TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures


In Latin, decorated manuscript on paper
Bohemia (Olomouc?), partly dated 23 February 1372

TM 336


203 ff., preceded by a medieval paper flyleaf (collation: i15 [16-1, lacking 6th leaf], ii14-1 [one leaf missing or cancelled in the second half of the quire], iii16, iv12, v14, vi-vii14, viii10, ix-x14, xi16, xii14, xiii16, xiv8, xv11 [12-1, lacking last leaf, likely blank]), on paper, with at least six watermarks including a pair of crossed keys (quires i-iii), a pear-like fruit (quire iv), an arrow (quires v and xii), a bow and arrow (quires vi-viii), a mount(?) (ix-xi), another arrow (quire xii), and a bell (quires xiii-xv), medieval quire signatures throughout, “i”-“xiiij”, with very cropped traces of an earlier series “i”-“vi” in the section written by Scribes B and C, the text written in two columns by at least three scribes in cursive bookhands in brown ink, Scribe A (ff. 1-72 and ff. 155-203v) writes with scriptural extracts opening sermons copied in larger gothic display script, with approximately 50 lines per column on frame-ruled pages, except the first and last pages of the first quire, which are ruled for 35 lines of text; Scribes B and C (ff. 73-110v and ff. 111-154v respectively) write on pages ruled for 34 (35 in quire 8) lines of text per column with rubrics in red, all three scribes usually write with a justification of 220-225 x 155-160 mm, prickings frequently survive, capitals stroked in red, abbreviations to patristic and scriptural authorities struck in red throughout the text, paragraph marks in red, initials painted in red throughout of variable height (1- to 4-lines high), 3-line high initial parti-colored in red and brown (fol. 73), 5-line high opening initial parti-colored in red and brown with extending calligraphic penwork in red and brown (fol. 1), another similar 3-line high initial with calligraphic penwork and a human head in profile (fol. 155), another cadel with human head in profile (f. 187), remnants of paper finding tabs (tabs now wanting), numerous corrections and marginal annotations, in various hands (near-contemporary and later 15th c. hands). Bound in 16th-century (Italian?) parchment ledger- or archival-style binding over thin pasteboards, with two leather straps decoratively stitched on covers, the author's name written in ink by a later hand on front cover: “Jacobo de Voragine”. (Some staining to covers, but overall in very good condition, the gutter-edge of some leaves, and some sewing, restored; some minor internal soiling, water-stains and restorations to paper, the outer margin of. f. 154 cut away, not affecting the text, some of the added marginal annotations somewhat cropped (e.g. ff. 38v-39), else in good legible condition). Dimensions 290 x 215 mm.

This dated manuscript contains two texts of sermons and two short additions concerning priests. Neither Jacobus de Voragine’s sermons nor those by Henry of Friemar are edited; they are not often combined together in one volume, and no manuscripts of Henry’s sermons are recorded in North American collections. The two additional texts are both rare, one known in only two manuscript and the second possibly unique. An early Bohemian provenance contributes to the philological interest the manuscript holds, meriting further study.


1. Written at least partly in 1372: the completion of the first section of the manuscript is dated at the end with a scribal colophon in large formal script underlined in red: “Explicit primus liber Iacobi de Voragine. finitus sub anno domini Mo.CCCo.lxxijo [i.e. 1372]. vijo. kalendas Marcij [i.e. 23 February]. Concurente .ijo. Clave epactarum .xiiijo. Clave terminorum xij. Embolismo secundo etc.” (f. 72). It is therefore likely that the entire manuscript was written within the years 1371-73. The dating clause is unusual in that it uses non-religious terms of reference (the Concurrent, Epact, and Embolism): the scribe could alternatively have referred 23 February as the vigil of the feast of St Mathias, or the day after the feast of St Peter. It is likely that the manuscript was written at, or in the region around, a convent at Olomouc (Olmütz, in the modern-day Czech Republic, about 100 miles south-east of Prague: it was certainly there by the end of the 15th century (see below). Supporting this region as the place of origin are the presence of sermons by Heinric von Friemar, who had been regent of studies in the monastery of St. Thomas, Prague, and the fact that the only other witnesses to the penultimate text in the volume are now in Brno and Kremnica. The watermark evidence is inconclusive: the pear-like fruit with a long stem (quire iv) is similar to Briquet no. 7341, attributed to Breslau, 1375, and Silesia, 1376, while the most distinctive watermark is the crossed keys (quires i-iii), which is very close to Briquet no. 3848, attributed to Venice, 1372-9, but this may simply suggest that the paper was imported.

2. The front flyleaf has two 15th-century pen-trials, one two lines long, beginning “In nomine domini nostri ihesu christi ...”, the other five lines long, beginning “Quadraginta dies manus porrectas ...”. Two words of vernacular German “Her Got” are inscribed in the upper margin of f. 71v.

