Germany the chief power in Europe in the twelfth century—Rise of Italian influence—The Emmeram MSS.—Coronation of Henry II.—The Apocalypse—The “Hortus Deliciarum”—Romanesque—MS. of Henry the Lion—The Niedermünster Gospels—Description of the MS.—Rise of Gothic—Uncertainty of its origin—The spirit of the age.

In the chapter on Othonian art we saw how the ornamentation of books was drawn away from the great French centres, and began to take a new departure from the various leading cities of Germany, such as Bamberg, which the Othos had made their capital. Whilst the decline, which was the inevitable consequence of a personal government like that of Charlemagne, took place in France, it was but natural that the new artistic movement at Bamberg should become the fashion, and Germany predominant in art, as she was in politics. In the twelfth century the German Empire was the principal power in Europe. France, Italy, England, and Spain were all more or less secondary. Italy, however, was already on the alert. She was initiating certain movements in social life that must soon withdraw the cultivation of all the arts from the control of the monasteries. At the same time the love of learning and personal accomplishments of the second and third Othos and (St.) Henry II. soon prepared the Imperial Court to become as brilliant as classical scholarship and artistic skill of the highest class could make it.

The wave of Byzantine influence which had passed over Germany by the time of Henry II. had immensely benefited the Germans. We notice it especially in the miniatures of the Gospel-books. The technic is much more masterly, the painting really methodical in soundly worked body-colour with a delicate sense of harmony, and showing no longer that coarse handling and slovenliness of execution that marks some of the Carolingian miniatures. In the figure a sense of proportion has been gained, the tendency, perhaps, being rather to excessive tallness, as compared with the thick-set proportions of the Carolingian work. Again, expression is improved—the faces are more intellectual—not beautiful but strong, and quite superior to the utterly expressionless faces of the Carolingian type.

Take, for example, that fine Missal now at Munich (Cimel. 60—Lat. 4456), in which St. Henry, who is bearded, receives his crown from a bearded Christ, his arms being upheld by two bishops, Ulrich of Augsburg and Emmeram of Regensburg, the two great saints of Bavaria. We know these to be the personages represented, because two inscriptions tell us so. To the one supporting the King's right hand: “Huius VODALRICVS cor regis signet et actus.” To the other: “EMMERANVS ei faveat solamine dulci.” The Christ is seated on a rainbow within a cusped aureola or “amande” of several bands of different colours, on the central one being inscribed in a mixture of Greek and Latin characters—one of the new fashions brought in by the Greek revival:

“Clemens XPE tuo longum da vivere XPIC to:
Ut tibi devotus non perdat temporis usus.”

Some writers have thought this to be a picture of the Emperor's apotheosis, and that the crown is that of Life or Immortality; but such is certainly not the import of the above verses.

“O gentle Christ give to thy Christ long to live
That devoted to Thee he may not lose the use of time.”

Besides, two angels on either side Christ precipitately bestow on the Emperor the spear and sword of a temporal sovereignty. Round the Emperor are the words: “Ecce coronatur divinitus atque beatur. Rex pius Heinricus proavorum stirp(e) polosus,” all which can scarcely refer to anything but his German Empire.

The expression, “give to thy Christ,” is an allusion to the Hebrew usage of calling the king the “anointed” or the “Christ.”

Besides the interest possessed by this MS. as a monument of the art of its own time, it has a special value resting in the fact that its illuminations were copied from the famous Emmeram Golden Gospels of Charles the Bald, written by Linthard and Berenger, and sent as a present to Regensburg. Another illumination in it, representing the enthronement of the Emperor, is extremely interesting as showing how the later artist renders the work of the earlier one. The general composition is precisely the same, the lower figures in the same attitudes and bearing the same insignia. But in the details of costume, and in the significant position of the Emperor, there are alterations. In the miniature of the Emmeram Gospels the two angels above are simply winged messengers of the usual biblical type; in the Missal they are cloaked and crowned and bear horns in their hands. In the older MS. the two crowned figures with horns on either side wear simple mural crowns; in the later one they are regal like those of the Emperor. The details also of the canopies are different. But the remarkable difference is that while Charles the Bald is beardless and bears nothing in his hands, merely sitting as if addressing an assembly, Henry II. holds in his right hand a sceptre and in his left an orb and cross. Here is a distinctly new feature with a meaning. Here are the symbols of authority in the Emperor's own hands, and not merely in those of his attendants.[27] These two MSS. are worthy of careful study.

