Paul the Deacon, Historia Langobardorum

  • S. IX2/4; parchment; mm 220 × 152; ff. 96.
  • Cividale del Friuli, National Archaeological Museum. Archives and Library, ms. XXVIII

The codex, probably written at Cividale, is one of the oldest witnesses of the Historia Langobardorum.

One of the oldest Carolingian codices of possibly Friulian provenance is now kept at Cividale: the Historia Langobardorum of the ‘Biblioteca Capitolare’ (Library of the Chapter) datable to the first half of the ninth century. The German palaeographer Bernhard Bischoff wrote about it as an evidence «of clearly regional nature», perhaps with reference to the script peculiarities that make it uneasily comparable with the contemporary production of other northern-Italian scribal centres, but maybe closer to some transalpine products of Bavarian scriptoria. Before and after Bischoff, also local historiographers have on their own had a good job to consider this copy of Paul the Deacon’s most celebrated work (and of major regional interest, as well) the product of a Friulian scriptorium. The manuscript was taken into account by the German scholars who edited the sole complete and nowadays available publication of Paul the Deacon’s work in the collection Monumenta Germaniae Historica towards the end of the nineteenth century: the antiquity of the book – since on the palaeographic basis it is datable to less than fifty years after the author’s death, it is one of the three oldest witnesses of the Historia Langobardorum known at present – and the substantial correctness of the given text won it the first place in the list of the recorded codices used for the edition.

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