Conversion or destruction : Lambert's proferred choice to his brethren in the 'Liber Floridus'
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The making of a medieval encyclopaedia is a much more complex and individual process than has hitherto been acknowledged by many researchers, concerned as they have been on revealing particular structures or intentions within the text compilation. However, even viewed objectively, much of the selection of texts for inclusion in the Liber Floridus may seem to reveal an overriding purpose concerned with the role of the Church in Salvation. This purpose, or indeed any other that gained Lambert's interest, should be visible from the selection and inflection of the images themselves. This is because Lambert showed himself as fully at home in giving shape to his ideas through figuration as he was in exploring and making sense of the accrued learning of the twelfth century, centring on the corpus of material which dealt with the role of the Church. It is therefore to the images and their iconography that this thesis addresses itself. It attempts to clarify those choices which Lambert is intent on revealing to his readers through the laborious and uniquely personal task that was the creation of the Liber Floridus. This thesis also looks at why Lambert chooses to communicate his ideas and message in such a singular manner. In looking at the Liber Floridus it becomes, apparent that Lambert was drawn by more than just antiquarian, or glossator's interests. By what he put together he may have intended quite literally a revelation to the reader of the importance of the role of the Church on earth and its crucial relation with the Church Universal of the coming eschaton. This thesis attempts to set the Liber Floridus in its context of previous and contemporary works. It looks at the way in which Lambert's lifestyle and influences may have affected his conception of the Liber Floridus and his intentions towards his readership. This naturally concentrates on religion, for Lambert had devoted his life to the Church. Taking what are generally considered the principal illustrations in the Liber Floridus, this thesis looks at their connective themes and shared attitudes. It analyses the history of these images and looks at what the subjects of these illustrations might mean both to Lambert himself and to his contemporary readership. It explores how Lambert may have manipulated style and iconography, often along with texts and scriptural quotations, to give his images their particular meanings. It explores the bold comparison of Good and Evil provided by Lambert and looks at why and how this contrast is emphasized, particularly in the context of the Church. Lambert shows similarities between the good topics he covers and also shows parallels between their negative equivalents. He further provides direct and comparative contrasts between positive images and, where suitable, their evil counterparts. Through these bold oppositions, Lambert puts before his readers the inevitable consequences attendant on following one side or the other. This thesis demonstrates that Lambert's pictorial encouragement in assisting his readers to make the right choice is the pivotal purpose behind the visual strategies of the Liber Floridus.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy