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les Enluminures

PETRUS JOHANNIS OLIVI O.F.M. (d.1298), Principia III et I in sacram scripturam; [Anon.] Collationes super sententias Petri Lombardi, and Epitome ethicorum Aristotelis

In Latin, manuscript on parchment
Southern France (Montpellier?), 14th century, probably c. 1300-1350

TM 352


iii (paper) + 67 + iii (paper) leaves of parchment prepared in the southern manner (collation: i12, ii12 [-1, before f. 13, probably with loss of text], iii-iv12, v-vi10), catchwords in lower margins of final versos, foliated in modern pencil at the fore-edge, prickings occasionally survive (e.g. ff. 48-56), ruled in pencil for 45-50 lines of text in two columns (justification: c. 200-215 x 65-15-65 mm.), written in brown and black ink by five scribes in gothic and semi-cursive book-hands, change of scribes on f. 9v, f. 45, f. 48, and f. 58, some red underlining, text capitals touched red ff. 9v-12, blank spaces and guide-letters for decorated initials, with frequent marginal annotations, maniculae, and linking marks, often within decorative frames (first and last leaves lacking their outermost corners, ff. 6-7 loose, lacking one leaf after f. 12, staining and wear to several leaves, worming to ff. 36-57, blank right column of f. 57 excised). Bound in 18th-century Italian half sheep and patterned paper over pasteboards, the spine lettered in gilt “XIX / INCE[rtus] / SERM[ones] / S. SCR / MS.,” with instructions to the binder loosely inserted (scuffed). Dimensions 280 x 210 mm.

A fascinating collection of university texts from Southern France, copied by five scribes most likely for a student in Montpellier and later owned by the Domincan Convent at Gaeta. It includes two very rare texts by Petrus Johannis Olivi, previously known in only two and three manuscripts respectively. Only one other manuscript with a work by Olivi is listed in the Schoenberg database. In addition, the volume includes a series of anonymous–and unpublished–introductory lectures on the Sentences of Peter the Lombard. Most of these have never been studied by modern scholars. Texts such as these provide direct insight into the teaching methods in the medieval university.


1.The attribution to southern France, based on the script and parchment, is supported by a trimmed 15th-century note (f. 57v), beginning “[...] a domina jacoba valaraugue uxor quondam R’ valaraugue ...” and ending “... datus 14 kalendas julii anno xxo” (i.e. 18 June [14]20), referring to Valleraugue in the Cévennes, about 60 km north of Montpellier (where Olivi was “lector biblicus” from 1279 to 1282) and the same distance northwest of Nîmes (where he was transferred after his suspension in 1282). It therefore seems probable that the present manuscript was copied from an exemplar that had been published by Olivi himself, in the immediate vicinity of his teaching c. 1280. Almost everything about this manuscript–the script, the quality of the parchment, and its contents, are typical of a university manuscript. It seems very likely that the manuscript was copied at a university in Southern France, either Montpellier, or possibly Toulouse, for a student in theology, perhaps one who was studying at one of the mendicant convents.

2. Most likely from the Dominican convent of San Domenico, Gaeta, since it is bound uniformly with a group of eleven manuscripts, including one, a manuscript of Peter of Tarentaise’s Commentary on Book IV of the Sentences of Peter Lombard, with a fifteenth-century ownership inscription of Gaeta (also offered by textmanuscripts.com); in addition to uniform bindings, the manuscripts in this group share at least one of the following features: an inscription on the first or subsequent leaves with a brief title and shelfmark, an inscription on the back pastedown of the number of leaves ending “Segnato N.AP,” a loose slip of paper with an inscription similar to the title on the spine, probably instructions to the binder, and finally, a loose slip of paper with a 19th-century description in French. These manuscripts were acquired by the Hispanic Society of America in the early twentieth century. This manuscript includes all of the notable features of the manuscripts from this group.

3. Inscribed with a shelfmark and title in the 18th century: “B.4. espositiones seu sermones in Jeremia et profetas et in Cantica’ (f. 1) and ‘Foglie * 66 Segnato N. AP” (back pastedown).

