World Chronicle manuscript

Date: 1400–1410, 1487
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Germany
Dimensions: 33.5 × 23.5 cm
Description: The rhyming history of the world written by the knight Rudolf von Ems in German in the mid-thirteenth century was widely copied and illustrated. The author's goal was to show how his patron, the German king Conrad IV (1228–54), son of Emperor Frederick II, was the culmination of Christian history beginning with Creation—but Rudolf only got as far as the biblical king Solomon. Other authors completed the work up to their own time. This copy, in the J. Paul Getty Museum, is supplemented by thirteenth-century texts, including a chronicle by Jansen Enikel and the Life of the Virgin Mary by Brother Philip. The book dates to the beginning of the fifteenth century, with some additions made in 1487. It is among the most lavish copies of the World Chronicle, with nearly 400 colorful miniatures by unknown artists. The book, made in Regensburg, is almost six inches thick.

The biblical narratives are updated with fifteenth-century clothing and technology, as in the Tower of Babel construction scene. In some cases, a biblical gloss is given to more recent tales, as when Moses is shown fighting dark-skinned "Moors" (Muslims) in Spain, all of them dressed in medieval armor before a European-style castle. Alexander "the Great," clothed like a European king, is pulled up to heaven (and into the text) by griffins and an angel. The images drawn from the New Testament are supplemented by popular apocryphal stories, such as Jesus forming real birds from clay—a miracle tale found in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas (second century) that is also included twice in the Qur'an.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 10, 11
Image Credits: Getty Open Content Program (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles)

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World Chronicle of Rudolf von Ems, a scribe and a woman (Getty MS 33, fol. 3r) World Chronicle of Rudolf von Ems,  Moses Fights the Moorish Army (Getty MS 33, fol. 66v) World Chronicle, Jansen Enikel, Adoration of a Golden Idol (Getty MS 33, fol. 212r) World Chronicle, Jansen Enikel, Alexander Ascends to Heaven (Getty MS 33, fol. 221r) World Chronicle, Brother Philip's Life of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Making Birds from Clay (Getty MS 33, fol. 256v) World Chronicle, Brother Philip's Life of the Virgin Mary, The Death of Mary and Punishment of the Mockers (Getty MS 33, fol. 306r)