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BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX, Apologia ad Guillelmum abbatem; monastic texts here attributed to Bernard by ARNULFUS DE BOERIIS, ALGER OF LIEGE, and unidentified authors; and BASIL OF CAESAREA, Admonitio ad filium spiritualem

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Iberian Peninsula, c. 1450-1500

TM 419
  • 40 500 €
  • £36,300
  • $45,000

vi (paper) + ii (parchment) + 133 + vi (paper) folios on parchment (moderate quality, pronounced differences between hair and flesh sides), ff. 26-68, original foliation in pen in Arabic numerals, top, outer margin, i-xliii, and ff. 69-92, i-xxiiii; modern foliation in pencil, top, outer corner recto (collation, i8 ii6 iii-viii10 ix8 x10 [through f. 93] xi8 xii-xiv10 xv3 [structure uncertain, but no loss of text] ), horizontal catchwords, middle, lower margin, some decorated, leaf and quire signatures in a very small script in quire four, copied by four scribes; scribe one, ff. 1-6, ruled very lightly in lead, often indiscernible, with the top and bottom horizontal rules full across, and single, full-length vertical bounding lines (justification, 115-112 x 80-75 mm), written below the top line in a decorative cursive book hand in twenty to nineteen long lines, red rubrics, three- to two-line red initials; scribe two, ff. 6v-25v, ruled in crayon (?), with single, full-length vertical bounding lines ruled very lightly in lead, prickings, outer margins, ff. 9-21, and 22-25 (justification 117-115 x 75-73 mm.), written below the top line in a compressed, upright, rounded gothic bookhand in twenty-three long lines, guide letters for the initials, majuscules stroked with red, red rubrics, three- to two-line blue (at the beginning of texts) and red initials; scribe three, ff. 26-92v, layout varies, ff. 26-27v, and 32-92v, ruled very lightly in lead, with single full-length vertical bounding lines, some prickings outer margin (justification 112-110 x 75 mm.), written in sixteen long lines, and ruled with thirty-two lines, ff. 28-31v, (justification 115 x 75 mm.), written in twenty-two long lines, and ruled with forty-four long lines, written every other line in a rounded southern gothic bookhand, majuscules striped in red, red rubrics, three- to one-line red or blue initials, with contrasting pen decoration in violet or red on ff. 33, 34, and 34v; scribe four, ff. 93-133, ruled in brown crayon, with the top one or two, and sometimes the bottom horizontal rules full across, single, full-length vertical bounding lines, (justification, 120-117 x 80-75 mm.), written below the top line in a fussy rounded gothic bookhand in nineteen to sixteen long lines, majuscules in text highlighted with yellow wash or stroked with red, two-line red initials, f. 93, three-line parted red and blue initial; in sound condition, although the ink has flaked leaving the text worn on about twenty-four folios, usually minor, but more serious in the last text (ff. 93, 94v-95, 103, 106v-107, 110v-111, 112v, 119, 127, and 131), worming on the opening and closing folios. Bound in nineteenth-century brown morocco over pasteboard, decorated with gold tooling in a rectangular style in the manner of the eighteenth-century binder Augustin du Seuil; spine with six elaborately tooled gilt compartments, title in gold: “Varii tractatus S. ti Bernardi”; gilt turn-ins, marbled pastedowns and endpapers, in good condition, with the extremities scuffed and slightly worn. Dimensions 173 x 123 mm.

St. Bernard’s impact on the intellectual and monastic life of the Middle Ages calls for further research. Manuscripts such as this one, which collect a number of texts under the name of Bernard of Clairvaux, offer an important resource for this still-neglected aspect of Cistercian studies. In addition to Bernard’s Apologia, this manuscript includes three other such texts related to monastic life. These texts have not been studied by modern scholars. They were probably copied for reading in a Cistercian monastery as part of the spiritual education of the monks.


1. Written in Spain or Portugal in the second half of the fifteenth century, as indicated by the style of the script and decoration. Noteworthy is the tendency of all these scribes to write between, rather than on the ruled lines, and the fact that the third scribe wrote on every other ruled line, both characteristics found in later Spanish manuscripts.

