Activity: Talks and presentations › Conference presentations
The parallel generation of new formats and systems of illustration accompanying historiographical texts in territories so far apart as the Holy Land and the Iberian Peninsula around the third quarter of the thirteenth century has never been explored by previous scholarship, due to the academic parcellation across disciplines and linguistic domains. It is my contention, though, that these multilingual—and even multiconfessional—realms may have fostered an unprecedented development of illustrated books addressed to a lay audience. In this regard, the diverse iconographic families of the Histoire ancienne jusqua’à Cesar seem paradigmatic of the inventiveness, impetus and wide geographical span of this process. Yet, as confirmed by the similar cases of England and Flanders, it may not have been the consolidation of the vernaculars as much as the coexistence of different languages that would have enhanced this fluidity across diverse literary and visual traditions, genres and local idioms. Paradoxically, the richness and vitality of Flanders, England, the Holy Land and Iberia contrasts with the relatively slower and more limited pace that can be verified in France, where the role of the secular books remained rather marginal in relation with the extraordinary religious manuscripts manufactured in these decades. In this general framework, Sicily constitutes a sort of precedent, since this process would have taken place even before, at the time of the Norman rule—with the Madrid Skylitzes (Madrid, BNE, Vitr. 26-2) as the most striking product of the period—later to be consolidated during the Staufer domain of Southern Italy.