Object Alone

Obj. ID: 21816
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  The Yiddish Bellifortis, Southern Germany, 15th c.

© BSB, Photographer: Unknown,
Summary and Remarks

The manuscript was written in four languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, German and Latin, by an erudite Jew in the last quarter of the 15th century in South Germany. His sentences, mostly a mixture of Yiddish and Hebrew, are often written in a negligent hand and closely fill many margins, rendering the text illegible. This suggests that the treatises were copied for his own interest and for no one else. The drawings in the main follow those of the Bellifortis by Conrad Keyser (1402-5) and the Firework Book by an anonymous author of 1420. The immediate exemplar has not been identified.                                                                                                                                            It would be worthwhile studing the language and collating the texts.

Comparative material in the following manuscripts:

  1. Göttingen, NSUB 20 Cod. Ms. philos. 63 (1402-1405, 1420); (Quarg 1967).
  2. Göttingen, NSUB 20 Cod. Ms. philos. 64 (c.1430); (Friedrich and Rädle, I 1995)
  3. Göttingen, NSUB 20 Cod. Ms. philos. 64a (c.1425); (Friedrich and Rädle, II 1995).
  4. Munich, BSB clm 30150 (c.1460); (Lindgren et al. 2000).
  5. Munich, BSB cgm 600 (c.1418); (Leng 2000; Leng 2002, II pp. 205-6).
  6. Munich, BSB clm 197/I (1472-92); (Hall 1979).
  7. Wolfenbüttel HAB, 161 Blank. (c.1500); (Butzmann 1966; Leng 2002, II p.  440).
  8. Copenhagen, Arnamagnaeanische Sammlung der Universität, AM 374 20 (c.1450); (Olsen and Blosen 2006).

160 image(s)

sub-set tree:

The Yiddish Bellifortis | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Last quarter of the 15th century
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Historical Origin
Community type
Unknown |
Unknown |
Period Detail
Germany | Munich | Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB)
| Cod. hebr. 235 (Steinschneider 1895, No. 235)
Documentation / Research project
Iconographical Subject
Unknown |
Textual Content
Unknown |
Languages of inscription
Shape / Form
Material / Technique
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
Panel Measurements
Part of quire VII2+22 (fols. 97-108) is loose.
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating
Compilation of diverse texts: 1. Fols. 5-67, 88v, 89v-90, 112, 114: Konrad Keyser Bellifortis (1405) and Anonymous Firework Book (1420) in Hebrew and Yiddish (Steinschneider 1864, vol. 25, No. 7, pp. 100-101). 2. Fols. 67v-70: Incantations, blessings and psalms in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Latin in Hebrew characters (fols. 67v-68). 3. Fols. 70v-88v: Geomancy tables and divinations in Hebrew: fols. 72-81 attributed to al-Fazari (9th century); 82-83v to Saadia Gaon (10th century); 81v, 84-87v to Achitofel; 87v-88v Geomancy tables in Latin, German, Yiddish and Hebrew of Johannes Hartlieb. 4. Fols. 90v-113v: Portions of Firework Book; magical recipies in Yiddish and Hebrew, and Onomancy tables (fols. 113-113v). 5. Fols. 126v-114v (sic): a) Johannes Hartlieb Onomatomantia in German (c.1437) including tables by "Plato, Ptolomy, Pythagoras, Aristotle and Haly Abenragel" (fols. 125, 121v, 120v, 119, 115v respectively), to calculate fates according to names and dates. 6. Fol. 127v: Lists of ailments and instructions.

