Case study 8: The Medieval Fragments of the Abbey of Mondsee

Wien, Österreichische Natinalbibliothek, Fragm. 960

Case Study

Partner institution: Austrian National Library, Vienna

Financed by: Austrian Academy of Science (Go Digital 2.0)

Collaborator: Ivana Dobcheva MA, Mag. Larissa Rasinger MA, Veronika Wöber, Dr. Katharina Kaska

Advisor: Dr. Andreas Fingernagel, Austrian National Library, Vienna

This two-year case study funded by the Austrian Academy of Science (Go Digital 2.0) focuses on fragments from the Benedictine monastery of Mondsee (Upper Austria). Mondsee became an important local center for book production already shortly after its foundation in 748 with phases of increased activity in the 12th as well as the 15th century. When a book-binding workshop was installed in the 15th century many books from the monastery’s collection were cut up and re-used as binding material for its own library.

After the dissolution of the monastery in 1791 the court library in Vienna received nearly all manuscripts from this important monastic library. Many printed books and the remnants of Mondsee’s archive remained in Linz, today the capital of Upper Austria. Already in the 19th century researchers noticed the treasures that could be found in the bindings of these books. They immediately started to remove the oldest and most interesting fragments. Unfortunately, in most cases they failed to note which books those fragments came from. What remains of their work today is a large number of fragments without proper provenance, offsets on wooden boards and tiny remnants of removed pastedowns. In addition many more fragments can be found in-situ in manuscripts and early prints.

Using digital images and the possibilities Fragmentarium offers the Austrian National Library aims to:

  • Develop best practice guidelines for digitizing fragments in situ that are difficult to access (e.g. quire guards)
  • Provide digital images of all known fragments and off-sets from Mondsee in Vienna and Linz
  • Provide manuscript description to be hosted by Fragmentarium
  • Reconstruct manuscripts and bring together fragments and their host volumes
  • Understand the use of fragments for book-binding in Mondsee

For this project the Austrian National Library collaborates with the State Library of Upper Austria, the State Archive of Upper Austria and the Institute of Austrian Historical Research.

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