Vesoul, Bibliothèque municipal, MS 79 (73) 

It is well known that in early medieval manuscripts with canonical material, other genres of normative works often accompany ‘purely’ canonical texts. In fact, compilers of systematically arranged canonical collections not seldomly drew on royal capitularies when selecting the authoritative material for their collections. This latter phenomenon appears to be at work in the tenth- or eleventh-century manuscript now in the municipal library in Vesoul.1 Here material from the royal capitularies forms part of the canonical collection itself.

Neither the manuscript, nor the presence of excerpts from royal capitularies were unknown to previous scholars. The role of these texts within the carefully assembled material of this eleventh-century manuscript has, however, escaped detailed study.Hubert Mordek described Vesoul, Bibliothèque municipal, MS 79 (73) as a ‘typisch kirchliche Gebrauchshandschrift’,2 a typical utilitarian religious manuscript. Its mundane character is reflected in its humble material aspects. With its 88 folios measuring at most 190 x 130 mm, it is a small, handy codex that is convenient to carry around. Its low-grade parchment is of medium thickness, with numerous uneven page edges due to the use of skin from the animal’s neck, shoulders or hind. Multiple holes can be found throughout the manuscript (one hole has been repaired with stitchings—fol. 30).

Its texts were copied by several scribes, writing in a flowing Caroline minuscule, but making more than a few errors in their Latin. It is a fairly well-organised codex, with red rubrics in minuscule (rarely in capitals) separating the different works, guiding the reader through the selection of texts. This sober manuscript has only two small illustrations, which were perhaps added later: a man in a hat can be spotted in the initial Q on folio 12v (opening a statement on the performance of augury and divination), while another initial Q holds a drawing of a face (folio 23v).

Vesoul 79 (73), fol. 12v: An anonymous person wearing a large hat (©Bibliothèque municipale Louis Garret).
Vesoul 79 (73), fol. 12v: An anonymous person wearing a large hat (©Bibliothèque municipale Louis Garret).
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On ‘Minor’ Canonical Collections

2021 will be the year in which my two-year project ‘A Living Law’ starts in earnest. Funded by a research scholarship from the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the project commences in May 2021. The project aims to shed light on the work of the early medieval scholars involved in the compilation of small, ‘minor’ canonical collections.

The opening of the Collectio 53 capitulorum in St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, MS 679, p. 156

Recent years have seen some work on these smaller, ‘unstructured’ collections of limited, mostly local impact, but relative to the important academic advances in the study a number of important, widely-circulated canonical collections (think of the new edition of the Hibernensis, and the project chronicled on, these works are somewhat overlooked. I want to focus on the canonical dynamism on a more quotidian level, which latches on other current historical research into the Carolingian period, which has come to realise that the creative energy sustaining the revival of learning was fostered in more local, personal, and institutional settings and was not the direct result of a court imposing its agenda on its subjects (think of the important studies on local priests).

The following texts will be my initial focus:

Collectiondate and place [Kéry, 1999] mssedition
1Collectio Burgundiana1s. viiiin, N-France1none
2Collectio Sangermanensis3, 4s. viii, Gaul9yes
3Collectio Frisingensis secunda2s. viii2/2, Lake Constance?1yes
4Collectio 250 capitulorum3Sangermanensis abridgements. viii2/2, N-France? 3+1none
5Lex Romana canonice compta2s. ixmed, Italy1yes
6Collectio 400 capitulorum1s. viii2/2, N-France, Rhineland 3yes
7Collection of Laon 201 and St. Petersburg Q.v.II.54s. viii2/4-med, Cambrai or region2partial
8Collectio of Vat. lat. 68081s. viii-ix, Farfa?1none
9Excerpta Bobiensia2s. viiimed-ix, N-Italy2yes
10Collectio 309 capitulorum2s. viiimed-ix, place unknown 1partial
11Collectio 91 capitulorum1800-820, Gaul?1partial
12Collectio 53 titulorums. ix?, France
13Collecto Bonaevallensis prima2s. ix1/3-3/4, Bonneval?1partial
A list of primary sources for initial research

Qualifications in Kéry, 1999: 

1 ‘unstructured collection’
2 ‘(small) systematic collection’
3 ‘derivative collection’
4 ‘excerpts’

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