3. The property of a convent in Olomouc by the end of the fifteenth century, and loaned to another convent in Schomberg / Schauenberg / Schaumberg around 2 June 1495, for an indefinite period while it was repaired(?), as recorded in an inscription in the lower margin on f.1: “Hic liber pertinet conventui Olomunchensi quem concessit conventui Schombergensi (or Schaunbergensi?) ad incertum usum durante dum taxat conservacione(?) anno domini 1495 circa festum sancti Erasmi martiris.”

4. To judge by the binding the manuscript was in Italy by the 16th century.

5. Inscribed with a n unidentified 20th-century Italian (?) shelfmark(?) “D 43,” in purple pencil on the front flyleaf and in the upper margin of f. 1.


ff. 1-72, Jacobus de Voragine, Sermones de tempore, from Advent to Pentecost: prologue incipit, “Humane labilis vite decursus salubri erudicione nos ammonet rebus ...”; first sermon incipit, “Preparare in occursum dei tui israel. Amos 4[:12]. Quando rex vel aliquis princeps ...”; explicit “... sed manus scribe per calamum operantis. Ps[almus 44]. Lingwa mea calamus scribe etc”; followed by an added biblical quotation: “Rursumque mensus est mille et traduxit me per aquam usque ad genua” (Ezekiel 47:4), a colophon (see Provenance), and an added note concerning which ranks of the clergy can hear each other’s confession, beginning “Utrum unus sacerdos parochialis possit audire et absolvere alium sacerdotem ...”;

f. 72v, blank;

ff. 73-154v, Jacobus de Voragine, Sermones de tempore, continued, from the First to the Twenty-fifth Sundays after Pentecost: incipit, “Erat homo ex phariseis Nicodemus nomine princeps iudeorum. Johannes 3[:1]. Festum de trinitate olym [sic] ab ecclesia ...”; the following sermon rubric, Sermo secundus (fol. 73v), incipit, “Amen amen dico \vobis/ nisi quis renatus fuerit [John 3:5] ...”; explicit, “... Ad illum beatum fine perducat nos ille qui est principium sed et finis. Qui sine fine vivit et regnat per infinita secula seculorum. Amen”;

ff. 155-200, Henricus de Friemaria (/ Friemar / Vrimaria / Frimaria), Sermones, from Christmas to the Commemoration of All Saints and the Dedication of a Church: incipit, “Parvulus natus est nobis et filius datus est nobis Ysaiah [9:6]. In verbis istis humana mens ad amorem ...”; second sermon incipit, “Filius datus est nobis [Isaiah 9:5]. In verbis proponitur magnitudo ...”; the final sermon-group incipit “Vidi civitatem sanctam Iherusalem ... [Revelation 21:2] Verba proposita que scribitur in epistola hodierna ...”, explicit “... gaudio et leticia replebuntur. Cuius gaudii nos participes faciat Ihesus Christus dominus noster. Amen.”;

ff. 200-203, added (near-contemporary) anonymous text concerning the sun and its rays, gold, and priests, incipit “[S]ol aureum gignit in terra et genitum protrahit super terram ut appareat hominibus .... Hanc propositionem scribit Avicenna [Ibn Sina, 10th-11th century Persian polymath] que bene conveniens ...”, also citing Algazel (Al-Ghazili, 11th-century Persian philosopher and cosmologist), Alfarabius (al-Farabi, 9th-10th century Persian polymath, known as the “Second Aristotle”), and Ptolemy; various biblical books; the Church Fathers; Rabanus Maurus, Hugh (of St-Victor?), and (Pope?) Urban; the only two examples of this incipit in the In principio database are an anonymous Sermo de novo sacerdote, found in Brno, SVK, MS. R.371, ff. 200-200v, and Kremica, Farská Kn., Cx 11, ff. 248-251v;

ff. 203-203v, added (near-contemporary) anonymous unidentified text, incipit “[S]acerdotes tui induantur iustitia. Ps. [131:9]. vel ecce sacerdos magnus qui in diebus suis placuit deo ...”, explicit, “... non dimittatur nisi ablatum restituatur.”.

This dated manuscript contains two main texts and two short contemporary additions: the main texts are an uncensored version of Jacobus de Voragine’s Sermons (different from the expurgated version published in the fifteenth-century incunable), of which no modern edition exists; and an eclectic series of Sermons of the far less well-known Henry of Friemar (which is also unedited). The two added texts both concern priests: the first, which displays a remarkable knowledge of Islamic science and philosophy (citing Al-Ghazili, al-Farabi, and Avicenna, among others), is known in only two other manuscripts; the second text is unidentified and perhaps unique. The volume was written probably in Bohemia in the generation following the founding of the first university of central Europe, the Charles University in Prague, and was certainly at Olomouc before the end of the fifteenth-century.

