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PAUL OF VENICE, Logica parva

In Latin, with an insert in a Baltic language, Lithuanian or Old Prussian, manuscript on paper
Chania, Crete (Republic of Venice), dated 1439-1440

TM 660


2 + 104 + 1 leaves, modern foliation in pencil, top, outer corner, recto, 1-105, omitting the half-size second front flyleaf and a leaf after f. 90, early modern foliation in sepia ink, bottom, centre, recto, 243-345, not including any present flyleaves (collation, i-vii12 + viii-ix10), catchwords tidily presented in elaborate banderoles on ff. 13v, 25v, 37v, 49v, 61v, 73v, 85v, and 94v; written in one hand, a small and highly abbreviated, slightly angular southern textualis libraria, in black ink, in one column of 32-34 lines (lines ruled, justification 150 x 80 mm.) with headings in an idiosyncratic adaptation of Roman capitals, one large floreate initial, decorated in blue, green, and dark red, f. 2, and one five-line initial decorated with red penwork, f. 77, three-line initials in red on ff. 78v, 79v, 82, 84v, 86v, 88v, 93 (inhabited by a human face), 96, 98, and 101v, two-line initials in red on ff. 74v, 75v, 80v, 86, and 91, spaces left for initials throughout, but rubrication only executed on ff. 54v and 74-104 (quires vii-ix), THREE DIAGRAMS in black penwork, ff. 5v-6, marginal annotations in later hands ff. 10, 10v, 31v, and 104, with a maniculus in the left-hand margin fol. 29v. Half-bound in later dark red leather and light red paper over paste boards, with gold-tooled inscription on spine, “M.PAULI / DE VENET. / LOGICA / MS.1440.”, sewn on four cords with blue and white endbands, paper pastedowns at front and rear, contiguous with the first front and rear flyleaves. Dimensions: binding 215 x 150 mm.; book block 208 x 140 mm.

The significance of this manuscript lies not only in its principal text – a splendid copy in a very fine hand of one of the most important late medieval texts on the philosophy of logic, Paul of Venice’s Logica parva – but also in the addition in red ink to the final page. Written by a Baltic German on the island of Crete, then part of the Venetian Republic, this fragmentary secular text is perhaps the earliest known example of the written Lithuanian language, not otherwise significantly attested until the sixteenth century.


1. Copied by Petrus Wickerau in Chania, Crete (then the Kingdom of Candia, a colony of the Venetian Republic) in 1439-40. This scribe names himself in the two colophons on ff. 55 and 104, and enters his name in red ink on ff. 78v, 80v, 98, and 101v. He refers to himself as being of the German nation (“almanice nacionis”), and locates himself in the town of Chania on the island of Crete, where he copied the book during his leisure time (“dum ociosus degerem”), completing the work on 12 November 1440. The second colophon is followed by some lines in a Baltic language, perhaps Old Lithuanian, added in red ink:

(f. 55), “Explicit tractatus bonus et utilis de probationibus terminorum compilatus per reuerendum magistrum paulum de uenecijs. arcium et sacre theologie doctorem eximium ordinis fratrum heremitarum Sancti augustini. Quem ego petrus wickerau scripsi anno domini. 1439. in urbe chanee insule crethe dum ociosus degerem”;

(f. 104) “Explicit loica compilata per eximium arcium sacreque theologie professorem magistrum paulum de venecijs ordinis fratrum heremitarum sancti augustini. Scriptus et completus per me petrum wickerau almanice nacionis. Anno incarnacionis prolis virginis Millesimo quadringentesimo quadragesimo die duo decima nouembris in insula crethe in vrbe Chanee dum ociosus ibidem degerem. [Erased line.] Sit benedictus natus uirginis nunc et in euum. Atonaige maian meilan am ne wede maian wargan / Thaure ne stonais po pievssen ab dolenai galei ragai / Stonais po leipen zaidiantem acha peda bete medde //”

