The Carmina Burana (abbreviated CB) is a
manuscript scribed in 1230 by two different writers in an early gothic minuscule
on 119 sheets of parchment.
In the 14th century, a folio of free pages, cut of a slightly different
size, was attached at the end of the text. The handwritten pages were
bound into a small folder, called the Codex Buranus, in the Late Middle Ages. However, in the process of binding, the text
was placed partially out of order, and some pages were most likely lost as
well. The manuscript contains eight miniatures
(a term for drawings in illuminated
manuscripts): the wheel of fortune (which actually is an illustration
from the songs CB 14-18, but was placed by the book binder as the cover),
an imaginative forest, a pair of lovers, scenes from the story of Dido
a scene of drinking beer, and three scenes of playing games – dice, ludus
duodecim scriptorum, and chess.
Between 1935 and 1936, German composer Carl
Orff set 24 of the poems to new music, also called Carmina
Burana. The most notable movement is "Fortuna, Imperatrix Mundi (O
meaning Fortune in Latin, as well as a Roman goddess). Orff's composition
has been performed by countless ensembles (see Carl
Orff's O Fortuna in popular culture).