Jacobus de Voragine’s sermons and manuscripts are listed by Schneyer (vol. II, pp. 348-69), and Kaeppeli lists more than a hundred further manuscripts (pp. 361-4, at no. 2156). The sermons are therefore not rare, but they remain unedited (a project to edit them is described at www.sermones.net).

Jacobus de Voragine (born c. 1230 in Varazze, near Genoa; died c. 1298) entered the Dominican order in 1244, circulated as a preacher in many parts of Italy, and taught in schools of the order. He also led a distinguished career in ecclesiastical service first as provincial of Lombardy, then as a delegate from his province at the councils of Lucca (1288) and Ferrara (1290), and finally as bishop of Genoa from 1292 to 1298. He left a list of his own works in his Chronicon januense listing the famous Legenda aurea, along with two volumes of “Sermons concerning all the Saints,” one of which he describes as very defuse and the other short and concise, a Sermones de omnibus evangeliis dominicalibui for every Sunday of the year (the present text) as well as a similar compilation for use from Ash Wednesday through the Tuesday after Easter. There is also a short treatise, “Marialis, qui totus est de B. Maria compositus,” consisting of 160 discourses on the attributes, titles, and so forth of the Virgin Mary.

Henricus de Friemar’s sermons are listed by Schneyer (vol. II, pp. 639-73), and Zumkeller (pp. 125-63 and 579-89, at pp. 158-63 nos 331-5). They have not been edited, but to judge by Schneyer and Zumkeller’s listings, the present manuscript has an idiosyncratic selection of sermons: they do not, for example, begin the Temporale with Advent, as would be expected, but at Christmas. Seymour de Ricci’s Census and its Supplement list no manuscripts of the present text, and only four manuscripts of other works by Henry in the USA.

Born at Friemar near Gotha in Thuringia, Henry (died c. 1355, Erfurt) became an Augustinian Hermit, was sent to the University of Paris where he became a master in theology and where he taught until 1318. He became a regent in the Monastery of St.-Thomas in Prague and was later chosen provincial for Thuringia and Saxon. Among his works, in addition to the Sermons, are a commentary on the Sentences, a Treatise on the Conception of the Virgin Mary, and a history of the origins of the Augustinian Hermits.

The texts from the second column of f. 200 to the end of the volume are written in nearly identical script, but the fact that the spaces for coloured initials have been left blank proves that they are a slightly later addition, on pages that were originally left blank. There is a slight change of script at f. 203, at the beginning of the final text, showing that the final two texts are additions of slightly different dates.

The volume provides an interesting case-study of the way in which scribes collaborated: it consists of three main textual sections, written in two main phases, one phase being written by one scribe and the other by two more. Scribe A wrote the first and third texts (quires i-v and xii-xv), presumably one straight after the other, as the watermark of quire xii is the same as that of quire v. The section in between, however, seems to have been written by Scribes B and C simultaneously: most quires in this section are of 14 leaves each, but the last quire by Scribe B is shortened to 10 leaves so that the text ends neatly at the point where Scribe C’s section begins, and the last quire by Scribe C is extended to 16 leaves. Scribe A used paper with a variety of watermarks, one after another, while Scribes B and C use different batches of paper, with one watermark each. The middle section was clearly written separately from the sections by Scribe A, as it has a separate series of quire signatures.


Bertini-Guidetti, S. I Sermones di Jacopo da Varazze. Il potere delle immagine nel Duecento, Florence, Sismel, 1998.

Jacobus de Voragine. Sermones dominicales per totum annum, [Strasburg], [not after 1473] (Goff, J-182).

Jacobus de Voragine. Sermones dominicales per anni circulum predicabiles…, s.l.n.n., 1484 (Goff, J-183; Paris, BnF, Res. D-3328).

Jacobus de Voragine. Sermones dominicales per totum annum; Rever. D. D. magistri Jacobi de Voragine ordinis praedicatorum, quondam archiepiscopi Januensis. Nunc demum a quamplurimis erroribus expurgati, & vetusti codicis collatione ad integritatem suam restituti. Venetiis, ad Signum Concordiae, apud Foravantem a Prato,1589.

Schneyer, Johannes Baptist. Repertorium der lateinischen Sermones des Mittelalters für die Zeit von 1150-1350 (Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters 43), XI vols., Münster 1969-80.

Zumkeller, A. Manuskripte von Werken der Autoren des Augustiner-Eremitenordens in mitteleuropäischen Bibliotheken, Würzburg, 1966.

Online resources

The Sermons of Jacobus de Voragine and their Audience

Life and Words of Henry of Friemar

Books from Olmütz monastic libraries now at Notre Dame, Indiana