The Codex Gigas: the medieval book for making a pact with Satan
The Codex Gigas, also known as the “Giant Book” or “Devil’s Manuscript”, is one of the most intriguing and mysterious medieval manuscripts in the world. This monumental book is famous for its colossal size, its unusual contents and its legend involving the devil himself. Over the centuries, the Codex Gigas has captured the imagination of historians, scholars and paranormal enthusiasts. This article will delve into the history and mysteries surrounding this masterpiece of the Middle Ages.
The Codex Gigas is a medieval manuscript dating from the 13th century, created in the Podlažice Monastery in what is now the Czech Republic. The story of its creation is a mystery in itself, as the identity of the author and the precise circumstances in which it was written are unknown. A palaeographic study of its text proves that a single scribe worked on the manuscript for around 30 years, as the work is impressive in both its content and its size. Measuring 89 cm high, 49 cm wide and weighing around 75 kg, it is the largest medieval manuscript in the world.
The Czech government paid the Swedish government ten million dollars to temporarily exhibit the work in Prague
The Codex Gigas contains a variety of texts covering religious, historical and scientific subjects. Its most prominent content is the Latin Vulgate Bible, which occupies about half of the manuscript. In addition to the Bible, the Codex Gigas includes a copy of Isidore of Seville’s “Etymologiae”, an encyclopaedia of the Middle Ages covering a wide range of subjects from theology to zoology.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the Codex Gigas is the presence of a disturbing illustration depicting the devil in all his grisly glory. This image is the source of the legend of the ‘Devil’s Manuscript’, which suggests that the scribe made a pact with Satan to complete the work in a single night in exchange for his soul. Although this story is based more on fantasy than reality, the presence of this intriguing image has contributed to the manuscript’s fame.
The legend of the ‘Devil’s Manuscript’ has given rise to numerous theories and speculations over the centuries. Although it is unlikely that a scribe would have made a pact with the devil, history has fuelled the perception that the Codex Gigas is a cursed work. Over the centuries, the Codex was the bearer of a supposed curse that led it to change “residence” for a long time until it was picked up by invaders to the rule of Rudolf II, who came from Sweden, and who gave the present to his queen Christina, who longed to possess the greatest library of her time.
Since the 17th century, the Codex Gigas has left Swedish territory on two occasions:
1970: the Codex Gigas left Sweden for the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
2007: on 24 September 2007, after 359 years, the Codex Gigas returned to Prague on loan from Sweden until January 2008, exhibited in the Czech National Library, protected by an armoured display case.
Legacy and Significance
The Codex Gigas is a masterpiece of medieval writing and illumination. Beyond its legend and impressive size, the manuscript is valuable for its contribution to the preservation of the culture and history of the Middle Ages. It offers a unique insight into the mentality of the time and the religious and scientific beliefs of that period.
The Codex Gigas is much more than just a historical curiosity. It is a testament to the skill and dedication of medieval scribes, as well as a reminder of how history and legend are often intertwined in intriguing mystery. As it continues to fascinate generations of people, the Codex Gigas remains a symbol of the rich cultural heritage that has come down to us from ancient times.
Codex Gigas on Cuarto Milenio by Iker Jiménez
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