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Walters Ms. W.8, Mondsee Gospel Lectionary

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Mondsee Gospel Lectionary

Text title


This eleventh-century Gospel Lectionary was written in a clear Carolingian minuscule in Regensburg, Germany. Its remarkable treasure binding, which is original to the manuscript, is extremely fragile due to the Byzantine or Islamic silk that constitutes the spine; therefore it is not possible to image the entire manuscript. The cover, which alone has been photographed, is a rare survival and a rich example of Ottonian art. Bound in silver, the front cover displays an impressive mastery of filigree, segments of which have been gilded. A variety of textures and substances, including niello bosses in the corners, ivory plaques depicting the four Evangelists, gemstones (now lost), and a golden image of the Crucifixion beneath a polished rock crystal, give the cover an opulence rarely seen in medieval bookbinding. The back cover, necessarily flat to lie on the altar without damaging the decoration, consists of a sheet of hammered and gilded silver, engraved with an image of St. Michael slaying a dragon. This image has traditionally led to an association with the abbey of SS. Peter and Michael in Mondsee, Austria, but its more recent attribution to Otloh, a scribe active in Regensburg, suggests that it is more likely of German manufacture.


Second quarter of the 11th century CE


Regensburg, Germany


Authority name: Otloh, Monk of St. Emmeram, ca. 1010-ca. 1070






The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Support material


Finely prepared parchment


Foliation: i+228+i

Modern pencil foliation, upper right corners, rectos


Formula: Cannot determine collation due to fragility of book

Catchwords: None

Signatures: None



21.8 cm wide by 28.0 cm high

Written surface

14.6 cm wide by 17.7 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 17
  3. Stylus ruled

fols. 1r - 228v:
  1. Title: Lectionary
  2. Contents: Gospel lections for the liturgical year, beginning with Christmas vigils; temporale and sanctorale have been combined; no unusual saints found in the sanctorale
  3. Hand note: Late Caroline minuscule; headings in majuscule; two hands evident, with change at fol. 95v: first hand believed to be scribe of Uta Codex, Munich, Clm 13601, and Vatican, Ottob. Lat. 74; second hand identified as Otloh of St. Emmeram
  4. Decoration note: Five foliate initials in gold and silver, bordered with red ink lines begin pericopes (2-7 lines); titles and first lines of other pericopes in red and black capitals; rubrics in red; text in black ink
fols. 1r - 208r:
  1. Title: Temporale and Sanctorale
  2. Rubric: Sequentia sancti evangelii secundum Matheum. In illo tempore.
  3. Incipit: Cum esset desponsa
fols. 208r - 220v:
  1. Title: Common of Saints
fols. 222r - 223v:
  1. Title: Gospel readings for non-proper feriae
fols. 223v - 225v:
  1. Title: Readings for votive masses
fols. 227r - 228v:
  1. Title: Readings for the office of the dead


Upper board outside:

  1. W.8, Upper board outside
  2. Title: Rock crystal with crucifixion, and ivory evangelist portraits
  3. Form: Original treasure binding


The binding is original.

Original treasure binding; heavy wood boards; base silver used in all parts of cover; front cover decorated in silver filigree, with central cruciform panels of gilded filigree less refined in manufacture than those in silver; silver bosses with interlace designs in niello in corners, possibly replacements for lost gems; four stones also missing at ends of cruciform panels; four ivory plaques with Evangelists, three of which are original (Mark, in lower left corner, is a nineteenth-century replacement); wood of board has been recessed to receive central cabochon of polished rock crystal placed over an image of the Crucifixion drawn on gold foil, imitating the effect of gold glass, with the inscription "Mors Xri mors mortis erat tuus infere morsus" around the figure of Christ; spine has original Byzantine or Islamic silk both within, against the spine cords, as well as without, with two layers of tawed leather between; back cover has a sheet of gilded, hammered silver, engraved with an image of St. Michael trampling a dragon, and surrounded by the inscription "Velle quod est altum nichil est nisi velle ruinam. Hoc draco prostratus hoc monstrat celica virtus"; original presence of leather straps, no longer extant, evident from recesses in wood on back cover, possibly originally attached to pins on fore-edge of upper board, where corresponding pin holes are visible


Created in Regensburg, Germany, in part by the scribe Otloh of St. Emmeram, who worked in Regensburg between ca. 1030-1050; lack of connection with Regensburg saints suggests that the manuscript was created for use elsewhere

Traditionally connected to the monastery of Mondsee, although no strong evidence supports this; unknown date

Jacques Rosenthal, Paris, Munich, early twentieth century; his catalog 1926, no. 40

Henry Walters, Baltimore, purchased from Rosenthal between 1926 and 1931


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


Walters Art Gallery. 4000 Years of Modern Art. Baltimore: Walters Art Gallery, 1953, p. 19, cat. no. 60.

