Books, scribes and sequences in medieval Norway

Books, scribes and sequences in medieval Norway

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Books, scribes and sequences in medieval Norway

By Åslaug Ommundsen

PhD Dissertation, University of Bergen, 2007

Introduction: The basic source material of this study is a selected group of manuscript fragments of Norwegian provenance containing a particular type of medieval chant, generally referred to as “sequences”. The emphasis here is not primarily on the sequences, but on the fragments transmitting them and the physical evidence of books which once existed in Norway in complete form.

This thesis explores how the fragments with sequences can be used to study a growing manuscript culture in the periphery and its innate European influences. The study of manuscript fragments is of immense importance in Norway to increase our knowledge of medieval book and scribal culture, as so little material is transmitted in the form of complete codices. In spite of this the fragments have attracted little attention, especially in the field of Latin philology.

In this study all Norwegian fragments with sequences are described in an illustrated catalogue. In addition, selected items are analysed to increase the knowledge of book and scribal culture in Norway and the influences upon it from other European regions in the twelfth and thirteenth century. The study also adresses the general challenge of fragment studies, and seeks to provide answers to the following questions:

How can fragments from Latin manuscripts, particularly liturgical, best be approached in a study of medieval book culture?

How can studies of such fragments shed light on the cultural transfer between European centres and the northern periphery in the Middle Ages?

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