Bk 1. xxvii. 4-5a Orthography (cont).

details (above, below) from Brit.Lib. Add MS 11695 – The Silos Beatus (1109 AD)









You will see in the excerpt above, from a  ninth-century manuscript, that the word ‘demon’ is spelled in fact without the ‘ae’ which the text is saying must be used .  The same is true of the same passage in CLM 6250,  written c.810 AD:-

I cannot comment on whether this discrepancy reflects reforms of the Carolingian period, but in any case ‘orthographia‘ was of keen interest to educated Latins well before Charlemagne’s time, and it  implied more than the distinction between homonyms which is our present subject.

In some modern secondary sources we find, still, relics of the older tendency to characterise history as not so much a temporal map of interwoven events, influences and precedents, but as a chronicle of ‘consumerism’, that is, as a sequence defined by the discarding of items which are  ‘old’ (past)  in favour of ones supposed entirely ‘new’ (present), and whose introduction is supposed driven chiefly by  creative individuals’ inventions –  produced in a personal response  to immediate,  highly localised, stimuli.  To illustrate this style, I have taken the following passage in isolation – and I emphasise that it is taken alone –  from Grotan’s Reading and Writing in St.Gall:

But as soon as the matter is considered more broadly, that portrait of the lone author is soon replaced by finding Alcuin one piece in a mosaic; one which shows the Latin west and its literate culture as informed by a mesh of cross-regional and enduring influences: literary, social, religious and political. Thus, the ‘Carolingian reforms’ cannot be supposed to have begun with, nor have been restricted to, those linked directly to the court.  Rather, one should say that the court’s over-riding interest in uniformity in matters of law, learning and religion, (a uniformity which was impossible to achieve) did serve to encourage the acceptance of such works as fulfilled needs perceived as compatible with its agenda.


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