Annotations represent perhaps the most tangible form of engagement of medieval readers with Isidore’s encyclopaedia in the early Middle Ages. They can be found in more than 70 of the early medieval manuscripts in the database, and also in some of the more recent manuscripts. Altogether, the corpus of these annotations amounts to more than 6,500 glosses in most of the major written languages of the Latin West: Latin, Old High German, Old English, Old Irish, Old Breton, and Early Romance.
About two-thirds of the surviving annotations are glosses to one of the twenty books of the Etymologiae: the first book dealing with the grammatica. They appear in manuscripts containing the entire encyclopaedia of Isidore (the Big Isidores, or the canonical Etymologiae), but especially in manuscripts transmitting Etym. I as an ars grammatica. It, thus, seems that the glossing of Etym. I was fueled by the school use of De grammatica, an important Carolingian innovation. To study this innovation, the Innovating Knowledge project team is digitally editing the glosses to Etym. I.
The corpus of these annotations, constituted by little over 4,200 glosses, is not particularly large, but it poses a particular challenge due to the complicated relationship between the annotated manuscripts. It is clear that glosses to Etym. I were only rarely transmitted together with the main text. Rather, they seem to have had a life of their own, circulating in small batches between centers in which Isidore’s text was used for teaching. In order to understand their diffusion, the Innovating Knowledge project decided to rely on the methods of network analysis, rather than of traditional textual criticism, when editing them.