Material:Paper, 4 + 126 + 3 leaves (flyleaves are numbered: 1-4, 128-130). Quality of paper varies: thicker for the coloured drawings, thinner for the text.       Measurements: Full page: (210-215) x (140-150) mm. Text space: variable. Scribes: ‫Single scribe, writing in various shades of brown ink. Script: Latin and German bastarda (fols. 87v-88v, 113v-114, 126v-114v - sic); Hebrew and Judeo-German Ashkenazi semi-cursive script. Columns: One column mostly surrounded with text along the margins. For most drawings there are marginal explanations. Number of lines: 30-39 horizontal lines for text pages, mostly surrounded by 3-9 lines in all or three margins. Ruling: None Pricking: None Quires 8 quires of various numbers of leaves: I18 (5-22); II18 (23-39, one leaf not numbered: 25bis); III22 (40-60, one leaf not numbered: 41bis); IV12 (61-71, one leaf not numbered: 61bis); V10 (72-81); VI8 (82-89); VII2+22 (90-113, two first leaves probably single; some leaves cut out between fols. 94-95); VIII14 (114-127). Catchwords: None Hebrew numeration: Fols. 75v-79/.: א'-ד' Fols. 91v-94: א'-ג' Blank leaves: Fols. 4v, 89, 127..

Number of Lines
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Façade (main)
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year


Scribal Notes
Text and annotations are inseparable.

Watermarks: Flyleaves and paper have eight watermarks ranging from 1449-1481: A. Flyleaves: Munich, BSB Cod. hebr. 235 B. Paper: 1. Head of a bull without features (fol. 4; 50 mm). Munich, BSB Cod. hebr. 235: fol. 4. 2. Head of a bull topped by a star (fols. 13/14, 23/39, 24/38, 25/37, 25b/36, 28/33, 29/32, 42/57, 43/56, 47/52, 49/50, 61/71, 62/69, 64/67; 65 mm) – similar to Piccard #81199-81200 (Utrecht 1449-1450). 3. Head of a bull topped by a large star (fols. 72/81; 65 mm). 4. Unicorn (fols. 5/22, 9/18; 83 mm) - Close to Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart. Inventory J 340, Piccard watermark collection. No. 124163, o. O. 1481. Munich, BSB Cod. hebr.235: Unicorn, fols. 5/22, 9/18; 83 mm Piccard, watermark coll. No. 124163, o. O. 1481 5. Letter Y, a cross above, tail consisting of two lines (fols. 6/21, 10/17; 55 mm) - Close to Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart. Inventory J 340, Piccard watermark collection. No. 30485, Cologne 1476. Munich, BSB Cod. hebr. 235: fols. 6/21, 10/17 Piccard watermark coll. No. 30485, Cologne 1476 6. Bunch of grapes (fols. 73/80, 71/78; 42 mm) - Resembles Briquet, Les Filigranes 13055-6, 1465 Constance, Germany. Munich, BSB Cod. hebr. 235: fols. 73/80, 71/78 Briquet, Les Filigranes 13055-6, 1465, Constance, Germany 7. Gothic letter P with forked stem (fols. 82/89, 84/87; 37 mm) - Close to Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart. Inventory J 340, Piccard watermark collection No. 106798, o. O. 1471. Piccard watermark collection No. 106798, o. O. 1471 8. Gothic letter P with forked stem topped by a star (fols.116/125, 117/124, 120/121; 76 mm) - Close to Piccard, Cologne 1470 , Nr. 114625; Munich, BSB Cod. hebr.235: fols.116/125, 117/124, 120/121 Piccard, Cologne 1470, No. 114625.
Trade Mark

The 16th century binding (228 x154 mm): off-white pigskin on wooden boards, similarly blind-tooled on front and back cover with frames enclosing floral motifs. The spine has three double cords and head and tail bands. The front cover has vestiges of two straps and the back metal holders for clasps. The back cover is inscribed by J. A. Widmanstetter: Collectanea Hebraica ad/ machinas aliaque curiosa/ pertinentia. ex bibl. Trithemij.

Many books from Widmanstetter's library have similar bindings (Hartig 1917, p. 173, Pl. II).

Watermarks of the flyleaves: A cross on a hill within a quatrefoil, all enclosed by a circle (front cover and back cover first bifolium;43 mm). 

Decoration Program

Many full-page coloured and inscribed pen drawings. The colours designate the material: yellow for wood, blue for iron, red for fire. Blue also stands for water and the roofs of castle towers.

