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les Enluminures

HUGO RIPELINUS ARGENTORATENSIS [Hugh Ripelin of Strasburg], Compendium theologicae veritatis

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
France, Paris?, c. 1285-1300

TM 313


168 ff, missing two quires of 8 between quires 17 and 18, on parchment, in gatherings of 8 (collation: i-xxi8), contemporary or near-contemporary foliation in upper right-hand corner (contemporary foliation confirms that ff. 2-17 of Book VI are indeed missing), written in small gothic bookhand in brown ink, text copied on up to 30 long lines in a single column, ruled in light brown ink (justification: 125 x 75 mm), some catchwords, guide letters and paragraph marks traced in the margins for rubricator, rubrics in red, paragraph marks in alternating red or blue, numerous one-line initials in red or blue with opposite color pen-flourishing introducing chapters, 8 larger 4- to 5-line high parti-colored pen-flourished initials with red and blue pen-flourished sprays, ascenders and descenders extending in the left margins, two 2-line high burnished gold initial with pink infill highlighted in white tracery on a blue ground (fol.3), numerous contemporary or near-contemporary marginal annotations, many marginal or interlinear corrections, notae and pointing hands (manicula) throughout. Bound in a modern rigid vellum binding, smooth spine (Leaves cut short at times with a bit of loss of to some marginal annotations, else in clear legible condition). Dimensions 180 x 125 mm.

This is an exceptionally early copy, and one of that is extensively annotated, of an immensely popular and widely used scholastic manual. The present manuscript is further interesting for light it may shed on medieval book production, specifically the “pecia” system. Although there are a large number of extant manuscripts, few are as early as this copy, and most are found today in European libraries. There is as yet no modern critical edition. The glosses merit further study as they reflect early patterns of use.


1. Likely copied in Paris, given the style of script and calligraphic decoration (with a possible date of copy and decoration towards the last quarter of the 13th c. or beginning of the 14th c.). There are a number of marginal indications that read: “Ibi pecia incipit” (f. 16); “Hic incipit pecia” (f. 32); “Hic incipit pecia” (f. 82v) (on these annotations, see Text below). Amongst the authorities (Augustine, Hilarius, Johannes Scotus Erigena, Hugh of Saint-Victor, etc.) quoted in the contemporary or near-contemporary marginal notes, there is a “Magister Eustachius” that perhaps could be one of two masters of theology active in Paris towards in the 13th and 14th centuries. These are Eustache de Grandcourt, master of theology from 1290 and active in Paris until 1314 (see P. Glorieux, 1933, no. 206) or Eustache, Brother Minor, born c. 1225, who taught in Paris c. 1263-1266 and was an active preacher (Brother Eustache O. M. died in 1291; see P. Glorieux, 1934, no. 313; see also France Franciscaine, XIII, 1930, pp. 125-171).

2. Partially effaced and nearly illegible stamp in inner margin of f. 136v.


ff. 1-1v, Hugo Ripelinus Argentoratensis [Hugh Ripelin of Strasburg], Compendium theologicae veritatis, Prologue, rubric, Incipit prologus super compendium theologice; incipit, “Veritatis theologice sublimitas cum sic …” (Borgnet ed. 1895, pp. 1-2);

ff. 1v-26v, Book I, rubric, Explicit prologus. Incipit liber primus quod unus deus est; incipit, “Deum esse multis modis…”; explicit, “[…] in gloriam introducit” (Borgnet ed. 1895, pp. 3-39);

ff. 26v-61v, Book II, rubric, Explicit liber primus. Incipit secundus de ipsa rerum creatione; incipit, “Summe bonitatis triplex…”; explicit, “[…] concultacio principii temptacionum” (Borgnet ed. 1895, pp. 40-89);

ff. 61v-84, Book III, rubric, Explicit liber secundus. Incipit liber tertius. De malo in genere; incipit, “Malum triplex est videlicet culpa pene dampni…”; explicit, “[…] admonibus non adquiescere” (Borgnet ed. 1895, pp. 90-121);

ff. 84-104v, Book IV, rubric, Explicit liber tercius. Incipit liber quartus de incarnatione christi; incipit, “Sicut deus est rerum…”; explicit, “[…] qui se humiliaverit exaltabitur” (Borgnet ed. 1895, pp. 122-152);

