Our knowledge of Latin texts from Antiquity and Late Antiquity is primarily based on manuscripts from the early Middle Ages. The margins of these manuscripts, moreover, often contain annotations which enrich the treasured texts with new layers of interpretation. These marginal and interlinear annotations have long been neglected, since they were considered to be the product of unimportant, anonymous monks. In this project, which ran from May 2011 to May 2016, they were the central focus: they tell the story of the transformation of knowledge on all kinds of subjects, ranging from natural phenomena of the cosmos to orthodox teachings on predestination. They highlight the methods and interests of the scholarly world in this period, and reflect the discussions and debates that accompanied the pursuit of knowledge
Up to now, these practices of annotation had hardly been studied. In this project, they were explored and analysed. They offer a new perspective on early medieval intellectual life and open up exciting new research questions.
Three complementary research questions are explored:
- The phenomenon of annotating texts with the help of a-textual symbols (Steinova);
- The role of marginal annotations in the early medieval world of debate and controverse, of intellectual freedom and censorship (Van Renswoude);
- A description, analysis and synthesis of annotating practices in the period of the Carolingian renaissance, the centres of production of commentaries and characteristic types of annotation used by individual scholars or scholarly communities (Teeuwen).