Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript: La Cité de Dieu

Augustine, La Cité de Dieu, The Hague, MMW, 10 A 11 (visit here) is a French manuscript, illuminated in Paris between  1475-1480. Few things in it may be connected to the Voynich Manuscript.
First, fol. 435v of the Hague, MMW 10 A 11 shows discussion over astrology between Porphyry and Plotinus with two 'zodiac' curves on the background full with nude figures.

The folks on the top curve are dancing Macarena, those on the bottom curve are doing the Robot Dance, and the trio in the center-right is performing Phil Collins I Can't Dance routine :)

On a serious note, this image is another example how the Voynich Manuscript 'astronomical' section is not unique in the use of nude people for illustrating astrology.
Rene Zandbergen has another good one from codex Vaticanus gr. 1291 visit here.

Scott Curry proposed couple of months ago on the VMs list that the body position of the 'nymphs' maybe meant to represent different letters, so I thought the Hague creatures may be spelling something too.

I noticed the Hague, MMW, 10 A 11, at first for the Voynichese shape of the nude female figures, so here is more dancing from this manuscript.

The 'onion' tops of the towers of the city walls in this late 15th century work also resemble a bit the mystery center of the 9-rossete page in the VMs.

The manuscript was completed for Philippe de Commines - one of the most famous 15th century diplomats. The book was already finished by 1490 when de Commines returned to the French court to serve Charles VIII. The last books of the diplomat's memoirs tell the story of the Italian Wars. Philippe de Commines was present and fought alongside Charles VIII at the battle of Fornovo, 1495. Here is his description of the looting of the royal tent, where a mysterious book with naked women was found by the Holy League:

For the record, I do not believe Philippe de Commines is the author of the Voynich manuscript. I believe the VMs is a work of a physician. In the context of my theory that the VMs is the book found in the tent of Charles VIII at Fornovo, my main suspect for authorship is Jean Michel Pierrevive, royal physician, astrologer, prophet and poet, who on his death bed left his book to the King as souvenir. Jean Michel died a month after the battle. The nudity of the astrological section in his book was simply misinterpreted by the Italians.
The above theory is just speculation.


  1. Well done.

    These are nice examples of how a Hellenistic and classical custom of depicting personifications is adapted to the Christian world at two different times.

    But to cut to the point: the City of Women image is too late to explain the Voynich imagery, but it does show a similar habit of depicting stars as personifications, and as unclothed.

    As you know, I've been saying since 2010 that the 'nymphs' in barrels represent 'hour-stars'.

    I shouldn't like to be too sure the same is true of the late (1480) ms.

    Have you seen the Rohan Hours?

  2. As usual, Ellie, you find amazing similarities. Congratulations!

  3. Oh boy! You've been able to dig through Rene Z's thoroughly documented offerings! Except that you prefer visuals for comparison, I would recommend that you visit Phillip Neal's fantastic horde. Caroline Finkel's "History of the Ottoman Empire" has a lot of extracts and illustrations from the Topkapi Museum -- some of which you may be able to access.
    I've been away from my computer for a week (collapsed lung).

  4. That spelling should be "hoard" ,,, Nick and I had some fun visualizing an invading horde hanging out in our library hoard.....Silly!

  5. Ellie, I'd like to refer you to a specific website, but my recollection only goes as far as "Pleiades". Much discussion of various gods and goddesses; of which each have a story, sometimes specific to a particular astronomical star. Some of those astronomical stars/legendary figures are the main features of astrology/birth signs. Remember your recent discussion/search for stars? As a side remark, stars and stripes were the Aldobrandini family's coat of arms, heraldry, and appeared in many works of art commissioned by that family. Probably a lot more info than you require, but you know how much I like to dig through archives. :-)

  6. Hi Ruby, thanks for stopping by!

    Hi BD, I was away too (vacation). I actually found more dotted star images. I'll try to post them soon.

    All the best! Ellie

  7. I just wanted to encourage you, Ellie, on your track.

  8. Thanks Ruby. We always get more questions than answers with the VMs and I appreciate your encouragement! I see you have new insights on the text. I really liked the Sugar sign on that jar!

  9. After spending half the day downloading 'most' of Wikipedia's offerings on the fall of Constantinople (and then applying Crayola to the color elements), I really think you should take a look at some of the pictorial elements thereupon. I'm beginning to think that the folks who put Boenicke 408 together were depending on illustrators to paint/clothe some of the sketchily-drawn naked folks. However, I've only seen naked women in B-408. The only near-naked man I've seen is that "bath attendant" I mentioned earlier. I suspect he was a "neutered" male (even though he appears to be enjoying the "sights").

  10. Hi BD, the fall of Constantinople is at the 'right' time - VMs-wise. It will be interesting to see your findings.

  11. Hi Ellie I managed to find all the zodiac names in French with a vigenere cipher. Come check out the site.