The famous great song manuscript from Heidelberg: a unique treasure of German literature, medieval history, and Gothic book illumination

Codex Manesse

Zurich/Lake Constance area (Zwitzerland) — After 1310 until around 1340

Codex Manesse

Codex Manesse

Zurich/Lake Constance area (Zwitzerland) — After 1310 until around 1340

  1. The “most comprehensive collection of High Middle German song and spoken poetry” from 140 poets of the middle ages

  2. 6,000 strophes of Middle High German lyrics revolve around the primary theme of courtly love

  3. 137 full-page miniatures of the highest quality offer inter alia a deep insight into medieval courtship

Codex Manesse

Codex Manesse

Konrad von Altstetten

Lounging in a garden surrounded by flowers, two young lovers embrace one another in a surprisingly intimate scene. The minstrel is believed to be Konrad von Altstetten, who was documented between 1320 and 1327. Based in the Upper Rhine Valley, the von Altstetten family has been attested to since 1166 and was in the service of the Abbot of St. Gallen. Konrad is shown casually feeding his falcon with a gloved hand and rubbing cheeks with his lady who has long, flowing, curly blonde hair.

Codex Manesse

Alternative Titles:
  • Manesse Codex
  • The Great Heidelberg song manuscript
  • Manesse song manuscript
  • Heidelberger Liederhandschrift
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

One of the most important manuscripts of the entire Middle Ages is housed today in the Heidelberg University Library: the so-called Codex Manesse, also known as the Great Heidelberg Book of Songs. An unbelievable ownership history entwines itself around the manuscript, which arose in Zurich between 1300 and 1340. The codex contains 6,000 strophes of Middle High German lyrics from 140 poets along with the “most comprehensive collection of High Middle German song and spoken poetry”. The poems, songs, and sayings revolve around the primary theme of courtly love. These attestations of medieval lyric are wonderfully illustrated with 137 lovely full-page miniatures. As a result, the Codex Manesse is not only a true treasure of German literature and medieval history, but also and in particular of Gothic book painting.

Codex Manesse

One of the most important manuscripts of the entire Middle Ages is housed today in the Heidelberg University Library: the so-called Codex Manesse, also known as the Great Heidelberg Book of Songs. An unbelievable ownership history entwines itself around the manuscript, which arose in Zurich between 1300 and 1340. The codex contains 6,000 strophes of Middle High German lyrics from 140 poets along with the “most comprehensive collection of High Middle German song and spoken poetry”. The poems, songs, and sayings revolve around the primary theme of courtly love. These attestations of medieval lyric are wonderfully illustrated with 137 lovely full-page miniatures. As a result, the Codex Manesse is not only a true treasure of German literature and medieval history, but also and in particular of Gothic book painting!

A Unique Certificate of Middle High German Lyric

The patrician Manesse family from Zurich is considered to be the commissioner and eponym of the famous manuscript. At the beginning of the 14th century, the Zurich patrician Rüdiger Manesse and his son Johann compiled an enormous collection of Middle High German lyric, which served as the foundation of the codex. This was continuously enlarged and supplemented up until 1340. Altogether, the Codex Manesse contains 6,000 strophes of High Middle German lyric, song, and sayings from 140 authors, among them such famous names as Walther von der Vogelweide, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Hartmann von Aue, Gottfried von Straßburg, and Ulrich von Liechtenstein. The lyric from the time of 1160/70 up to ca. 1330 has been singularly recorded here to some extent, which makes the *Great Heidelberg Book of Songs***one of the most important sources for the Minnesang**. Curiously, the songs and poems are organized according to the rank of their composer. The manuscript begins with the lyric of Emperor Henry IV as the most aristocratic poet. Thereafter follow kings, dukes, and other nobles down to the bourgeois and professional poets.

The Struggle for the Treasure

Today the Codex Manesse is housed in Heidelberg. Nevertheless, the manuscript is intertwined in an exceptionally exciting, varied provenance. The manuscript first remerged at the end of the 16th century, as Prince-Elector Friedrich IV of the Palatine (1583-1610) brought the codex to Heidelberg. There it was a part of the famous Bibliotheca Palantina. Already appreciated then as a unique anomaly, it was taken into safety and stored before all the rest of the collection was brought to Rome by plundering Catholic armies during the 30 Years War. Thereafter, the Codex Manesse first showed up again in the 17th century in France, where it was a part of the Royal Library. The manuscript was soon recognized as an important German cultural asset and its return to Germany was contested. This first came to pass in the year 1887 when it was given over to Germany in a spectacular exchange deal – for 120,000 Francs and 166 valuable manuscripts, some of them Carolingian – following the approval of Reich Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and found its place in the University Library of Heidelberg. Thereby the historical will of Kaiser Friedrich III was followed, who entrusted the Codex Manesse to the University Library of Heidelberg as the successor of the famous Bibliotheca Palantina.

Significant Miniatures as Rich Pictorial Adornment

Alongside being the unique source for High Middle German lyric, the Great Heidelberg Book of Songs is famous above all for its splendid and qualitatively artistic furnishings. These present the illumination of the Upper Rhine during the Staufer period in perfection. 137 full-page miniatures from four different masters adorn the altogether 852 pages of the manuscript. Art history differentiates between the two so-called foundation-masters, who are responsible for 110 of the splendid miniatures, and their three successors. In gorgeous multicolored decorative frames, the miniatures present scenes from the courtly world of the Middle Ages. They orbit, like the poems, around the primary theme of courtly love, the erotic love between man and woman. Thus, for example, one of the depictions shows a noble young lady on horse with a golden arrow in her hand. With this golden arrow she aims at a young man, probably a poet – an ancient symbol of love. Other scenes present kings while hawking, battling knights at a tournament in magnificent suits of armor who are watched and judged by noble ladies, or the coronation of a poet by a woman, who sets a wreath upon his head. In this way the codex offers a profound glimpse into the world of the High Middle Ages. Simultaneously, the artist presents himself as an outstanding master of medieval illumination through his exceptional pictorial compositions. This connection between Middle High German Lyric and gothic book illumination, all of the highest quality, makes the Codex Manesseone of the most valuable manuscripts in the University Library of Heidelberg and simultaneously one of the most significant codices of the entire Middle Ages!.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Manesse Codex
The Great Heidelberg song manuscript
Manesse song manuscript
Heidelberger Liederhandschrift
Size / Format
852 pages / 35.5 x 25.0 cm
Date
After 1310 until around 1340
Style
Gothic
Language
Illustrations
137 full-page miniatures, one pen-and-ink drawing
Content
Collection of 6000 strophes of Middle High German lyrics (songs and gnomic poetry) dating from 1160/70 to around 1330, the most important source for "Minnesang"
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Codex Manesse

Codex Manesse

Author Portrait of King Conrad the Younger

Usually known by the diminutive Conradin, King Conrad the Younger is the second author featured in this collection of poetry, outranked only by the Emperor Charles IV. Although he only lived to the age of 16, he wrote two songs worthy of being included in this manuscript. Conrad is depicted hunting with his friend and ally Margrave Frederick I of Baden.

The crowned Conrad has just released his falcon as the two nobleman engage in a favorite pastime of the aristocracy. His hunting dogs watch with anticipation, as does Frederick, who is dressed in a red robe. Gold leaf has been used for Conrad’s crown, the collar of his green tunic, saddle, and coat of arms, as well as the diamond-patterned red and blue frame.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Codex Manesse“

Codex Manesse
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
Codex Manesse – Cod. Pal. germ. 848 – Universitätsbibliothek (Heidelberg, Germany)
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Codex Manesse

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Insel Verlag – Frankfurt, 1975-1981
Binding
Brown calf leather with toolings and two clasps
Commentary
1 volime (194 pages) by Walter Koschorreck and Wilfried Werner
More Information
All folios are cut according to the original.
Price Category: €€€€
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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