Herausgegeben von Irmgard Siebert und Max Plassmann. Mit Beiträgen von Arne Effenberger, Max Plassmann und Fabian Rijkers

Cristoforo Buondelmonti. Liber insularum (ULBD Ms. G 13)

Faksimile und Kommentar

300.0 x 430.0 cm, 168 p., 32 illustrations b/w, 61 illustrations color, cloth
158,00 €

ISBN: 9783895004353
Table of Contents

Short Description

By order of the Florentine scholar Niccolò Niccoli and the cardinal Girodano Orsini, the Florentine Christoforo Buondelmonti visited the Aegean Islands and Creta in the first third of the 15th century, and continued his journey into the Sea of Marmara. He explored the Greek islands and recorded his observations and experiences in letters to Orsini. He set down his insights in two works which are known in different versions: the “Liber insularum archipelagi” and the “Descriptio insulae Cratae”. They are recorded, for example, in a composite manuscript in the university and state library in Düsseldorf (Ms. G 13).
The Düsseldorf Version of the “Liber insularum” owes its special importance to its illustrations: the maps of the islands described also show major buildings. The full-page view of Constantinople plays a central role, shedding an entirely new light on the topography and building history of the town in the late 15th century. The text itself gives a detailed description of the cultural, social and economic circumstances in the places Buondelmonti visited. However, as is typical for the age of Renaissance humanism, the text’s main focus is on the search of residues of ancient culture.
The edition by Karl Bayer includes a German translation, an overview map, annotations and extensive registers.


No english description available. Showing german description
Der Florentiner Cristoforo Buondelmonti (ca. 1380/85 bis 1431) besuchte während des ersten Drittels des 15. Jahrhunderts auf mehreren Reisen die ägäische Inselwelt, Kreta, die ionische Westküste und Konstantinopel. Seine dabei gewonnenen geographischen Erkenntnisse legte er in zwei Schriften nieder, nämlich in der Descriptio insulae Cretae (1417) und im Liber insularum archipelagi (1420), die beide in der Folge in verschiedenen Fassungen eine weite Verbreitung fanden. Sie sind unter anderem in der unter der Signatur Ms. G 13 in der Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Düsseldorf verwahrten spätmittelalterlichen Sammelhandschrift überliefert, die geographische, historiographische und astronomisch-astrologische Texte vereint.
Die besondere Bedeutung dieser Düsseldorfer Fassung des Liber insularum liegt in der Illustration des Textes. Denn die zahlreichen Abschriften wurden zumeist unabhängig von den begleitenden Illustrationen gefertigt, so dass Text und Bild nicht immer korrespondieren und auch von unterschiedlicher Qualität sein können. Der Wert der Düsseldorfer Fassung liegt eindeutig nicht beim Text, der zum Teil verderbt und verstümmelt ist, sondern bei den Illustrationen, nämlich den Karten von den einzelnen beschriebenen griechischen Inseln mitsamt Einzeichnung wichtiger Bauwerke. Von überragender Bedeutung ist dabei
eine ganzseitige Ansicht von Konstantinopel, die völlig neue Aufschlüsse zu Topographie und Baugeschichte der Stadt im späten 15. Jahrhundert gibt und deren Quellenwert weit über den begleitenden Text hinausweist. Aus diesem Grunde wird die Düsseldorfer Fassung als Faksimile präsentiert, um sie der Wissenschaft leichter zugänglich zu machen.
Exemplarisch für die Forschungsperspektiven, die sich durch das Faksimile ergeben, hat Prof. Dr. Arne Effenberger (Museum für Byzantinische Kunst Berlin) diese Stadtansicht bearbeitet. Sein kunsthistorischer Kommentar führt eindringlich den Quellenwert des Faksimiles bzw. des zugrunde liegenden Originals vor Augen, ohne zu beabsichtigen, es abschließend auszuwerten.
Dr. Max Plassmann und Fabian Rijkers, M.A., von der Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek haben schließlich einen Beitrag zur unklaren Überlieferungsgeschichte der Handschrift beigesteuert.


