The first textbook for the "last knight": the future emperor's golden miniatures for the Our Father and Hail Mary

Textbook for Emperor Maximilian

Vienna (Austria) — Around 1466

Textbook for Emperor Maximilian

Textbook for Emperor Maximilian

Vienna (Austria) — Around 1466

  1. This rare, masterfully illuminated primer helped educate the future Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519)

  2. Maximilian went on to become one of the greatest patrons and collectors of art in history

  3. Prayers such as the Our Father and Hail Mary were learned by the young heir to the throne with the help of beautiful miniatures

Das Lehrbuch für Kaiser Maximilian (Real Gold Edition)

Textbook for Emperor Maximilian

Young Maximilian at Prayer

This gorgeous pink historiated “O” initial with acanthus leaf décor was framed by glimmering gold leaf with a very finely embossed pattern. It contains a miniature of Prince Maximilian participating in mass, shown kneeling at the altar with a fine golden chalice alongside a tonsured priest who is dressed in elaborate vestments. Maximilian is depicted with long, flowing blond locks of hair and his pious expression might easily be interested by a modern beholder as boredom.

Textbook for Emperor Maximilian

Alternative Titles:
  • Lehrbuch für Kaiser Maximilian I.
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
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from 890 €
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

Maximilian I, mighty Hapsburg Emperor, called both the "Last Knight" and the "First Mercenary" because of his military prowess, was also a patron of the arts second to none. He commissioned a veritable mountain of art, including illuminated manuscripts, and this was largely influenced by the magnificent primer that was made for him, also known as the Textbook for Emperor Maximilian . Unlike most primers, this manuscript is splendidly illuminated and its adornment is on par with the personalized manuscripts made for adults. The primer gives a foundation for education, from ABC's to important prayers and biblical verses, a calendar, German translations of the Latin prayers, and more.

Textbook for Emperor Maximilian

In the Middle ages, the basic subject matter in teaching was usually arranged with handwriting on simple blackboards, foldable paper boards, or even un-illustrated workbooks. Textbooks, richly decorated with miniatures, with a few exceptions, are exceedingly rare. One of the most valuable is the splendidly illuminated codex from Vienna, that is associated with the famous name of Maximilian I. From this school book, written about 1466 by the Imperial Chancellor Wolfgang Spitzweg, the young Emperor learned his ABC's and prayers such as the Our Father, Ave Maria, and more as well as jingles in the Latin and German languages: in short, all the basic contents of the medieval syllabus. The manuscript is the oldest copy of a group of three known textbooks that were specifically prepared for Maximilian and were all from the same master illuminator. In contrast to the author, the illuminator has remained anonymous. The colorful miniatures, richly decorated with gold, the illuminated initials, the genre scenes, and the religious representations show narrow references to the manorial student. From the beginning, we see Maximilian in one-on-one instruction with one of his teachers; when saying grace, the young prince always appears at table.

Inspired by Illumination at an Early Age

The cultural and historic meaning of the textbook to Maximilian I cannot be determined with sufficient accuracy. History highlights Maximilian I as being "the last knight and the first mercenary", and it is with this book that the versatilely gifted prince, under whom the Hapsburgs rose to be the mightiest dynasty of Europe, learned to read. The exquisite artistic production of this parchment manuscript was the first contact the young Maximilian had with illumination. It so excited him in its vitality that he became a major sponsor of the genre in later years. The manuscript features 14 miniatures inside of initials with polished gold backgrounds, each of which introduces a new section. Its floral frames feature a multitude of leafy tendrils, flowers, insects, animals, and people, indicating that it was the work of a very talented master. This illuminator has remained anonymous, but its author is known with certainty to be Wolfgang Spitzweg, an imperial clerk. Nonetheless, this work planted the artistic seed in young Maximilian, who would grow into one of the greatest art patrons of his day.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Lehrbuch für Kaiser Maximilian I.
Size / Format
54 pages / 28.4 x 21.4 cm
Date
Around 1466
Style
Gothic
Illustrations
14 historiated initials
Artist / School
Das Lehrbuch für Kaiser Maximilian (Real Gold Edition)

Textbook for Emperor Maximilian

Alphabet / Our Father Page

The opening page of this rare manuscript is framed by gorgeous flowering tendrils of red, green, and blue with a heron on the left margin and a face hidden at the bottom. At the top we see the Prince’s escutcheons: the red-and-white stripes of the Hapsburgs (right); the castles, shields, and fleur-de-lys of his Portuguese mother (left); the double-headed Reichsadler or Imperial Eagle (center).

We see the alphabet with several examples of the lowercase letter “a” above, while the rest of the page has the Our Father in Latin. It is adorned by the first of the manuscript’s 14 perfect historiated initials. The Prince is depicted in several of these with flowing blonde locks of hair, and in this case is wearing green-gold brocade and seated next to his tutor, dressed in red.

2 available facsimile edition(s) of „Textbook for Emperor Maximilian“

Das Lehrbuch für Kaiser Maximilian (Real Gold Edition)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Textbook for Emperor Maximilian – Cod. Vindob. 2368 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
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Das Lehrbuch für Kaiser Maximilian (Real Gold Edition)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 2005
Limited Edition
50 copies
Binding
Two-color leather binding with hand-stitching on the spine
Commentary
1 volume (104 pages) by Karl-Georg Pfändtner, Alois Haidinger
Language: German
More Information
All folios are cut according to the original.
from 890 €
Edition available
Price: Login here!
Das Lehrbuch für Kaiser Maximilian (Normal Edition)
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Das Lehrbuch für Kaiser Maximilian (Normal Edition)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 2005
Limited Edition
50 copies
Binding
Two-color leather binding with hand-stitching on the spine
Commentary
1 volume (104 pages) by Karl-Georg Pfändtner, Alois Haidinger
Language: German
More Information
All folios are cut according to the original.
Regular price without login (like new)890 €
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