In all the history of hand-written books, one of the most distinctive and handsome scripts is that of the abbey of Monte Cassino. This study examines for the first time in detail the development of this script during the Abbey's greatest period of wealth and influence, under Desiderius (abbot 1058–1087) and his successor Oderisius (abbot 1087–1105). The characteristic Cassinese hand was established long before, but in this period it was transformed into what is today considered its classic form. The present study rests on a fresh examination of many details of the Beneventan (South Italian) script in aspects incompletely studied before. It aims to provide a new history of Monte Cassino as a writing centre and to offer a context for many unique or valuable texts manuscripts that it processed.
• Provides a context and dating for unique manuscripts of many famous texts, such as Varro and Apuleius • The first full description of the activities of the scriptorium in Monte Cassino's Golden Age • 339 black and white half-tones, plus colour plate section
1. The abbots and the scriptorium at Monte Cassino; 2. Background: the Cassinese scriptorium under Abbot Theobald and the master scribe Grimoald; 3. The development of the canonical Cassinese style of Beneventan display manuscripts; 4. Common manuscripts of the Scriptorium, part I: patristic and medieval texts; 5. Common manuscripts of the Scriptorium, part II: classical texts; 6. Practices of the scriptorium; 7. Gifts and other holdings of the library; 8. Books, texts, and a bibliophile abbot.
'… Newton's rich study is a monument to a lifetime well spent in observation and thoughtful consideration of a very important group of texts and manuscripts.' The Journal of Ecclesiastical History
'A splendid book … Newton's approach is a model of the methodology and application of the paleographer's craft. The book's abundant illustrations and its detailed plate descriptions will be of invaluable help to scholars from other fields who use Beneventan materials.' Carmela Vircillo Franklin, Speculum