Types of manuscripts – University of Copenhagen

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Manuscript types and text genres

Handwritten artifacts can be clasified either by their content or physical appearance. Contents of the manuscripts can vary from legendary sagas, through legal texts and diplomas, to historical writting. A manuscript may contain a single type of text — for example, law texts or sagas — in which case it is called a law book/manuscript or saga manuscript, or may contain various types of texts and is then called a 'miscellany'. An example of a miscellany is AM 76 8vo (from around 1470), which contains the Lucidarius in Old Danish, a medieval encyclopedia presented as a dialogue, the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, psalms and songs in Danish and Latin with notes, and other texts.

Manuscripts may also be defined by their function and usage. An example of a so-called functional manuscript is AM 76 8vo, which can also be called a Latin teacher's manual. Codex Wormianus (AM 242 fol.), an Icelandic manuscript from the middle of the 14th century, is an example of a learned handbook and contains didactic texts on mythology, poetry and grammar.

The content oriented clasification of the manuscripts in the Arnamagnæan Collection is as follows:

The clasification of the manuscripts by their physical appearance is as follows: