Römische Historien | Roman History


Roman History

German (Mainz), 1530

height 30 cm

Bound with Julius Caesar "Commentaries" and Plutarch "Life of Caesar" (in German). Fols. 57v-5 : scenes from Roman History.

University of Oregon Library, Special Collections and University Archives
Edward Burgess Early Printed Book Collection, Ms 124


Diebold, William. The Illustrated Book in the Age of Printing: Books and Manuscripts from Oregon Collections. Portland, OR: Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, 1993, cat. no. 36, p. 21 - Quoted with permission

Like its Italian neighbors to the right, numbers 5 and 20 [this and similar references apply to exhibit from which this text was a catalog entry], this German book contains accounts of ancient Roman history. While this similarity indicates that Humanists north of the Alps were also interested in classical texts, perhaps more noteworthy are the differences between this book and the Italian Humanist books and manuscripts. The text of this book is printed in German, not Latin, and, as in number 7, this use of the vernacular has dictated the text's appearance, for the type used is a version of the German handwriting known as Fraktur, rather than the Roman type of a Humanist book like number 20.

This book is also remarkable for its woodcut illustration. As in the Nuremberg Chronicle (number 26), the same blocks are used again and again throughout the book. Unlike the Chronicle, however, which was technically very sophisticated, the signs of the reuse of the blocks are clearly visible here. For example, in the illustration on the recto, two mismatched blocks are crudely printed next to each other. On the left-hand page, what was originally a single block has been sawn apart in order to use its two halves independently elsewhere in the book. For this illustration, the two halves have been rejoined and printed together so that the seam is hardly visible.