A Saving Science: Capturing the Heavens in Carolingian Manuscripts

Hardcover | December 16, 2016

byEric M. Ramírez-Weaver

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In A Saving Science, Eric Ramírez-Weaver explores the significance of early medieval astronomy in the Frankish empire, using as his lens an astronomical masterpiece, the deluxe manuscript of the Handbook of 809, painted in roughly 830 for Bishop Drogo of Metz, one of Charlemagne’s sons. Created in an age in which careful study of the heavens served a liturgical purpose—to reckon Christian feast days and seasons accurately and thus reflect a “heavenly” order—the diagrams of celestial bodies in the Handbook of 809 are extraordinary signifiers of the intersection of Christian art and classical astronomy.

Ramírez-Weaver shows how, by studying this lavishly painted and carefully executed manuscript, we gain a unique understanding of early medieval astronomy and its cultural significance. In a time when the Frankish church sought to renew society through education, the Handbook of 809 presented a model in which study aided the spiritual reform of the cleric’s soul, and, by extension, enabled the spiritual care of his community.

An exciting new interpretation of Frankish painting, A Saving Science shows that constellations in books such as Drogo’s were not simple copies for posterity’s sake, but functional tools in the service of the rejuvenation of a creative Carolingian culture.

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From the Publisher

In A Saving Science, Eric Ramírez-Weaver explores the significance of early medieval astronomy in the Frankish empire, using as his lens an astronomical masterpiece, the deluxe manuscript of the Handbook of 809, painted in roughly 830 for Bishop Drogo of Metz, one of Charlemagne’s sons. Created in an age in which careful study of the h...

Eric M. Ramírez-Weaver is Associate Professor of Medieval Art History at the University of Virginia.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:312 pages, 10 × 9 × 0.98 inPublished:December 16, 2016Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271071265

ISBN - 13:9780271071268

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Drogo and the Handbook of 809

Part One: Unveiling the Heavens over Carolingian Skies

Chapter One: Illuminating Science: Creating the Handbook of 809

Chapter Two: Drogo’s Copy of the Handbook of 809: A Simulacrum of Celestial Order

Part Two: Representing the Cosmos for Carolingian Hearts and Minds

Chapter Three: Revealing Astronomy: Itinerant Painters and Shifting Signs

Chapter Four: Restoring What Was Lost: Astronomy and Natural Astrology in the Carolingian Era

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“Eric Ramírez-Weaver’s A Saving Science adds depth and detail to our emerging appreciation of the role of science at the Carolingian court. The beauty, regularity, and order of the circling heavens were more than just flattering analogies of imperial power: they were the syntax of a visual language in which a new ideology of Christian kingship could be articulated. Ramírez-Weaver’s analysis initiates us into that language, its poetics and its politics, with insight and sympathy.”—Faith Wallis, McGill University