Slide #217


TITLE: Liber Floridus
DATE:
ca. 1120 A.D.
AUTHOR:
Lambert of St. Omer
DESCRIPTION:
Lambert, Canon of St. Omer, was the compiler of an encyclopedia entitled Liber Floridus, which was composed of extracts from approximately 192 different works. In this treatise Lambert compiled a chronicle or history that reaches to the year 1119; it contains various maps, including a mappamundi, which originally like the text, has a date at least earlier than 1125, and has survived in three forms: in the manuscripts of Ghent, Wolfenbüttel, and Paris. In spite of a clearly expressed intention of supplying a complete world map, the oldest copy, the Ghent manuscript, only includes Europe, two Macrobian-zone sketches and a T-O design. This particular manuscript copy seems to have been written by Lambert himself, certainly not later than 1125, and contains some remarkable peculiarities with regards to Europe. The Wolfenbüttel and Paris copies, dating from about 1150, are simply different copies from the same original, which was doubtless of Lambert's own draftsmanship (although in a monograph entitled Die Weltkarte des Martianus Capella, R. Uhden has pointed out that the world map contained in the Wolfenbüttel copy carries a legend ascribing the original to Martianus Capella. The correctness of the ascription is further verified by the identity of various other legends on the map with passages in the Satyricon or De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii . . . by Martianus Capella). These maps, which are based upon Capella's design, contain an equatorial ocean but are quite different than the Macrobian zone-maps (Slide #201). The ecliptic is usually shown, with the twelve signs of the zodiac, and the generalization of the coastlines is rounded in nature. Most of these maps are characteristically oriented to the East (although some show a northern orientation), and have a large amount of text in the southern continent. The climatic zones may or may not be explicitly shown. Regularly shaped islands are usually found in the ocean surrounding the northern continent.

While containing a less detailed Europe, both the Wolfenbüttel and Paris manuscripts possess a complete mappamundi, together with a special and interesting addition. Nowhere else in medieval cartography do we find greater prominence assigned to the unknown southern continent - the Australian land of the fabled Antipodes (termed Antichthon by the ancients). On the Paris manuscript, where this land occupies half of the circle of the earth, a long inscription defines this 'region of the south' in terms not unlike those used on the St. Sever - Beatus map (Slide #207D):

. . . temperate in climate, but unknown to the sons of Adam, having nothing which belongs to our race. The Equatorial Sea [Mediterranean] which here divided the [great land masses or continents of the] world, was not visible to the human eye; for the full strength of the sun always heated it, and permitted no passage to, or from, this southern zone. In the latter, however, was a race of Antipodes (as some philosophers believed), wholly different from man, through the difference of regions and climates. For when we are scorched with heat, they are chilled with cold; and the northern stars, which we are permitted to discern, are entirely hidden from them . . . Days and nights they have one length; but the haste of the sun in the ending of the winter solstice causes them to suffer winter twice over.

To the south of this temperate 'Australia', Lambert places a zone of extreme cold, uninhabitable by living creatures.

The ideas expressed here are supplemented by the suggestion of two more unknown continents or 'earth-islands', one in the Northern and the other in the Southern [Western] Hemispheres, lying in the expanse of an all-encircling and dividing great ocean. Four landmasses therefore are assumed; of these, the first two were made up of the ancient oikoumene [known world] and the Australian region just described. The other two landmasses were on the reverse side of the globe (corresponding in some respects with the North and South American continents of later discoveries), and were divided by a tropical arm of the great ocean, in the same way as the two 'islands' of the Eastern Hemisphere. This concept reflects, in full, the theory of the ancient geographers such as Crates of Mallos, a 5th century B.C. Greek philosopher (Slide #113). The present maps by Lambert, however, only indicate the 'third' and 'fourth' continents (those of the Western Hemisphere) by placing little circles in the margins of the Roman World, or Habitable Earth, respectively entitled Paradise, to the northeast, and Our Antipodes to the southwest. The idea of an undersea course of rivers from a trans-oceanic Paradise to the oikoumene was a common belief during the Middle Ages (see Cosmas Indicopleustes, Slide #202). Our Antipodes is clearly to be understood as the continental masses exactly opposite to Europe and Africa on the other side of the globe, inhabited by living (but apparently not human) beings, and having a day and night in an 'opposite relation' to those living in Europe; while the Paradise island is probably to be interpreted, in the same way, as precisely antipodean to the Australian continent. The graphic expression of these ideas in Lambert's maps derives from several sources. First there is the suggestion of a T-O form in the general contour of 'Our World'. Speculations of a much higher antiquity can be traced in the apparent indication of the Ecliptic in both the Ghent and Wolfenbüttel world maps (in the form of a crooked line running over the Equator and marked by three star-pictures), the obliquity of the sun's path is clearly suggested. Thirdly, of course, is the probable source of earlier world maps by Macrobius and/or Martianus Capella (Slide #201).

