Remains of the Library
Among the library remains already mentioned, there are four works still in existence today which are of interest, two of them manuscripts in the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel:
A chronicle by Hrabanus Maurus, an early mediaeval scholar (around 784-856), entitled “Praeceptor Germaniae” (Cod. Guelf. 656 Helm).
A manuscript from Ilsenburg Abbey “Gesta thebeorum… Item historia treverorum ecclesiastica” (Cod.Augusteus in 4°, 19.27).
The king with crown and sword as judge: picture of a king or judge from Ilsenburg Abbey. On the back of sheet 1 of “Gesta Thebeorum”, one of the few remaining manuscripts from the abbey. Source: Herzog August Library Wolfenbüttel in Cod. Augusteus in 4°, 19.27.
The most important work from the Ilsenburg Abbey library, and an example of its book production, is a large Latin Bible manuscript from the 12th century. This manuscript is in private hands and was shown in 2003 at a Bible exhibition in the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel. It consists of 139 sheets in a strong pigskin cover from the 16th century (around 1560/1580). It contains the texts of the Books of the Prophets and the New Testament, written by several hands in Carolingian minuscule. The manuscript was intended for liturgical use, as suggested by a list of pericopes from the Gospels for Sundays and Holy Days.
Between the texts of the Old and New Testaments is an empty sheet which was used by a similar hand of the time to copy documents referring to Ilsenburg Abbey. These are the gift of Bishop Reinhard of 4th May 1114, which mentions Abbot Martin of Ilsenburg; Abbot Heinrich of Ilsenburg’s guarantee of an enfeoffment of a certain Reinward over Thiederzingerode of 1st February 1131; and the beginning of an acknowledgement by Pope Innocent II of the land and privileges of the abbey of 2nd January 1136. Written in widely spaced capitals at the end of the Old Testament books is: Explicit Malachias Propheta, followed in elongated letters of documental script by: Abbas Martinus . me fiery iussit . Wulferammus me scripsit . et Herimannus me fecit. (Abbot Martin ordered me to be made, Wolfram wrote me, and Hermann made me). Wulferammus was therefore working as scribe and Herimannus as scribe and editor (me fecit?). The scribe of the Gospels is not mentioned. It may be assumed that the copy was made in Ilsenburg Abbey at the time of Abbot Martin, who was elected by the Conventuals on 30th June 1105 and died on 20th May 1129. The manuscript must therefore have been written between 1105 and 1129. With the help of the Greek and Latin margin notes in the Bible, Jacobs proved that there was some knowledge of the Greek language at the beginning of the 12th century in Ilsenburg Abbey.
The individual texts begin with the initials characteristic of Romanesque book ornamentation. The clearly drawn colourful letters, 48 in number, are surrounded by tendrils and tubers.
Further proof of early book production in Ilsenburg is provided by the fragment written by Rocho, a Brother at this abbey, on the life of Bishop Heimo of Halberstadt. Proof that this manuscript, which was found in Hildesheim, was written at Ilsenburg lies in the signature: Explicit historica Rochi in Ylsenb. de vita Haymo. Episcopi.
Research into further remnants of the library at Ilsenburg Abbey is ongoing. This may include other libraries such as the Catholic School in New York, the University Library in Halle, the State Archive in Magdeburg and parts of the Hecht Collection in the Pattensen branch of the Principal State Archive in Hannover.
Other research into the history of Ilsenburg Abbey involves the surviving reliefs and the excavations around the former cloister.