the past few months, we’ve looked at various parts of medieval manuscripts – catchwords, ink (here and here), illuminations (here, here, and here), etc., etc. Today we are going to look at the script of 10a 210 (Arnald of Villanova’s Regimen sanitatis ad regem Aragonum).
Look closely at the first folio of 10a 210, Arnald of Villanova’s Regimen sanitatis ad regem Aragonum. In the left and bottom margins you’ll see holes. These holes are not the result of parchment tearing or existing holes in the skin (as discussed in this earlier post), but bookworms. Bookworms are “Any of various insects that damage books; spec. a maggot that is said to burrow through the paper and boards,” as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary.
I have written several posts regrading initials in medieval manuscripts (here, here, here, and here), and here’s yet another. This week it’s about historiated initials, the most elaborate initials one can find in manuscripts. Historiated initials are letters which contain “an identifiable scene or figures, sometimes relating to the text.”