Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler

Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler

Germany — Mid 14th century

Written in rhymed prose by the artist Heinrich Hesler and richly illuminated: one of the most fascinating Apocalypse manuscripts in German

  1. A rich Apocalypse manuscript in rhymed German prose composed by the 13th century poet Heinrich von Hesler

  2. One of the most precious and valuable specimens of Middle High German

  3. The word-by-word translation of the Revelation of St. John was designed to be read aloud

Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler

The Apocalypse of Heinrich von Hesler was composed in the 13th century. Its exact period of origin remains unclear to this day. The heady work is a German translation of the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. The text of the manuscript is in rhymed prose and its stunning illumination, richly embellished with gold, makes this Apocalypse manuscript one of the most interesting works of medieval German literature.

Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler

The Revelation of John, also known as the Apocalypse, is the last book of the New Testament. The tale of the end of the world and the Day of Judgement belongs among the most influential literary works worldwide and for centuries it has been continuously adapted in literature, film, or the visual arts. A particularly interesting edition of the biblical text was composed by the German noble Heinrich von Hesler. The origin story of the Apocalypse of Heinrich von Hesler continues to puzzle historians and researchers. The fascinating manuscript is illustrated with 35 breathtaking, colorful miniatures richly adorned with gold.

The Layman Heinrich von Hesler

Only a few facts are known about Heinrich von Hessler. He probably originated from the von Heßler family from Burgheßler near Eckartsberga and lived in the 13th century. Heinrich appeared to have been a “nôthafter rîter”, hence a layman in the circle of the Franciscan Order of Thuringia and composed a few manuscript codices, of which only three still exist today. One of his works is the Apocalypse, which belongs among the most precious literary works of the Middle Ages. The mysterious manuscript remains an important historical research project to this day. It period of origin is estimated to be somewhere between the years 1260 and 1335. In any case, the magnificent illuminated work demonstrates the comprehensive theological knowledge and talent of the author Heinrich von Hesler.

Medieval German Literature

Heinrich von Hesler’s version of the Book of Revelation is a German translation of the biblical text in rhymed prose. It remains nonetheless a word-by-word translation. Here the story is combined with the writings of a few medieval theologians and with Hesler’s own lessons. The fact that the text is written in verse with a uniform meter is especially impressive, thereby preserving a catchy melody for the Apocalypse that is particularly well-suited for reading aloud.

A Unique Illumination

The Revelation of John was reproduced in numerous illuminated manuscript throughout the Middle Ages. In contrast to most of the other Apocalypse manuscripts, the edition by Heinrich von Hesler exhibits a special characteristic. Many pictures of his manuscript correspond with the text of the work and illustrated the portrayed representations in a breathtaking manner. Having said this, other pictures were in all likelihood painted according to the desire of the patron. Alongside apocalyptic depictions of Hell and Paradise, which awaits all the righteous, one also finds numerous images of battling knights. The depicted knights acted according to divine providence in order to defend the destiny of the church on Earth. Such an illustration cycle was truly astounding and unique for the literature of that time.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Apokalypsa - Heinrich von Hesler
Apokalypse - Heinrich von Hesler
Size / Format
320 pages / 30.0 × 21.5 cm
Origin
Germany
Date
Mid 14th century
Style
Language
Illustrations
35 beautiful gilded miniatures
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Library of the Teutonic Order in Marienburg
Library in Tapiau
Castle Library in Königsberg

Available facsimile editions:
Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler – Rps 64/III – Biblioteka Uniwersytecka Mikołaj Kopernik w Toruniu (Toruń, Poland)
Orbis Pictus – Pelplin, 2013
Limited Edition: 198 copies
Detail Picture

Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler

The Sixth Seal

As the Lamb of God breaks the Sixth Seal and a bombardment of golden stars descends from a deep-blue, diamond-patterned sky, the people of earth both rich and poor alike take shelter in caves and other deep places, hands folded in an equal mix of prayer and terror. The mountains under which they hide are shown undulating as a pink church slides off to the right. All of this movement is made possible through a wonderful color palette and skillful shading.

Apokalypsa - Heinrich von Hesler
Single Page

Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler

The Sixth Seal

“And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains” (Gen 6:13–15).

Imbedded in the text, this scene is presented with deep opaque colors and rich gold leaf. The Lamb of God is presented in the upper left corner with only one seal left to be broken with John pictured underneath, text in hand. Kings’ crowns and bishops’ miters identify the powerful and important men hiding underground.

Apokalypsa - Heinrich von Hesler
Facsimile Editions

#1 Apokalypsa - Heinrich von Hesler

Orbis Pictus – Pelplin, 2013
Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler – Rps 64/III – Biblioteka Uniwersytecka Mikołaj Kopernik w Toruniu (Toruń, Poland)
Apocalypse - Heinrich von Hesler – Rps 64/III – Biblioteka Uniwersytecka Mikołaj Kopernik w Toruniu (Toruń, Poland) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Orbis Pictus – Pelplin, 2013
Limited Edition: 198 copies
Binding: Boards dressed in blind-stamped leather, closed with two brass clasps. Comes in wooden box with jute padding.
Commentary: 1 volume
Languages: English, Polish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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