Attributed to Lambert of Saint-Omer, the Liber Floridus is a twelfth-century encyclopedic compilation of diverse Classical and early Medieval sources spanning broad topics including geography, mathematics, history, grammar, and astronomy. It is richly illustrated with dozens of diagrams, charts, and narrative pictures to further show concepts or descriptions presented in the texts. Localized to Flanders, it is a rare source of non-religious illumination at this time including a diagram explaining the relationship between the sun and the moon and a two-page map of the world.
This is one of nine known manuscript copies, the oldest being Ghent, Universiteitsbibliotheek Gent, MS 92, which may have been Lambert's original. This copy is contemporary with the author, presented in a large format with vibrantly colored illuminations rich in detail.
The Protogothic script is of good quality with common abbreviations and sections demarcated with enlarged, colored initials, and titles in rubrication. The Liber Floridus is a wonderful collection of some of the most influential early medieval writers and is superbly presented in this high-quality illuminated manuscript.
Knowledge Chosen like a Bouquet of Heavenly Flowers
Lambert's compilation is called the Liber Floridus, or Book of Flowers, as a metaphor of the concept of selecting different flowers for a bouquet, so he selected what he viewed as the most important information of his time and place to include in his work.
Thus it serves as an important document not only of what science was available in twelfth-century Flanders but also what was deemed crucial to the monastic community there.
Diagrams of the Natural World
Of the thirty-one subjects illustrated in the Liber Floridus, including a multi-page Apocalypse pictorial cycle, most concern the natural world. Diverse topics such as animals, constellations, astrological phenomena, and geography are accompanied by pictorial representations and charts.
The diagrams are exceedingly abstract, however, they represent how medieval scholars were ordering things in the world and relating them to biblical events and knowledge.
Encyclopedias and the Rise of Natural Science
The mid-twelfth century saw a dramatic shift in learning and education in Europe. With the growth of cities and increased demand for clergy, universities began to be established in places like Bologna and Paris. These created a body of intellectuals curious about how the natural world contained information about the will and motives of the Creator.
Encyclopedic books such as the Liber Floridus united wisdom from a broad array of sources and enabled scholars to understand and debate the connections between them, driving forward the study of the natural sciences.
The manuscript is bound in red Niger goat leather. The binding dates to the twentieth century. The front cover is centrally stamped with gold lettering "LIBER FLORIDUS" and the back stamped similarly at the center bottom with "COD. GUELF. 1. GUD. LAT." The previous red sheepskin binding of the seventeenth century is stored separately.
We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Liber Floridus": Der Liber floridus in Wolfenbüttel: eine Prachthandschrift über Himmel und Erde facsimile edition, published by WBG (Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft), 2014Request Info / Price