TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

PSEUDO-LULL, Codicillus

In Latin, illustrated manuscript on paper
Northern Italy (or Germany?), 1472; Italy, c. 1450-1500, probably c. 1470-1500

TM 693


i (paper, recto marbled) + ii (paper) + 105 + i (verso marbled) folios on paper, watermarks, part one, unidentified bull’s head with eyes above a rod ending in a one-line star, part two,, unidentified circle, cross within, and unidentified two-line snake on a column, contemporary foliation in red Arabic numerals middle top margin recto, ff. 28-35, in the first text beginning on f. 2 (upper margin f. 1, presumably foliated f. 27 is missing), modern foliation in pencil, 1-16, bottom outer corner recto, and then continuing in top outer corner, another set of modern foliation, bottom outer corner recto foliates the second text separately, collation (i16 ii-viii10 ix8 x12 [structure uncertain, likely -12, cancelled with no loss of text]), composed of two parts of independent origin, part one, ff. 1-16v, no ruling apparent apart from full-length vertical bounding lines in blind (justification, 120-118 x 75-70 mm.), written in a cursive gothic bookhand in thirty-two to thirty long lines, red rubrics, majuscules within text stroked in red, NINE DRAWINGS OF ALCHEMICAL INSTRUMENTS in brown ink, ff. 3v-4 (described in detail below), CHARTS AND FIGURES in red and brown, ff. 11 -16v; part two, ff. 17-105v, frame ruled with full-length vertical boundary lines only in lead (justification, 130-120 x 78-75 mm.), written in a cursive humanistic script in twenty-four to twenty long lines, probably by one scribe, although his script becomes progressively quicker and less disciplined, very pale red rubrics, two- to one-line pale red initials, part one, f. 1, upper margin lost, edges worn, occasional round stains top margin, part two, f. 17 darkened, stained throughout, top outer corner, extending into the text space on many folios (text legible throughout), edges worn and irregular. Bound in modern brown leather, front and back covers bordered by single gilt fillet, smooth spine lettered “Lullius”, marbled endpapers, housed in marbled slip case, in good condition, front joint mostly separated. Dimensions 158 x 109 mm. (part one); 164 x 110 mm. (part two).

This is a copy of one of the central early texts of the Pseudo-Lullian alchemical corpus, assembled before the sixteenth century from two independent manuscripts. Noteworthy for its illustrations and full complement of tables and figures, it includes extensive annotations that call for further study. The text appears to be extremely uncommon on the market, and there is only one recorded copy in the United States. Its provenance adds to its interest, since it may have been owned by Carlo Maria Buonaparte, father of the Emperor Napoleon.


1. The manuscript now consists of two parts of independent origins. The first quire, which includes the end of the text by Pseudo-Lull and diagrams, is dated 1472 on f. 10v; the evidence of the script and initials suggest an origin in northern Italy (note the abbreviation of “qui” especially), or perhaps in a neighboring region of Germany or Austria. The inscription below the picture of the furnace on f. 3v states, “Dominus Comes Archi ex sua industria nomine fransciscus [sic] anno lxxii” (presumably implying that the furnace was built by Francis, the Lord Count “of Archus” [?], from his industry in [14]72).

The second part of the manuscript includes the bulk of the Pseudo-Lull text from the beginning, breaking off incompletely where the first part picks up. It is copied in a good Italian cursive humanistic script, approaching Italic, certainly from the second half of the fifteenth century. Dating this section depends in part on the explanation of the origin of this codex. If the first section of the manuscript was copied to supply textmissing at the end of this section, this second section must be earlier, i.e. before 1472. Although this is an attractive possibility (and the two sections were certainly brought together early in the manuscript's history, see below), given the contemporary foliation in the first section beginning with f. 27 (the second leaf is numbered f. 28, folio number on the first leaf now missing), it seems more likely that the manuscript was assembled from two pre-existing manuscripts of completely independent origins. This second explanation is also more in keeping with the script of the second section, which can more comfortably be dated from the last quarter of the fifteenth century, c. 1470-1500. The watermarks have not been identified, but further analysis might be helpful to establish the date and origin of both sections of this codex.

2. Clearly the two sections of the manuscript were brought together early in its history. Both sections are copiously annotated by a later reader (sixteenth-century?) who added occasional notes, rather abstract pointing hands, and underlined large sections of the text in black ink (cf. for example ff. 8v-9 and 63v-64). The wear on the two sections, however, is clearly independent – in particular the prominent staining in the upper outer margins of part two is lacking in part one.

3. Front flyleaf, f. ii verso, “Bonaparte Carolos. A. Dom 1763, Advocacii civit.” Apparently Carlo Maria Buonaparte (27/29 March 1746– 24 February 1785), the father of the Emperor Napoleon, who was a Corsican lawyer and politician who briefly served as a personal assistant of the revolutionary leader Pasquale Paoli, and later became Corsica's representative to the court of Louis XVI.

