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Bibliologia (BIB 56)
A. van Els
A Man and His Manuscripts
The Notebooks of Ademar of Chabannes (989–1034)

approx. 330 p., 154 colour ill., 216 x 280 mm, 2020
ISBN: 978-2-503-58779-0
Languages: English
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This book is devoted to the autograph manuscripts of Ademar of Chabannes (989–1034), a monk of Saint-Cybard in Angoulême and Saint-Martial in Limoges. These manuscripts bear witness to Ademar’s enormous productivity and to his many talents as a historian, preacher, musical composer, liturgist, teacher and draughtsman. Especially his notebooks, assembled in manuscript VLO 15 at the University Library in Leiden, shed a unique light on the neglected aspect of his capacities as a teacher. An analysis of the texts in VLO 15 shows that Ademar as a teacher was interested in an extended curriculum (including medicine and Arabic astrology) and that he used different techniques and methods to transmit his knowledge to his pupils.

In this study, much attention is paid to a critical, palaeographical, and codicological investigation of the extant manuscript evidence and to some newly discovered material. We learn about Ademar’s versatile writing habits, how he prepared his parchment and how he constructed and used his quires in a flexible way. Detailed descriptions of numerous palaeographical samples, accompanied by many colour plates, show us Ademar’s hand.

We cannot but conclude that currently held views on Ademar have been unnecessarily biased and negatively coloured. According to modern scholarship, Ademar, in the process of promoting his patron saint St Martial as a disciple of Christ, manoeuvred himself into the position of a solitary forger, who led a marginal life in his place of exile at Saint-Cybard. When this ‘apocalyptically minded egomaniac’ thought his task was accomplished, so it is alleged, he left for the Holy Land with no intention of returning. However, the manuscript evidence shows that, after transferring definitively to Saint-Martial, he continued his educational activities and his promotion of St Martial. His departure for the Holy Land was most certainly not meant as a farewell to the world. He was a highly regarded member of his monastic community and was involved in a wide variety of scribal activities. The fact that he left his manuscripts behind in an unorganized, open-ended condition proofs that he had every intention of returning to his beloved monastery to continue his work there.

Ad van Els studied economic history in Leiden, philosophy in Nijmegen and medieval studies in Utrecht (PhD). He specialized in the manuscripts of Ademar of Chabannes since 2004.

Interest Classification:
Book History, Manuscript Studies & Palaeography
Codicology

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