„As it must have been in the 15th century, Cristoforo Buondelmonti's Liber insularum archipelagi, or Book of the Islands of the Greek Archipelago, known in more than 70 Latin manuscripts following probably three editions (1418, 1420, 1422), is still an attractive guide for a virtual joumey among the Greek isles: from Corfu traversing the Ionic Sea we follow him in the direction of Crete, enter the Aegean Sea cruising through the Dodecanese and Cycladic Islands, reaching the north-eastem coasts and the Sea of Marmara. A long and attentive perambulation of Constantinople can be considered the climax of the trip, which nevertheless does not end there but continues, leading us to the Northem Aegean Islands and the Sporades, and terminates with a visit to Aegina.
The Liber of the Florentine cleric Buondelmonti was an innovation both in its format (cartographic sketches of islands accompanied by descriptive texts) and in its content, which harmonizes information from the Greek and Latin classics with authentic and actual (nautical, demographic, political) knowledge of the Mediterranean and especially the Aegean world. This idiosyncrasy makes it of interest to various modern disciplines, including philological research, the history of cartography as well as the history of geography; there are also the cultural and semiotic implications involved in Buondelmonti's foundation of the literary genre of the Isolario or Island-book. These multifaceted values are contrasted by the absence of modern editions of this key text; the only full text editions, one of a Latin version by Gabriel Ludwig Rudolf von Sinner (1824), and one Greek by Emile Legrand (1897), date from the 19th century.
Now at last an excellent facsimile edition makes this important work, both its text and beautiful hand-painted illustrations, accessible to the scientific community. The facsimile reproduces manuscript. G 13 of the university library of Düsseldorf (Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Düsseldorf), a "solitaire" of the collection (as is stressed in the preface, p. 7). The Liber-manuscript is part of a volume which contains six astronomical, historical and geographical texts, including also Buondelmonti's Descriptio insulae Cretae. Max Plassmann and Fabian Rijkers analyse the origin and history of the volume and its components, unfortunately the binding and paper quality do not allow us to track the history of the volume before the 19th century ('ULBD Ms. G 13: Überlegungen zu Herkunft und Geschichte', pp. 9-11). In the context of a facsimile edition, discussion of the material aspects of the manuscript such as size, coloration and paper quality should have been supplied in the introduction to furnish a quick orientation for the users; the reference to a hand written catalogue (p. 9, note 1) is quite useless for the international public.
Arne Effenberger ('Die Illustrationen – Topographische Untersuchungen: Konstantinopel / Istanbul und ägäische Örtlichkeiten', pp. 13-68) outlines bibliographical facts and philological and editorial aspects as known from both old and more recent studies an Buondelmonti, such as Giuseppe Ragone's 2002 essay which can be read as a preliminary discussion to a modern critical edition. Effenberger's analysis of the Düsseldorf ms. takes an historical-topographical approach which stresses the significance of the textual and iconographic representations embodied in the manuscript, mainly the map of Constantinople / Byzantium / Istanbul. This map is unique for its pictorical perfection and knowledge of Ottoman urban architecture at the time of Mehmet II. Effenberger's purpose includes and goes far beyond the identification of the image of the town in the Düsseldorf manuscript. Effenberger consults a number of nearly contemporary iconographical sources, and the reproduction of 25 of them constitutes a precious complement of the edition and synthesizes a concise history of iconographic representations of the Ottoman Capital from the 15th to the 17th century. Effenberger also notes the illustrator's preference for detailed depictions of (former) Genoese colonies such as Pera and Chios, and therefore supposes that the illustrator or the man who commissioned the manuscript was of Genoese origin.
Useful appendices conclude the commentary on the facsimile edition. The first gives an overview of all the chapters of the Liber. They are introduced by originally red coloured letters, which form an acrostic which identifies Buondelmonti as the author of the work (CRISTOFORVS BONDELMONT DE FLORENCIA PRESBITER HUNC MISIT CARDINALI IORDANO DE URSMIS MCCCCXX). The schedule also indicates the modern name of each island, the name Buondelmonti uses, the beginning of the text and the folio numbers of the description as of the relevant map; three synoptical schedules are dedicated to the gates of Istanbul.
This beautiful edition re-establishes and renews the fascination of a remarkable manuscript of the Liber insularum archipelagi and sheds light on one of its principal concerns, the historical topography of the Greek islands and also of Constantinople. May the edition promote, as the editors intend, the further philological, literary, geographical, and historical research on Buondelmonti, even if we do not share Buondelmonti's optimism as demonstrated in his introduction to the Liber: "UT CITO LEGENTIBUS ITER PATEAT SINE LABORE," that is: "That the way may lie easily open to the readers, without effort."

In: Island Studies Journal. 1 (2006) 1. pp. 170-171.



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