The Bamberg State Library’s Digital Collection

De natura rerum - Staatsbibliothek Bamberg Msc.Nat.1
De natura rerum – Staatsbibliothek Bamberg Msc.Nat.1

Today we are going to give a look at the Digital collection of Bamberg State Library. A fantastic collection of manuscripts, fully digitized, in high quality, and available for everyone to browse, explore, and study. Actually, we should be speaking of collections, plural, since two collections are present: The collection “Manuscripts of Henry II” is traced back to the emperor Henry II, who founded the bishopric of Bamberg in 1007; and the new digital collection. Let’s see!

The first horseman, Conquest on the White Horse
Bamberger Apokalypse – 14r – The first horseman, Conquest on the White Horse – The text reads:
Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. – Revelation 6:1-2˄

Manuscripts of Henry II

The first collection derives from the many precious manuscripts Henry II and his predecessors had collected or commissioned. Manuscripts from various spiritual centers of the West were brought to Bamberg as a result. Completed since 2013, this collection contains all this 165 manuscripts associated with Henry II, which originated in or before his lifetime.

Staatsbibliothek Bamberg; photo: Gerald Raab
Msc.Can. 13 – Staatsbibliothek Bamberg; photo:
Gerald Raab

Treasures of the Bamberg State Library

The new digital collection, part of the website “Treasures of the Bamberg State Library”, also contains the aforementioned collection of Henry II, along with a constantly updated collection of newly digitized medieval manuscripts.
In the ensuing period many books were written and illuminated in the town, notably in the 12th century by the Benedictine monks of Mount St. Michael. All that remained of these manuscripts in the monasteries of the town and bishopric up to 1802/1803 was incorporated into one library (now the Bamberg State Library) during the period of German Mediatisation. Among the incredible manuscripts you can find in the Digital collection of Bamberg State Library you can find a medical manuscript from 1300 with a lot of medieval medical equipment; the “Bamberger Psalter” with its magnificent illuminations; the “Bamberger Apokalypse” with imagery in 49 incredible fascinating miniatures (49 is a multiple of 7, a number with particular importance in Christian religion.)

The Bamberg Psalter

The Bamber Psalter - 9v
9v – The Baptism of Christ
The Bamber Psalter - 117r
117r – Judgement
The Bamber Psalter - 115v
115v – The Resurrection
The Bamber Psalter - 115r
115r – The Crucifixion
The Bamber Psalter - 63r
63r – Initial Q – David and Goliath
The Bamber Psalter - 62v
62v – Judas’ Kiss
The Bamber Psalter - 61v
61v – The entrance of Jesus in Jerusalem
The Bamber Psalter - 61r
61r – The Devil tempts Jesus

Final Words

A real treasure-trove, the website is easy to navigate, and so are the very well digitized manuscripts, which are enjoyable in high-resolution. The manuscripts are can be listed by signature, date of origin, and place of origin.

Worth a thousand visits.

Giulio Menna
Giulio is an MA graduate in Book and Digital Media Studies from Leiden University, the Netherlands. He is also system librarian at Leiden University Library. Founder and developer of Sexy Codicology and the DMMmaps Project; lover of medieval manuscripts and of all things digital.