If Lambert's 'universal' conceptions are so narrowly dependent upon classical antecedents, it may be expected that the detailed material of the maps will also display a markedly antique character; and indeed the relationship between the medieval geographers and those of the later Imperial time is seldom found in more complete expression. Most of the 180 inscriptions are entirely ancient, and must, therefore, have referred to a lost design of the Old Roman world; the chief additions to this pre-medieval material were made from the geography of Lambert's own period. We must not, however, suppose that Lambert's mappamundi is simply a compilation of a large number of writers. It is not impossible that Lambert's maps, with the exception of a few place names, was taken bodily from an ancient world sketch of the 4th or 5th century A.D. But even if it was the outcome (in its general outlines) of a lost original from the days of the later old Empire, or borrowed directly from Capella, it has obviously been greatly modified by its 12th century redactor, and, in part at least, it truly belongs to the central medieval time frame. As to this we may notice especially some of the islands chosen to be displayed by Lambert, such as Tritonia, apparently a name from the Triton River in Ethiopia; Betania [Britain], placed over against the Pillars of Hercules; the Balearics, defined simply as 'over against Spain', but located in the ocean; Orcades, or British fringing-islets, thirty-three in number, lying over against Betania and Gotha. Although not discernible on the example shown here, on the Lambert maps the seas and rivers are usually colored green, the mountains red, but each of the three copies of the manuscript world map offers peculiarities of its own. The Ghent manuscript gives the most detailed map of the European area; the Wolfenbüttel manuscript alone gives Philistia, Palestine, Bactria, and the mountains of Taurus and Caucasus; the Paris manuscript alone contains Gallia, Comata, Troy, and the Australian inscription (a similar but shorter description of the Southern Ocean occurs in one of the small zone maps of the Liber Floridus).

Besides the world map, the Paris manuscript contains (with certain differences) several of the smaller designs which are also found in the Ghent copy of the Lambertian encyclopedia. Thus we have Augustus Caesar holding a T-O world in his left hand (Slide #205J), an astronomical sketch, and an outline figure of the 'earth-globe'. On the Paris world map all names of seas are wanting; the Mediterranean is indistinguishable from a river; and the continents lack all clear differentiation. The textual script, moreover, is exceedingly difficult and Lambert's material has been so much rearranged that it is not easy in some cases to find agreement with the indications of the Ghent copy.

In addition to the previously mentioned sources, Lambert's Liber Floridus also drew from such medieval authorities as St. Isidore, Orosius, Julius Honorius, Pomponius Mela, Solinus, Venerable Bede, Raban Maur, the Pseudo- Callisthenes and the Bible. There are at least eight manuscripts of the text preserved in the libraries of Europe, and it was referred to with high praise by writers of the 13th century.

LOCATION: Herzog August Bibliothek, Codex Guelf. 1 Gud. Lat. (cat. 4305), fols. 69v-70r,
Wolfenbüttel, Germany.
Bibliotheque Nationale, MS. Lat. 8865 (Suppl. 10-2), Paris
Rijksuniversiteit, MS. 92, Ghent

REFERENCES:
Beazley, C., The Dawn of Modern Geography, volume II, pp. 570 - 573; 621 - 624.
*Destombes, M., Mappemondes, A.D. 1200 - 1500, 43.1, 43.2, 43.3, plate L.
*Harley, J.B., The History of Cartography, Volume One, pp. 300, 304, 321, 353-54, Figure 18.71.
*Kimble, G., Geography of the Middle Ages, pp. 8 - 9.
*Wright, J . K., Geographical Lore at the Time of the Crusades, p. 122.

* illustrated



Index of Early Medieval Maps