[27] See p. 92.

In another Missal in the library at Bamberg is a miniature of the Emperor presenting the book to the Virgin. In the great Evangeliary presented by the Emperor Henry II. to the Cathedral of Bamberg there is a grand picture of the Emperor and his consort the famous saint Cunegunda being crowned by Christ, with SS. Peter and Paul standing at the sides. Here also, as in the Carolingian MS. already mentioned, are the nations bringing tribute, but not in the same order. Here Germany stands upright between two figures of Gaul and Rome, while six others appear simply as busts (Munich, Cimel. 60. 4456).

The twelfth century was clearly much given to symbolism and allegory, as shown in apocalyptic commentaries and similar works. A very remarkable “Apocalypse” is that in the library of the Marquis d'Astorga. The latter is remarkably rich in pictures, which have been described by M.A. Bachelin of Paris. The drawing in these pictures reminds one of the bas-reliefs of the campaigns of Hadrian and Trajan and other work of the early Roman centuries. One hundred and ten miniatures of uncommon interest constitute the illustrations, many of which are perfect curiosities of symbolism, depicting not only the four figures of the evangelists, but the mysteries of the seals and vials, serpents, beasts, etc., on yellow, red, green, blue, and brown backgrounds. The draperies in some of the miniatures show Byzantine teaching, but with the grandiose style of the early Roman times. The MS. it might be compared with of the twelfth century is the “Hortus Deliciarum” of the Abbess Herrade. This latter MS., which unfortunately was burnt with many other treasures during the siege of Strassburg by the Germans in 1870, was a veritable treasury of mediæval customs, furniture, and costumes, illustrating a medley of encyclopædic information for the use of the nuns and secular students of the Abbey of Hohenburg in Alsace. The good abbess called her book a “Garden of Delights.”

It is known that it dated from 1159, as that date and also the date of 1175 occurred in its pages. We do not know whether the authoress was also the illuminatrix, but at any rate she directed the illumination. Their style is of the same type as that of the Apocalypse just spoken of, somewhat monumental as figures of the Liberal Arts, allegorical figures of the virtues and vices, and the syrens as symbols of sensual temptation. There was a figure of the Church riding upon a beast with the four heads of the evangel-symbols—the sun and moon in chariots as in the classical mythology, and scenes of warfare, marriage festivities, banquets, everything indeed depicting the life of contemporary persons.[28] The drawing and treatment generally is of no very skilful kind—the colouring bright and in body-colour. Draperies as usual much folded and fluttering, and the heads generally of the calm expression of the later French school, but the action sometimes very spirited.

[28] For a copious and exhaustive account of the “Hortus,” see “Het Gildeboek,” Utrecht, 1877, v. i. Also Engelhardt, Herrad v. H., etc., 8°, with atlas of twelve plates, 1818.

The title began thus: “Incipit hortus deliciarum, in quo collectis floribus scripturarum assidue jucundetur turmula adolescentularum.” In the Rhytmus came the lines:—

“Salve cohors virginum
Albens quasi lilium
Amans dei filium

Herrat devotissima
Tua fidelissima
Mater et ancillula
Cantat tibi cantica

Sic et liber utilis
Tibi delectabilis
Et non cesses volvere
Hanc in tuo pectore.”

In the Netherlands, which mostly at this time lay within the boundary of Lotharingia or Lorraine, the style of illumination was much the same as in other German districts. Gospel-books and Psalters, however, exhibit features somewhat akin to English work.

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries the continental methods prevail in more solid painting and less penwork.

Of the twelfth-century work of Germany examples are exceedingly numerous, stretching over every province from West to East, as Westphalia, the Palatinate, Burgundy, Switzerland and Bavaria, extending even into Bohemia. An Evangeliary in the University Library at Prag agrees altogether with those of Germany.

