The Berlin fragment is among the most significant luxurious medieval manuscripts of the German-speaking world. The text was composed for King Konrad IV, son of the great Staufer king Frederic II, and traces back to the poet Rudolf von Ems, from Vorarlberg in Western Austria.
It is a tale of the Bible in German verse, understood as a historical narrative with clear reference to contemporary political events. The text was intentedintended to cover historical events from the past to the times when written, but was left unfinished.
Charlemagne and the Song of Roland
Unlike Rudolf von Ems, the second author, the itinerant poet Stricker, is hardly known, although he wrote a considerable number of verse romance and comic tales. His success is due primarily to his epic of Charlemagne, which he wrote around the year 1220.
Stricker relied on numerous literary accounts built around the figure of Charlemagne as early as the 12th century in the form of heroic tales, in association with the legend of the hero Roland. The text is set before the historic background of the campaign against the Saracens in 778.
Impressive illustrations set against glowing gold
The illustrations are attributable to the artistic environment of the famous “Manessische Liederhandschrift” (Manesse song manuscript). Scenes full of lyric beauty and dramatic weight are painted in luminous colours, set on golden grounds.
August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben
In 1826, the torsos of the two manuscripts – of which only the miniatures have survived because of their beauty – found their way to the author of the “Deutschlandslied”, August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, who was also an important librarian and manuscript collector.
In 1850 Hoffmann von Fallersleben sold the manuscripts to the Royal Library in Berlin. Today the remaining fragment is kept in the Staatsbibliothek at Berlin.
We have 2 facsimiles of the manuscript "Rudolf Von Ems: World Chronicle - Der Stricker: Charlemagne":
- Die Weltchronik - Karl Der Grosse facsimile edition published by Mueller & Schindler, 1980
- Cronaca del Mondo e Storia di Carlo Magno facsimile edition published by Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte