Karlsen Espen (éd.), Latin manuscripts of medieval Norway: studies in memory of Lilli Gjerløw, Oslo, Novus Press, 2013, 424 p. ISBN: 978-82-7099-722-0
Compte rendu par/Review by : Jenny Jochens
Date : 10 Mar 2014
This large and beautiful book takes an important step into a new discipline: the study of fragments of medieval manuscripts. Available in all Scandinavian countries, this resource is particularly abundant in Norway. The volume is also a festschrift to honor Lilli Gjerløw, the outstanding pioneer in this field who died at the age of 88 in 1998 and to whom I shall return. It is well know that England played a large role in the Christianization of Norway. Arriving in the ninth century, English missionaries succeeded in converting numerous numbers of the population and establishing churches. Missionaries and monks celebrated services in Latin using the liturgy they knew from home and requiring books that were brought from England. Eventually Norwegians themselves learned to procure manuscripts from abroad and to employ scribes who were taught by English professionals established in the country. Like other medieval countries, Norway in this way came to possess sizeable libraries attached to churches and monasteries that contained enduring parchment manuscripts written mainly in Latin but later also in Old Norse. In the beginning these books contained the liturgy required in the services, so that changes adopted by the international church can be followed in their texts. As Christianity became firmly established, Norwegians progressed into Patristic writings as well as the classic medieval authors whose texts they also acquired or copied.