The city of Canea (Chania), at the time the third city of Crete under Venetian rule after Candia (Heraklion) and Rettimo (Rethymnon), housed a number of Latin male religious institutions: two Franciscan convents, of St. Francis (Observant) and St. Saviour (Conventual), the Dominican convent of St. Nicholas, and the Augustinian friary of St. Mary of Mercy: see Panagopoulos, 1979, pp. 98-111, Gerola, 1905-32, vol. 2, pp. 130-41 and vol. 3, pp. 148-50, and Gerola, 1932, pp. 445-51. It is very likely that one of these provided the manuscript from which this exemplar was copied, as the nature of the text, a treatise on logical form, immediately suggests an academic or religious institution as the location for its production. The Augustinian friary in Chania is arguably the most probable location: first, given that the text contained in the manuscript is of Augustinian authorship, and second, because we can rule out the large and important Franciscan house in Candia – known as a centre of intellectual activity – since the text is not listed in the detailed library catalogues from 1411 or 1448; see Hofmann, 1942. For the broader context of the Latin ecclesiastical framework on Venetian Crete in this period, see Fedalto, 1973-78vol. 1, pp. 312-52, Tomadakis, 1973, and McKee, 2000, pp. 102-15.

Whether the text was copied in a religious institution is not clear. It appears to have belonged subsequently to a friary: a line beneath the Latin colophon on f. 104, which was likely an ownership mark (and may begin “Pertinet ad fratres…”, although this is uncertain), has been erased. Yet we may note that, whilst Wickerau is careful to identify the academic title and religious order of the author, the Augustinian friar Paul of Venice, he does not specify that he himself was a member of a religious order, defining himself instead solely by his nationality. The idea of writing “whilst spending time at leisure” would further be surprising for a member of a religious order, though not inconceivable. Wickerau is the German name of several villages south-west of Elbing (Elbląg) in the former West Prussia, now Poland, and of a noble family after which those places were named. It is not known whether the scribe of this manuscript was a member of that dynasty, although this is very likely his region of origin. This is substantiated by his knowledge of a language – Lithuanian – that he could only have acquired in Baltic Europe.

2. The corrections to the text on ff. 10 and 10v, the marginal annotation on f. 31v, and the addition of the line “Letare germannia claro felix germine” in a later hand beneath the scribal colophon on f. 104 attest to a number of subsequent readers in the later medieval period, at least one of whom – to judge by that addition on f. 104 – was a German. “Laetare Germania / Claro felix germine” are the opening lines of the first antiphon for the liturgy of the feast of St Elizabeth of Thuringia (or, of Hungary); see Heinzer, 2007, with an edition of the text at pp. 223-25, and the Cantus database: see Online Resources below.

3. The present manuscript was bound at some point together with other works, as the foliation starting at 243 on what is now f. 2 in a seventeenth- or eighteenth-century hand indicates. It was later dismembered, and rebound in its present form. It was presumably equipped at that point with the second front flyleaf, a paper slip measuring 135 x 105 mm. This notes the author and title of the work, and the year in which the manuscript was completed, in an eighteenth-century hand, together with “N. 134”, which number recurs in pencil on the top-right-hand corner of f. 2. This almost certainly indicates that the manuscript formed part of the collection of Matteo Luigi Canonici (1727-1805). The larger part of Canonici’s collection was purchased by the Bodleian Library, Oxford, but the remaining nine hundred and fifteen manuscripts were bought in Italy in 1835 by Walter Sneyd (see below).

4. Rev. Walter Sneyd (1809-1888), Keele, United Kingdom; his bookplate, with family arms and the inscription “Ex libris Guelteri Sneyd”, on the front pastedown. Walter Sneyd, a noted painter, collector of rare books and manuscripts, and friend and colleague of Sir Thomas Phillipps, succeeded in 1870 to the family estate at Keele Hall, now the site of the University of Keele; on his manuscript collection see De Ricci, 1930, pp. 136-37. His papers are now held by the University of Keele Library: see Online Resources below.

5. Rev. Walter Sneyd sale, London, Sotheby's, 19 December 1903, lot 599 (see their catalogue at p. 88); Schoenberg Database, no. 8722.

6. Bertram Dobell (1842-1914) of London; book dealer, poet, and literary critic; his name on a scrap of paper, 85 x 105 mm., kept loose inside the manuscript, inscribed “42365. Dobell, 1904. £1 – 12 – 0.”; see Schoenberg Database no. 186434. Dobell’s papers are now held by the Bodleian Library, Oxford: see Online Resources below.