4. Belonged to Joost R. Ritman (b. 1941), the Dutch businessman and distinguished collector of art and books; acquired from Laurence Witten, Southport, Connecticut in 1983; Bibliotheca Philosophia Hermetica MS 17 (bookplate inside front cover); briefly described in Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections (Online Resources), and in Gumbert, 1987, no. 119-120.


Part one: ff. 1-10v, De Quarta inceratione per viam reductionis congelationis et subtiliationis, incipit, “[A]b hinc vero sumatur quid sublimatum est … facere poteris adlibitum tamen intelligas magisterium.” Explicit compendium uel vade mecum de numero philosophorum siue clausula testamenti aut codicillus magistri raymundi lulii ad laudem regis et eterne et virginis marie matris eius qui regnat cum deo patri et spiritu sancto in secula seculorum amen sequenti die epiphanie anno m cccc lxx ii go dicti, deo gratias; f. 11-16v, Diagrams and figures, described below.

Pseudo-Lull, Codicillus; text begins imperfectly with chapter 82, concluding at the end of the work with chapter 95 (printed ed. Rouen, Joannis Berthelin, 1651, pp. 182-206); this section of the manuscript includes contemporary foliation, now beginning with f. 27.


ff. 3v-4, possibly accidentally (or intentionally) left blank, as the scribe at the top says, “Hic nullus defectus”; now with pen-and ink illustrations, pitcher, labeled “monoculus raymundi”; a furnace, and an interior view of a furnace, labeled, “atthanor tripes arthanorum”, and “Dominus Comes Archi ex sua industria nomine fransciscus [sic] anno lxxii”; f. 4, vessels, labeled, “instrumentum canonicum protectisi ratione”;

ff. 11-16v, Diagrams:

f. 11, incipit, “B primum principium: aurum, argentum, natura vitrioli et salis, mercurius, … Z, separacio humoris”;

ff. 11v-12, Circular and triangular diagrams, most with letters;

ff. 12v-13, Circle, enclosing four circles labeled, “aqua elementata, telea elementata, omnia et vnum, lex elementatus, ignis elelementatus”; below, incipit, “Hec est figura circularis ostendit quomodo elemente partificium …”; diagram of an alembic (labeled “lembicus magistri”), below, incipit, “Hec figura alembici ostendit qualiter …”; two circles labeled “sulfur” and “medicina”, below, incipit, “Hec figura ostendit quomodo magisterium dividitur inter duas partes …”; three circles, labeled, “rubea coruptio”, “generatio sulfuris” and “generatio me[ici]ne”, incipit, “Hec figura …”; f. 12, three circles labeled, “liquefaccio, elementatio, diuisio”,; three circles labeled “inhumatio, distillacio, calcinacio”, and three circles labeled “inceratio, congelatio, sublimatio”;

f. 13v, Two diagrams of circles, the first labeled, “figura fermentorum mistendorum”;

f. 14, Diagram of circles, with letters and interconnections, including aqua, aer, ignis, lapis, terra etc.

ff. 14v-15v, Scala generationis primordialium materialum[?] in magisterio, etc (twelve different scala);

f. 16, Figura quomodo ex triangulari et ex trangulis conponitur figura circuli;

f. 16v, Diagram with concentric circles surrounding intersecting triangles, labeled materia confusa in the center;

Part two: ff. 17-100, [original rubric very faded and obscured by the (incorrect) title added by a later hand, De lapide Philosophico], incipit, Deus in virtute sancte trinitatis tue in qua vnitas tue diuinitatis non est in aliquo uulnerata … aqua ad duplum sulfuris fuerit perfecte rotata.” [ff. 100v-105v, blank.]Pseudo-Lull, Codicillus, chapters 1-81, ending in the printed edition, Rouen, Joannis Berthelin, 1651, p. 182.

Pseudo-Lull, Codicillus (the title can be translated as a “Codicil”, or short work), circulated with numerous other titles including, Clausula testamenti, Compendium testamenti, Thesaurus infinitus, and Vademecum de numero philosophorum. There is no modern critical edition; printed in Cologne, 1563, and 1572, Frankfurt 1630, and in Rouen 1651 and 1663; also in Manget, 1702, vol. I, pp. 880-911, and in Raimundi Lulli Opera Omnia, 1721-42, vol. I, pp. 47-74; see also Singer, 1928-31, p. 252, Glorieux, 1933, kq2, kq3, ny, Thorndike, 1934, vol. IV, 633, and Thorndike and Kibre, 1963, p. 409. Thirty-three manuscripts, not including this one, are listed in Pereira, 1989, I.10, pp. 67-68, and the online update (Online Resources), only one, New Haven, Yale University, Beinecke Library, Mellon MS 12, in the United States. The text has rarely been available on the market (apparently no sales recorded in the Schoenberg Database).

The Codicillus is probably the most famous, and certainly one of the most important, of all the pseudo-Lullian alchemical works, a large collection of as many as 143 different texts that circulated as the work of Raymond Lull (or Ramon Llull, Raimundus Lullus; 1232-1316), the Catalan philosopher, theologian, and mystic. Despite the long tradition associating Lull with these works, it is now well-accepted that none of this large and important body of alchemicaltexts are authentic works by Lull (see in particular the works by Michela Pereira cited below). Although Lull's reputation as an alchemist still lingers today, he speaks of alchemy negatively in his authentic works, and none of the alchemical texts associated with him date from his lifetime.

