Millstatt Genesis and Physiologus

Millstatt Genesis and Physiologus – Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Manuscript 6/19 – Kärntner Landesarchiv (Klangenfurt, Austria)

Austria — 12th century

Genesis, Exodus, sermons, and a bestiary with 119 wonderful pen drawings: a mesmerizing literary compendium and the earliest example of an almost entirely illuminated German-language manuscript

  1. The codex is of the highest literary and philological significance for its early Middle High German Bible texts

  2. A composite manuscript of Early High German literature and thereby a milestone of the German language

  3. In addition, the earliest example of a richly and almost entirely illustrated German-language manuscript

Millstatt Genesis and Physiologus

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Millstatt Genesis and Physiologus

8 rhyming poems in 6,062 verses – this is the Millstatt Genesis and Physiologus manuscript: it is one of the most important of the Early Middle High German anthology manuscripts. It dates from ca. 1200 in southern Bavaria, although probably not from the namesake monastery of Millstatt in Upper Carinthia itself. The first section (fol. 1-84) is the most important text in terms of literary history, namely a free rhymed translation of the biblical book of Genesis into German. The Millstätter Physiologus (fol. 84v-101) is a textbook of zoology also written in rhyme and describes 29 animals. These two sections are illustrated with 119 finely colored pen and ink drawings. Due to cost considerations, the publisher had to forgo color reproductions of the 167 leaves in total. However, 8 true-color reproductions, which are included with the commentary volume, give a vivid impression of the delicate hues of the original.

Millstatt Genesis and Physiologus

The Millstätter Genesis- und Physiologus manuscript is a monochrome facsimile of the well-known Carinthian manuscript in Middle High German. It is the earliest example of a richly illustrated codex in German. The codex is of literary and philological interest for its early Middle High German texts, including most importantly Genesis, Exodus, Physiologus, "Of Rights", and "Nuptials". The illustrations have received art historical attention for preserving a pictorial recension of Genesis, occurring most importantly in Cotton Genesis fragments in the British Museum, in a mosaic cupola at St. Mark’s in Venice, and in the Genesis frontispieces of the Carolingian bibles created at Tours.

A Tool of Bible Historians

Studies of these works have dealt principally with the Creation series; this publication greatly facilitates research on the full Genesis cycle, as well as the treatment of the Physiologus text and illustrations in relation to the Latin and Greek texts that gave rise to the 12th-century bestiary manuscripts, the iconography of which recurs here. The facsimile’s companion volume is not a full study but a paperbound description and good summary of literature on the manuscript, with full bibliography and eight color plates.


Alternative Titles
Die Millstätter Genesis- und Physiologus-Handschrift
Size / Format
344 pages / 20.0 × 13.0 cm
12th century

Available facsimile editions:
Millstatt Genesis and Physiologus – Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Manuscript 6/19 – Kärntner Landesarchiv (Klangenfurt, Austria)
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1967
Facsimile Editions

#1 Die Millstätter Genesis- und Physiologus-Handschrift

Binding: Leather binding, protected in a slip case with the commentary volume.
Commentary: 1 volume (52 pages) by Alfred Kracher
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. All folios are cut according to the original.
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