7. Wigan Public Library, United Kingdom; library bookplate, f. 1, and embossed stamp, f. 2; above the library bookplate, the inscription “Cat. Bought. Feb. 1904. H. T. F.”, the initials being those of the librarian Henry Tennyson Folkard (1850-1916).  It was acquisition no. 42365 (see above, and pencil note on f. 1v). It was still held by this library in 1986, when it was included in the manuscript census of Paul of Venice’s works: see Perreiah, 1986, p. 71 (no. 259). Described while at the Wigan Library in Ker and Piper, 1992, vol. 4, pp. 574-75; deaccessioned by 2002 at the latest: see Perreiah, ed., 2002, p. xxiii n. 9.


ff. 1-104, incipit, [f. 1, tractatus 1], “Conspiciens in circvitv librorvm magnitvdinem stvdentis tedium constituentem in animo / necnon et aliorum nimiam breuitatem / quibus nulla fere est annexa doctrina. ideo uolens medium utriusque sapientis retinere doctrinam extremi conpendium utile construxi…”; [f. 14v, tractatus 2], incipit, “[S]vpposicio est accepcio termini in propositione pro aliquo uel pro aliquibus. Exemplum primi Sortes currit. exemplum secundi Sortes et plato currunt. in prima subiectum supponit pro aliquo. in secunda pro aliquibus…”; [f. 30, tractatus 3], incipit, “[C]onseqvencia est illacio consequentis ex antecedente ut homo currit ergo animal currit. antecedens uoco proposicionem precendentem notam rationis ut homo currit Consequens uero illam que sequitur ut animal currit…”; [f. 37, tractatus 4], incipit, “[Q]valiter proposiciones illatiue probentur presenti doctrina satis dignoscitur plene. Et primo namque a resolucione est incipiendum qua in defunte et particulares et singulares de nomine substantiuo cum pronomine demonstrante realiter inferuntur …”; [f. 55v, tractatus ] incipit, “[O]bligacio est oracio composita ex signo obligacionis et obligato ut pono tibi istam tu es rome. tota hec oratio uocatur obligatio. Signa obligacionis sunt iste dicciones pono tibi istam. obligatum uero est ista propositio tue es rome…”; [f. 67, tractatus 6], incipit, “[I]nsolvbile est proposicio se esse falsam assertiue significans ut hoc est falsum se ipso demonstrato. In insolubilibus tamen est differentia quo ad significare se ipsum esse falsum quoniam aliquod insolubile significat in mente se ipsum esse falsum ut hoc est falsum se ipso demonstrato…”; [f. 77, tractatus 7], incipit, “Ut summvlarvm noticia ad memoriam reducatur ponende sunt quedam obiectiones contra certas regulas seu diffiniciones quibus solutis relucencia facilius habea[n]tur…”; [f. 88v, tractatus 8], incipit, “POst summularum obiectiones declaratam noticiam sequitur ultimo ut inicio est promissum consequentiarum rationibus fortificare materiam. Arguo contra primam et principalem regulam que fuit ista…”;

Paul of Venice, Logica parva; the Augustinian friar Paul of Venice, born in Udine around 1370, joined his order in its convent of St Stephen in Venice, quite possibly in the autumn of 1393. He was trained in his order’s studia in Padua and, in the years 1390-93, Oxford, where he is likely to have gathered the materials for his Logica parva: a treatise on logical form, semantics and dialectics, in which the ideas of the fourteenth-century Oxford logicians were absorbed and made accessible to an Italian audience. Paul (d. 1429) enjoyed a stellar career as professor at the University of Padua and as a sometime ambassador for the Venetian Republic. In literary terms he was highly productive, composing some twenty works that survive in over two hundred and seventy manuscripts.

His Logica parva was completed no later than 1401, this being the date of the earliest manuscript: Bologna, Colegio di Spagna, Cod. 60 (S. V. 4). It may well be his earliest work, but was undoubtedly amongst the most popular, and survives in at least eighty-two manuscripts and twenty-five printed editions from 1472 through to 1580.  Beyond scholastic circles, the Logica Parva was known to the humanists such as Lorenzo Valla, George of Trebizond, and Marcilio Ficino. For Paul’s biography, and comprehensive lists of the manuscripts and editions of his works, see Perreiah, 1986, and Perreiah, ed., 2002, pp. xvii-xxvii.