I. War Machines: fols. 5-38v, 39v-43v, 50-67, 88v, 89v-90, 112, 114:

  1. Catapults (palintonons, mange, trebuchets), levers, crossbow and sling: fols. 5, 10-12, 15v.
  2. Cannon mounts (Balkenlades, Lafettes): fols. 6-7v, 50v, 62, 114.
  3. Cannon hoists and hoists: fols. 9v, 12v-15, 57, 62-63v, 91v, 112.
  4. Cannon carriages and cannon: fols. 8, 35, 50, 88v, 114.
  5. Mobile siege engines, towers and ramps: fols. 8v-9, 20-22.
  6. Shields, shield-carriages, armoured vehicles: fols. 16-18, 18v-19v, 22v, 28v, 30v, 58v.
  7. Battering rams, combat engines: fols. 23-27v, 43.
  8. Boats, rafts, water barriers, diving gear: fols. 28, 29-30, 33-34v, 56.
  9. Bridges: fols. 31-32, 35v-37v, 38v, 58, 59-59v.
  10. Ladders: fols. 32v, 51-55, 56v, 57v.
  11. Obstruction and mine detectors and gear: fols. 55v-56.
  12. Mill, water-pump, machine parts, tools, pipes: fols. 5v, 38v, 39v-43v, 56v, 67, 12.
  13. Fortresses: fols. 60-61v, 64-66v.
  14. Defence camp and marching into battle: fols. 89v-90.

II. Firework Book: fols. 39, 44-49v.

III. Geomancy: fols. 70v, 71v, 87v-88v.

IV. Onomancy wheels: fols. 113-113v.




Suggested Reconsdivuction
Owner's inscriptions by J. A. Widmanstetter: •Back cover: Collectanea Hebraica ad/ machinas aliaque curiosa/ pertinentia. ex bibl. Trithemij. •Fol. 4: the contents of the manuscript: Machinae bellicae hebraicae/ Curiosa quidam et artificiosa/ Geomantica/ Sortes per responsa prophetarum et regum/ Sortes per nummero (sic) 89/ Item curiosa quidam et bellica/ Sortes platonis, aristotelis, pythagore/ cum nonnullis curiosis annotationibus. Signed below: Joannis Alberti Widmustadij. Inscriptions of librarians and researchers: •Fol. 3v: the contents of the manuscript: כלי מלחמה שירוצון בהן הגדוד להפיל עיר החומה/ סגולה מחיות הארץ על דרך הנקודות/ גורלות בעד התשובות הנביאים והמלכים/ גורלות מן רבי סעדיה וכבר ניסו אנשי אשכנז/ ואנשי בבל צרפת וספרד/ גול ((erased גורלות פלאטניש תלמי פיתאגרי אריסוטלים/ האלי אבן רגל •Fol. 1: ליקוטים מידיעות מחולקות(Compilation of diverse texts). Ex-libris and stamps: •Inside front cover: an ex-libris of the Bavarian Court and State Library (225 x 153 mm) with arms of Elector Maximilian I of 1630 (Dressler 1972: B3ab). It is stuck over the earlier ex-libris (175 x 137 mm) of 1618, of Duke Maximilian I before he became Elector in 1623 (Dressler 1972: A3a-f). •Fols. 1, 3, 127: oval stamp of the Bavarian Library inscribed: BIBLIOTHECA/ REGIA/ MONACENSIS. Signatures: •Bottom of back cover: 4. 41 (Duke's library, Prommer's revision of 1583?). •On the spine: Hebr. 146; 441 (later signatures). •Fol. 1 (erased): 140/41. •A sticker on the spine and on the back pastedown: Cod. hebr. 235 (present signature). •On the ex-libris, on fol. 1 and on the back pastedown in plummet: Cod. hebr. 235 (present signature).
Main Surveys & Excavations

Butzmann 1966 H. Butzmann, Die Blankenburger Handschriften (Kataloge der Herzog-August-Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel NR11), Frankfurt a.M. 1966                                 