The contents strongly suggest that it was copied for a monastic audience, and since it was copied by as many as four different scribes, each using their own ruling, layout, script and decoration it seems likely that it was copied within a monastery, rather than being commissioned by the monastery from a commercial shop. The quire structure supports the fact that the first three scribes, who between them copied the first four texts, were working sequentially, since none of these texts start on at the beginning of a new quire; the last text, copied by the fourth scribe, is physically distinct, and does in fact start at the beginning of a quire.

Bernard’s writings (and writings considered to be Bernard’s in the fifteenth century, even if modern scholars doubt the attribution) circulated in many different monastic orders, and the possibility of a Carthusian provenance deserves consideration, given the popularity of his writings in Carthusian houses in the fifteenth century. Nonetheless, it seems most likely that this manuscript was copied in a Cistercian monastery. There were numerous Cistercian foundations in Spain, including a number of royal foundations. In the fifteenth century, Spain was the location of one of the earliest reforms of the Order, lead by Martin Vargas (d. 1446), the founder of what was to become the Castilian Congregation, known for its extreme asceticism. This collection of texts, focusing on the spiritual and practical elements of monastic life, and notably including Bernard’s Apology, which addresses the excesses of Cluniac life, seems appropriate for a reformed Cistercian monastery

The manuscript bears signs of use throughout; the second text, ff. 6v-9, has marginal corrections, notes, and pointing hands added in a very small, contemporary hand; the longest text, the De interiori domo, ff. 26-92v, also includes corrections and marginal notes added by readers. Even more interesting, this text includes added punctuation beginning on f. 33, in red for a few folios, and then in black. This punctuation includes the punctus elevatus and the punctus flexus, a system characteristic of Cistercian books beginning in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, which was later adopted by the Dominicans and Carthusians. It may suggest that this text was read aloud in the refectory of a Cistercian monastery. The final text, Bernard’s Apologia, has been extensively corrected.

2. Belonged to M. Guillaume, a judge in Besançon and a member of the French Société des bibliophiles; a letter to him dated April 28, 1846, discussing the texts attributed to St. Bernard from the Abbé Besson, Claude-Ignace Besson (1785-1859), Besançon, is pasted onto a paper stub before f. 133. Guillaume is also probably the author of the notes copied on the front paper flyleaves, ff. iii-iv verso.

3. Purchased at the sale of his library, Lyon 1850, and sold by an unidentified French book-dealer; lot 312 in a clipping from his sales catalogued, inside front cover.

4. Sold in Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 24 January 1895, lot. 247.

5. Sold frequently in the twentieth century, including London, Sotheby’s, 19 May 1958, lot 57 (Schoenberg database no. 4149); Quaritch, Catalogue 794, 1959, no. 5 (Schoenberg database, no. 10965); and Quaritch, Catalogue 820, 961, no. 3 (Schoenberg database, no. 6957). Notes from other sales include front flyleaf, f. i verso, in pencil, “David de Augusta, 8˚ 120245, LB 2465, 2272/17”; and front flyleaf, f. ii verso, “2029”; back flyleaf, f. vi, in pencil, “25473.”

6. Belonged to Jim Bailey, his name in ink, inside front cover, “Jim Bailey, Box 34, c. 1960, Austria 1748”’ (see also the note in ink, front flyleaf, f. i verso, “ Farm”).


ff. 1-6, Incipit prologus in regula honestatis edita a beato bernardo clarevallensis abbate, incipit, “Petis a me mi frater carissime quod numquam et nusquam a suo prouisore …:”; Incipit regula de puriate cordis, incipit, “Ut igitur ab interiori incipiens ad exteriorem hominem … est meum et corona domino amen. Explicit excusatio precedentis operis” [Ends mid f. 6; remainder blank];

Pseudo-Bernard of Clairvaux, Formula honestae vitae; printed in Migne, Patrologia latina 184:1167-70; Bloomfield, et. al., 1979, no. 3897, listing variant titles: Formula honestae vitae, De moribus et honesta vita, and Tranctatus de formula vitae sive de novitiis, and listing more than fifty-two manuscripts; attributed to David de Augusta, O.F.M. (d. 1272) in Munich, Clm 3450.

