Codex Manasseh was added to UNESCO’s World Register

Created in the 14th century and known for its 134 beautiful images, the Codex Manesse is included in UNESCO’s World Register. It is one of 14 medieval documents now added to this documentary heritage list.

Also known as the „Great Heidelberg Book of Hymns” – Codex Menes is considered one of the most famous books in the world and is digitally accessible worldwide. With elaborately designed illustrations of medieval court life, a significant portion of what has been preserved from German manuscripts is found only in this large-format parchment manuscript.

The codex is currently housed in the Heidelberg University Library Digital version available. „Heidelberg University Library has the richest and most distinguished historical collections, Codex Manesse being its most precious object,” says Prof. Dr Bernhard Eitel, Rector of Heidelberg University. „Allowing a world documentary heritage pays tribute to the importance of this unique testimony from the past,” and the digitization of the „Great Heidelberg Songbook” enables any interested person to browse the centuries-old manuscript page by page. with its delicate drawings.

Codex Manessi, UB Heidelberg, Cod. Milk. Germ. 848, fol. 169v

The main body of the Codex Maness appeared in Zurich around 1300 – presumably at the behest of Rudiger Maness and his son Johannes, who wanted to collect Middle High German hymns in their various genres and forms. Further contributions were made to it until around 1340. The manuscript consists of 426 folios inscribed on both sides. They contain a total of 140 poets’ works. 6,000 verses. There are only more than half of the tasks here.

The rich form of the Codex Maness has great artistic quality. 137 colorful, full-page miniatures precede the texts; They show excellent depictions of poets engaged in court proceedings. „The portraits had a global impact on the image of the European Middle Ages and documented the visual representation of this period,” emphasizes Professor Bernd Schneidmüller, an expert in medieval history at the University of Heidelberg. The oldest texts date from the mid-12th century. According to the historian, this makes the manuscript one of the major literary and cultural products of the Hohenstaufen period.

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A match is depicted in Codex Maness – UBH Code. Milk. Germ. 848 fol. 17r

The exact circumstances surrounding the origin of the Codex Maness are unknown. The manuscript is documented to have been in the possession of the Electors of Heidelberg since the early 17th century. Before the city of Heidelberg was captured by Catholic League troops in 1622, it was taken by the princely family when they fled, and after the death of Elector Frederick V in 1632, his widow Elizabeth Stuart sold it to meet her financial needs. A manuscript from 1657 is in the Royal Library in Paris, today’s Bibliothèque Nationale de France. In 1888 it returned to Heidelberg in a complex Franco-English-German exchange. Since then, it has been housed in the Heidelberg University Library. For many years, the codex was kept in an air-conditioned safe in the university library and, for security reasons, was only shown to the public on very rare occasions. Apart from the digital version accessible online, visitors can view a detailed facsimile in the University Library.

The Memory of the World Project was launched in 1992 with the aim of preserving documents of universal value and making them accessible to the public. On 18 May 2023 the accession of the Codex Maness was decided in Paris by the UNESCO Executive Committee, the policy-making body of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Other medieval additions were just made Memory of the World Register of UNESCO They are:

Illuminated Manuscripts of Charlemagne’s Court School – Various manuscripts are now held in libraries in Austria, France, Germany, Romania and the United Kingdom.

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Documents on the history of Hanes – Various documents relating to the Hanseatic League between the 12th and 17th centuries.

Maulana’s Gulliath – The works of the 13th century Sufi master Maulana.

The Four Remedies of Tibetan Medicine – Compiled between the 8th and 12th centuries, it is the foundational classic of traditional Tibetan medicine.

Archives of the Republic of Dubrovnik – Records between 1022 and 1808

An Apocalypse Tapestry of Wrath – Created for Louis I of Anjou between 1375 and 1382, it is the world’s largest narrative tapestry.

Beheim Globe – The world’s earliest terrestrial globe, a milestone in the history of cartography. The globe was commissioned by the city council of Nuremberg and built between 1492 and 1494.

Works of Abhinavagupta – Collection of 248 manuscripts by Indian philosopher Abhinavagupta (CE 940-1015) from Kashmir.

Hikayat Ache – Three manuscripts describing life in Aceh, Indonesia, 15th-17th centuries.

Documents from the Shrine of Shaykh Safi-al-Din Ardabili – A collection of 590 documents, most of them dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, dating to a period of religious, ethnic and cultural coexistence in Iran in various languages.

Monk’s Archives – Primary sources tracing the life of Enjin (814-891), a Japanese monk who traveled to China to study Buddhism and seek spiritual enlightenment in the 9th century.

Erasmus Collection Rotterdam – The world’s largest collection of letters and books relating to Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) of Rotterdam.

Mahavamsa, the great history of Sri Lanka – One of the world’s longest unbroken historical accounts, the Mahavamsa presents the history of Sri Lanka chronologically from the 6th century BC to the Middle Ages and the early modern period.

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64 document collections were added to the World Register this year, bringing the total number of listed collections to 494. „For the first time since 2017, new collections of documents have been inscribed on the World Register,” said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General. „This is a very positive signal. With more than 20% of the inscriptions jointly submitted by many countries, I welcome the enthusiasm and spirit of cooperation that has accompanied this process. I thank the commitment of UNESCO’s member states and this renewed momentum in support of the preservation of collective memory.

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