Re-cataloguing of the medieval German manuscripts at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Munich – Volume 10

Project statusProject start planned for November 2021
Contact addressesProject management:
Dr. Carolin Schreiber

Project staff:
Dr. Elisabeth Wunderle

The collection of German-language manuscripts includes around 9,500 codices, among them around 1,450 medieval ones, which constitute central sources for exploring and researching the German literature of the Middle Ages. The known manuscripts of important literary works form the highlights of the collection. Just one example to be mentioned in this regard is the manuscript of the Nibelungs A Cgm 34 from the last quarter of the 13th century, which was entered in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2009.

The majority of the collection, however, is formed by functional manuscripts, as usual. With regard to content, religious literature is predominant, particularly literature for edification and prayer. Most of these manuscripts were created during the 15th century, predominantly in the area of Bavaria and Swabia. The collection’s history goes back to the time of foundation of the court library in 1558. A large part of the manuscripts constitutes secularisation goods from Bavarian monasteries.

The extensive scholarly cataloguing of the medieval manuscripts was started by the description of the parchment manuscripts Cgm 1 – 200 by Erich Petzet. His catalogue was published in 1920. In seven volumes published between 1970 and 2005, Karin Schneider described around 1,000 manuscripts (up to Cgm 5247) and the fragments of German medieval poetry and prose pooled under the call numbers Cgm 5249 and Cgm 5250. The ninth volume, compiled by Elisabeth Wunderle, includes the call numbers Cgm 5255 – 7000, including the Old High German fragments Cgm 5248. It was published in 2018.

Catalogue volumes on the German manuscripts

The remaining around 135 medieval German manuscripts, which have so far been entered only in the form of brief descriptions in the handwritten repertory, are to be processed within the scope of this project. These are manuscripts which came to the library on various paths approximately since the year 1870. Smaller groups of manuscripts came to the library in 1959 in the course of cessations by the archive of the kingdom of Bavaria (Königliches Reichsarchiv; today: Bavarian Main State Archive) in Munich, the Royal Regional Library of Regensburg (Königliche Kreisbibliothek Regensburg; today: State Library Regensburg) and the Bavarian National Museum. Most manuscripts were acquired from the auction trade.

Handwritten repertory

With respect to the area of creation, time of creation and variation of content, the majority of these manuscripts resemble the distribution of the overall collection group. Deviating from this, there are, for example, also manuscripts from the Low German (Cgm 9095) and Dutch areas (e.g. Cgm 5315). Seven manuscripts are from the 13th century, among them Cgm 8345 (Rudolf von Ems’s "World chronicle"), Cgm 8797 (King Rother) and Cgm 9342 (Wolfram von Eschenbach’s "Parzival"). A further 15 codices are from the 14th century. A number of manuscripts transferred by the former archive of the kingdom and from Regensburg are from Bavarian monasteries. To mention only a few examples of outstanding manuscripts, there are the Ottheinrich Bible (Cgm 8010), the "Jüngere Titurel" (Cgm 8470) and Heinrich Wittenwiler’s "Ring" (Cgm 9300).

Overview of the already digitized German manuscripts of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

The project for volume 10 "Medieval manuscripts from Cgm 7000 – 9500" is being prepared.