Clearly monastic in origin, the text stresses the importance of keeping Christ always in one’s heart and discusses prayer, comportment, the refectory, and the Divine Office. It was the first work attributed to Bernard to appear in print; see Leopold Janauschek, Bibliographia bernardina; qua Sancti Bernardi, primi abbatis claravallensis, operum cum omnium tum singulorum, editiones ac versiones, vitas et tractatus, de eo scriptos quotquot usque ad finem anni MDCCCXC reperire potuit collegit et adnotavit P. Leopoldus Janauschek ..., Vienna, A. Hölder, 1891, p. 3, no. 1 (printed in 1464).

ff. 6v-9, Incipit utile et breve speculum beati bernardi abbatis in quo se debet monachus cotidie speculari. Rubrica, incipit, “Si quis emendatioris uite desiderio tactus cogitationum … et in eternum non peccabit. Amen. Explicit breue speculum beati bernardi. Non est quo posit melius caro uiua domari mortua qualis erit quia semper premeditari”;

Arnulfus de Boeriis (late 12th century), Speculum monachorum; printed in Migne, Patrologia latina 184:1175-8, where the text is attributed to Pseudo-Bernard; the text here lacks the last few lines in Migne, and adds the final aphorism; Bloomfield, no. 5582, listing as variant titles: Speculum interioris hominis, Speculum monasticum, or Speculum super emendacionem vite hominis religionis, listing more than sixty manuscripts; see also Janauschek, Bibliographia bernardina, p. ix, identifying Arnulfus de Boeriis as a Cistercian from the diocese of Louvain.

Again, as the title makes clear, this is a treatise addressed to monks, in form of short aphorisms about the monastic life.

ff. 9-25v, Incipit regula seu doctrina beati basilii episcopi urbis capadocie ad monachos, incipit, “Audi fili admonitionem patris tui et inclina aurem tuam ad uerba mea adcommoda michi libenter …. Que preparavit deus diligentibus se. Amen.”

Basil of Caesarea, Admonitio ad filium spiritualem; edited by Lehmann, 1955, pp. 30-63, also printed in Migne, Patrologia latina 103:683-700; Newhauser and Bejczy, 2008, no. 5527a.

Lehman has argued that this is a Latin translation of the original Greek text by Saint Basil, Bishop of Caesarea (ca. 329-379), which is now lost. It is a text of considerable importance in the history of monasticism, since it may have influenced the Rule of St. Benedict.

ff. 25v (rubric, text begins f. 26) – 92v, Pseudo-Bernard of Clairvaux, De interiori domo, text as follows:

ff. 25v-26v, chapter list: Incipit tabula primi libri qui intitulatur speculum conscientie beate bernardi abbatis, [in another hand on a parchment slip, bound in after f. 25v: Sequitur in libro qui intitulatur speculum conscientie Beati Bernardi Abbatis] incipit, “Qualiter consciencia est edificanda et quod pris [sic] est mundanda quam edificanda … ; De septem columpnis …; De bona uoluntate … Instructio malarum …” Explicit tabula;

ff. 26v-79v, Incipit liber qui intitulatur speculum conscientie beati bernardi, Qualiter conscientia est edificanda et quod prius est mundanda quam edificanda, cap. i, incipit, “Domus hec in qua habitamus ex omni parte sui ruinam minatur …”; f. 69, Incipit liber secundus, de superbia et humilitate, capitulum i, incipit, “Superbia sicut est origo ….”; f. 79, De illis supra que sedet humilitatis perfectio, capitulum xviii, incipit, “Super tria firma sedet … vel si nasci pena labor vita neccese mori, quando vel quomodo ubi nescire [Migne, PL 184, 538C, end of ch. 28; the chapter continues in this manuscript, f. 79v] Humilitatis testimonia sunt iniquitatem suam quod quam congnoscere … sine confessione presumere.”