ff. 104v-136, Book V, rubric, Explicit liber quartus. Incipit quintus de virtutibus et origine; incipit, “Quemadmodum deus de celis non descendit…”; explicit, “[…] faceret peccaret mortaliter” (Borgnet ed. 1895, pp. 153-200);

ff. 136-146v, Book VI, rubric, Explicit liber quintus. Incipit sextus de medicina sacramentorum; incipit, “Celestis medicus humani…”; explicit, “[…] iuncta retractant” (Borgnet ed. 1895, pp. 200-236; here missing two quires with chap. III (3) to the beginning of chap. XXV (25); text starts again chapter XXV (25) midway and continues to the end of chap. XXXVIII (38));

ff. 146v-164v, Book VII, rubric, Explicit liber sextus. Incipit septimus de fine iudicium; incipit, “Finale iudicium sunt quedam…”; explicit, “[…] beatus secumdum merita recipient sine fine. Amen. Explicit liber iste. Explicit compendium theologice veritatis (Borgnet ed. 1895, pp. 237-261);

ff. 164v-167v, Table of contents, divided into seven books, with chapters lists, rubric, Incipiunt capitula primi libri; explicit, “[…] De ennumeracione celestium gaudiorum. Expliciunt capitula tocius libri” (Borgnet ed. 1895, pp. 263-270).

Hugh Ripelin of Strasbourg or Argentinensis (born c. 1200-1210; died, c. 1268) was one of the earliest Alsatian Dominicans. He entered a Dominican convent in Strasbourg and became prior there in 1232, before moving to Zurich where he served as sub-prior of the Dominican house. By 1261, he had moved back to Strasbourg, again as prior of the Dominican convent where he lived until his death. His Compendium theologicae veritatis (Compendium of Theological Truth) dates from c. 1260-1268 toward the end of his life. The work consists of seven books which treat of the Creation, the Fall, the Incarnation, Grace, the Sacraments, and the Last Four Things. Important theologians quoted by Hugh Ripelin include Hugh of Saint-Victor, Peter Lombard, and Albert the Great.

For a long time, the Compendium was erroneously attributed to Albertus Magnus (and occasionally to Bonaventura or to Thomas Aquinas). Attribution to Hugh Ripelin is confirmed by a Dominican Chronicle (the Annals of Colmar). It was printed fourteen times before 1500 under the name of Albertus Magnus, the first edition in Nuremberg by Johann Sensenschmidt, c. 1470-72 (Goff A-229; GW 596; Hain, 432; a list of incunable editions is found in G. Steer, 1981, pp. 167-168). At an early date, the work was also translated into the vernacular, into High-German (see C. Michler, 1982 and 1996) and into German prose (sees G. Steer, 1981). There is a critical edition by Borgnet (1895) and a modern study on the book's reception and importance especially in Germany by Steer (see below). It exercised an enormous influence on preaching and on ascetic manuals, and was one of the most widely-used handbooks of scholastic theology in the later Middle Ages. It was used as a school text for some 400 years.

It is difficult to provide an accurate number of the numerous extant manuscripts (see Bloomfield, 1979, no. 6399, pp. 550-553; see also Kaeppeli, Scriptores, II, 1975, no. 1982, pp. 261-269; the list of manuscripts is to be completed with those produced or preserved in German-speaking countries as listed in G. Steer, 1981). However, relatively few manuscripts date as early as the present copy, which comes from the generation just following its initial composition. In spite of the popularity of the text, only two copies are recorded by De Ricci (in the Buffalo Historical Society, Census, II, p. 1206; and in the University of Illinois Library, Chicago, Census, I, p. 565).

The present codex is especially interesting for evidence it provides about techniques of manuscript production. It contains a series of tantalizing marginal annotations that might bear witness to a form of the “pecia” system of book production. The pecia system was used from the thirteenth century on, where university-approved exemplars of texts were divided into sections and were hired out by stationers to scribes for copying (pecia means “piece” in Latin, here referring to independent unbound quires). The sections (that together compose an exemplar destined to be rented out and copied by scribes) are identifiable as they often (but not always) carry an abbreviation of the word pecia (p., pec., pe.) and a numeral written in the margin. The pecia system developed in Italian university cities in the beginning of the thirteenth century, and progressively became a regulated procedure at the University of Paris in the second half of the century (see Rouse and Rouse, 2000, p. 85).

