Selbold Cartulary Fragments

July 4, 2020 in Manuscript Studies


Grapes Watermark in a Selbold Cartulary Fragment.

Selbold Cartulary Fragments

3 Leaves on Paper

Single columns of 38 lines
Circa 28.3 × 210 cm < written area of circa 20.6 × 15.5 cm>
Presumably Stift Selbold or its Region (Hessen) in Germany
Late 14th or early 15th Century
Watermark of Grape Cluster

[Posted on 3 July 2020, with updates]

Continuing our blog on Manuscript Studies (see its Contents List), we publish images and descriptions of a set of three leaves from the dismembered paper copy of a Latin cartulary (or codex diplomaticus or Kopialbuch, in Latin and German) of the former Premonstratensian monastery-and-then-abbey of Selbold in Hessen, Germany.  The set presents a now-disrupted series of uniform transcriptions in book form of individual dated documents issued by ecclesiastical and secular rulers confirming, or reconfirming, rights and privileges pertaining to that institution and its dependencies.

Purchased from Boyd Mackus in the United States some years ago and now in a private collection, the fragments comprise 1 single leaf and 1 bifolium.  We identify them here as folios “1” and “2–3”, using inverted commas or quotation marks to indicate a non-original sequence and location within the former volume.  Written by a single scribe with a uniform layout, the leaves contain a late-medieval copy of the texts of 8 documents (not all complete) issued by various authorities in a range from the 12th to 14th centuries.  Upon the original pages, even apart from the subsequent disruptions to the text through dispersal of leaves, the transcriptions are set out in sequences that are only partly chronological according to the issued dates of the documents.

Written in ink with elements of red pigment, the text is laid out on the leaves in single columns of 38 lines.  One leaf has a watermark.

These leaves deserve to be considered in the contexts not only of the transmission of the documents which they represent, but also of the preservation and circulation of Selbold Cartularies or Kopialbucher, insofar as they are known or survive.  Here we distinguish in red such historical records as the Selbold Cartulary Fragment(s) showcased here, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, one or more Selbold Kopialbuche (or Copialbuche) reported in German by various observers.  We indicate one or other of those  books known to have survived to the early modern or modern periods, but subsequently lost, or presumed to be lost, by a prefixed asterisk (*). Also recorded in some notices or copies thereof is a late-medieval [*]Liber privilegiorum et libertatum ecclesie Selboldensis (“Book of the Privileges and Rights of the Church of Selbold”), presumed to be lost.

Among the challenges, we might wonder to what extent one or other of those recorded  [*]Selbolder Kopialbucher corresponds to this dismembered one.  This post includes some detailed examinations of published editions of its texts and related texts.  Why this detailed work is useful, and can yield strikingly significant results even for only a few leaves from a dispersed manuscript otherwise inaccessible, is revealed in the PostScript

The subtitle for this post could be Manuscript Studies in a Time of Bibliographical ‘Lock-Down’.  [Now see also the Addendum below.]

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