Goldschmidt, Adolph. Die Elfenbeinskulpturen. Berlin: Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft. 1926 (repr. 1969), vol. 4, p. 58, no. 300, abb. 40, pl. LXXV.

Steenbock, Frauke. "Kreuzförmige Typen frühmittelalterlicher Prachteinbände." Vol. I. Das erste Jahrtausend. Düsseldorf: L. Schwann. 1962-1963, pp. 495-513 at pp. 498, 505, and 507, abb. 6.

Randall, Richard H. Medieval Ivories in the Walters Art Gallery (A Walters Art Gallery Picture Book). Baltimore: The Walters Art Gallery, 1969, no. 5.

Walters Art Gallery. The History Of Bookbinding, 525-1950 A.D. Organized by the Walters Art Gallery and presented in cooperation with the Baltimore Museum of Art. Baltimore: The Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery, 1957, p. 8, pl. vii, no. 10.

Fillitz, Hermann. Schatzkunst : die Goldschmiede- und Elfenbeinarbeiten aus österreichischen Schatzkammern des Hochmittelalters. Salzburg: Residenz Verlag, 1987, pp. 96-100.

Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. Ivory, the Sumptuous Art : Highlights from the Collection. Baltimore: The Walters Art Gallery, 1983, p. 23, fig. 21.

Muthesius, Anna. "The Silk over the Spine of the Mondsee Gospel Lectionary." Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 37 (1978): pp. 50-73, figs. 1-3, 9-11.

Gamber, Klaus. Codices Liturgici Latini Antiquiores. Vol. 2. Freiburg: Universitätsverlag, 1968, p. 464.

Mütherich, Florentine, and Karl Dachs. Regensburger Buchmalerei: Von frühkarolingischer Zeit bis zum Ausgang des Mittelalters. Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1987, p. 35, taf. 100.

Brown, Michelle P., ed. In the Beginning: Bibles before the Year 1000. Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 2006, pp. 244, 309-310, cat. no. 74.

Steenbock, Frauke. Der kirchliche Prachteinband im frühen Mittelalter: Von den Anfängen bis zum Beginn der Gotik. Berlin: Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, 1965, pp. 181-183, abb. 119, 120.

Bagnoli, Martina. The Medieval World. Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum, 2011, pp. 59-60, 93, figs. 39, 72.

Baltimore Museum of Art. 2,000 Years of Calligraphy: A Three-Part Exhibition. Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield. 1965, 1972, pp. 32, 35, no. 16.

Randall, Richard H., ed. Masterpieces of Ivory from the Walters Art Gallery. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1985, pp. 147, 172-173, pl. 67.

The Walters Art Gallery. Liturgical Objects in the Walters Art Gallery. Baltimore: Walters Art Gallery, 1967, no. 3.

Bibliotheca Medii Aevi Manuscripta. Catalog 83. Munich: Jacques Rosenthal, 1926, pp. 38-41, cat. no. 40, pls. IX, X.

De Ricci, Seymour. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935, pp. 768, 2290, no. 71.

Rosen, David. "Photomacrographs as Aids in the Study of Decorative Arts." Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 15-16 (1952-1953): pp. 80-96, at pp. 86-92, figs. 5-12.

Bagnoli, Martina, et al., eds. Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe. Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum, 2010, pp. 121-122, cat. no. 61, fig. 61.

Cockx-Indestege, Elly, and Jan Storm van Leeuewen. Spespaneel en drakenstempel een terminologie voor de beschrijving van de versiering van de boekband. Nijmegen: Universiteitsbibliotheek, 2011, pp. 20, 92, fig. 50.


Catalogers: Dutschke, Consuelo; Herbert, Lynley; Noel, William; Sciacca, Christine; Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editors: Herbert, Lynley; Noel, William

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Bockrath, Diane; Davis, Lisa Fagin; Emery, Doug; Hamburger, Jeffrey; Klemm, Elizabeth; Noel, William; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.