Wiesbaden Codex

Wiesbaden Codex – Reichert Verlag – Hs. 2 – Hochschul- und Landesbibliothek RheinMain (Wiesbaden, Germany)

Monastery of Rupertsberg (Germany) β€” 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)
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Wiesbaden Codex

Referred to in German as the Riesencodex or β€œgiant 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
Grosser Hildegard-Codex
Giant Codex
Size / Format
962 pages / 46.0 Γ— 30.0 cm
Ca. 1180–1190
Symphonia and Ordo virtutum
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Wiesbaden Codex – Reichert Verlag – Hs. 2 – Hochschul- und Landesbibliothek RheinMain (Wiesbaden, Germany)
Reichert Verlag – Wiesbaden, 1998
Detail Picture

Wiesbaden Codex

O Jewel Resplendent

A large red β€œO” initial with a flourish in the middle introduces the phrase β€œO splendidissima gemma” and the abbreviated red text to the right stands for A(ntiphona) d(e) S(ancta) Maria. In the final vision of her Liber Scivias, Hildegard hears celestial choirs singing in praise of the Virgin Queen of Heaven and this antiphon found on fol. 466v is the first piece in that heavenly symphony. Its opening image is that of a gemstone refracting sunlight, which literally becomes a lens through which Hildegard glimpses the entirety of salvation history.

Wiesbaden Codex – Reichert Verlag – Hs. 2 – Hochschul- und Landesbibliothek RheinMain (Wiesbaden, Germany)
Single Page

Wiesbaden Codex

Fol. 472r

The antiphons in the left column of this page are a continuation of a cycle concerning Saint Ursula. According to the Roman Martyrology, she was a Romano-British Christian princess accompanied by 11,000 virginal handmaidens on pilgrimage to Rome who, upon their return journey to Gaul where she was to be married, were all killed by Huns besieging Cologne in the year 383. The right column contains two more antiphons, one devoted to the Holy Innocents and the other used for the official Dedication of churches.

This page is the work of a skilled scribe who has also been identified as being one of the hands that created the Scivias manuscript, which means it is undoubtedly the work of the scriptorium in the cloister at Rupertsberg. Featuring 17 β€œsystems” or ensemble staves in red and brown ink per column, the page is neatly and clearly designed so that both the notation and the text are clearly visible. If anything, the scribe left an abundance of space in the margins.

Wiesbaden Codex – Reichert Verlag – Hs. 2 – Hochschul- und Landesbibliothek RheinMain (Wiesbaden, Germany)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Hildegard von Bingen: Lieder

Reichert Verlag – Wiesbaden, 1998

Publisher: Reichert Verlag – Wiesbaden, 1998
Binding: Red linen binding
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.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)
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