Medieval Manuscripts: Psalterium Sancti Ruperti

Imagine writing a readable text on the pages of a book the size of a matchbox. This is the task the bookmakers of the Psalterium Sancti Ruperti were entrusted with. Today, our friends at Facsimile Finder let us thumb through one of the smallest books ever created by humankind.

An extraordinary manuscript for its size and antiquity, the Psalter, preserved in the Archiv von St. Peter in Salzburg, is a rare example of Carolingian illumination. Measuring only 37 x 31 mm, it was most likely produced in the third quarter of the ninth century in France.

The opening page of the codex bears a note of possession stating that the manuscript belonged to bishop Rupert. A full-page miniature depicts King David with his psaltery, a stringed instrument that traditionally accompanied the Psalms. The portrait follows the Late Antique tradition of adding the author’s image, so as to testify to the authenticity of the Psalms.

A remarkable characteristic of this codex is the book spine: the visible booklet seams and headbands allow us to appreciate the complex structure of the binding, making this codex extremely significant for understanding the production of manuscripts in the Middle Ages.

Our thanks to Facsimile Finder for helping us create this post. You can learn more about this manuscript and see more images by visiting their website.

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