From Book of Maccabees I
Saint Gall, Switzerland, second half of 9th–early 10th century
Universiteitsbibliotheek, Leiden, Cod. Perizoni F.17
Few early medieval manuscripts display as sustained an engagement with the spectacle of warfare as this one, also from the Saint Gall scriptorium, which recounts the successful military efforts of the Maccabee family in the second century A.D. to gain the independence of Judaea from the Hellenistic kings. Almost every one of the book’s thirty full-page pen drawings depicts soldiers in the heat of battle. In this opening the battle is waged across the gutter of the book, with one corps of cavalrymen advancing on retreating forces. One can glean the dynamics of the battle simply from the alignment of the figures’ heads.