Fragmenta membranea

The Fragmenta membranea collection at the National library of Finland contains the vast majority of the remains of books written and used in the eastern parts of medieval Sweden, the diocese of Turku.

In August 2015 the Fragmenta membranea database contained almost 10.000 digitized parchment leaves, meaning almost 19.000 pages which come from approximately 1.500 different medieval manuscripts. The collection contains a wide variety of materials from the turn of the 10th and 11th centuries until mid-16th century. Altogether 64% of the leaves come from liturgical manuscripts while 16% represent jurisprudence and 14% theology in its various forms. Bibles and hagiography are both represented by 3%. Due to the history of its origins, the manuscripts of the collection, apart from few exceptions, are written in Latin.

The leaves in the collection come from books that were confiscated by the Crown in the 16th  and 17th centuries. These were then unbound and the loose leaves were reused by the central administration as covers for bailiffs’ account books. Because of this most of the leaves have not only medieval content but also notes made by the bailiffs and the administration in the 16th and 17th centuries. The parchment covers were removed from the account books in the 19th century. The account books themselves are currently preserved in the National Archives whereas the covers constitute the Fragmenta membranea collection.

The collection is divided into 7 series: missalia, gradualia, breviaria, antiphonaria, bibliae & theologiae auctores, iuridica, and varia liturgica & hagiographica. The material can be browsed by category. In addition, basic and advanced search options are available, both in the entire collection or in the separate categories. Manuscripts can be downloaded both in their entirety, in PDF format, or by separate page, in TIF format. They are shown in high definition. Metadata are available.

Last update

Tuesday, 2 February 2016 - 12:07pm
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