A Saving Science: Capturing the Heavens in Carolingian Manuscripts by Eric M. Ramírez-Weaver

A Saving Science: Capturing the Heavens in Carolingian Manuscripts

byEric M. Ramírez-Weaver

Hardcover | December 14, 2016

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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.

About The Author

Eric M. Ramírez-Weaver is Associate Professor of Medieval Art History at the University of Virginia. Eric M. Ramírez-Weaver is Associate Professor of Medieval Art History at the University of Virginia.

Details & Specs

Title:A Saving Science: Capturing the Heavens in Carolingian ManuscriptsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:312 pages, 10.25 × 9.32 × 1.13 inPublished:December 14, 2016Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271071265

ISBN - 13:9780271071268

Customer Reviews of A Saving Science: Capturing the Heavens in Carolingian Manuscripts


Extra Content

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations


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




Editorial Reviews

“This erudite book is not for the faint of heart. . . . The Carolingian period is not as widely studied as others, so any contribution of this order is welcome. However, this focused investigation will be most valuable for an audience seeking specific expertise, especially concerning manuscript illumination and medieval computistics or the period organization of the Christian calendar. In the course of discussion, Ramírez-Weaver probes the intersection and roles of science, religion, astronomy, and artistry in understanding the cosmos. The book has excellent illustrations (including many color plates) of obscure illuminated pages. The scholarly apparatus is exemplary. This will prove a useful resource for those investigating the intellect and art in the Carolingian period.”—A. V. Coonin, Choice