Nordisk Forskningsinstitut


Welcome to ISLANDIA LATINA! – an ongoing database project gathering information on Latin authors, texts and manuscripts known and used in medieval Iceland.

Icelandic literacy in the Middle Ages was bilingual. Early education consisted of learning to voice the Latin Psalter, and later to read, learn by heart, chant, copy and compose new Latin texts. The Latin technology of book making was early on employed also for the vernacular, releasing impressive energies of literary creativity, when the living language could be made permanent by writing. As is commonly known, the vernacular ended by entirely taking over the function of Latin, but this happened as late as the 19th century. Throughout the Middle Ages and considerably longer, Latin was the primary language of education and the liturgy.

The aim of ISLANDIA LATINA is to collect the remains of Latin literacy in Iceland, and to organize this information in a single database. We wish to assemble a richly documented list of all Latin authors and works known and used, in one way or another, in Medieval Iceland (and Norway, to a lesser degree), as well as to incorporate all general references to Latin and its uses in the period. Of major importance is the registration of Latin manuscript fragments the provenance of which can be traced to Iceland, together with the source texts of Old Norse-Icelandic translations.

The project will hopefully inaugur a new approach to Latin letters in the west Nordic area, by gathering in one place a broad amalgam of new and established identifications of Latin fragments and translated texts, including codicological, bibliographical and prosopographical sources. To begin using ISLANDIA LATINA, click on ’Authors and works’ to access a list of Latin authors and works the presence of which is documented in medieval Iceland. By further selecting an author's name or a work title, you will be brought to pages with information on the item in question. An alternative method of accessing the material of the database is to use the search function at the top of the main list.

If you encounter problems, or possess information that is not in the database, we would very much like to assist you and/or appreciate receiving notice of relevant data (for contact info, see ’About’).