The Carmina Burana Manuscript

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In 1803, following a vote to usurp the properties of Bavarian Prince-Bishops, the Holy Roman Empire forced open the doors of the Benediktbeuern Abbey and set into motion a series of events that led to the discovery of the Carmina Burana manuscript almost six centuries after its completion. Beautifully decorated and meticulously scribed, the Carmina Burana is one the few extant manuscripts of Goliardic poetry from the High Middle Ages. The Carmina Burana is believed to have been compiled around the year 1230, with the text itself arranged into five sections: moral and satirical poetry, love songs, drinking songs, plays, and prayers.
That the manuscript was created at all is an indication the contents are valuable, considering that it is from a time when scribes and illustrators labored for hours before completing their work; however there are other details about the manuscript that demonstrate how singular it was to its time. First, the text contains pieces written in both Latin, the lingua franca of the time, as well as Middle High German. The inclusion of vernacular language would have been unusual a century earlier, and its presence in the Carmina Burana is representative of the beginnings of what would be a thriving literary culture in German vernacular.
The images in the codex provide a measure of the diversity of poems in the Carmina Burana. Figure 2 depicts the famous forest that is most commonly associated with the manuscript. The wonderfully detailed painting

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