Approximately 1880 Manuscript Codices or Fragments Survive of Texts Written before 800

799 CE

According to Elias Avery Lowe's (E. A. Lowe's) Codices Latini Antiquiores (11 volumes, 1934-1966 and later suipplements), 1,810 manuscript codices or fragments of codices survived of texts written in Latin before 800 CE. Since Lowe died the total has increased to 1884. Lowe's survey excluded charters and other documents, of which a far greater number survived.

From the fifth century only 113 codices or fragments survive.

From the sixth century only 157 codices or fragements survive.

From the seventh century only 198 codices or fragments survive.

From the period from 550 to 750, considered the Dark Ages, only 264 codices or fragments survive.

From the eighth century only 834 codices or fragments survive.

"Of these 264 [surviving from the Dark Ages] only a tenth (26) are secular works, and most of these of a technical nature. Eight of them are legal texts, 8 are medical, 6 are works of grammar, 1 is a gromatic text. It is clear from the historical evidence that the basic arts of life went on; education, law, medicine and the surveying necessary to administration and the levying of taxes still required manuals and works of reference, and these needs are duly reflected in the pattern of manuscript survival" (Reynolds [ed.], Texts and Transmission. A Survey of the Latin Classics [1983] xvi).

Timeline Themes