Station: [308] Excursion - Hoards of Medieval Knowledge

Libraries and Scriptoria were important parts of monasteries. In the scriptorium monks and nuns wrote their own texts and copied the Bible or works from Roman Classicism or Antique doctors. Their tireless work preserved their ancestral spiritual treasures for all posterity.

Monastery libraries were not only a refuge for intellectual and spiritual work for nuns and monks, it is thought that Eike von Repgow was allowed to use the library at Altzella monastery while he was writing the original text of the „Sachsenspiegel“ or Saxon Mirror. The reason for this is that he used rare texts written by Christian scholars that were not commonly available during the Middle Ages, but were kept in the library at Altzella.

In many monasteries however, old works were dubiously overwritten. And the true masters of document forgery were the Augustine canons in the Altenburg monasteries. They skilfully forged imperial diplomas by erasing the old text down to the witnesses and the signatures and amended the entries in the empty space.

You can find out what happened to a charter from Pope Gregory X dating from 1247 in the Cistercian monastery in Leipzig at the media station.  

This excursion shows you some valuable manuscripts from Altzella and Grünhain monastery libraries as well as some more practical everyday objects such as sand that was scattered on fresh ink to absorb the excess, or books that were secured on heavy chains to stop them being stolen, not only because they were valuable, but also because they contained the privilege of knowledge.