Manuscript of the Month

Manuscript of the Month is a monthly publication presenting new research into the manuscripts held in the Arnamagnæan Collection. New articles appear on the 15th of every month in both English and Danish.

Interested in contributing to Manuscript of the Month? Write to head editor Seán Vrieland ( for more details.

Manuscript of the Month

Let me guide you through this! The interaction between scribe and readers in the main manuscript of Konungs skuggsjá

The oldest and most complete manuscript of the Old Norwegian Konungs skuggsjá, AM 243 bα fol., offers a treasure trove of knowledge on various subjects. This immense encyclopaedic and didactic work can be hard to navigate through, and thus AM 243 bα fol. bears witness to the intense interaction later readers had with this manuscript in finding their way through natural wonders, mirabilia, and lectures on the court.
Manuscript of the Month

Chronicle of the Slavs in the Arnamangæan Collection

While the twelfth century is generally associated with great social, political and economic transformations and cultural development in Western Europe, there was one area of Medieval Europe which did not fit the general scheme. This area, called Połabie was inhabited by Polabian tribes, who resisted influences from their neighbours and remained pagan well into the twelfth century. The area was an object of intense political interest for three powerful neighbours, which manifested itself in numerous attempts to Christianize the region. The Christianization of the Polabian tribes is described in, among other sources, the Chronica Slavonorum, which is preserved in AM 30 fol.
Manuscript of the Month

Sad remains of once proud books

Árni Magnússon made an effort to preserve every manuscript he could, even fragments. Among others AM 567 4to which is a collection of texts from medieval Icelandic romances called riddarasögur. Collections such as these remind us of just how fragile manuscript transmission can be, because even though most of the fragments comprise only a few leaves, they are still extremely valuable as witnesses to the early histories of the texts they preserve.
Manuscript of the Month

A hand-written copy of a printed book

Among the more recent acquisitions of the Arnamagnæan manuscript collection in Copenhagen is a group of mostly early-nineteenth century manuscripts containing mainly copies of Old Norse-Icelandic sagas. The institute received these manuscripts as a gift from the Cathedral School in Nykøbing Falster in 2007. One of the manuscripts in this collection, AM Acc. 61, is a modest book in quarto format, which contains four Legendary Sagas copied by a Danish author, Frederik Julius Schaldemose, around the year 1816.
Manuscript of the month

Vermundar þáttur og Upsa (The Tale of Vermundur and Upsi) in AM 409 fol.

This short tale about a king and his heroic son, written on only two leaves of paper, is not only interesting due to its literary content. The transmission of the narrative and the several layers of translations which lie behind this text represent a fascinating case of cultural continuity and reinvigoration during the renaissance of manuscript production in seventeenth-century Iceland.
Manuscript of the Month

Inside the binding of AM 779 c 4to

AM 779 c 4to is a seventeenth-century paper manuscript that mostly contains rhymed chronicles about Greenland. More specifically, it holds five handwritten copies of Claus Lyschander’s (1558-1623/24) The Greenland Chronicle in two different Icelandic translations. (The Danish original Den Grønlandske Chronica was published in 1608.) In addition, the manuscript contains a small text fragment of completely different nature and otherwise unknown contents.