Hedwig Codex

Hedwig Codex Facsimile Edition

Silesia (Poland, Czech Republic) — 1353

A fine specimen of Central European Gothic art prized for its depictions of the first Mongol invasion of Poland in 1240–41: the codex narrating and beautifully illustrating the life of Saint Hedwig has nearly relic-like status today

  1. Saint Hedwig (1174–1243) was a pious Bavarian noblewoman who married the Duke of Silesia

  2. Her life is depicted in an exemplary Central European Gothic manuscript with 61 magnificent miniatures

  3. It was commissioned in 1353 by her great-great-great-grandson, Louis I of Liegnitz-Brieg (ca. 1321–98)

Hedwig Codex

MS Ludwig XI 7 The Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Hedwig Codex

Born into the Bavarian noble House of Andechs, Hedwig became the Duchess of Silesia after her marriage to Henry I the Bearded in 1201 and rose to the rank of High Duchess consort of Poland alongside her husband in 1232. Hedwig and Henry lead pious lives, supporting and founding various monasteries and hospitals as well as providing aid to the poor. After witnessing the death of her only son in the Battle of Legnica during the first Mongol invasion of Poland, Hedwig established a Benedictine abbey on the site. As a sign of her piety, she is said to have gone barefoot, even in winter. Hedwig was canonized in 1267, less than 25 years after her death. The story of her life is preserved in a marvelous Gothic manuscript known as the Hedwig Codex or the Codex of Lubin, which was created by a certain Nycolaus Pruzie (Nicolaus of Prussia) in 1353 at the behest of the saint’s great-great-great-grandson, Louis I of Liegnitz-Brieg. It is adorned by 61 masterfully designed and wonderfully colored miniatures, which include rare depictions of the first Mongol invasion of Poland in 1240–41.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Hedwigs-Codex von 1353
Lübener Kodex
Vita beatae Hedwigis
The Life of the Blessed Hedwig
The Life of the Blessed Hedwig
Ivot Sv. Hedviky
Size / Format
408 pages / 34.1 x 24.8 cm
Origin
Poland
Date
1353
Style
Language
Illustrations
65 Miniatures
Content
Life and suffering of Hedwig and other texts
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Der Hedwigs-Codex von 1353 Facsimile Edition
Gebr. Mann Verlag – Berlin, 1972
Limited Edition: 850 copies
Detail Picture

Hedwig Codex

The Mongols Carrying the Head of Henry before Castle Liegnitz

Aside from depicting the life of Saint Hedwig, the manuscript is prized for its depictions of the first Mongol Invasion of Poland. After the death of her husband, their son Henry II the Pious assumed the titles of Duke of Silesia and High Duke of Poland in 1238 but was killed and beheaded three years later at the disastrous Battle of Legnica. The Mongols wear Phrygian helmets, often given to pagan enemies in medieval art, as they parade before the walls of the castle and try to break the morale of the defenders.

Der Hedwigs-Codex von 1353
Single Page

Hedwig Codex

Saint Hedwig of Silesia

This full-page miniature of Saint Hedwig is unique in the manuscript: unlike the others, which depict events from her life, she is presented here in the form of a standard devotional image of a saint. She is flanked by the patrons of the manuscript, Duke Louis I of Liegnitz-Brieg, Hedwig's great-great-great-grandson, and his wife Agnes of Glogau.

Hedwig is sumptuously dressed as an aristocrat but carries her boots over her arm, making her barefoot in imitation of the Apostles, and she wears no crown as a further sign of humility. The objects she holds symbolize her devotion: a statuette of the Madonna and Child, a rosary, and a prayerbook in which she marks a page with a finger to suggest she was praying when this “snapshot” was taken.

Der Hedwigs-Codex von 1353
Facsimile Editions

#1 Der Hedwigs-Codex von 1353

Gebr. Mann Verlag – Berlin, 1972
Der Hedwigs-Codex von 1353 Facsimile Edition
Der Hedwigs-Codex von 1353 Facsimile Edition Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Gebr. Mann Verlag – Berlin, 1972
Limited Edition: 850 copies
Binding: Linen binding
Commentary: 1 volume by Wolfgang Braunfels and Peter Moraw
Language: German
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.
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