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The Performative Manuscript: Art, Agency and Public Ritual in Ottonian Mainz

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 April 2019

Department of History of Art, University of Edinburgh, ECA Hunter Building, 74 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9DF; e-mail:


The German city of Mainz under Archbishop Willigis (975–1011) witnessed a major flourishing of the arts, particularly in the field of architecture. During this period, a benedictional, now in St Gall, was also commissioned. Its only figurative content is an image of Christ in Majesty on its first folio. Taken as a case study, analysis of this permits an approach to the barely-explored concept of performativity in early medieval illuminated manuscripts. This Maiestas Domini, the list of blessings contained in the book and contemporary depictions of religious ceremonies invites consideration of the joint role that image and manuscript played in the dynamic liturgical rites during which the benedictional was handled.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019 

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90 See n. 52 above.

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93 Heinzelmann, ‘Mainz zwischen Rome und Aachen’, 8–10 at fig. 2.

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95 Ibid. 62–4.

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97 Reuter, Germany, 159, 170.

98 Garrison, E., ‘Otto iii at Aachen’, Peregrinations iii/1 (2010), 83137Google Scholar at pp. 91–7.

99 Parkes, The making of liturgy, 158.

100 Mayr-Harting, Ottonian book illustration, pt ii, 57–68.

* For practical purposes, this list uses the pagination system of the Stiftsbibliothek, St Gall, and, therefore, of the digitised copy on e-Codices (rather than the standard folio recto/verso numeration for manuscripts).