Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493


The Nuremberg Chronicle is an illustrated world history. Its structure follows the story of human history as related in the Bible; it includes the histories of a number of important Western cities. Written in Latin by Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514) a classic polymath.  According to a 1498 inventory, his library included works of grammar, logic, rhetoric, astronomy, astrology, mathematics, philosophy, plus works relating to his studies in medicine, surgery, the history of science, religion and theology. It is one of the best-documented early printed books - an incunabulum (printed, not hand-written) - and one of the first to successfully integrate illustrations and text. The Chronicle ends up functioning as a knowledge receptacle, a sort of premodern cultural aggregator.

Here are some of the amazing illustrations for this fantastic book:

 
The one-foot pigmy or sciapod
The hermaphrodite

Siamese twins
Strange headless people

Strange "four-eyed" people
This is entertainment at its best! The book serves as a compendium of wondrous and exciting creatures out there, populating the unknown world, not unlike our animal channel today: i.e.,  the handfish.


laying eggs:



Here is a great online version of the Chronicles (from World Digital Library).