Around 1120, Lambert, the Canon of Saint-Omer, a town in the north of France, began to worry that knowledge would be lost to future generations. To prevent this from happening, he compiled the Liber Floridus (‘Book of Flowers’), a mediaeval encyclopaedia in which the themes are ordered organically, rather than alphabetically as they are today. Often, the texts are quotations from older writings.
The work gives us an idea of the knowledge available at the time and how this knowledge was ‘organised’ and combined into a single ‘book’. This dated copy is the text that the author himself wrote, making it unique among mediaeval encyclopaedias. In addition, the manuscript is elaborately illuminated with high-quality miniatures, not all of which are religious in nature.
In 1120, Saint-Omer was an important city in the county of Flanders: certain references to its history appear in this manuscript but do not exist anywhere else, such as one very old allusion to the Battle of the Golden Spurs made in a later addition to the work.
Plenty of reasons, then, to grant this work the status of masterpiece, and even to give it its own website: www.liberfloridus.be.