4. Ottonian Books

“None of the northern Italian centres can compete, for their richness and importance, with the Ottonian manuscripts once kept at Aquileia”.

Aquileia and its patriarchs are, south the Alps, among the consignees that have received a remarkable number of Ottonian illuminated manuscripts since the eleventh century. Even though individual works can emerge in other northern Italian bishoprics, none of the northern Italian centres can compete, for their richness and importance, with the Ottonian manuscripts once kept at Aquileia. An evidence thereof can be given by the fact that one of the fundamental studies on the history of the Ottonian miniature in the beginning of the twentieth century was set up about one of these works come to the patriarchal see, the celebrated Egbert’s [Egberto] Psalter kept at Cividale del Friuli (National Archaeological Museum, CXXXVI): the dedicated monograph by Heinrich Volbert Sauerland and, above all, by Arthur Haseloff. Therefore, some of the main developments of the Ottonian miniature are reflected in the manuscripts arrived from beyond the Alps at Aquileia: from the production of Fulda to the works of Reichenau, to the ones of south-eastern Germany lead by Regensburg and Salzburg, that would be soon coupled by the monastic schools of Frisinga, Niederalteich and, above all, Tegernsee. The arrival of these Ottonian manuscripts in Aquileia is sometimes to be referred to the powerful patriarchs of German origins, as in the case of Poppo of the Otokars [Poppone degli Ottocari] (1019-1042), the enlightened Bavarian patron whose name is tied with numerous interventions on the patriarchal basilica (in the apse of which he is portrayed while offering the model of the basilica), and accomplisher of the Ottonian politics in Italy at the time of emperors Henry II and Conrad II. In 1020 he followed pope Benedict VIII to Germany and stayed at Fulda, too, where he could maybe get the two manuscripts of the Library of the Metropolitan Chapter of Udine. The Evangelistary had to play an important role, since the suffragan bishops used to promise their obedience to the patriarchs on this manuscript. The presence of the Oxford Sacramentary (see file IV.4) in Aquileia lets guess a personal connection with the patriarch Sigeard of Sighardinger [Sigeardo dei Sigardinghi] (1068-1077), also a member of the high Bavarian nobility and faithful upholder of Henry IV, who rewarded him with a number of privileges and investitures.

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