Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2018


The Gospel book known to scholars as the Codex Aureus of St. Emmeram (Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 14000) is a lavishly decorated manuscript produced in 870 for the Car­olingian king and subsequent emperor Charles the Bald (823-877). Although the manuscript has been much admired and its art frequently reproduced, many questions remain concerning the Codex Aureus and its miniatures, both individually and as parts of a program. This article examines the relationship between text and image in the two full-page miniatures, which represent the enthroned Charles the Bald facing an image of the twenty-four elders adoring the Lamb. It reads the illuminations as a diptych by looking at the writings of John Scotus, known as Eriugena ( ca. 810-ca. 877), the poet, philosopher, and master of the school to whom the Codex Aureus's captions have been attributed. By assimilating the king to Christ, the Word made flesh, the two-page opening captures the king's imperial aspiration and related expectations for salvation. The miniatures not only compose a statement of ruler theology but also introduce Charles the Bald, who was the principal viewer of the manuscript, to a process of spiritual ascension through intellectual contemplation. This process was designed to elevate the king's mind above the temporal world in order to accomplish a mystical union with God, a theosis.


© 2018, Riccardo Pizzinato. Original published version available at




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