Notes to #10d – Fold-outs in Europe (afterword)


1Jonathan Garrett, on whose blog I found the un-cut image whose text is shown in the main post as a composite, was kind enough to tell me more about it.  I hope he won’t mind my quoting him here:

[Charles] seems to have issued the document during a long council at Tours in 899 from which we have several other charters also, and the hand is that of his notary Hervey, writing on behalf of Archbishop Fulk of Reims, who was then the king’s chancellor. Hervey was probably a canon of Reims but was here more or less working for the king…. The script is deliberately archaic; it’s a form of cursive modelled on … [the Merovingian], which was itself an exaggerated stylised version of late Roman documentary script, with much longer heads and tails to the letters than necessary and a consequently wide spacing between the lines. There’s lots of ligaturing ..”

– Jonathan Jarrett, pers.comm. (see also his wordpress blog, A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe: Early medievalist’s thoughts and ponderings)


2. “Gallows letters…”  I had developed the habit of calling the Piacenza sort of letters  ‘gallows letters’ – the term so commonly used in Voynich studies. However, I’m no longer sure that the term is the right one for those flourished letters. ‘Gallows letters’ were included to keep the reader aware that they must respond immediately ‘on their life’.  See what you think, anyway. Here’s the wiki article.


3. I haven’t traced the opinions to their source, and have relied here on Nick Pelling, who in 2012 was kind enough to answer a question from me. See his page ‘Voynich Manuscript‘ where the comments section contains my question and his reply, both dated October 21st., 2012:

Q. Nick, Do you recall who gave the opinion that the script was like “Carolingian minuscule or its Quattrocento revival”?

A. ‘Barbara Barrett argued for this most forcefully, but many others have pointed out the same thing many times’

 it is quite characteristic of Voynich studies that though numerous people have pointed out that the Voynich script resembles that of the Carolingian period, no-one has paid any attention: the lure of the renaissance was overpowering.  Another of the comments to that same page on Pelling’s blog is worth repeating. I hope that by recording it here, I’m not breaching Nick’s “no reblogging” rule, but I want to be sure that readers see it. Carmen’s comment (April 16, 2014 10:18 pm) included the information that although Professor  Juan Jose Marcos Garcia, author of “Fuentes para Paleografía Latina” said he recognised a ‘humanist hand’ in the Voynich text, his book says that it had started in use from the end of the fourteenth century and was “kept just for exquisite bibliophiles (sic).. [that]… manuscripts in humanist handwriting were only transcriptions from classic[al?] works”.

Interesting, isn’t it?

4. see postscript, below.

5. Bobbio and San Savino in Piacenza also have in common, from the twelfth century, a mosaic that includes episodes from the second book of Maccabees, fantastic animals in combat and a “labours of the months” series. Other imagery suggests that the maker had been directed by imagery in texts from the Bobbio Library. A mosaic of the same king occurs at San Michele in Pavia from that time.  In 1362, a hospice for English pilgrims was established in Piacenza, one which later developed into the College for Englishmen, and was eventually under Jesuit administration. More important travellers would be privately housed.  Dee appears to have avoided the College, and Piacenza itself, perhaps because by his time it had become a centre for training priests wanting to convert the heathen, including those in England.  Charlotte Fell-Smith’s biography mentions the town just once,  “On being ejected from Prague, Dee removed his family and goods to Erfurt … Pucci called on Dee after supper, [saying that] the new Nuncio, the Bishop of Piacenza, was inclined to a more favourable view than Malaspina”. Dee trusted neither the messenger nor the message.  A very thorough account of the San Savino monastery (from which came the ‘gallows’ document) was made in 1912 by Kingsley Porter, immediately following what appears to have been an enormous and somewhat unfortunate period of restoration. Porter’s account, in two papers to the American Journal of Archaeology (Vol 16) are now freely available online. Porter, K., “San Savino at Piacenza: I. History and Structure” and ibid., “San Savino at Piacenza:  Ornament”.

5. and, it would seem, as I’ve explained in an earlier post, that in the early days one received with the goods a ‘receipt’ or recipe for their use.  Riddle notes that in early collections of such receipts, the recipes are drawn  “especially [from] Alexander of Tralles, Aetius of Amida, and Paul of Aegina … though no two antidotary or receptary are [exactly] alike”.



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