TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

[Humanistic Miscellany], including ADSO DE MONTIERENDER, De ortu et tempore antichristi; MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO, Paradoxa stoicorum; LEONARDUS BRUNUS ARETINUS, Epistola ad Baptistam Malatestam [On the Study of Literature to Lady Battista Malatesta of Montefeltro]; BUONACCURSO DE MONTEMAGNO, Oratio ad Gaium Flaminium; MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO, Excerpts from Epistulae ad familiares; HENRICUS SALTERIENSIS, Tractatus de purgatorio sancti patricii; AUGUSTINUS DATHUS SENESIS, Praecepta rhetorica [Elegantiole]; LAURENTIUS VALLA, Elegantie latinae linguae libri VI; Adnotationes in errores Antonii Raudensis; PSEUDO-PUBLIUS LENTULUS, Epistula ad senatum romanum de iesu christo [Letter from Jesus Christ to the Roman Senate], etc.

In Latin, manuscript on paper
Northern Italy, Piedmont(?) or perhaps Tuscany (Florence?), after 1444, c. 1450-1460

TM 428


97 ff., preceded by a single paper flyleaf, missing a few leaves and probably a quire between ff. 13-14 [collation: i4, ii10, iii9 (of 10, missing i), iv13 (of 14, missing xiv), v-vii16, viii14 (of 16, missing xv-xvi)], on paper (with at least 3 watermarks, of which none are apparently recorded in Briquet), written in a tight but very legible humanistic round script, change of color of ink at times, but copied by a single homogeneous hand, on up to 36 long lines (justification: 190 x 140 mm), some catchwords, paper ruled in plummet, guide letters for unfinished initials, numerous contemporary annotations, both interlinear and marginal, the word “sancti” on the first blank flyleaf. Bound in a renewed binding of mottled calf over wooden boards, smooth spine, medieval parchment pastedowns from a 15th century. Italian liturgical manuscript [a Gradual?] (Some wormholes, first quire loose, but overall in excellent and very fresh condition).Dimensions 298 x 213 mm.

This manuscript is a fascinating Italian humanistic miscellany containing a large number of eclectic texts, reflecting humanist ideals mostly related to eloquence, rhetoric, grammar, and Christian virtues. It is copied by a single hand throughout, in a very fine and regular script, and contains ample marginal and interlinear glosses, often by the same hand that copied the main text. The first text is said to have been copied from “a very ancient book from the Abbey of San Giusto di Secusia” (Susa, in Piedmont), reflecting the humanist quest for the rediscovery of forgotten texts.


1.Script and content all secure an Italian origin for this codex. Written on paper, the watermarks should have allowed a better identification of the place of copy. However, these watermarks, of which there is one that occurs most frequently (see for instance f. 21), are not included in Briquet, nor in the other major repertories of watermarks. Their identification will no doubt shed better light on the origin of this miscellany. The core of the text was copied by a single homogeneous hand but numerous initials remain unfinished with only the guide letters traced. It is interesting to find such a large miscellany copied by a single hand.

2. Inscription (later 16th c.?) on f. 35v reads: “Fr[ater] vincentius de tabia de astensis” [Brother Vincentius de Tabia of Asti]. Asti is a town located in Piedmont. Another inscription in upper margin of f. 36 reads: “Frater Joannis de dulado” [Bother Johannes of Dulado]. Both these inscriptions suggest that the manuscript was at one stage in a monastic environment, or at least in a conventual milieu.

3. European Private Collection.


ff. 1-3, [Adso de Montierender [Adso Derviensis] OSB, De ortu et tempore antichristi], Treatise on the advent of the Antichist, heading, Tractatus de exordio antichristi et eius adventus ad iudicium extractus de quodam libro antiquissimo abbatie sancti justi de seccuxia; incipit, “In primis sciendum est quare dicitur antichristus io (?) [...] quia in cunctis christus contrario erit et christo contraria faciet...”; explicit, “[...] iudicabit que ante secula iudicandum se esse prefixit. Explicit”;

