Loads of medieval Latin online

Did any of you happen to follow that link that I FWSE‘d up back there to the Latin text of Isidore’s Etymologiae? It goes to the Latin Library at an organisation called the Ad Fontes Academy, which appears to be a Christian school in North Virginia, not even higher education. But this site is huge. It’s not terribly well organised, but the alphabetical drop-down, as well as a raft of Classical authors and an entry for Medieval Latin, includes Alcuin, Ammianus, Aquinas, Augustine, Cassiodorus, Einhard and the Theodosian Code, and that Medieval Latin entry leads to a page whch names many more. And for each author it’s only the obvious big works but that gives you the whole of Augustine’s Confessions and the De Civitate Dei, it gives you (for example) what is I guess the RHC text of Albert of Aachen’s history of the First Crusade (among several other Crusades texts), Einhard’s Vita Karoli, Thegan’s Gesta Hludowici Imperatoris, Nithard, Richer, Magna Carta, the Origo Gentis Langobardorum, Dante’s Monarchy… and more I don’t even recognise. It’s a treasury, and it’s searchable and copiable e-text, whereas the Digital MGH for example is image files precisely so that you can’t just copy and paste chunks out of their copyright publications.

Of course, you have to ask where these texts are coming from, because no copyright is given, and neither is the source edition indicated anywhere. A brief page-by-page of the text here of Einhard’s Vita Karoli and the dMGH version leads me to believe that they are in fact the same, so I guess this voluminous resource has been assembled by OCR’ing venerable copies of the Monumenta, the Recueil des Historiens des Croisades and the like and carefully removing all apparatus, editing marks, signes de renvoi and indeed anything that might let it be traceable. I have to wonder exactly how hard permission for this was sought, and ask if this is really a very moral way to assemble a Christian study library. Nonetheless, is that going to stop me using it? Well, when it’s something I can read through the dMGH, yes. When it’s one of the few volumes of RHC that Gallica have left online at the Bibliothèque Nationale, then again, yes, although if I just want to copy and paste a quote this version may well still be tempting. But there’s loads of stuff here I would not easily find elsewhere, so it’s moral quandary for me when those texts beckon. For those without such qualms, meanwhile, there it is… (Also added to the increasingly confusing list of Resources in my sidebar there.)

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10 responses to “Loads of medieval Latin online

  1. Aren’t a lot of these texts beyond copyright?

  2. I suppose that the MGH and RHC ones must be, although they have almost all been reprinted and I don’t know whether that renews copyright under the respective German and French laws. All the same, it would be nice to know who the editors were and to have retained the apparatus…

  3. Regarding the copyright situation of the (d)MGH editions: We have do distinguish between the pure critical text on the one side and commentary, apparatus, and introduction on the other. The former comes usually without any copyright at all (except perhaps for the rare case where we deal with an editio princeps, which is usually not the case with the MGH, though), while the latter are protected by German copyright law. This means that you are not allowed to copy or republish the introduction or the commentary of the MGH editions until 70 years after the death of the editor. Thus, with the editions of Georg Heinrich Pertz you may actually do whatever you want, while the recent editions are still protected. What I have said here does only apply in Germany, I do not know about other countries.

    Also probably worthy of note: it’s not quite true that we are only offering images at the dMGH, so that you may not copy texts. In fact, we are also offering full texts, but while we were quite fast with scanning the images and presenting them over the net, OCR’ing is not quite as fast. We have completed the Diplomata and the Epistolae and are half way through with the Scriptores. By 2010 we shall have digitized almost all our editions with the exception of the most recent ones — our publishers want us to maintain a moving wall of a few years. Currently, the full text version of the dMGH can be accessed via http://www.mgh.de/dmgh/ and then follow the link that says “Volltextsuche”. (You can reach it directly via http://mdzx.bib-bvb.de/dmgh_new/ but I recommend to go via the MGH website as the full text search is still in a beta stadium and we haven’t yet integrated the images of all the volumes and the URL might change.)

    When in the full text software, you can click on “HTML” and get the full text of each page. Unfortunately it is right now not possible to copy more than one page at once, but for longer quotes this might be sufficient.

    When reading the dMGH texts, keep in mind that this is mostly uncorrected OCR text, so there will inevitably be some scanning errors. That’s one of the reasons we keep the images around for, so that the users will always be able to verify the readings. The other reason is that it is virtually impossible to recreate the sometimes quite complex and thoughtful layout of the MGH editions with the use of HTML.

  4. Talking about medieval Latin texts on the net: you might also want to check out the “bibliotheca Augustana” http://www.hs-augsburg.de/~harsch/augustana.html This site contains lots of carefully edited Latin texts, many of them taken from critical editions (MGH and others).

  5. The Bibliotheca Augustana is indeed a find, and thankyou for directing me to it; it is in many ways what I thought the Ad Fontes site should be doing, including crediting the original source text, but also providing links to further information. I’ve added that to the sidebar too, thankyou.

    Thankyou also for the detailed inside view on the MGH initiatives! I quite understand the difficulty of replicating an apparatus criticus in HTML. Your team’s aims are very worthy, and we’re lucky to have your input here. Can I ask you what led you here to comment?

  6. (I have already posted a comment yesterday, but somehow it got swallowed, maybe by a spam filter or maybe by my unstable internet connection, so I’ll try to recreate my previous posting.)

    In fact, it’s not so much the critical apparatus, that bothers us, but pages like these http://www.mgh.de/dmgh/resolving/Auct._ant._9_S._161 which can hardly be rendered adequately in HTML and make it imperative to retain the original printed layout.

    What led me to comment here? Well, a few months ago I was looking for blogs by medievalists and for medievalists and came across this posting: http://www.nipissingu.ca/department/history/MUHLBERGER/2007/06/other-medieval-blogs.htm and from that moment on I was an avid reader of Tenthmedieval.

    While the dMGH are what I am getting paid for (and this, of course, is the main reason why I chose to comment on this specific posting), my interests in medieval history lie in the area of early medieval canon law, and in my spare time I am working on my dissertation about a collection of canon law from 10th (or, as it may probably turn out, 11th century) Sankt Emmeram, Regensburg. Of course, there is not much connection with tenth century charters from Catalonia, but it is still reasonably close to my interests and, maybe more important, equally exotic a subject, that makes this blog very interesting to me.

  7. Sorry, Clemens, it did indeed land in the spam trap (probably because of plural links) and I didn’t log in before you reposted. I’ve deleted the original because you expand on it above. Anyway, clearly I owe Professor Muhlberger a good few drinks by now for introducing readers to me. It does make me wonder whether I’ve ever said anything dismissive about canon law, but I think it’s only been about penitentials…

    Regensburg’s material seems to be all over the place, but there’s material there for a charter scholar all right. That’s pretty much what I know about Regensburg :-)

  8. Forgive the shameless plug, but I’m about to make a shameless plug, but I hope it will be helpful.

    I’m trying to gather links and websites on sites related to the Early Middle Ages, all fields pertaining thereto, at the links page for The Heroic Age (http://www.heroicage.org). I have a section on Medieval Latin, it isn’t complete, I’m trying to add stuff to it all the time, but its there.

    BTW, if anyone wants or has time to take one of the sections in the links page (like Medieval Latin for example), and do it up right, I’d be grateful.

  9. Add to the pot my own LacusCurtius (where the texts are all given local links section by section, thus allowing one to linking to specific passages). Mostly out-and-out antiquity and thus not so big on medieval stuff, but Isidore has long been onsite in a better transcription — and there’s a largish chunk of al-Idrisi, who is certainly medieval; and a fair amount of Late Antique that might be considered medieval.

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