A Seventeenth-Century Treasure Hunter in the Rubble of a Ninth-Century Library: Gathering Fragments and the History of Libraries
Abstract: Among the few major Carolingian libraries that are rather well preserved, Lyon’s Cathedral Chapter Library presents a specific challenge: its fragmentation and dispersion have long hindered studies on its constituent manuscripts, because they were scattered across distant libraries. Nowadays, digitization lifts the greater part of the material obstacles, and virtual reconstructions makes it possible to study damaged manuscripts almost as if their scattered fragments were still preserved together. While accompanying a few such reconstructions on display on Fragmentarium, this paper intends to highlight the importance of an individual XVIIth century collector, Étienne Baluze, in the salvaging of fragments from the Lyon library. Through this example is shown how the very preservation status of fragments within larger ensembles can reveal information on the librarians, collectors, collections, and libraries to whom they belonged, and their own history.
Keywords: Lyon, Cathedral; Lyon, Bibliothèque municipale; Étienne Baluze; library history; Carolingian era; Codices Latini Antiquiores