It is stated in the heading copied above the text that the present work was copied from an “ancient book from the abbey of San Giusto di Secusia.” This is a Benedictine monastery in Piedmont, Secusia (now Susa), not far from Turin, founded in 1029 by Ulric-Manfred, marquess of Turin (see Cottineau, III, col. 3106). This treatise is apparently quite rare with only some nine manuscripts recorded in Stegmüller: the work is attributed by him to Adso de Montierender O.S.B. (see Stegmüller, II, 880, 1). Other adaptations of this work, with slightly different incipits are listed by Stegmüller, II, 880, 2-4, sometimes attributed to a Pseudo-Alcuinus or even Pseudo-Augustinus (see Migne, PL, 40, 1129-1134). The work was edited by D. Verhelst (ed.), De ortu et tempore Antichristi, necnon et tractatus qui ab eo dependunt, Corpus Christianorum, Continuatio Medievalis, 45 (Turnhout, 1976). On the theme see R. K. Emmerson, Antichrist in the Middle Ages: A Study of Medieval Apocalypticism, Art and Literature, Seattle, 1981.

f. 3v, blank;

ff. 4-10, Marcus Tullius Cicero, Paradoxa stoicorum, heading, Paradoxa marci tullii; incipit, “[C]um adverti brute saepe catonem avunculum tuum quom in senatu sentenciam diceret locos graves ex philosophia tentare...”; explicit, “[...] sed eciam in opes ac pauperes existimandi sunt. Expliciunt paradoxa M. Tulii lingue latine principis eloquencie optimique artificis reipublice gubernande”;

Although the shortest of Cicero’s extant philosophical works, the Paradoxa stoicorum exerted a strong influence on the western intellectual tradition. It was a standard text in school and university curricula from the Middle Ages onwards. The treatise deals with the paradoxes of the Stoics alone. The earliest manuscripts of the Paradoxa survive as part of a group of eight philosophical treatises by Cicero as discussed by R.H. Rouse, “De natura deorum...Paradoxa Stoicorum...,” in Texts and Transmission, ed. Reynolds, 1983, p. 124-128: the texts of eight of Cicero’s philosophical works are based on three Carolingian manuscripts from north-eastern and central France, two of which are known as the “Leiden corpus.” It is published in Plasberg, O. Paradoxa Stoicorum..., Leipzig, Teubner, 1908-1911. A list of extant manuscripts and imprints is found in Ronnick, 1991, pp. 143-199. On the manuscript tradition see also Badali, 1968.

f. 10v, Unidentified Text, incipit, “[...] [E]t si reprobandum vicioque dandam parentum incuriam esse...”; explicit, “[...] eas diligentia conservabit”;

f. 11, blank;

ff. 11v-13v, Leonardus Brunus Aretinus, Epistola ad Baptistam Malatestam [On the Study of Literature to Lady Battista Malatesta of Montefeltro] (1424), heading, Leonardi Aretini oratoris elegantissimi ad preclarissimam magnificamque dominam Baptistam de Malatestis Pisauri de legendis poetis doctissimam [...] tempore mulierum; incipit, “[C]ompulsus crebro rumore admirabilium...”; explicit, “[...] interrogationes bicipites neque [...]” (missing second half);

The dedicatee of this text, Battista di Montefeltro (c. 1384-1447), was a famous woman scholar of the Renaissance and the wife of Galeazzo Malatesta, lord of Pesaro. In this letter, Bruni describes a course of study suitable for women, illustrating the belief, early on held by humanists that classical studies are “worthy to be pursued by men and women alike.” This Letter was published in Baron, Schriften, pp. 5-19; also the more recent and improved text in Garin, ed. Il pensiero pedagogico dell’Umanesimo, Florence, 1968, pp. 141-171. See the English translation in Griffiths et alia. (ed.), The Humanism of Leonardo Bruni, 1987, pp. 240-251.

ff. 14-16, Oratio to be identified (Buonaccorso de Montemagno?), incipit, “[…] consecuti profecto hi suis artibus et reipublice munere nobiles facti sunt…”; explicit, “[…] vos ergo P. C. pro magnitudine senatorie dignitatis […] rem de iis rebus sententiam dicite” (missing beginning);

ff. 16-21v, Buonaccorso de Montemagno, Oratio ad Gaium Flaminium, heading, Gaii Flaminii oratio; incipit, “Magna mihi gratia est P[atres] C[onscripti] cum de nobilitate...”; explicit, “[...] relinquitur. De nobilitate finiunt orationes feliciter”;

Buonaccorso de Montemagno (1391/1393-1429) was born in Pistoia and died in Florence. This Oration is published in G. C. Giulari (ed.), Prose del Giovane Buonaccorso de Montemagno..., 1874 (re-edition, Bologna, 1968).

ff. 21v-23, Marcus Tullius Cicero, Five letters from the Epistulae ad familiares, Book 4, V and VI, and Book 6, XIV and XV, incipit, “Servius ciceroni salutem. Postquem mihi renunciatum est...”; explicit, “[...] In brevi credo finitis negotiis omnibus ad te redire. Vale”;

