Balthasar Behem Codex

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The Balthasar Behem Codex is a collection of the privileges and statutes of the city of Kraków. Compiled in 1505, the codex was named for the chancellor at the time, Balthasar Behem. The book's text is in Latin. It is now held at the library of the Jagiellonian University of Kraków.

Twenty-Seven illustrations in the codex depict both biblical subjects and the daily activities of the Kracow burgher guild members, for example that of bakers, titled in Latin: Pistores, with a subtitle in German: Das ist der briff und geseccze der becker von Krakow. ("This is the letter and law of the bakers in Cracow", example in color), and the text calligraphed in Latin.

This kind of illustration - showing the practice of trades - was a tradition with an iconographical history going back to late Roman astronomical texts showing the "Labours of the Months", pairing a characteristic activity of rural life with the astrological sign for that month. Historians of culture and art have shown that these illustrations sometimes reflect their iconographical traditions rather than actually depicting contemporary life with accuracy.

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