The Abbey Memory System

Woodcut explicating the abbey memory system of the Dominican Johann Horst von Romberch in his Congestorium artificiose memorie (Venice: Melchiorre Sessa, 1533). In this cut are “sets of objects to be memorized in the courtyard, library, and chapel of the abbey. Each fifth place is marked with a hand and each tenth place with a cross, in accordance with the instructions given in [the popular rhetorical textbook] Ad Herennium for distinguishing the fifth and tenth places. Obviously there is an association here with the five fingers. As Memory moved along the places, these were ticked off on the fingers.”–F.A. Yates, The Art of Memory (London: Pimlico, 1992), p. 116.

Call Number: GC5 H7958 520c 1533

Woodcut Diagram of a Visual Alphabet

Woodcut diagram of a visual alphabet from Johann Horst von Romberch’s work on memory, Congestorium artificiose memorie (Venice: Melchiorre Sessa, 1533). “Visual alphabets are ways of representing letters of the alphabet by images. These are formed in various ways; for example with pictures of objects whose shape resemble [sic] letters of the alphabet, as compasses or a ladder for A; or a hoe for N. Another way is through pictures of animals or birds arranged in the order of the first letter of their names, as A for Anser, goose, B for Bubo, owl.”–F.A. Yates, The Art of Memory (London: Pimlico, 1992), p. 124-125.

Call Number: GC5 H7958 520c 1533