Towards the middle of the twelfth century, with the accession of the House of Hohenstaufen (1138, etc.), arose a new style, since called Romanesque, of which many examples are to be found in various libraries. It is not very easy to select the most typical examples, but one good and typical MS. is found in a Gospel-book at Carlsruhe, which contains some capital miniatures of this most thoroughly German style.

Under Frederick Barbarossa, as under the Caroling Emperors and the Othos, we may note a wave of new life, especially in Saxony. A contrast as regards artistic ability to the “Hortus Deliciarum” is the Gospel-book executed for Henry the Lion at the convent of Helmershausen, once in the Cathedral Library at Prag, and bought by King George of Hanover.[29] In the page of the Eusebian Canons we see features which take us across the plains of Lombardy to the doors of S. Michele of Pavia, and to the churches of Venice. The columns rest on crouching animals. Allegorical figures are introduced striving with each other as in the later Gothic illuminations. A half-nude figure of Faith vanquishes the champion of Paganism. On the dedication page sits the Madonna with SS. John Baptist and Bartholomew, and below them the patron saints of Brunswick, Blaize, and Egidius leading forth the Duke and his wife, Mathilda. It may indeed be called a splendid book. Among the rest of the pictures, some of them within richly decorated borders, occurs the usual representation of the Duke and his Duchess receiving crowns. The figures are well drawn, even elegant, the draperies good, and the colouring skilful.

[29] See F. Culemann in Neue hannov. Zeitung, 1861, Nos. 22-4.

One of the many characteristic MSS. of this period to be seen in continental libraries is the “Mater Verborum” of the monk Conrad, of Scheyern in Bavaria, a noted scribe, illuminator, goldsmith, and grammarian. The subject is one that scarcely gives promise of lending itself to pictorial illustration, but after the successful attempts of Theodulf we may be prepared for anything in the way of diagram and symbol. Imagine a dictionary in which not only actual objects are pictorially represented, but also abstract terms. Music, philosophy, virtues and vices illustrated by historical instances—sacred subjects treated in the manner of the glass painters which is so commonly found in German and French work of this period.

Of twelfth-century illumination in general it may be said that it shows a marked effort towards true artistic design and subtle beauty of linear outline. Some of the noblest curve-drawing, with rich and massive grouping of foliages, is to be found in the ornamental initials and dignified border designs presented on the later examples of the century, and it is very interesting to observe the rapid pace at which the climax is reached in mere calligraphic ornament after the opening of the Gothic period. Initials become smaller but exquisitely drawn, and reasonable expression takes the place of the senseless stare or grotesque exaggeration of attitude and feature which detract from the artistic value of all preceding efforts. To conclude our list of German illuminations of purely monastic production, we will bring forward one more example of women's work, which whether as regards its curious illustrations of symbolism, or its richly foliaged geometrical backgrounds and borders, is one of the most interesting MSS. in any collection. It is the Evangeliary of the Abbess Uota, or perhaps, rather, Tuota of Niedermünster, a lady of the House of the Counts of Falckenstein (1177-80); or of Utta, abbess from 1009 to 1012, but more probably the former. Another, Tutta, ruled the abbey from 920 to 934, and still another 1239-42. This precious MS., which Cahier has very fully described as the “Manuscrit du Niedermuenster de Ratisbonne,” is now in the Royal Library at Munich (Cimel. 35). Some writers, in speaking of it, have classed it among the MSS. of the eleventh century, but it is too refined and too well done for that period, and, indeed, that it belongs to the latter part of the twelfth is almost proved from the work itself. Perhaps it was the profusion of inscriptions or legends placed all over the miniatures that gave the idea of its belonging to the eleventh century. In this respect the MS. certainly resembles the Evangeliary of Luxeuil already described. The miniature of the Crucifixion is very remarkable. Besides the figure of Christ showing a return to the primitive Syriac idea,[30] instead of the figures as usual of Mary and John, here are given allegorical figures of Life and Death. (Cf. Fest. in exaltatione sce crucis. Ad Laudes, 14th Sept.). Perhaps the best commentary on these old figures is the “Biblia Pauperum,” as it is commonly called, or as it should be called, the Bible of the poor preachers. It also has the old allegories and inscriptions rendered into later forms.

