Pontifical Gundekarianum

Pontifical Gundekarianum – Reichert Verlag – Codex B 4 – Diözesanarchiv Eichstätt (Eichstätt, Germany)

Eichstatt (Germany) — 1071-1697

Continuously used in Eichstätt for over 600 years: a pontifical with an illustrated register of the bishops of Eichstätt demonstrates the evolution of the art of illumination from the Romanesque to the Renaissance

  1. The manuscript was commissioned by Bishop Gundekar II of Eichstätt (1019–75) as a pontifical in 1071

  2. Gundekar also had miniatures of Christ, 12 local saints, and all 18 bishops added to the manuscript

  3. Various other bishops had the manuscript updated over the centuries with 29 miniatures in total

Pontifical Gundekarianum

Codex B 4 Diözesanarchiv Eichstätt (Eichstätt, Germany)
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Pontifical Gundekarianum

Created in 1071 at the behest of Bishop Gundekar II of Eichstätt as a pontifical, the Gundekarianum was used by the bishops of Eichstätt until 1697 and was continuously updated in the manner of a family genealogy. It is the most comprehensive medieval manuscript of its kind and is also a precious source for liturgical and art history. The original part of the manuscript contains a series of miniatures depicting Christ, twelve saints associated with Eichstätt, and all eighteen bishops of Eichstätt since the founding of the diocese by Willibald including Gundekar himself. More than a century later, Bishop Otto appended the register up to his own reign and thus set a pattern for his successors. Beginning ca. 1300, the short texts were replaced by long vitae and individual portraits replaced connected groups of bishops. The last miniatures were added in 1517, numbering 29 in total. They demonstrate the evolution of the art of illumination across four and a half centuries, making the manuscript not only an important record of the bishops of Eichstätt but an excellent source for the study of art history.

The Bishop of Eichstätt Gundekar II.

Gundekar II - also called Gunzo - was bishop of Eichstätt from 1057 to 1075. Although he was never officially beatified, he was venerated as such after his death. There are no reliable sources about the lineage from which he came. Due to his relationship to Archbishop Siegfried I of Mainz (1060-84), it can be assumed that Gundekar belonged to a noble family of the Middle Rhine. After his appointment as court chaplain by Queen Agnes, he left Eichstätt in 1045. Because of his membership in the royal family, he was able to maintain contact with the other court chaplains. At the instigation of the empress, Gundekar was designated bishop of Eichstätt on August 20, and his episcopal consecration followed on December 27 of the same year. In his bishopric he concentrated on his spiritual work, the mediation of salvation as his exclusive goal. To this end, he consolidated the network of parish organizations and built churches. In total, Gundekar's pontificate recorded 126 church consecrations, 101 within his own diocese. This extensive expansion of parishes was made possible by the Eigenkirchen system, i.e. by the respective landlords supporting the construction on their private property. Only a few bishop-owned churches with the sole right of occupation by the bishop were built. The last decade of his life was marked by the Investiture Controversy, the fight for secular and spiritual power. Gundekar renounced any influence on imperial and church politics and managed to maintain a distinguished distance and neutrality.
In Eichstätt itself, Gundekar made it his task to rebuild the partially demolished cathedral and consecrated the restored basilica in 1060. After his death, he was buried in the St. John's Chapel of the cathedral, which he had built in 1062. Today, the bishop's remains are in the Gundekar Chapel, a Gothic successor building.

The liturgy as the center

In 1072, the bishop gave to his cathedral church, the so-called Gundekarianum: a magnificently decorated manuscript, which still represents the most precious book possession of the Eichstätt cathedral chapter. It is an anthology of 257 leaves, 204 of which date back to the time of Gundekar. The core of the work is a 110-leaf pontifical, a compilation of the sacraments, ordinations and blessings to be administered by the bishop (the pontifex). The Eichstätt text follows a special type of pontifical books which were developed in southern Germany in the 10th and 11th centuries.
The pontifical is followed by a calendar, which is followed by a rituale, a compilation of blessings and prayers of the diocese from the Salian period. With this work, the performance of the liturgy became the focus of Gundekar's endeavors. It also shows that he was a supporter of the reform of the church, for it had a special emphasis on the valid communication of sacramental salvation. Gundekar saw in the sacraments the signs of salvation ordained by Christ, in which the salvation of redemption must continue and be realized in the individual. In addition to the liturgical texts, Gundekar's codex is also distinguished by its historical entries. Gundekar's successors added to these entries until 1697 with a total of 19 bound-in continuations with the bishop's vites and bishop's pictures in miniature painting. The valuable original is now kept in the Eichstätt Diocesan Archives.

Artistical decoration

The Pontifical Gundekarianum is richly decorated with artistic ornaments. In addition to simple, colorfully decorated initials, a large double "initial" is adorned, which presents the full name of the founder in an artistic entanglement. This is followed by a large initial expanded with leafy vines as well as one with an imaginatively painted border. The highlight of the pictorial decoration are the 29 full-page miniatures: In addition to plants and animals, 52 bishops of Eichstätt are portrayed in a unique opulence. The depictions also try to illustrate historical processes retrospectively to the founding phase of the bishopric in the 8th century.


Alternative Titles
Liber pontificalis Eichstetensis
Size / Format
84 pages / 46.0 × 37.0 cm
29 magnificent miniatures from different periods and countless gold-decorated initials, initial, majuscules and borders
Bishop Gundekar II.

Available facsimile editions:
Pontifical Gundekarianum – Reichert Verlag – Codex B 4 – Diözesanarchiv Eichstätt (Eichstätt, Germany)
Reichert Verlag – Wiesbaden, 1987
Limited Edition: 350 copies
Detail Picture

Pontifical Gundekarianum

Gundekar II, Bishop of Eichstätt

The namesake of this manuscript, Gundekar II (1019–75), is believed to have commissioned it in 1071 before presenting it to Eichstätt Cathedral in 1072. As Bishop of Eichstätt, he was a supporter of church reform and appears to be a modest person because he did not order a full-page dedication miniature of himself. Instead, he merely appears alongside the other 17 bishops of Eichstätt in a classically styled architectural frame dressed in liturgical robes and holding a book and bishop’s staff.

Pontifical Gundekarianum – Reichert Verlag – Codex B 4 – Diözesanarchiv Eichstätt (Eichstätt, Germany)
Single Page

Pontifical Gundekarianum

Johann von Eych, Prince-Bishop of Eichstätt

The work begun by Bishop Gundekar II was carried on by his successors until 1697, and thus one can witness an evolution of artistic styles beginning with the Romanesque and ending with the Renaissance. This splendid full-page miniature in the Northern Renaissance style still exhibits the elaborate ornamentation of the Gothic style in combination with new innovations for depicting human figures.

Johann von Eych (d. 1464) was also Archbishop-Elector of Mainz, Prince-Bishop of Augsburg, and eventually became a cardinal, although he never received his cardinal’s cap. His handsome portrait depicts the reformer enthroned as a powerful Prince of the Church and his entourage of both clerics and laymen indicates his spiritual and temporal authority.

Pontifical Gundekarianum – Reichert Verlag – Codex B 4 – Diözesanarchiv Eichstätt (Eichstätt, Germany)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Pontifikale Gundekarianum

Reichert Verlag – Wiesbaden, 1987

Publisher: Reichert Verlag – Wiesbaden, 1987
Limited Edition: 350 copies
Binding: Leather binding
Commentary: 1 volume by Andreas Bauch und Ernst Reiter
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.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
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