The Codex Manesse (also known as Grosse Heidelberger Liederhandschrift) is the world's largest collection of Middle High German song texts and "Sprüche". Originating between 1300 and 1340, the manuscript contains almost 6,000 stanzas by 140 poets. The Heidelberg University Library, which has had this invaluable treasure in its keeping for over 100 years, has now published all the miniatures on the Internet. At http://manessebild.uni-heidelberg.de Walther von der Vogelweide, Hartmann von Aue and Bligger von Steinach are thus freely accessible to anyone interested in them. For conservation reasons, the original manuscript is only on show to the public on very rare occasions.
"The presentation is excellent." Only a few hours after release of the colourful digitised replicas of the miniatures, the Library received this praise in an e-mail from Canada. The swift response shows that the manuscripts at the University Library are the object of major international interest. Like the Nibelungenlied manuscript recently acquired by the Baden-Württemberg State Bank from the Fürstenberg Court Library, the Codex Manesse can legitimately lay claim to exceptional status in Germany's cultural heritage. Alongside the Manesse collection, the Heidelberg University Library has another 847 medieval German-language manuscripts, including various priceless examples of early German poetry. At present, 26 late-medieval picture manuscripts from South Germany are being made available on the Internet for teaching and research purposes with the help of the German Research Council. In the face of rival claims for the ultimate location of the Nibelungen manuscript, this matchless collection certainly gives Germany's oldest university library a very telling argument in its favour.
The digital images from the colourful ancient manuscripts are also the title feature in the University of Heidelberg's web magazine "Ruperto Online". For lay users, picture galleries and historical background information provide an ideal introduction to the fascinating world of medieval book art. The magazine is to be found at www.uni-heidelberg.de/magazin/ .
(Editors, please note! We will be happy to provide picture material for use in your publications.)
Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Hermann Josef Dörpinghaus
Director of the University Library, Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542380, fax: 542623
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317