[30] Cf. the Rabula MS. at Vienna.

As for the texts or inscriptions, they would require a commentary to themselves—not to speak of translations and remarks upon the calligraphy. One of these remarkable miniatures may be described, as it depicts the presentation of the volume to the Madonna. Our Lady in the centre of the design is seated on a Byzantine sedile with the infant Jesus on her knees. She is crowned, and has the nimbus, and appears as if intended to represent the glory of the Church. Her hand is raised as in the act of teaching. Christ, also, has the nimbus, but with the cross upon it, and raises his hand in the attitude of benediction. In the tympanum of the semicircle over the Madonna, written in letters of gold on purple, surrounded by the word “Sancta” in ordinary ink, is the monogram of Maria, having a small sun and moon above it, and other inscriptions, partly Latin, partly Greek. Below the Madonna, on the left, stands the abbess, her knees slightly bent, holding up her book, and clothed in the costume of her Order, but coloured, no doubt, simply for artistic reasons. Thus she wears a blue veil and a claret-coloured robe. In the reversed semicircle before her is another monogram, Uota or Tuota, a name which perhaps may be translated Uta, Utta, Ida, etc. It has been said already who she is likely to have been. It does not follow, of course, that she herself wrote or illuminated the book she is presenting, but judging from similar instances, as e.g. Herrade of Landsberg and Hrosvita of Gandersheim, she may have done so.

Still the work looks technically too masterly for anyone not a trained artist to have done. In the corners are small quadretti, containing busts of the four cardinal virtues:—Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude; and in circlets in the centre of each border are Faith, Hope, and Charity, the latter twice, at top and bottom. A number of extraordinary beasts fill up little niches in the design, which may possibly be also symbolical, but possibly also nothing but artistic fancies. The other miniatures we must pass over. Nevertheless those representing the four evangelists are worth examination;[31] the ornamentation being especially rich and elaborate. Let us now turn our attention to a new element—a new spirit we might term it—which was manifesting itself in Italy and France. We cannot too strongly insist upon the fact that whatever appears in illumination has appeared first in architecture and its auxilliary arts. Now we have to see how this fact begins to change almost entirely the character of the ornamentation of books. During the latter part of the twelfth century, when precisely we cannot say, nor where, a new form of architecture began to show itself. This new style, laying aside both the classic cornice and the Romanesque arch, makes use of a new vertical principle of construction, called in French the ogive or arch, composed of two sections only, instead of the whole semicircle. By some fatality, of which no exact explanation can be given, English writers have given this new style the name of Gothic. Scores of cathedrals throughout Europe are called Gothic cathedrals, whereas in all probability, if we exclude Sweden, there is only one really Gothic building in the world, that is the Tomb of Theodoric at Ravenna, and none of the so-called Gothic cathedrals are in the least like it. As to the invention itself, it has been claimed by almost every nationality in Europe. There can be no doubt that accidentally, or otherwise, the pointed arch had been used often enough without any idea of its adoption as a principle of construction even in ancient buildings. The famous gate at Mycœne is one instance. This is not the place to discuss the question, so we let it pass. We could point out long and elaborate arguments intended to prove that it originated in England—that it originated in France—in Germany.[32] Possibly they may all be right in a sense, for most probably the origin was not in any particular locality, but in the religious spirit of the time. It was a general revival of the Church itself that was its cause. If any special locality has more reason on its side than another, it is probably France, but as we say, that is not an essential point. It must suffice us here that it arose, and that by the end of the twelfth century it was a fact. And the remarkable part about it is that it was by the influence of lay artists and especially of the freemasons that it became the accepted architecture of Christendom.

[31] For more about them, see Cahier, Mélanges d'Archéologie, etc.

[32] Not to mention theories, which are endless.