The Epistulae ad familiares comprise more than ninety letters that Cicero wrote to friends and relatives with no real thought of publication, consequently giving a candid and intimate insight into his life and opinions. They were one of the classical texts rediscovered through the researches of Coluccio Salutati (1375-1406), the humanist Chancellor of Florence. The Epistulae ad familiares are published by D. R. Shackelton, Cambridge University Press, 1977 (re-edition, 2004).

ff. 23v-33v, [Henricus Salteriensis (or of Sawtry or Saltrey)]. Tractatus de purgatorio sancti patricii [On the Purgatory of San Patrizio], incipit, “Patri suo in christo per optato h. abbati de sais: frater h. monachorum de sateria minimus obedentie filius s. d. Jussistis pater venerande ut scriptum vobis mitterem quod de purgatorio in nostra presentia...”; explicit, “[...] et corporaliter hec se vidisse testatur. Explicit de purgatorio sancti patricii tractatus”;

This work was composed between 1170 and 1185 by Henricus of Sawtry and recounts the foundation of the Purgatory and the visit by the knight Owain. There are apparently a number of variant Latin versions of the Tractatus de Purgatorio Sancti Patricii, as studied by Kölbing (1877), but the most recent studies now distinguish two main families (see Easting, 1991). The work is amply commented by C. di Fonzio (2000), pp. 53-72 and the long Latin version is published in Y. de Pontfarcy, L’espurgatoire seint Patriz...[suivi du] De purgatorio sanctii Patricii, ed. de Warnke, Louvain, 1995; see also Easting, R. (ed.) St. Patrick’s Purgatory. Two Versions of Owayne Miles and the Vision of William Strauton together with the Long Text of the Tractatus De Purgatorio Sancti Patricii, Oxford University Press, 1991, pp. 121-154. In addition, see M. White-Le Goff, Changer le monde, réécritures d’une légende: le Purgatoire de saint Patrick, Paris, 2006: in particular the chapter entitled: “Le texte latin et ses réécritures,” pp. 25-47.

f. 34, Miracle of the Virgin, incipit, “Sed et ego in monasterio cui prefui aliquid oculis meis huic rei non Galde dissimile vidi...”; “[...] Miraculum explicit de quinque [...] et nomine beate Marie. Consonat et redolet melius vinctura bonorum plusnanque sapiunt lilia [...]”;

The Miracles of the Virgin were very popular in the Middle Ages. This Miracle of the Virgin recounts the story of Saint Audomar (or Omer), one of the founders of the Abbey of Saint-Bertin. It is recorded in Poncelet, 1902, no. 1332.

f. 34v, Guarinus Guarini, Letter to Ludovicus, heading, Ex Guarino ad illustrem adolescentem ludovicum; incipit, “Vis consiliaros optimos idest fide benivolentia prudentia...”;

ff. 35-35v, blank;

ff. 36-47, Augustinus Dathus Senesis [Agostino Dati], Elegantiole, incipit, “[C]redimus iam dudum a plerisque viris et disertissimis persuasi tum demum artem...”; explicit, “[...] Omnes praepter has dic dies esse kalendas”;

Agostino Dati (1420-1478) opened a school of rhetoric in Siena and became the official orator of the Republic. The present copy of this work is thus contemporary with the author. A list of the 79 recorded manuscripts is found in Bursill-Hall, 1981, p. 306.

ff.47v-62, Laurentius Valla, Elegantie latinae linguae libri VI, incipit, “[N]omina in osus que descendunt a verbo partim actionem partim passionem...”; explicit “[...] [D]einceps accipitur pro dehinc seu deinde et pro gradatim”;

This Latin grammar treatise in six books by Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457) was written circa 1444, thus providing a terminus post quem date for this manuscript. This work subjected the forms of Latin grammar and the rules of Latin style and rhetoric to a critical examination, and placed the practice of composition upon a foundation of analysis and inductive reasoning. It was a basis for the movement of the Humanists to reform Latin prose style to a more classical and Ciceronian direction on a scientific basis

f. 62v-81, Unidentified text related to Vocabulary and Lexicography, incipit, “Advocatus et patronus sic differunt. Advocatus enim est qui alterius causam agit aut quod paratus sit defendere. Patronus autem qui agit causam accusati...”; explicit, “[...] quod datur de rebus vectis a veho dictum”;

