Rudolf von Ems, a German knight and prolific writer, composed his World Chronicle in German (Weltchronik) toward the middle of the 1200s. In rhymed couplets, the chronicle weaves biblical, classical, and other secular texts into a continuous history of the world, beginning with Creation. Its overarching theme is the revelation of God's plan of Christian salvation through the course of time. Written for Rudolf's patron, King Conrad IV, the work was intended to culminate with an explanation of the Hohenstaufen dynasty's role in salvation history, but Rudolf died before the work was finished, having only completed the history up to King Solomon.
Other thirteenth-century texts, including Brother Philipp's Life of the Virgin Mary, the Christherre Chronicle (Christherre-Chronik), and a chronicle by Jansen Enikel completed Rudolf's chronicle.
The Getty Museum's version of the World Chronicle is a large book, six inches thick, copied and illuminated around 1400 to 1410. Of the many surviving versions of this important example of Middle High German literature, the Museum's copy is the most lavishly decorated, containing more than 380 miniatures. Vivid coloring, bold brushwork, and psychological intensity characterize the images in the book.