To Conquer a Castle

Whacko military techniques star in a codex, Urb.lat.1397, just re-digitized in color at the Vatican Library, including a few hints about how to conquer a castle: drain its cisterns, blow it up from below with a barrel of gunpowder or sneak a platoon in by tunnel:

There is also a wonderful galley-ship you can dismantle and take anywhere by truck:

@DigitaVaticana says the artist is Siennese but otherwise anonymous. These illustrated handbooks of (easier said than done) military methods were a genre that began in late antiquity. Often the ideas were hand-me-downs from the past: rarely effective, but always delightful to dreamy inventors.

In the past week, 36 manuscripts were digitized in Rome. My unofficial full list:
  1. Barb.lat.2157,
  2. Ott.lat.1261,
  3. Ross.103,
  4. Ross.165,
  5. Ross.180,
  6. Ross.260,
  7. Urb.lat.551,
  8. Urb.lat.552,
  9. Urb.lat.580,
  10. Urb.lat.853.pt.2,
  11. Urb.lat.970,
  12. Urb.lat.974,
  13. Urb.lat.1038.pt.A,
  14. Urb.lat.1126,
  15. Urb.lat.1213,
  16. Urb.lat.1227,
  17. Urb.lat.1349,
  18. Urb.lat.1397 (Upgraded to HQ),
  19. Urb.lat.1424,
  20. Urb.lat.1438,
  21. Urb.lat.1448,
  22. Urb.lat.1463.pt.A,
  23. Vat.ebr.202,
  24. Vat.lat.2484 (Upgraded to HQ), eTK: Anticipans natus vel partus decem diebus a nono mense
  25. Vat.lat.2486 (Upgraded to HQ), eTK: Dubitatur utrum diffinitio medicine sit bona et arguitur Haly et;  Turisanus et alii quod non (15c)
  26. Vat.lat.3217 (Upgraded to HQ),
  27. Vat.lat.3976 (Upgraded to HQ),
  28. Vat.lat.4459 (Upgraded to HQ),
  29. Vat.lat.4486 (Upgraded to HQ),
  30. Vat.lat.4596,
  31. Vat.lat.4608,
  32. Vat.lat.4609,
  33. Vat.lat.4611,
  34. Vat.lat.4614,
  35. Vat.lat.4627,
  36. Vat.lat.4637,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 197. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Green Parrots

Around 1450, a talented young German painter showed up in Italy and got work as a miniaturist. We know him solely as Gioacchino di Giovanni, although he seems to have been born in Rottenburg an der Laaber, Bavaria (not Rothenburg ob der Tauber as claimed by the Grove Dictionary).

He must have been a big fellow, as he also went by the name Gigantibus. He also evidently had a thing about green parrots (I'm not making this up). Here's one that flew into his work in ms. King's 2 at the British Library:
The Vatican Library has just digitized his work in a Nicholas de Lyra manuscript, and of course there is a signature green parrot in there:
It's one of just six manuscripts digitized in the past week. The list:
  1. Chig.L.VI.210, an Italian translation of the Treasury of Brunetto Latini, with several fine diagrams:
  2. Ross.125.pt.2 (Upgraded to HQ), Breviary with this throne of heaven: 
  3. Urb.lat.1150,
  4. Vat.lat.2415,
  5. Vat.lat.4215, Nicholas of Lyra: here is God making the trees:
  6. Vat.lat.4650,

This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 196. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Herb Dictionary

The Fabio Chigi collection's Greek Dioscorides, a stunning Renaissance copy of the most famous herbal reference of antiquity, is the star turn of last week's digitizations at the Vatican Library.

The work itself is known as De materia medica. This non-text variant is termed a herbarius alphabeticus and is a picture dictionary of the medicinal plants in Greek alphabetical order. This copy, Chig.F.VII.159, is believed to be by the scriptorium of the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in mid-15th-century Constantinople, modelled on a 6th-century Dioscorides which is now in Vienna.

One of the finest miniatures shows an artist painting the plants at the instructions of Dioscorides:

Seemingly it had no text at all when first made. Some glosses added are said to be in the hand of Isidore of Kiev (c.1385- 1463), a Greek theologian who was for a time patriarch of all Russia, unsuccessfully sought the reunion of the Orthodox and Catholic churches and escaped death by a ruse in the 1453 fall of Constantinople. Five other hands, two Greek and three Latin, added plant names.

