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  • The Prague Sacramentary: Culture, Religion, and Politics in Late Eighth-Century Bavaria by Maximilian Diesenberger, Rob Meens, and Els Rose
  • Jewell Homad Johnson
Diesenberger, Maximilian, Rob Meens, and Els Rose, eds, The Prague Sacramentary: Culture, Religion, and Politics in Late Eighth-Century Bavaria (Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages,21), Turnhout, Brepols, 2016, cloth; pp.xii, 261; 18 b/w illustrations, 5 tables; R.R.P. €80.00; ISBN 9782503549200.

An important medieval manuscript, the Prague Sacramentary offers scholars as many answers as the questions it poses. Editors Maximilian Diesenberger, Rob Meens, and Els Rose contextualize the rarity of any 'liturgical manuscript of the early Middle Ages […] with such precisely datable information' (p. 7) and introduce the 'Prague, Archiv Pražského hradu, MS O. 83 and dated to the final decade of the eighth century' (p. 1). The challenges of a text containing 'much more than the prayers for Mass' (p. 1) are considered in three parts: 'A Book and its Users' (Part I), 'A Mirror of Religious Culture' (Part II), and 'Breaking and Building Identities' (Part III). Nine analyses, the fruit of 'an adventure undertaken by an international group of scholars with different disciplinary backgrounds in a two-day workshop organised in Prague in November 2008', are in English, with the exception of Elvira Glaser's 'Die althochdeutsche Glossierung des Prager Sakramentars' (The Old High German Glossary for the Prague Sacramentary) in German, and Philippe Depreux's 'La prière pour les rois et le status regni dans le sacramentaire de Prague et l'attention portée par Charlemagne au salut de la communauté politique' ('The Prayer for Kings and the Status Regni in the Sacramentary of Prague and the Attention Paid by Charlemagne to the Salvation of the Political Community') in French. Els Rose's 'The Sanctoral Cycle of the Prague Sacramentary' frames the nearly 'eighty Masses for saints […] preceding vigils, and Masses for the octave (the eighth day after the feast proper)' by using traditions Dold and Eisenhöfer believe the Prague Sacramentary follows: 'Eighth-Century Gelasian Sacramentaries, the Gelasianum Vetus, and the Gregorian Tradition' (p. 98). Rose's 'Tables' compare the manuscripts' sanctoral cycle, apostles, feasts of Peter and Paul, and 'the contestation Qui sancti spiritus tui dono succensus in the Prague Sacramentary and the Gothic Missal', and Rose's detailed comparison concludes 'it is an eclectic composition, making use of the main contemporary sacramentaries' (as noted above), while disagreeing with Hammer and Dold and Eizenhöfer's view of St Martin and the cult centre in Tours, rather choosing to explain his commemoration in the Masses, and identifies the 'evidence of exchange between Prague and Frankish Gaul' regarding Martin (p. 121). Richard Corradini's 'De Creatione Mundi in the Prague Sacramentary' raises the predicament: a 'palaeographical conclusion opens up a number of questions and problems concerning this particular text', which Corradini sees as 'not possible to deal exhaustively with the manifold theological programmes and ideas expressed in this text', and which is exacerbated by 'a lack of Latin skills [End Page 272] or a highly developed individuality of the scribe' (pp. 124–25). This valuable collaboration of scholars begins with Rosamond McKitterick's detailed illustrations in 'The Work of the Scribes in the Prague Sacramentary', and closes with Stuart Airlie's well-positioned 'Earthly and Heavenly Networks in a World in Flux: Carolingian Family Identities and the Prague Sacramentary'. Airlie begins by considering the historian's interest: '[l]ike Banquo and Macbeth […] yearned to know which of the seeds of time would blossom, and which would fail' (p. 203). Airlie concludes this volume with a consideration of Bavaria, Pippin, and Charlemagne, and makes an important call for the focused historian to forget the present when entering the past, and its intentions, and thus concluding a thought-provoking selection of essays on this 'idiosyncratic' manuscript.

Jewell Homad Johnson
The University of Sydney


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