History of Alexander the Great


This manuscript comprises religious and historical texts in German, including History of Alexander the Great by the physician Johannes Hartlieb (ca. 1410–1468). Written on paper in a Swabian dialect by the scribe Völckhart Landsperger, the texts were chosen to suit the interests of a particular patron. Many such scribes worked as city notaries, providing a close link between civic culture and literary production. Despite the inexpensive materials, the lively pen drawings are detailed and rich in narrative. In this example, Alexander visits a beautiful mountaintop temple. Its staircase is made of gemstones supported by golden chains, a characteristic example of the text’s many wonders. The work of several artists, the book exemplifies the increasing number of paper manuscripts produced for the growing patriciate and merchant classes in Augsburg.

Miscellany, Including Johannes Hartlieb’s History of Alexander the Great, in German
Written by Völckhart Landsperger
Germany, Augsburg, ca. 1450–60
The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.782, fol. 292r Purchased, 1934