Wiesbaden Codex

Wiesbaden Codex Facsimile Edition

Monastery of Rupertsberg (Germany) — Ca. 1180–1190

Music by one of the most influential women of the Middle Ages: Hildegard von Bingen's ingenious compositions from the Rupertsberg Codex, which was completed on her deathbed

  1. Hildegard von Bingen (ca. 1098–1179) was one of the most important figures of the Middle Ages

  2. Her collected works are preserved in the Wiesbaden Codex, created according to her final wishes

  3. The section devoted to Hildegard's musical compositions is presented here in facsimile

Wiesbaden Codex

Hs. 2 Hochschul- und Landesbibliothek RheinMain (Wiesbaden, Germany)
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  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Wiesbaden Codex

Referred to in German as the Riesencodex or “giant codex” due to its size and weight – 15 kilograms, 481 folios, secured with an iron chain, and measuring 30 x 45 cm – the Wiesbaden Codex is an encyclopedia comprising the collected works of the famous medieval polymath and visionary Hildegard von Bingen. It is named after its modern repository in Wiesbaden, Germany. Only her medical writings and some of her letters are missing from the manuscript, work on which was likely started at the end of her life or shortly after her death in 1179. The manuscript was originally designed by Volmar, Hildegard’s first secretary, but was heavily edited and then executed by Guibert of Gembloux, her final secretary. These changes are apparently in accordance with Hildegard’s wishes in her final days. The work of several scribes can be discerned from the text, which is neatly written using red and black ink in two columns. This facsimile contains the section of the original manuscript, which is dedicated to Hildegard's musical compositions.

Wiesbaden Codex

The massive tome stored under the shelf mark Hs. 2 of the Hessian State Library, which was incorporated into the library of the RheinMain University of Applied Sciences in 2011, is the most precious and valuable book in the collection because it contains the collected works of the medieval German abbess, polymath, and visionary Hildegard von Bingen, except for her medical and scientific treatises. It has been theorized that these were recorded in a second volume that has not survived or was ever complete. Dating from the late 12th century, it was begun around or just after the end of her life and was created in the scriptorium of Rupertsberg Monastery near Bingen.
Many consider the manuscript to be a relic and icon of the spirit of Saint Hildegard. It is sometimes referred to as the Wiesbaden Codex because of where it is stored, or the Giant Codex due to its size, or the Chain Codex for the iron chain that secures it. Measuring 46 x 30 cm, the codex contains 481 parchment folios and weighs 15 kg, but the facsimile presented here contains the musical section found on folios 466-481.

History of a Book Treasure

The codex was commissioned by one of Hildegard’s final secretaries, either Volmar von Disibodenberg or Guibert of Gembloux, who are also believed to have served as scribes. It was kept in the Rupertsberg Monastery until the 15th or 16th century, when it was rebound in the Johannisberg Monastery in the Rheingau region and fitted with its iron chain to secure it against theft before being returned to Rupertsberg. During the Thirty Years’ War, it was saved from destruction at the hand of marauding Swedish troops when it was brought together with a collection of relics received as gifts or collected by Hildegard to Eibingen, a daughter monastery of Rupertsberg.
During the course of Secularization, the manuscript passed into the possession of the Duchy of Nassau in 1814 and was placed in the Nassau State Library, which became the Hessian State Library. Its binding had to be repaired after the manuscript was damaged while being transported in 1928. It survived the Second World War undamaged despite being stored in Dresden and, unlike many other manuscripts in the Soviet Zone of occupation, was returned to Wiesbaden in 1948.


Alternative Titles
Rupertsberger Riesencodex
Hildegard von Bingen: Lieder
Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum
Ordo virtutum
Kodex mit der Kette
Hildegard von Bingen - Rupertsberger Riesencodex
Size / Format
30 pages / 46.0 × 30.0 cm
Ca. 1180–1190
Symphonia and Ordo virtutum
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Wiesbaden Codex – Hs. 2 – Hessische Landes und Hochschulbibliothek (Darmstadt, Germany) Facsimile Edition
Reichert Verlag – Wiesbaden, 1998
Facsimile Editions

#1 Hildegard von Bingen: Lieder

Reichert Verlag – Wiesbaden, 1998
Wiesbaden Codex – Hs. 2 – Hessische Landes und Hochschulbibliothek (Darmstadt, Germany) Facsimile Edition
Wiesbaden Codex – Hs. 2 – Hessische Landes und Hochschulbibliothek (Darmstadt, Germany) Facsimile Edition Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Reichert Verlag – Wiesbaden, 1998
Commentary: 1 volume by Michael Klaper
Languages: English, German
1 volume: This facsimile is not complete. Reproduction of the folios 466-481 (Symphonia and Ordo virtutum) of the 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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