Latin Paleography From Antiquity to the Renaissance [by A. M. Piazzoni]

10.5 Insular script outside of the islands

Insular scripts have an importance that extends beyond the geographical area of the islands in which they originated and where they were mainly used. Their influence is often found in subsequent writings in other regions. In the early Middle Ages, the Irish monks were animated by a strong missionary spirit and in search of the so-called green martyrdom, a concept that developed in the 7th century, which consisted in offering one’s life to God by freeing oneself of one’s sinfulness through fasting and through the toil of work connected to the (green) land, and also linked to the difficult and harsh commitment required to abandon one’s beloved (green) Irish land on ​​pilgrimage to spread the Christian faith (the traditional red martyrdom involved death, that is, the shedding of one’s own blood for the love of Christ; white martyrdom meant the abandon of the world and a recluse life within a monastery). The Irish movement of monasticism in this period gave rise to the so-called peregrinatio Scottorum and after Northumbria, Scotland and England, they reached the European continent. Foundations of Irish monks included the abbey of Luxeuil, in the Vosges, founded around 590 by Colomban, who in 613 also founded the monastery of Bobbio, in the Apennines south of Pavia; St. Gallen, in Switzerland, was founded in 612 by St. Gall, a disciple of Columban. Corbie was founded in the Somme region by monks arriving there from Luxeuil around 660. The Anglo-Saxon monks also made their peregrinatio to the continent. Associated with the figures of Willibrord (native of Northumbria, 658-739), of Boniface (from Wessex, 675-754) and their disciples, were the foundations of Echternach in Luxembourg, of Fulda and Lorsch in Germany, where Pal. lat. 177 was made, a manuscript containing the commentary of Jerome to the Gospel of Matthew.

Pal. lat. 177

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Such centers produced books with Insular scripts up until the 8th century, which also had a recognizable influence on the Caroline script, which had spread to various regions of France and Germany. The use of many Insular abbreviations is found in many European regions even centuries later.