4. Owned probably in France in the 19th century: with a description in French loosely inserted, mentioning manuscripts in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

5. The Hispanic Society of America, probably acquired in the early 20th century; their manuscript reference B1456 (this number inscribed in pencil on the front pastedown (Faulhaber, pp. 82-3, 89-90, 656-7).


ff. 1-6, Petrus Johannis Olivi: Principium III in sacram scripturam, text incipit “[C]um essem in medio captivorum iuxta flumen Cobar aperti sunt celi et vidi visiones dei ... [Ezekiel 1:1] Conscendere cum paulo volentibus in tercium celum ...,” text explicit “... et de modo ducendi eas amplior exigeretur tractatus”;

Fredericus Stegmüller, Repertorium Biblicum Medii Aevi, IV: Commentaria, Auctores N-Q (Madrid, 1989), pp. 341-53 at p. 342 no. 6681; printed in Bonaventura, Opera Omnia (Strassbourg, 1495 & Venice, 1564); edited by B. Bonelli, Supplementum in operum s. Bonaventurae, I (1772), 282-347, and in Peter of John Olivi on the Bible, Principia Quinque in Sacram Scripturam. Postilla in Isaiam et in I ad Corinthos, ed. David Flood & Gedeon Gál, Franciscan Institute Publications, Text Series, 18, St. Bonaventure, New York, 1997, pp. 78-123 (as no. 3, “De doctrina scripturae).

ff. 6-9v, Petrus Johannis Olivi: Principium I in sacram scripturam, text incipit “[V]idi in dextera sedentis super thronum ... [Revelation 5:1]. Consideranti mihi scripturarum sanctarum pelagus et infinitur ...,” text explicit “... desiderabilem nos introducat qui cum patre & spiritu sancto vivit & regnat & cuncta videt & gubernat in secula seculorum amen”;

Fredericus Stegmüller, Repertorium Biblicum Medii Aevi, IV: Commentaria, Auctores N-Q (Madrid, 1989), p. 342 no. 6679; printed in Bonaventura, Opera Omnia (Strassbourg, 1495 & Venice, 1564); edited by B. Bonelli, Supplementum in operum s. Bonaventurae, II (1773), 1053-1113, and in Flood and Gál, pp. 41-72 (as no. 2, “De causis scripurae”).

ff. 9-45; ff. 45-47; ff. 48-57, a series of short texts copied by three scribes, most of which are introductory lectures or sermons (collationes or principia) to the Sentences of Peter Lombard:

ff. 9v-10v, incipit, “[I]ndica mihi in qua uia habitet lux. Job 38[:19]. Habitans in carcere tenebroso redire … ecce candelabrum. Amen”;

ff. 10v-11, [margin: Super 2m sententiarum] incipit “[I]ndica mihi in qua uia habitet lux. Job 38[:19]. Quod universale est homini finem … et hominis lapsu, etc.”;

ff. 11-11v, [margin: Super 3m sententiarum] incipit, “[I]ndica mihi in qua uia habitet lux. Job 38[:19]. Intellectualis[?] nec desiderabilum non quiescit … effectibus eius, etc.”;

ff.11v-12v, [margin: Principium super exodum], incipit, “[L]ex domini inmaculata conuertens animas. Ps. [18:8]. Deus altissimus imperator et prudentissimus legis … et sic in gaudium sempiterni prestante domino nostro etc.”;

ff. 12v-13v, [margin: Super 2m sententiarum], incipit, “[I]nvisibilia dei per ea que facta sunt … ro. I[:20]. Quia honor ad ymaginem et similitudinem dei facte …[folio missing after f. 12, apparently with loss of text] … “; [f. 13] incipit, “//qua facta est serua presenti … et vnus in maiestate perfectus. Amen”;

ff. 14-18, incipit, “Fluuius egrediebatur de loco uoluptatis ad irrigandum paradysum gen. 2[:10]. Sicut habetur in glosa super epistolas in principio. Primus rex requirenda sunt … quibus fruens in patria, etc.”;

cf. Stegmuller, Repertorium commentariorum, no. 312 (Hasber), and Naples, Bibl. Naz, MS VII. F.21, f. 244.