This work provides lexicographical definitions and clarifications concerning words of similar spelling near homonyms or of close meaning that might be subject to confusion. For instance, the text states: “Actor et auctor ita differunt...” [Actor and Author are different...] (fol. 62v) or again the difference between “Avis” and “Volucris”: “Avis est que ova parit pennisque predita. Volucris est quecumque volat...” (f. 63). This understudied text is recorded in apparently only one other manuscript, Copenhagen, KB, Thott 1064, f. 71 and sqq. (see Kristeller, III, p. 187). It is one of the most interesting texts of this miscellany.

ff. 81-96, Laurentius Valla, Adnotationes in errores Antonii Raudensis, incipit, “[S]ed quia tu et suades...”; explicit, “[...] progenies quia procul si patur et spergitur usque in posteros”;

f. 96v, Pseudo-Publius Lentulus, Epistula ad senatum romanum de iesu christo [Letter from Jesus Christ to the Roman Senate], incipit, “Temporibus octaviani caesaris...”; “[...] effigies jesu christi salvatoris nostri”;

f. 97, blank;

f. 97v, Various notes, with references to Florence, the Papal Curia, the Humanist Antonio Loschi etc., incipit, “Gagetani. Dementium atque insaniorum medicus. Donatus adolescens tarde...”;

This humanistic manuscript contains a very diverse and eclectic selection of texts, coherently and homogeneously copied by a single hand. Most texts relate to rhetoric, eloquence, grammar, but also included are texts that witness the humanistic interest in rediscovered texts (such as that by Adso of Montierender, ff. 1-3) copied from a manuscript said to have been preserved in an Abbey of San Giusto di Secusia.

Everything about this manuscript speaks to the humanistic ideal: the choice of texts, the careful copy, and the contemporary marginal glosses and annotations. Its elegant script merits further study and may even turn out to be tied to a specific humanist scribe. It certainly resembles the very cultivated hands of the first half of the fifteenth century as represented by such great scholars as Niccolo Niccoli (1365-1437) and Poggio Bracciolini, the famous bookhunter (1380-1459), both active in Florence. Its exact place of origin is not yet been determined, with watermarks whose proper identification might yield some elements of dating and origin. Some of the works are mostly likely by contemporary authors, still living at the moment of transcription (for instance, Agostino Dati dies in 1478). But above all, the sheer plethora of texts should be studied further, the reasons for their inclusion, the ties and relations the scribe saw in these texts. Especially rare is the unpublished and hitherto unstudied Vocabulary or work of lexicography (ff. 62v-81), found in only one other manuscript, and that surely deserves to be compared with the copy found in Copenhagen. It is certainly a manuscript that merits further study and attention by scholars of the Quattrocento in Italy.


Badali, R. Sui codici dei Paradoxa di Cicerone, Rome, 1968.

Besomi, O. and M. Regoliosi ed. Lorenzo Valla e l’umanesimo italiano : atti del Convegno internazionale di studi umanistici, Parma, 18-19 ottubre, 1984, Padua, Antenore, 1986.

Bruni, L. “On the Study of Literature to Lady Battista Malatesta of Montefeltro,” in The Humanism of Leonardo Bruni: Selected Texts trans. and intro. Gordon Griffiths, James Hankins, David Thompson, Binghampton, 1987, pp. 240-251.

Bursill-Hall, G. L. A Census of Medieval Latin Grammatical Manuscripts, Stuttgart, 1981.

Di Fonzo, C. “La leggenda del “Purgatorio di S. Patrizio” nella tradizione di commento trecentesca,” in Dante e il locus inferni, ed. S. Foà and S. Gentili, Rome, 2000, pp. 53-72.

Griffiths G. et alia ed. The Humanism of Leonardo Bruni: Selected Texts, Binghamton and New York, 1987.

Kölbing, E. “Zwei mittelenglische Bearbeitungen der Sage von St. Patrick’s Purgatorium,” in Englische Studien, I, 1877, pp. 57-121.

Kristeller, P.O. Iter italicum. Volume III, Alia itinera, London, 1983.

Poncelet, A. “Index miraculorum beatae Mariae Virginae quae saeculis VI-XV conscripta sunt,” Analecta Bollandiana 21 (1902), pp. 241-360.

Regoliosi, M. Nel cantiere del Valla: elaborazione e montaggio delle Elegantie, Rome, 1993.

Ronnick, M. V. Cicero’s Paradoxa stoicorum, Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang, 1991.

Stegmüller, F. Repertorium biblicum Medii Aevi..., Madrid, 1981-1989.

Online resources

Cicero, Epistulae ad familiares

Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library & Renaissance Culture