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Hrabanus Maurus - Liber de laudibus sanctae Crucis
Fantastic picture poems from the Carolingian royal court
Vienna, Austrian National Library, Cod. Vindob. 652, Fulda, after 844


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The Codex Vindobonensis 652 is among the many copies of a work which had already reached great fame and achieved well-planned distribution throughout the empire of Charlemagne at the life time of its author, Hrabanus Maurus, a monk from Fulda and later bishop of Mainz.

The famous picture poems

Hrabanus, praised at his time as ”praeceptor Germania”, wrote this book in the literary form of picture poems as was formerly practised in Tours by Alcuin, his famous teacher. Hrabanus raised this literary genre to a new peak, referring less to recent Carolingian models than to the classical source of this form.
The text, inscribed on a grid-like system, is presented in a square frame in the manner of a picture. From this text box emerge individual letters and groups of letters which compose self-contained poems or sequences of words referring to the basic concept of the composition, the glorification of the Cross.
The monumental manuscript contains a series of 28 picture poems taken from the first version of the treatise on the Holy Cross presented by Hrabanus as early as 810–14. The book ends with the famous dedication miniature depicting the author below the Cross as symbol of salvation.

The facsimile edition reproduces the Carolingian manuscript true to the original and in all detail. The commentary volume provides an introduction and guides the reader through the fascinating world of Charlemagne.

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