Velislavova bible



Pozice 1606
Článek 1245

About book

Most comprehensive illustrated medieval manuscript in central Europe was created around the mid 14th century thanks to the initiative of Velislav, who is portrayed on fol. 188r as kneeling before a statue of St. Catherine, the patron saint of theologians and philosophers. This seems to be evidence that he was a member of the clergy, although he is not wearing a tonsure and his clothing is rather secular. He can be most probably identified with a Prague capitulary of the same name, who was a notary to Jan of Luxembourg, later a notary and a diplomat of Charles IV. The book was created in a secular, laic book-workshop with signs of stable and standardized operation.

Velislav's Bible is neither a biblia pauperum (a Bible of the poor) - this type was introduced only later and typically had around thirty to forty recurring paintings - nor it is a fully illustrated Bible comprising the whole biblical text.
It includes the following books: Genesis (1r-52v), Exodus (53r-88v), Daniel (89r-108r), Judges (108v-115r), Judith (115v-130r), Antichrist cycle (130v-135v), Christological cycle (136r-149r), Apocalypses (153r-168v), Apostles' deeds (169r-179v) and above that a cycle about Czech patrons saints Wenceslas and Ludmila (180r-188r). Different other individual images appear in the second half of the book. Given the fact that vast majority of images is accompanied by comments and that occasionally written names of the characters occur, the manuscript can be regarded as a medieval comics. The brushwork shows some romantic elements, with some elements of the later so-called "beautiful style."

The person, who ordered the book - Velislav - is important, as well as his thought world. Although Velislav cannot be equated with the inventory, i.e. the person who was the author of scripts for a particular painting design of the cycle, he surely determined its central idea.

The idea is not only historical (the books Genesis, Exodus, Judges and Apostles' deeds), but to a certain extent also historical-philosophical or historical-theological (Antichrist cycle, Christological cycle, Apocalypses), while showing images from Czech history against this background (St. Wenceslas and St. Ludmila cycle with images from St. Climents legend, Grand Moravia allusions). The Czech history is included both into the history of salvation and into the context of translatio regni, i.e. the transfer of the kingdom from Moravia to Bohemia.

Velislav's thinking was to a great extent historicist in the universal meaning, just as was the thinking of bishop Jan IV of Drazice (who was called gentis Bohemicae fidelis zelator ac indefessus propagator) and king Charles IV. In another words the basic endeavour of Velislav was to reach a European, i.e. universal, dimension. Ideas hidden in the Velislav's Bible are fertile counterparts to those in the Paris fragment of the Latin translation of the Chronicle of the so-called Dalimil.

The price for the Velislav's Bible is 4.800 EUR.


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