ff. 18-19v, incipit, “[P]onam eloquium ad deum meum … iob 5[:8]. Magnitudinis ordo quam in sacris iudemus eloquiis et celestis … et pacta invenitur Por.”;

ff. 19v-20, [margin: Super 4m] incipit, “[L]auare septies in iordane … 4 Reg. 5[:1]. Humana per peccatum primum …”;

ff. 20-21, [margin: Super 4m] incipit, “[A]ltissimus de terra creauit … Ecclus. 38[:4]. Sicut dicitur lucam 10 homo descendens deus …”;

ff. 21-23v, [margin: Super 4m] incipit, “[H]ec omnia liber uite … Ecclus. 24[:32] Liber sententiarum ut dicebatur in primo liber grandis est et quam tota trinitas…”;

ff. 23v-26v, incipit, “[V]idi in dextera sedentis super thronum librum scriptum intus et foris apoc. 5[:1]. Sicut dicit boetius 3 deus solatione omnis mortalium …

ff. 26v-28, [margin: Principalium super Iohannem] Incipit “[E]leuabitur aquila et in arduis ponet nidum suum iob 39[:27]. In signes scriptures euangelium sub figura quadraginta fuerunt …”;

ff. 28-30, [margin: Super marchum] incipit, “Marchum assume et adduc tecum est enim mihi utilis … 2 ad tim. 4[:11]. Sicut dicit beatus gregorius om. 6 super eze. in principio tractans illud mt. 10. Que dico ubi in tenebris …”;

ff. 30-31, [margin: Collatio in fine sententiarum] incipit, “ conpleueris legere librum istum ligabis ad eum lapidem et prohicies eum in medio eufratem Je[remiah] 51[:63]. In hac ultima lectione in huius liber grandis quam magistro iussit spiritus sanctus …”;

f. 31-32, [margin: Collatio super primam sententiarum … ad litteram] incipit, “[I]n capite libri scriptum … Ps. 39[:8]. Verbum istud quod ad litteram est ipsius Christi … et sit ultra in nomine domini.”;

ff. 32-33, [margin: Super 2m] incipit, “[H]ic est liber generationis adam … Gen 5[:1]. In prima parte liber grandis …”;

Stegmüller, Repertorium commentariorum no. 1329, Vatican, Vat. Lat 869, ff. 161-164 (anon. principium, lib. 1-4); cf. Florence Naz. F. 3.606 (also anon.)

ff. 33-41, [margin: Principium super 3m sententiarum] incipit, “[L]iber generationis ihesu Christi … [Mt 1:1]. Id est liber grandis quam magister sumpsit … huius sacre scripture est et auctor qui vivit etc.”;

Stegmüller, Repertorium commentariorum no. 1329, Vatican, Vat. Lat 869, ff. 161-164 (anon. principium, lib. 1-4); cf. Florence Naz. F. 3.606 (also anon.); see also Stegmüller, Repertorium commentariorum, no. 396, Jacobus de Trisancto.

ff. 41-43, [margin: Principium generale theologie et super primum sententiarum spirituale] incipit, “[O]livam uberem pulchram … Iere. 11[:16]. Sicut ex verbis utrousque testamenti …”;

ff.. 43-45, [margin: Principium super sententiarum spiritualiter] incipit, “Sume tibi librum grandem … Ysa. 8[:11]. Virtutes determinate in scriptura canonica et in libris sanctorum … et ipsius spolia distribuit universa qui cum patre & spiritu sancto vivit & regnat.”;

ff. 45-46, incipit, “[N]on est talis mulier super terram ... Judith 11[:19]. Sicut dicit Valerius Maximus ad Rusticum optima mulier rariorum est ...”;

ff. 46-47, [margin: Super 2m] incipit, “Visio in principio primo sacra scriptura quo ad primum librum … influere iustificationis radium tribuere beatitudinis premium quod nobis concedat.” [Ends top column b; f. 47v, blank]’

