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les Enluminures

ANONYMOUS, Abbreviatio ordine alphabeticorm materiarum (Abbas-Ymago) aliquorum quaestionum ex Quodlibetis Henrici de Gandavo [HENRICUS GANDAVENSIS, Quodlibetal Questions]

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
France, Paris?, c. 1300-1325

TM 534

107 ff., missing a few leaves (collation: i-v12, vi8 [of 12, missing iv, ix, xi, xii], vii11 [of 12, missing v], viii12, ix11 [of 12, last leaf of quire most likely a cancelled blank]), written in light to dark brown ink in a rounded gothic script (littera textualis), text copied in two columns (justification 245 x 70 x 70 mm.), parchment ruled in plummet, some catchwords, quire signatures, some capitals stroked in red, paragraph marks in alternating red and blue, initials in alternating red or blue with opposing colored penwork, running titles in red or brown ink (traces of guide words in lower margin to serve rubricator), placed in upper margins,titulinumbered in red Roman numerals in inner and outer margins, contemporary corrections and marginalia (a few later 17th c. annotations in the table at the end). Modern binding, half-vellum with a smooth spine, marbled paper on covers, renewed end-leaves (Good general condition; some modern restorations to parchment; some staining to parchment). Dimensions 315 x 220 mm.

Henry of Ghent’s Quodlibetal Questions defended between 1276 and 1291 at the Faculty of Theology in Paris enjoyed a dynamic manuscript tradition and were included in 1304 amongst the works available as “pecia” by a Paris stationer. The present manuscript is one of only five codices that contain this early anonymous abridgment that circulated in Paris of the popular Quodlibetal Questions, filled with philosophical, theological, and legal content. It remains unedited and rare on the market.


1. There are regrettably no traces of previous ownership. Dating the present manuscript can thus depend only on paleographical and stylistic comparisons. This manuscript was copied and decorated in France, likely Paris. The opening decorative filigree initials are close in style to those described and classified by P. Stirnemann (1990) as the later last quarter of the 13th and first quarter of the 14th century (1285-1315), in particular the descending “bandes de I” (descender of alternating red and blue segments resembling letters I) as well as the numerous very simple initials “U” with a very simple filigree decoration suggest late 13th or early 14th century decoration. However, the present manuscript necessarily dates after 1291, date of Henry of Ghent’s last Quodlibetal disputation (Advent 1291). A date of c. 1300 or a bit later seems plausible.


ff. 1-104, Anonymous, Abbreviatio ordine alphabetico materiarum (Abbas-Ymago) aliquarum quaestionum ex quodlibetis Henrici de Gandavo “Utrum religiosus teneatur dimittere curam” [Macken (1979), Reg. Henr. Gand., no. 59], incipit, first abridged question, “Utrum religiosus teneatur dimittere curam” [full transcription of the first abridged question can be found in R. Macken (1979), II, p. 1136];

ff. 104-107, Table of contents, tituli 1-399, rubric, Littera a; “Utrum religiosus teneatur dimittere curam”; in red, 399, “Utrum impossibilitas circa fieri creaturarum oriatur...”; Expliciunt tituli questionum [R. Macken (1979) gives the table of the questions according to the table found in Paris, Bibl. Mazarine, MS 732, ff. 164-167].

This manuscript contains an alphabetically-organized abridgment of Henry of Ghent’s Quodlibetal Questions. Including the present codex, there are only five identified manuscripts of this collection, the other codices being: Brussels, BR, MS 141-142, ff. 31-203v; Cambrai, BM, MS 435, ff. 1-78v; Paris, Bibl. Mazarine, MS 732, ff. 69-167¨[authorship attributed to Nicholas of Lyra]; Vatican, BAV, Borgh., 303, ff; 2-85 [described in Hoffmans-Pelzer, 1937, pp. 274-279] (see list of codices in Macken, 1974, II, p. 1135; the present codex unknown to Macken). This collection, as well as the other abridged collections of Henry’s popular Quodlibetal questions, is discussed in R. Macken, Bibliotheca Manuscripti Henrici de Gandavo, 1979, II, no. 57, pp. 1134-1138: Abbreviatio ordine alphabeticorm materiarum (Abbas-Ymago) aliquorum quaestionum ex Quodlibetis Henrici de Gandavo “Utrum religiosus teneatur dimittere curam.”

Known as the “Solemn Doctor,“ Henry of Ghent (1217?-1293) or Henricus de Gandavo was in the University of Paris by 1265 where he is listed as “magister” in 1267 (see P. Porro, 1996, for an overview of what we know of his life; see also P. Glorieux, 1934, II, p. 227; for the most recent summary of his thought, see G. Wilson, 2010). From 1276, the year of his first Quodlibet, until his death in 1293, Henry was regent Master of the Faculty of Theology. Wilson considers him an original, pivotal, and influential thinker (2010). Among the authors he influenced are John Duns Scotus and Pico della Mirandola.

Henry’s Quodlibetal Questions and his Summa of Ordinary Questions are his principle philosophical and theological works. The former represent the records of the public disputations that a Master held once or twice a year during Advent and/or Lent, usually over a period of two days. During these occasions, the Master dealt with any topic whatsoever that members of the public proposed to him in theology, philosophy, or ecclesiastical law, and they were often consulted on problems arising from concrete and daily life. As L. E. Boyle points out: “For even in its final, polished state at some distance removed ... a Quodlibet reflects the interests of the audience that attended the General Disputation and not those of the Master ....” (Boyle, 1974, p. 240). It was especially in theology faculties in the thirteenth and fourteenth century that the Quodlibet reached its peak and particularly so at Paris. Quodlibetal questions were of the sort: Whether one should procure one’s personal good rather than the common good? Whether someone condemned to death may escape if the opportunity presents itself? Whether a person who has no hope of a life hereafter ought to choose to die for his country? Are virtue and knowledge absolute qualities? Whether friendship is a virtue? Does one angel speak to another? And so forth.

