Color of the Middle Ages Reimagined : A Retrospective of Dr. Carl Nordenfalk and his 1976 Exhibition of Medieval Manuscript Facsimiles

Codex Caesareus Upsaliensis or the Goslar Gospels of Henry III

Original: Codex Caesareus
Uppsala, Sweden, Uppsala University Library, shelfmark C 93
Handwriting on parchment. 159 sheets, 38 x 28 cm. Echternach, Luxemburg, approx. 1050.
Gift by Ulrik Celsing (1731–1805) according to testament from 1805. 

Facsimile: Codex Caesareus Upsaliensis: A facsimile edition of an Echternach gospel-book of the eleventh century 
Author: Carl Nordenfalk
Published: Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1971
Frick Fine Art Stacks i ND3359.U69 N8

Context for the Facsimile:

The Codex Caesareus Upsaliensis is the second most valuable treasure in the University of Uppsala Library (Sweden), only surpassed by the famous, purple-colored Codex Argenteus. In celebration of the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the University Library, Uppsala alumni and manuscript expert Carl Nordenfalk authored the commentary to a facsimile edition of the eleventh century Codex Caesareus. Nordenfalk completed this publication during his time at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., and the facsimile book was crafted and published by Almqvist & Wiksell Boktryckeri AB in Uppsala (1971). Despite the Nordenfalk’s native language being Swedish and the manuscript’s origins in Germany, the commentary is written entirely in English due to the author’s reasoning that English will be the scholarly language of the future.

Context for the Original Manuscript:

    Commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry III (1017-1056), the Codex Caesareus was presented to the Apostles Simon and Jude, the patrons of Henry’s newly built Cathedral in Goslar. Henry III entrusted the production of this lavish Gospel book to the monastery of St. Willibrord in Echternach (present day Luxembourg), which was an artistic center in the middle of the eleventh century. As a result, the manuscript bears distinctive illuminations typical of the Echternach school, and a (now lost) metal binding with intricate ornament and precious stones. Nordenfalk speculates that the metal binding was looted of its ornaments in the late 16th century by a crooked dean of canons (Benedict Grohans). Then, in January of 1632, the town of Goslar was conquered by the Protestant Swedes (thirty years war).

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