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When Books Lay Down the Law - Law and Lawmakers in the Manuscripts at the Abbey Library of St. Gall

decoration30 Nov. 2014|08 Nov. 2015

For the first time, the Abbey Library of St. Gall dedicates an exhibition to the subject of medieval law and legal manuscripts. Based on the Abbey Library’s unique collection of manuscripts, the exhibition reveals the fascinating development of jurisprudence from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, presenting, as one of many examples, the Emperor and the Pope as lawmakers. The manuscripts and codices on show will give an amazing insight into judicial processes as well as into the rules of penance, confession and indulgences. The famous manuscripts on display include the early medieval laws of the Lombards, Franks and Alemans as well as important witnesses to the origins of jurisprudence and the revival of interest in the study of law during the 12th century.

The Abbey of St. Gall was founded in woodlands near the Steinach waterfall in 612. From 747 onwards, the abbey followed the Rule of St. Benedict, which prescribes the contemplative study of literature (on the assumption that a library is available). The first indication that such a library existed at St. Gall is given, albeit indirectly, in the famous plan of the abbey dating from around 820. During the first few centuries of its existence, the abbey grew rapidly, becoming famous for its illuminated manuscripts. Today the Abbey Library is Switzerland’s oldest library, containing a unique collection of over 170,000 books and manuscripts.


30 Nov. 2014|08 Nov. 2015
Klosterhof 6D
St. Gall
Abbey Library of St. Gall
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