As Pereira has summarized (1989, pp. 10-11, and p. 68), the Codicillus is closely connected to the earliest of these works, the Testamentum (found in TM 692 on this site). The Testamentum was written in 1332, probably by an anonymous Catalan scholar, now known as the “Magister Testamentum”; the Codicillus may well be another work by the “Magister Testamentum”, or if not, was certainly a work produced in his circle by a student or close follower. In general, the text reiterates what is said in the first section of the Testamentum, stating it more plainly. The author cites the Testamentum as his own work, and in one passage mentions Arnald of Villanova as his teacher; he is not identified within the text as Lull.

The text itself is presented as a compendium of the secrets of nature already revealed in other works. The opening chapters are theoretical, and discuss the relationship between the microcosm and macrocosm, the bond of love uniting the world, the need for a reformatio materiae (a reformation of matter), that can be achieved by the true alchemist who receives illumination from God (themes also found in the Testamentum). A practical section begins with chapter twelve, and includes a detailed discussion of the four stages of the alchemical opus, described in terms of the generation of the human body.


Amadou, Robert. Raymond Lulle et l'alchimie; introduction au Codicille avec notes et glossaire, Paris, 1953.

Corbett, J. A. Catalogue des manuscripts alchimiques latins, Paris, 1939-51.

Gentile, Sebastiano and Carlos Gilly. Marsilio Ficino e il ritorno di Ermete Trismegisto (Marsilio Ficino and the return of Hermes Trismegistus), Florence, 1999.

Glorieux, P. Repertoire des maîtres en théologie de Paris au XIIIe siècle, Paris 1933.

Gumbert, J. P. Illustrated Inventory of Medieval manuscripts in Latin script = Inventaire illustré des manuscrits médiévaux = Illustriertes Inventar mittelalterlicher Manuskripte, Hilversum, Verloren, 2009.

Halleux, Robert. Les textes alchimiques, Typologie des Sources 32, Turnhout, Belgium, Brepols, 1979.

Hauréau, B. and Littré, M. “Raimond Lulle”, in Histoire Littéraire de la France, vol. XXIX, Paris, 1885, p. 103.

[Llull, Ramon.] Raimundi Lulli Opera omnia, Mainz 1721-42 (reprinted Frankfurt a.M. 1965).

Llull, Ramon. Le codicille. Nouvellement traduit du latin par L. Bouyssou, Paris, Le Cercle du livre, 1953.

Manget, Jean-Jacques. Bibliotheca chemica curiosa, vol. II, Geneva, 1702 (reprint, Bologna, A. Forni, 1976-1977).

Pereira, Michela. The Alchemical Corpus Attributed to Raymond Lull, London, Warburg Institute, University of London, 1989 (See also update, Online Resources).

Pereira, Michela. “Lullian Alchemy: Aspects and Problems of the Corpus of Alchemical Works Attributed to Ramon Llull (XIV-XVII centuries)”, Catalan Review 4 (1990) (Homage to Ramon Lull), pp. 41-54.

Pereira, Michela. “Medicina in the Alchemical Writings Attributed to Raymond Lull”, in Alchemy and Chemistry in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, eds. P. Rattansi and A. A. Clericuzio, Dordrecht, 1994, pp. 1-15.

Pereira, Michela. L'oro dei filosofi: saggio sulle idee di un alchimista del Trecento, Spoleto, Centro italiano di studi sull'alto Medioevo, 1992.

Pereira, Michela. “Ramon Llull and the Alchemical Tradition”, Catalónia 43 (1995), pp. 40-43.

Pereira, Michela and Barbara Spaggiari, eds. Il Testamentum alchemico attribuito a Raimondo Lullo : edizione del testo latino e catalano dal manoscritto Oxford, Corpus Christi College, 244, Tavarnuzze (Florence), SISMEL, 1999.

Principe, Lawrence. The Secrets of Alchemy, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Singer, Dorothea Waley, with Annie Anderson. Catalogue of Latin and Vernacular Alchemical Manuscripts in Great Britain and Ireland Dating from before the XVI century, Brussels, M. Lamertin, 1928-31.

Singer, Dorothea Waley. “The Alchemical Testament Attributed to Raymund Lull”, Archeion 9 (1928), pp. 43-52.

Thorndike, L. and Kibre, P. A Catalogue of Incipits of Mediaeval Scientific Writings in Latin, revised ed., Cambridge Mass. 1963.

Thorndike, Lynn, A History of Magic and Experimental Sciences, New York, 1934.

Online resources

The Ritman Library (Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica)

Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections (Amsterdam, BPH, MS 17)

Michela Pereira, “Catalogue of the Alchemical Works Attributed to Ramon Lull”, (Update to Pereira, 1989, above)

Online edition of Pseudo-Lull, Codicillus, Rouen, 1651

“Alchemy”, in the Dictionary of the History of Ideas

Alchemy website

Bibliotheca Chymica