At least three (and perhaps more that we might have missed) notes in the margin use the word pecia [“Ibi pecia incipit” (f. 16); “Hic incipit pecia” (f. 32); “Hic incipit pecia” (f. 82v)]. However these are not “normal” pecia marks in that there are no numbers associated with the abbreviated word “pecia” indicating pecia changes and progress in the copying of a given text. Nor do these indications come at breaks in the quires or to any obvious textual divisions. We propose two hypotheses for their meaning. In the first instance, this could be an example of what Pollard refers to as the “stationer’s exemplar” (in a manner of speaking “the exemplar [or model] of the exemplar”), the copy from which the stationer based his model text to be divided into separate gatherings or peciae? According to Pollard, “It is not known how the stationers acquired their exemplars” (Pollard, 1978, p. 152). Pollard adds: “We must now consider the original source, the stationer’s exemplar from which he had the peciae made. So far as we know, no such manuscript has yet been identified, so I cannot supply any physical features by which it could be recognized” (Pollard, 1978, p. 158). The marginal references in this manuscript would thus designate possible divisions for planned peciae that would eventually compose an exemplar offered for hire. In her recension of manuscripts containing “pecia” notes, G. Murano records only two other codices of the Compendium by Hugh Ripelinus of Strasbourg witnessing the pecia system of copy. These are Geneva, Bibl. publique et universitaire, MS lat. 23; Paris, BnF, MS lat. 3430 (G. Murano, 2005, p. 528).

In the second instance, these marginal indications could designate another system of production. Indeed, it appears odd that there should be no number associated with the marginal annotation, thus referring to a particular numbered pecia. It is possible that the word “pecia” should be construed in the more general sense of “quire,” and it might mean therefore that the manuscript was copied from loose quires, some of which are signaled in the margin (see Shooner, 1991, pp. 26-27). These annotations would thus reflect a practice of copying a manuscript quire by quire, quite outside of the university pecia system (see Rouse and Rouse, 1991, pp. 45-46). In this case, the present manuscript would rather be a monastic copy rather than a copy made for use in universities.

Another interesting aspect of this manuscript lies in the significant number of annotations and visible correctors’ marks made throughout by contemporary or near-contemporary hands. Amongst the marginal annotations in the present manuscript, there are references to a number of authorities such as Augustine, Peter Lombard and Hugh of Saint-Victor. Evidently the manuscript served for study, for the text was corrected and amended in the early thirteenth century. Comparison with other early copies of the Compendium, datable to the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries would prove fruitful and might allow for a better dating of the present codex.


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Bloomfield, M. Incipits of Latin Works on the Virtues and Vices, 1100-1500 A.D. Including a Section of Incipits of Works on the Pater Noster, Cambridge, The Medieval Academy of America, 1979.

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Pfleger, L. “Der Dominikaner Hugo von Strassburg und das Compendium theologicae veritatis,” in Zeitschrift für Katholische Theologie 28 (1904), pp. 429-440.

Pollard, G. “The pecia system in the medieval universities,” in Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts and Libraries. Essays presented to N.R. Ker, ed. by M.B. Parkes and Andrew G. Watson, London, 1978, pp. 145-161.

Rouse, R. and M. Rouse. “The Book Trade at the University of Paris, ca. 1250-1350,” in La production du livre universitaire au Moyen âge. Exemplar et pecia. Actes du symposium tenu au Collegio San Bonaventura de Grottaferrata en mai 1983, Paris, 1988, pp. 41-113.

Rouse, R. and M. Rouse. Manuscripts and Their Makers. Commercial Book Producers in Medieval Paris, 1200-1500, I-II, London, 2000.

Schooner, H. V. “La production du livre par la pecia,” in La production du livre universitaire au Moyen âge. Exemplar et pecia. Actes du symposium tenu au Collegio San Bonaventura de Grottaferrata en mai 1983, Paris, 1988, pp. 17-37.

Steer, Georg. Hugo Ripelin von Strassburg: zur Rezeptions, und Wirkungsgeschichte des Compendium theologicae veritatis im deutschen Spätmittelalter, Tübingen, M. Niemeyer, 1981.

Stirnemann, P. “Fils de la Vierge: l’initiale à filigranes parisienne, 1140-1314,” in Revue de l’art, no. 90 (1990), pp. 58-73.