 Dressler 1972 Dressler, Die Exlibris der  F.  Bayerischen Hof- und Staatsbibliothek, 17. bis 20. Jahrhundert, Wiesbaden 1972

Friedrich and Rädle I, II 1995 U. Friedrich and F. Rädle, Konrad Keyser Bellifortis - Feuerwerkbuch von 1420 (anonymus), Farbmikrofische-Edition der Bilderhandschriften Göttingen, Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, 20 Cod. Ms. philos. 64 und 64a Cim. (Codices figurati - Libri picturati 3), Munich 1995                                                                       

Fürbeth 1992 F. Fürbeth, Johannes Hartlieb, Untersuchungen zu Leben und Werk, (Hermaea Germanische Forschungen NF64, H. Fromm and H.-J. Mähl ed.), Tübingen 1992                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Grossmann and Ottomeyer 2010 G. U. Grossmann and H. Ottomeyer (ed.), Die Burg (articles from the exhibitions 'Burg und Herrschaft' and 'Mythos Burg' in Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin and Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg 2010), Dresden 2010, p. 116                                                                           

 Hall 1979 B. S. Hall, The technological illustrations of the so-called 'Anonymous of the Hussite wars' (codex latinus Monacensis 197, Part I), Wiesbaden 1979               

 Hall 1997 B. S. Hall, Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe: Gunpowder, Technology and Tactics, Baltimore-London 1997                                                  

Hartig 1917 O. Hartig, Die Gründung der Münchener Hofbibliothek durch Albrecht V. und Johann Jacob Fugger, Munich 1917                                                         

Katalog 2009 Katalog der deutschsprachigen illustrierten Handschriften des Mittelalters (Bd. 4/2, Lieferung 3-4, U. Bodemann, P. Schmidt, Ch. Stöllinger-Löser, ed.), No. 39. R. Leng, Feuerwerks- und Kriegsbücher, Munich 2009, No. 39.7.5, pp. 299-301                                                                                                               

 Leng 2000 R. Leng (ed.), Anleitung Schieβpulver zu bereiten, Büchsen zu laden und zu beschieβen: eine kriegstechnische Bildhandschrift in cgm 600 der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München (Imagines Medii Aevi Bd. 5), Wiesbaden 2000                                                                                                                                         

Leng 2002 R. Leng, Ars belli. Deutsche taktische und kriegstechnische Bildhandschriften und Traktate im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert (Imagines Medii Aevi Bd. 12/I,II), Wiesbaden 2002, esp. I p. 265, n. 1145; II p. 423                                                                                                                                                               

Lindgren et al. 2000 U. Lindgren, Christoph Graf zu Waldburg Wolfegg, E. Berninger, Konrad Keyser Bellifortis (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek clm 30150), Munich 2000, esp. pp. 74-75                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Quarg 1967 G. Quarg, Konrad Keyser aus Eichstät:Bellifortis (facsimile edition of Göttingen, Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, 20 Cod. Ms. philos. 63), Düsseldorf 1967                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 Schmitt 1966 W. Schmitt, Magie und Mantik bei Hans Hartlieb (Die Internationale Paracelsusgesellschaft in Salzburg), Vienna 1966, pp. 3-25 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Steinschneider 1864 M. Steinschneider, Serapeum 1864, vol. 25, No. 7, pp. 100-101 


Steinschneider 1895 M. Steinschneider, Die Hebräischen Handschriften der K.Hof-und Staatsbibliothek in München, Munich 1895, No. 235                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

White 1969 L. White, jr., Keyser's "Bellifortis": The First Technological Treatise of the Fifteenth Century, Technology and Culture, vol. 10, No. 3 (Jul. 1969), pp. 436-441

Aliza Cohen-Mushlin |
Author of description
Aliza Cohen-Mushlin; Yaffa Levy |
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Michal Sternthal; Project Head: Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin | 06-2016; 2008-2015
Language Editor
Christine Evans |
Supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation |
Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed:
Unknown |