According to the chronological chart given by J. Gómez Caffarena, Henry’s quodlibetal disputations were held yearly from Advent of 1276 (Quodlibet I) until Advent of 1291 (Quodlibet 15) (see J. Gómez Caffarena, 1957, pp. 116-133, where the author uses the established dating of the Quodlibeta to determine the dating of the questions of Henry’s Summa). Henry’s Quodlibeta are rightly regarded as the most important example of quodlibetal questions from the medieval period. They constitute a highly important and yet insufficiently studied source for a deeper understanding of the inner opposition between Augustinianism and Thomistic Aristotelianism in the thirteenth century. In addition Quodlibetal collections are a rich resource for students of the history of universities and reveal well the current issues debated at the time, as well as the academic procedures and methods of their day, filled with philosophical, theological, and legal content.

Henry of Ghent died in 1293, shortly after having defended his last Quodlibet in 1291. Interestingly, the collection of Quodlibeta by Henry of Ghent rapidly became a University favorite and is recorded in the 1304 list of texts owned by the Paris University stationer André de Sens thus readily available for students to copy and study using the pecia system (see R. Macken, 1970, pp. 175-196; see also Murano, 2005). Subsequently, Henry of Ghent’s Quodlibetal Questions were edited three times in the sixteenth and seventeenth century: Paris, Josse Bade, 1518; Venice, Claserius, 1608; Venice, J. De Franciscis, 1613. Modern critical editions of the Quodlibeta of Henry of Ghent have been undertaken by R. Macken (1979; 1981, 1983) and are now being continued by an international team (see G. Wilson, below in Literature and “Henry of Ghent, Works Online” in Online Resources).

The Quodlibetal questions of Henry of Ghent are extremely valuable because of their wide-ranging character and because they reflect the mature thought of a central figure of the Faculty of Theology in Paris of the generation after the death of Thomas Aquinas. They are also of interest to students of medieval canon law since they contain fairly frequent references to canonical issues, as well as pastoral issues. As Macken points out, the abridgments, such as this one, are important when establishing the original Quodlibeta of Henry of Ghent, since they can sometimes supplement or clarify the original text.


Bazàn, B. C. et alia. Les questions disputées et les questions quodlibétiques dans les facultés de théologie, de droit et de médecine, Typologie des sources du Moyen Age occidental, 44-45, Turnhout, Brepols, 1985.

Boyle, L. E. “The Quodlibets of Saint Thomas and Pastoral Care,” The Thomist 38 (1974), pp. 232-256.

Glorieux, P. Répertoire des maîtres en théologie de Paris au XIIIe siècle, Paris, Vrin, 1933-1934.

Glorieux, P. La littérature quodlibétique de 1260 à 1320, Paris, 1925.

Gómez Caffarena, J. “Cronología de la ‘Suma’ de Enrique de Gante,” Gregorian 38 (1957), pp. 116-133.

Lehmann, F. Erforschung des Mittelalters. Ausgewählte Abhandlungen und Aufsätze, 5 vvols., Leipzig, 1941-1962.

Macken, R. Bibliotheca Manuscripta Henrici de Gandavo, 2 vols., Louvain and Leiden, 1979.

Macken, R. Henrici de Gandavo “Quodlibet” I, edidit R. Macken, Louvain, 1979; Henrici de Gandavo “Quodlibet” X, Louvain, 1981; Henrici de Gandavo “Quodlibet” IX, Louvain, 1983.

Murano, G. Opere diffuse per exemplare e pecia, Turnhout, Brepols, 2005.

Porro, P. “An Historiographical Image of Henry of Ghent,” in Henry of Ghent: Proceedings of the International Colloquium on the Occasion of the 700th Anniversary of his Death (1293), ed. W. Vanhamel, Louvain, 1996, pp. 373-403.

Hoffmans, J. and A. Pelzer, “Etude sur les manuscrits des Quodlibets de de Godefroid de Fontaines,” in Les philosophes belges, t. 14, 1937, pp. 144-346: a rich survey of manuscripts containing not only Godfrey’s Quodlibets, but also those of many other Masters as well.

Stegmüller, F. Repertorium initiorum plurimorum in “Sententias” Petri Lombardi commentariorum, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, 1937, no. 319.

Stirnemann, P. “Fils de la Vierge: l’initiale à filigranes parisienne, 1140-1314,” in Revue de l’art, 90 (1990), pp. 58-73.

Weijers, O. Le travail intellectuel à la Faculté des arts de Paris: textes et maîtres (ca. 1200-1500). IV. Répertoire des noms commençant par H et J (jusqu’à Johannes C.), Studia Artistarum, 9, Turnhout, Brepols, 2001 pp. 53-60.

Wilson, G., ed. A Companion to Henry of Ghent, Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition, 23, Leiden, Brill, 2010.

Wippel, J. F. “Quodlibetal Questions...”, in Bazàn, B. C. et alia, Les questions disputées et les questions quodlibétiques dans les facultés de théologie, de droit et de médecine, Turnhout, Brepols, 1985, pp. 153-222.

Online resources

Stanford University, “Disputation, quaestio, Quodlibetal Question”

On Henry of Ghent

Henry of Ghent, Works Online