John Murdoch's Album of Science glosses 224v (above) as follows: Each flask is meant to contain the oil or balm specified, the plant from which the oil in question is derived being depicted to one side. Thus beginning at the left of the top row, we have oil of walnut (caryinum), oil of quince (melinum) and radish seed oil (raphaninum). The second row presents us with oil of roses (rosaceum) and some kind of resin oil (retininum).

Chigi's other herbal, the Dioscorides Latino, arrived online a couple of weeks ago. Chigi ended his life as pope Alexander VII. His heirs sold his books to the Vatican in 1923.

In all, 32 codices have just been digitized. The unofficial list:
  1. Barb.gr.331,
  2. Barb.lat.2158, which contains an account of the eruption of Mount Aetna on Sicily:
  3. Capp.Sist.588,
  4. Chig.F.VII.159 (Upgraded to HQ) (above)
  5. Ott.lat.352,
  6. Reg.gr.Pio.II.37 (Upgraded to HQ),
  7. Ross.289,
  8. Urb.lat.599.pt.1,
  9. Urb.lat.605,
  10. Urb.lat.759,
  11. Urb.lat.896,
  12. Urb.lat.1017,
  13. Urb.lat.1038.pt.B,
  14. Urb.lat.1122,
  15. Urb.lat.1215.pt.1,
  16. Urb.lat.1218,
  17. Vat.lat.2479,
  18. Vat.lat.2483, with incipit (see eTK): Medicina artium preclarissima hec verba ... Quoniam ut ars medicorum princeps
  19. Vat.lat.4183,
  20. Vat.lat.4332 (Upgraded to HQ),
  21. Vat.lat.4336,
  22. Vat.lat.4443,
  23. Vat.lat.4544,
  24. Vat.lat.4599,
  25. Vat.lat.4600,
  26. Vat.lat.4602,
  27. Vat.lat.4604,
  28. Vat.lat.4606 (Upgraded to HQ), see Jordanus
  29. Vat.lat.4631,
  30. Vat.lat.4633 (Upgraded to HQ),
  31. Vat.lat.15126,
  32. Vat.turc.340,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 195. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Midget Minstrels

Maximilian I, the German emperor, is famous for adopting print as a means to increase his propaganda reach. His Ehrenpforte, a monumental printed frieze to be glued together, figures as a proto family tree in my book Mind's Eye. He wrote a chivalric novel Weisskunig (about "me" of course) with his secretary between 1505 and 1516 and commissioned illustrations.

The sketchbook, Vat.lat.8570, has just been digitized by the Vatican Library and is a feast of silliness to be enjoyed page by page: here are some midget minstrels at fol. 107r:

The drawings, which served the engravers who made the wooden plates under the supervision of Konrad Peutinger in Augsburg, were later pasted into the scrapbook which ended up in the Vatican.

In all, 29 digitizations went online in the past week. My unofficial list:
  1. Ross.106, book of hours
  2. Urb.lat.148,
  3. Urb.lat.183,
  4. Urb.lat.615,
  5. Urb.lat.733,
  6. Urb.lat.760,
  7. Urb.lat.765,
  8. Urb.lat.776,
  9. Urb.lat.811,
  10. Urb.lat.846,
  11. Urb.lat.853.pt.1,
  12. Urb.lat.1088.pt.2,
  13. Urb.lat.1088.pt.3,
  14. Vat.lat.2473, commentaries on Avicenna
  15. Vat.lat.2477,
  16. Vat.lat.2481, date 1385, by the Italian surgeon Gentile da Foligno 
  17. Vat.lat.4555,
  18. Vat.lat.4575 (Upgraded to HQ), humanist historian Flavio Biondo (1392 - 1463): De verbis Romanae locutionis [ad Leonardum Brunum]
  19. Vat.lat.4576 (Upgraded to HQ),
  20. Vat.lat.4577,
  21. Vat.lat.4580,
  22. Vat.lat.4581,
  23. Vat.lat.4588,
  24. Vat.lat.4607,
  25. Vat.lat.4612 (Upgraded to HQ),
  26. Vat.lat.4615,
  27. Vat.lat.4628,
  28. Vat.lat.8570 (Upgraded to HQ),
  29. Vat.turc.314, flyleaf note in German dates this to 985, author Isqi Munsaat
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 194. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.