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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A codicological observation 2: BnF lat. 2316

Lat 2316First, some wisdom from old:

[…] non operatur plenitudo ergo legis est dileccio magi opere precium […]

This poignant lesson was left in the margin of manuscript BnF lat. 2316 for future generations to ponder over.

Finding codicological notes on the internet when you find out that you need to know more about a particular manuscript but are hundreds of kilometers removed from it, can be a very joyous occasion. At least, that is my experience. In that spirit, I put some of my findings online on Paris, BnF lat. 2316, one of the three extant manuscript witnesses to the Collectio 400 capitulorum. 

The ninth-century part of the manuscript (it is bound with a 25 twelfth-century folia) contains a fragment of the canon law collection known as the Dionysiana (fols. 26-84), the aforementioned Collectio 400 capitulorum (fols. 84-120), a fragment of the Breviarium apostolorum (fols. 120-1), some chapters of the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle of 801 (fols. 121-2), and an incomplete copy of Theodulf of Orléans’ first capitulary ad presbyteros parochiae suae of 797 (fols. 122-133).

It is now, in its entirety, available on Gallica, but (again) useful as online digitised manuscripts are, this does not allow for the following codicological observation.

Continue Reading 577: A codicological observation

droppedImageOne of the manuscripts I got to study on my last trip to Rome was Vaticano (Città del), Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 577, a late eighth- or early ninth-century manuscript originating from a centre in the Mainz region with insular influences. It contains the so-called Sententiae Bonifatii Palatinae and a version of the collection of canon law known as the Dionysiana. The whole manuscript is now helpfully accessible online on the database of digitised manuscripts of the Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, and the Sententiae are transcribed by Michael Elliot.

Useful as online digitised manuscripts are, it doesn’t allow for the following codicological observation.

The manuscript opens with the so-called Sententiae Bonifatii Palatinae (folios 1r-11) with an excerpt from Boniface’s Capitula de invasoribus ecclesiarum (fol. 1r-v), the only fragment of a text attributed to Boniface in the whole of the Sententiae. The whole of the manuscript is written in an Anglo-Saxon hand, with continental influences (demonstrated for instance by the use of a distinctive open cc-shaped a), except for the first folio which is in a continental hand. This first folium is a singleton and thus not part of the first quire. The first quire is made up out of 3 bifolia (instead of the 4
usual in the rest of the manuscript) and lacks a quire signature at the end. In fact, the first quire signature (“A”) is found on the recto of the first folium of the second quire (which consists of 5 bifolia, also unusual).

shapeimage_2Contrary to Mordek (Bibliotheca capitularium manuscripta, p. 774), I found the first quires to be structured thus:

I, 16, 210 (10 = strip), 38 etc.

or, to put it otherwise:

    I (singleton): fol. 1r-v

    16: fols. 2r-7v

    210: fols. 8r-16v (8v has quire signature “A”, 16v has “B”)


shapeimage_3According to Glatthaar (Bonifatius und das Sakrileg, p. 458), the first folio may have been a replacement of an older page, which – being the first folio of a book – was (at risk of being) damaged. The implication is that the later copyist of this page copied exactly the same text as the original. Or, Glatthaar concedes, the page was found elsewhere and added since it fitted.

The quire signatures seem to argue in favour of a view that sees the first folio as a replacement: folio 8r-v is no longer part of a bifolium, and, were it the last folium of the first quire, would have been attached to the very first page. The original arrangement also had a first folio preceding the rest of the Sententiae Bonifatiae. Whether or not that was the Bonifatian fragment presently on fol. 1r-v must remain uncertain.

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