The Codex Gigas is the largest medieval text still in existence. Created in the Czech Republic during the early 12th century, the Codex Gigas is also known as the “Devil’s Bible” because it contains a large illustration of the Devil and details on how to exorcise evil spirits. It also contains a full-length Bible, known as the Vulgate Bible, among other texts.
The tome is so large, the skins of over 150 calves were needed to create its 310 leaves of vellum pages. It is bound with wood, metal, and leather, and weighs over 150 pounds.
Incredibly, the entire Codex Gigas is thought to have been compiled by a solitary scribe: a Benedictine monk named Herman the Recluse.
Legends surrounding Herman the Recluse accuse him of breaking his monastic vows, leading the church to sentence him to being imprisoned alive within the monastery walls. The myth postulates that Herman the Recluse sought to avoid or postpone his horrible fate by promising to create a tome that would contain all of human knowledge and would make his monastery famous. He had one year to complete the task and, legend has it, he was able to do so on his own by making a pact with Lucifer, the devil, leading to the tome’s ironic nickname: The Devil’s Bible.
Photo credits: Kungl. biblioteket