This manuscript is an example of Alan Perreiah’s Group II, having Fac ignem as an example of an oratio imperativa in the first treatise (f. 3v), although it belongs to the minority of Group II manuscripts to have the genitive singular form of the noun studens (i.e., studentis) in the opening line (f. 2), and the forms Sortes currit and Sortes et Plato currunt (f. 14v) as the first example of suppositiones at the start of the second treatise (strictly speaking, they should be pronouns). It does not include a mnemonic verse at the end of the section on suppositio materialis in the second treatise (see f. 19), but does belong to that majority of Group II manuscripts to open the seventh section of the third treatise with correspondenter (f. 35). It has, finally, iste. ille. hoc et illud as the examples of the discrete term in the seventh treatise (f. 78). For these distinctive features, see Perreiah, ed., 2002, pp. xxix-xxx.

f. 104, [Lithuanian dictum], incipit, “Atonaige maian meilan am ne wede maian wargan / Thaure ne stonais po pievssen ab dolenai galei ragai / Stonais po leipen zaidiantem acha peda bete medde /”

This short fragment, just four lines of text, may be amongst the oldest extant examples of the Lithuanian language, otherwise not significantly attested until after 1500. The language is confirmed by Professor Stephan Kessler (Greifswald), who suggests the following preliminary translation of the patently nonsensical text: “O! This lessens my happiness and leads to my misery; you place yourself under the devil, and you give false gift in the end; for those who play under the linden tree, you place yourself cloven-hooved in the bee bee tree.” This may be a highly idiomatic expression of the scribal profession, or a secular text with its roots in Lithuanian folklore; but further research is necessary into its exact meaning and its significance for the history of the Lithuanian language; see the publication by Stephan Kessler and Stephen Mossman (Manchester) (Kessler and Mossman, 2013).


Fedalto, Giorgio. La Chiesa latina in Oriente, 3 vols, Studi Religiosi 3, Verona, 1973-78.

Gerola, Giuseppe. Monumenti Veneti nell’isola di Creta, 4 vols, Venice, 1905-32.

Gerola, Giuseppe. “I Francescani in Creta al tempo del dominio Veneziano”, Collectanea Franciscana 2 (1932), pp. 301-25 and 445-61.

Heinzer, Felix. “'Die ‘Heilige Königstochter’ in der Liturgie. Zur Inszenierung Elisabeths im Festoffizium ‘Laetare Germania’”, in Dieter Blume, ed. Elisabeth von Thüringen – eine europäische Heilige. Aufsätze, Petersberg, 2007, pp. 215-25.

Hofmann, Giorgio. “La biblioteca scientifica del monastero di San Francesco a Candia nel medio evo”, Orientalia Christiana Periodica 8 (1942), pp. 317-60.

Ker, N. R., and A. J. Piper. Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, vol. 4, Paisley – York, Oxford, 1992.

Kessler, Stephan and Stephen Mossman. 'Ein Fund aus dem Jahre 1440: Ein bisher unbekannter Text in einer baltischen Sprache.' Archivum Lithuanicum 15(2013), pp. 511-534

McKee, Sally, Uncommon Dominion. Venetian Crete and the Myth of Ethnic Purity, Philadelphia, 2000.

Panagopoulos, Beata Kitsiki. Cistercian and Mendicant Monasteries in Medieval Greece, Chicago and London, 1979.

Perreiah, Alan R. Paul of Venice: A Bibliographical Guide, Bowling Green, Ohio, 1986.

Perreiah, Alan R., ed. Paulus Venetus. Logica parva. First Critical Edition from the Manuscripts with Introduction and Commentary, Leiden, Boston, and Cologne, 2002.

De Ricci, Seymour. English Collectors of Books and Manuscripts (1530-1930), Cambridge, 1930.

Rota, Anthony. “Dobell, Bertram (1842–1914)”, in Lawrence Goldman, ed., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, 2004 (online ed.), http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/32843

Tomadakis, Nicolaos B. “La politica religiosa di Venezia a Creta verso i Cretesi ortodossi dal XIII al XV secolo”, in Agostino Pertusi, Venezia e il Levante fino al secolo XV, vol. 1, Storia – Diritto – Economia, Civiltà Veneziana Studi 27 (Florence, 1973), pp. 783-800.

Online resources

Bodleian Library, Oxford, Special Collections. Papers of Bertram Dobell

CANTUS: A Database for Latin Ecclesiastical Chant. “Laetare Germania claro felix”

Conti, Alessandro, “Paul of Venice”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2012 Edition), ed. Edward N. Zalta

Keele University Library, Special Collections. Sneyd family papers