Sacramentary of Henry II

Sacramentary of Henry II Facsimile Edition

Benedictine Abbey of St. Emmeram, Regensburg (Germany) — 1007–1014

Political statement in golden robes for the king and later emperor Henry II: the ivory-decorated masterpiece of Ottonian illumination from Saint Emmeram's Abbey in Regensburg

  1. A highlight of Ottonian art with a dedication picture clarifying its origins at the behest of Emperor Henry II (973–1024)

  2. It contains illumination from the golden age of Regensburg's St. Emmeram Abbey

  3. The codex's incredible imagery is protected by a magnificent cover of ivory and gold

Sacramentary of Henry II

  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Sacramentary of Henry II

The magnificent sacramentary of Henry II was created in the famous scriptorium of the Regensburg monastery of St. Emmeram. The future Holy Roman Emperor Henry II donated the magnificent manuscript, decorated with elaborate ivory work, to the Bishopric of Bamberg, which he founded in 1007. The book treasure was used at festive church services in the cathedral there and was kept in the cathedral treasury in accordance with its value until Secularization. In addition to the richly ornamented calendar pages and texts of the high prayers, which are lavishly decorated with gold, it is especially the 14 masterly pictorial pages and the almost 350 decorative initials that constitute the artistic value of this important work of Ottonian book art.

Sacramentary of Henry II

This splendid sacramentary was donated by the later Roman-German Emperor Henry II to the Bishopric of Bamberg, which he founded in 1007. The Sacramentary of Henry II was used during solemn church services in the cathedral there and was housed in the cathedral treasury up to the time of Secularization. Along with the neatly ornamental and lushly designed with gold calendar pages and texts of the Eucharistic prayers, the 14 picture pages account for the artistic value of this important work of Ottonian illumination.

A Royal Donor

The striking coronation picture makes the royal donation obvious at first glance: Henry was crowned by the saintly Bishops Ulrich and Emmermam and invested with the Imperial Regalia – the Holy Lance and the Imperial Sword. The throne picture shows the king in his full power and glory. Additionally, the author’s picture of Gregory the Great, the legendary author of the sacramentary, aligns another great name with the book. The fact that the latter Emperor Henry II is still described here as REX indicates that allow us to draw conclusions about the dating the manuscript. The codex must have been made before 1014, the year of the imperial coronation. The reason for the commission of such a magnificent royal work could be the founding of the Bishopric of Bamberg in 1007 by Heinrich himself. The king donated the sacramentary to the cathedral there, which was created in the scriptorium of St. Emmermam’s Abbey in Regensburg and was presumably intended originally for the cathedral in Regensburg.

A Masterpiece from the Bavarian Center of Illumination

One of the most important centers of illumination in southern Germany during the Ottonian Era was located in the Danube-city of Regensburg. The scriptorium of St. Emmermam, the monastery of which commanded comprehensive stocks of valuable manuscripts, produced superb works such as the Uta Codex and the Sacramentary of Henry II. The magnificent manuscript from the golden age of Regensburg illumination shines especially with respect to its rich pictorial decoration. A total of 14 picture pages – including the already mentioned coronation, throne, and author pictures – along with 12 calendar pages and 9 framed pages of text written in gold ink with the Eucharistic prayers unfold a splendor worthy of a royal donation. Broad decorative frames, delicate ornamentation, a variety of colorful geometric and floral patterns, and not least the valuable gold surfaces form the basis for the array of artistic skills that the illuminators exahusted. The image composition is guided by Carolingian models. The artistic adornment was completed with the countless large and small initials that embellish the pages of text.

The Valuable Binding

The pages of the magnificent manuscript are protected by a binding that is worthy of the contents of the book. Set in gold is an ivory relief, which is probably datable from shortly before manuscript. Thematically it had Christ’s crucifixion in the upper register and shows the scene of the women at his tomb. The backside of the binding was adorned with partly gilded silver work, which shows Pope Gregory the Great who was already depicted in the book. The valuable sacramentary was used for masses in the Bamberg cathedral on the highest holidays and was a part of the Bamberg cathedral treasury in the following centuries. In the course of Secularization, the book came to Munich in 1803 where it is housed today in the Bavarian State Library.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Regensburg Sacramentary
Size / Format
718 pages / 29.5 × 24.2 cm
Origin
Germany
Date
1007–1014
Language
Illustrations
21 pages with breath-taking ornament, 14 full-page miniatures (some of them on purple ground), nearly 350 elaborated gold and silver initials
Patron
Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor (972–1024)
Previous Owners
Bamberg Cathedral

Available facsimile editions:
Sacramentary of Henry II – Clm 4456 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany) Facsimile Edition
Faksimile Verlag – Munich, 2010
Limited Edition: 333 copies
Detail Picture

Sacramentary of Henry II

Aedicula of The Holy Sepulchre

The shrine of Christ’s tomb is referred to as the aedicula, which is found in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre today. Three days after his Crucifixion, some of the disciples come to visit the tomb where Jesus was buried to anoint him with incense – they can be seen swinging a golden censer. Upon arrival, they discover the tomb is empty save for his burial shroud. An angel appears, telling them that Christ is risen and to go spread the good news to the other disciples.

Sakramentar Heinrichs II.
Single Page

Sacramentary of Henry II

Coronation Miniature

This is the most well-known depiction of Henry II as well as the most significant image in the manuscript. Unfathomably rich in its adornment, incredibly refined in its artistic execution, it is the symbolism of the scene that is most significant. Floating above Henry in a mandorla, Christ in Majesty reaches down to crown him – one of the first assertions of divine rule in the West.

The banderole identifies Henry as REX, meaning that this image predates his imperial coronation. The King stands in front of four windows with his arms extended, holding the Imperial Sword in one hand and the Holy Lance in the other, which is marked as the Tree of Life by the small crucifix and golden globe atop it. Two bishops symbolically support Henry’s arms.

Sakramentar Heinrichs II.
Facsimile Editions

#1 Sakramentar Heinrichs II.

Faksimile Verlag – Munich, 2010

Publisher: Faksimile Verlag – Munich, 2010
Limited Edition: 333 copies
Binding: The front cover of the volume shows a magnificent ivory plate framed with golden sheet metal, illustrating the same biblical events that are also pictured in the manuscript: the Crucifixion and below it the events of the Easter morning with the Three Marys at the Tomb. No less impressive is the back cover of the book, which on a silver plate shows Pope Gregory the Great writing his text. He is inspired by the Holy Spirit who in the form of a dove seems to whisper in his right ear. Much like the author’s picture inside the painted book, this partly gilded silverwork expresses great harmony.
Commentary: 1 volume (168 pages) by Rolf Griebel, Brigitte Gullath, Martina Pippal, Stefan Weinfurter and Erich Renhart
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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