The Devil's Bible
Worlds Largest and Most Mysterious Medieval Manuscript



 
The Devil's Bible
Worlds Largest and Most Mysterious Medieval Manuscript

 
The Codex Gigas (Giant Book) is the largest extant medieval manuscript in the world.

It is also known as the Devil's Bible because of a large illustration of the devil on the inside and the legend surrounding its creation.





It's a mysterious book that in its day was believed to contain all human knowledge. But why did medieval people believe that the author sold his soul to the devil to be able to write it?

The "Devil's Bible," a behemoth volume weighing in at 165 pounds, believed to have been produced by a single monk over the course of decades in the 13th Century.

The Codex Gigas which translates to 'Giant Book' is the largest extant medieval manuscript in the world.

It is also known as the Devil's Bible because of a large illustration of the devil on the inside and the legend surrounding its creation. It is thought to have been created in the early 13th century in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice in Bohemia (modern Czech Republic).

It contains the Vulgate Bible as well as many historical documents all written in Latin.

During the Thirty Years' War in 1648, the entire collection was taken by the Swedish army as plunder, and now it is preserved at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm, though it is not normally on display


The Devil's Bible is bound in a wooden folder covered with leather and ornate metal.

At 92 cm (36.2 inches) tall, 50 cm (19.7 inches) wide and 22 cm (8.6 inches) thick it is the largest known medieval manuscript.

At 165 pounds (74.8 kg), the Devil's Bible is composed of 310 leaves of parchment allegedly made from the skins of 160 donkeys or perhaps calfskin. The Devil's Bible is the world's largest and most mysterious medieval manuscript.

It initially contained 320 sheets, though some of these were subsequently removed. It is unknown who removed the pages or for what purpose but it seems likely that they contained the monastic rules of the Benedictines.

The book is believed to have been created by Herman the Recluse in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice near Chrudim. The monastery was destroyed during the 15th century. Records in the book end in the year 1229.

The book was later pledged to the Cistercians Sedlec monastery and then bought by the Benedictine monastery in Břevnov. From 1477–1593 it was kept in the library of a monastery in Broumov until it was taken to Prague in 1594 to form a part of the collections of Rudolf II.

At the end of the Thirty Years' War in the year 1648, the entire collection was taken by the Swedish army as plunder. From 1649 to 2007 the manuscript was kept in the Swedish Royal Library in Stockholm. The site of its creation is marked by a maquette in the town museum of Chrast.

On September 24th, 2007, after 359 years, Codex Gigas returned to Prague on loan from Sweden until January 2008, and was on display at the Czech National Library.

According to one version of a legend that is already recorded in the Middle Ages the scribe was a monk who broke his monastic vows and was sentenced to be walled up alive. In order to forbear this harsh penalty he promised to create in one single night a book to glorify the monastery forever, including all human knowledge.

Near midnight he became sure that he could not complete this task alone, so he made a special prayer, not addressed to God but to the fallen angel Lucifer, asking him to help him finish the book in exchange for his soul.

The devil completed the manuscript and the monk added the devil's picture out of gratitude for his aid. In tests to recreate the work, it is estimated that in order to reproduce only the calligraphy, without the illustrations or embellishments, would have taken 5 years of non-stop writing.