ff. 48-49v, [margin: Super Cantica] incipit, “[F]ons ortorum puteus aquarum... Cantica 4[:15]. Emanationis divine sapientie ineffabile misterium ...,”

ff. 49v-51v, [margin: Super Cantica] incipit, “[O]leum effusum nomen tuum …. Cant. primo [Cant. 1;2], Secundum beatum dyonisium primo cantico …. in seculo seculorum. Amen.”;

ff. 51v-53, incipit, “[I]pse est revelat profunda et abscondita … Dan. 2[:22]. Secundum Augustinum super genesim ad litteram, nos ne illam profunditatem … qui cum patre.”;

ff. 53-55, [margin: Principium super theologiam generale et super primum sententiarum], incipit, “[D]eus erat mundum … 2 Cor. 5[:19]. Supprimum bonum dues qui incommutabilis …”;

ff. 55-57, [margin: Super 2m sententiarum] incipit, “Deus erat mundum …. 2 Cor. 5[:19]. Hec uerba erant in principio primi sententiarum sumpta .. in bonis dies suos et annos suos in gloria quam nobis concedat qui est benedictus in secula seculorum. Amen”; [f. 57v blank, and with some staining that suggests it was formerly at the back of a volume];

ff. 58-67v, Epitome ethicorum Aristotelis, beginning imperfect in Book II, at “studiosum esse propter difficile esse in uno quoque medium. ...” and ending in Book IX.20 at “... in operacione propria homini que est felicitas.”

Masters of theology beginning their lectures on the Bible were required by university statutes to deliver a formal inaugural lecture or sermon introducing their subject. The inaugural lectures or principia of Peter of John Olivi survive in very few manuscripts. Antonio Ciceri, Petri Johannis Olivi opera, censimento dei manoscritti, Collectio Oliviana I, 1999, pp. 60-63, lists each of these texts in at most three other manuscripts, all in public collections. Two manuscripts, now in the Vatican (Vat. Lat. 918) and in the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris (MS lat. 15588), include all five principia.

The most recent editors of these texts have established that the Vatican and Paris manuscripts descend from a common exemplar. The editors were able to use a third manuscript of the principium beginning,“Vidi in dextera,” Naples, Bibl. Naz., cod. VII.F.21, which provided an independent witness of this text. The evidence of the present manuscript, unknown to the editors or to Cierci, is thus of great potential value to students of Olivi’s work, since it provides a fourth witness to the text of “Vidi in dextera,” and a third manuscript of the principium beginning “Cum essem.”

The rarity of Olivi’s works is doubtless largely the result of the condemnation of his views as heretical. Only one other manuscript containing a work by Olivi is listed in the Schoenberg database. Trained at the University of Paris, Olivi (1248-1298), a leader of the Spiritual Franciscans, successfully defended himself against accusations of heresy during his life, but in 1299 the General Chapter of the Franciscan Order decreed that his writings should be burnt and, in 1318, completely forbade them. The likely ownership by a Dominican convent may account for this manuscript’s survival.

Just as masters in theology delivered principia introducing the study of the Bible, Bachelors of theology in medieval universities delivered inaugural lectures on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. Together with the Bible, Peter Lombard’s four books of Sentences, composed c. 1150, was a fundamental text for theological students throughout Europe. Peter Aureol’s Collationes on the Sentences from the early fourteenth century are similar in structure to many of the texts in this manuscript, which open with a scriptural quotation, which is then reiterated, and also incorporate summaries in leonine verse, emphasised here by spacing and marginal drawings.

The manuscript includes considerable evidence that it was used, including marginal additions, including numerous annotations of authorities—among them Rabimoyses, Maimonides, accorded special decoration on f. 22; other marginal notes mention Valerius, Bede, Isidore, Augustine, Gregory, Basil, Sidonius, Cassiodorus, Hilary, and Hugh. In the second section, various sources are cited, including Origen, Ambrose, Richard of St-Victor (f. 54), and Hugh of St.-Victor (f. 56v).

