Today we will be looking at the digitized medieval manuscripts from the Hochschul- und Landesbibliothek Fulda (University and State Library of Fulda). You can access them here.
A Little History of the Manuscripts in the Hochschul und Landesbibliothek Fulda
Fulda was home to a Benedictine abbey founded in 744 by Saint Sturmi, a disciple of Saint Boniface. In the 8th and the 9th century, the monastery was a prominent center culture in Germany, and, being the burial-place of Boniface, it also became a site of religious significance and pilgrimage. Fulda grew, and in the 18th century it became a diocese. At its height, the abbey library was home to around 2000 manuscripts and was home to works such as Tacitus’ Annales, Ammianus Marcellinus’ Res gestae, and the Codex Fuldensis, cradle of Old High German literature. The abundant records of such an important abbey are conserved in the state archives at Marburg (Also accessible through the DMMmaps, click here).
Sadly, as of 2013 the Fulda manuscripts have become widely dispersed; some have found their way to the Vatican library (also on the DMMmaps. They changed their web-address which we updated.) Others are still here at the Hochschul und Landesbibliothek Fulda.
Browsing the Medieval Manuscripts
There are exactly 100 digitized manuscripts available on the website.
We are highliting the following:
- 100 Bonifatianus 3 (Cadmug-Codex) – Cadmug is the name of the Irish scribe that wrote the manuscript during the second half of the 8th Century.
- 100 Bonifatianus 1 (Victor-Codex) – Also known as Codex Fuldensis, dating back to the 6th century. considered the second most important witness to the Vulgate text.
- 100 Aa 124 – A Dutch Book of Hours from the 15th Century.
- 100 D 11 – Weingartner Welfenchronik
- 100 Aa 86 – Flemish Book of Hours from the 1500’s, with a beautiful cover.
The Hochschul und Landesbibliothek Fulda‘s website has the possibility to display a whole manuscript’s thumbnails, offering a nice overview. This is something that is always very welcome, since they quickly display the content of a manuscript. The thumbnails are limited to ten per page and the number cannot be modified; this is a bit limiting, especially considering contemporary web design standards. Endless scrolling with lazy-loading would be a nice improvement, allowing the visitor to view the manuscript in one go, without having to load ten different pages.
It is possible to download high-resolution images (although, to do this you have to go Into DFG viewer. A link on the left column is offered next to each image or manuscript). It is also possible to view them full-screen within the website. In full-screen mode you can zoom in and appreciate the smallest details of a manuscript. At the highest resolutions the images lack some sharpness though.
The website navigation is fairly easy and straightforward. What is missing on the front page where the digitized manuscripts are presented is the date in which the manuscripts were created, and the place of origin. At the moment the website only shows the shelfmark and the title.
Something that would also be very useful for the user is a sort of the preview available directly on this front page: by hovering on top of the manuscript’s presentation image, it would be useful if a series of previews would be loaded and presented right away, to see the contents of the manuscripts right away without the user having to click on the image and then click on thumbnail preview. In general it would speed up the browsing and the general experience.
On a more technical note, the Hochschul und Landesbibliothek Fulda website loads very fast, and so do the images. The website makes use of Permalink, allowing easy linking to the images and easing the possibility to find a digitized manuscript in the future.
Image Quality of the Digitized Books
The quality of the images is very high; they are sharp and the colors are well-balanced, although I notice a slight tendency towards green in many of the images. You can download images at a resolution of around x 1500 px. Quite a high-resolution, but still far away from the 3000 px x 4000 px of the Getty Museum of the Walters.
There is no copyright notice available on the website; because of this we have to consider all the images protected by the strict ‘All Rights Reserved’ copyright. This clearly limits the possibilities of use given by the digitized images (we are technically violating the law by publishing images here on the DMMmaps blog, for example). Usually digitization projects in Germany (i.e. The Münchener Digitalisierungszentrum) have Creative Commons copyright that allows the free use of the manuscripts, but in this case it is not there. We like to believe that this copyright notice was not inserted just because it was forgotten by the webmaster (probably not, but we like to dream).
The Hochschul und Landesbibliothek Fulda‘s website hosts some extremely beautiful digitized manuscripts. It is a small paradise, especially if you can appreciate palaeography and philology. We have made a brief collection here but there are many more to be found and explored on the website. Go and explore!