Recent scholars including Brown, Spatz and Wenzel (works cited below), as well as others, have drawn attention to the surviving examples of inaugural sermons on the Bible and the Sentences, which are often found hidden among collections of other types of sermons. The manuscript now in Naples, MS VII.F.21 (see Cesare Cenci, Manoscritti francescani della Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli, Grottferrata (Rome): Collegii S. Bonaventurae ad claras aquas, 1971, volume 2, pp. 547-552) with the text of one of Peter Olivi’s principium, like the present manuscript, includes numerous texts labelled principium in scriptura, principium in theologia, and principium sententiarum.

The physical evidence suggests that this manuscript was assembled from different sections, all having an independent origin. The first, longest section, ff. 1-47v, was copied by three scribes, and includes the texts by Peter Olivi and a long series of Collationes on the Sentences. F. 47v, at the end of this section, is blank; and the evidence suggests that this gathering was the final one in what was probably its original binding. The damage apparently caused through the final leaves by metal binding attachments has been corrected in a similar hand. The second section, ff. 48-57, consists of a single quire, copied by another scribe, with different ruling and untrimmed pricking. F. 57v is blank, and some staining suggests this may also have been at the end of a volume. The final section, quire 6, ff. 58-67, is also copied by another scribe, and is quite different in appearance. Although we cannot be sure when these texts were assembled together, their closely related contents suggests a common origin.

The imperfect summary of Aristotle’s Ethics clearly originally belonged to a separate volume. Interest in Aristotle had continued to accelerate since the twelfth century when his works became readily accessible in Latin. This epitome, written in a fifth, semi-cursive hand, possibly French, on a different ruling, was presumably already fragmentary when the texts were brought together, possibly only in the eighteenth-century binding campaign in an Italian library, perhaps at Gaeta.

This composite manuscript exemplifies a conventual library, with many texts composed or copied by members of the order, where rare works, like those by Petrus Olivi, might survive alongside the staples of medieval study, like Aristotle, and anonymous scholarly exercises upon them, like the collations on Peter Lombard.


Brown, Stephen F. “Peter of Candi’s Sermons in Praise of Peter Lombard,” in Studies Honoring Igantius Charles Brady Friar Minor, eds. R. Almagno and C. Harkins, St. Bonaventure, N. Y., Franciscan Institute Publications, 1976, pp. 141-176.

Burr, David. Olivi and Franciscan Poverty: The Origins of the Usus Pauper Controversy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989.

Burr, David. The Persecution of Peter Olivi, Philadelphia, American Philosophical Society, 1976.

Ciceri, Antonio. Petri Iohannis Olivi Opera: Censimento dei manoscritti, Collectio Oliviana, 1, Grottaferrata (Rome), 1999.

Peter of John Olivi on the Bible, Principia Quinque in Sacram Scripturam. Postilla in Isaiam et in I ad Corinthos, ed. David Flood & Gedeon Gál, Franciscan Institute Publications, Text Series, 18, St. Bonaventure, New York, 1997.

Piron, Sylvain. “Les oeuvres perdues d'Olivi: essai de reconstruction,” Archivum Franciscanum Historicum 91 (1998) 357–94.

Spatz, Nancy, “Imagery in University Inception Sermons,” in Medieval Sermons and Society: Cloister, City, University, ed. J. Hamesse, B. Kienzle, D. Stoudt, and A. Thayer, Louvain-la-Neuve, 1998, pp. 329-342.

Stegmüller, Friedericus. Repertorium commentariorum in sententias Petri Lombardi, Würzburg, 1947.

Wenzel, Siegfried. “Academic Sermons at Oxford in the Early Fifteenth Century,” Speculum 70 (1995), pp. 305-329.

Online resources

A huge list of Olivi’s works, editions, and secondary literature:

Hödl, L., and E. Pásztor, 'Petrus Johannis Olivi' in Lexikon des Mittelalters, 10 vols (Stuttgart: Metzler, [1977]-1999), vol. 6, cols 1976-1977, in Brepolis Medieval Encyclopaedias - Lexikon des Mittelalters Online

Peter John Olivi. “Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,’