Pseudo-Bernard of Clairvaux, De interiori domo; printed in Migne, Patrologia latina 184:507-538C, end of chapter 28; here continuing with a section not in Migne, which may also be found in Angers, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 317 (9305), ff. 87v-92, as St. Bernard, Compilatio gemmae animae. De interiori domo, or De speculum conscientie, as it is entitled in this manuscript, which circulated in a number of versions in late medieval manuscripts, is of special interest. The version in this manuscript includes an ending different from that found in Migne’s printed text, which has never been edited

ff. 79v-83v, Item de superbia, capitulum xx [sic], incipit, “Superbus animus ad hoc quod sponte non appetit … homo punitur”; f. 80, De caritate, capitulum xx, incipit, “Caritas in dilectione dei et proximi constat … nolumus [added: deum] timere”;

Paris, BNF, MS lat 2552, a fifteenth-century manuscript, also includes Migne, chapters 1-28, followed by an inedited last chapter, beginning, “Caritas in dilectione dei …”;

As noted by a previous cataloguer of our manuscript, the fourteenth-century manuscript from the Benedictine Abbey of Muri, Switzerland, SB des Kantons Aargau, (by inference attributing the text to Richard of St. Victor), includes PL 184:532D-538C, and then the two additions in our ms, “Superbus animus ad hoc quod sponte … timere nolumus.” This manuscript also includes the same version of the De sacramento found in our manuscript, described below (see Charlotte Bretsher-Gisiger and Rudolf Gamper, Katalog der mittelalterlichen Handschriften der Klöster Muri und Hermetshwil, Zürick, 2005, pp. 95-96).

ff. 83v-84, De psalmodie modulatione salubra, capitulum xxi., incipit, “Ut vox nostre laudis deum … psalmodia sine devotione cibus est sine sapore”;

Apparently unique to this manuscript; the source of this chapter has not been identified.

ff. 83v-92v, De sacramento altaris et qualiter sit sumendum, capitulum xxii, incipit, “Nos credimus tale cuique fieri sacrificium …. Verbum caro factum est … Necesse est ergo ut ea deuotione quam accipitur custodiatur. Amen. [added: Explicit liber secundus de speculo concientie beati bernardi];

This is an abbreviated version of Alger of Liège (1055-1132), De sacramento corporis et sanguinis domini; see Folliet, 1972, pp. 261-299, editing the text, pp. 278-299; three fifteenth-century manuscripts are listed with the variant beginning found in our manuscript, also found in Aargau, SB, MsMur 2; also printed in Migne, Patrologia Latina 177:165-70.

Alger de Liège was a theologian who lived at the beginning of the twelfth century; after a career as a Canon and teacher in Liège, he became a monk at Cluny in 1120; his writings on the Eucharist are of particular importance.

The textual tradition of the text is obviously very complex; it begins with the opening chapters of the treatise printed in Migne as De interiori domo by Pseudo-Bernard, to the end of ch. 28, column, 538C; in this manuscript that chapter continues with a section not in Migne, beginning “Humilitas testimonia sunt …”, and is followed by two chapters on pride and charity, a chapter on psalmody, and concludes with a series of chapters discussing the Eucharist based on Alger of Liege’s, De sacramento corporis.

In other manuscripts this text can be found as the third book of the longer text, Pseudo-Hugh of St. Victor, De anima, see Folliet, in the article cited above, p. 263, and Goy,1976, p. 494, discussing it among the inauthentic works of Hugh of St. Victor; Goy notes that each of the four books of this treatise had an independent origin; book one (Migne, PL 184:485-508) is by an unknown author; book two (Migne, PL 40:779-832), is by Alcher von Clairvaux, or another unknown Cistercian; book three (Migne, PL 184:507-552), with De sacramento altari (Migne, PL:177:165-170), which often circulated independently, as here, is usually ascribed to Hugh of St. Victor or Bernard, although its authorship is again uncertain; and finally book four (Migne, PL 177:171-90), a compilation by an unknown author from works by Augustine, Anselm of Canterbury, Hugh of St. Victor and Bernard (see also Bertola, 1959, pp. 436-455).

Even a quick comparison of a few additional manuscripts of the De interiori domo underlines its complex textual history, and the fact that it deserves closer study. There are manuscripts that include the text as it is printed in Migne (volume 184:507-552, with forty-one chapters), such as the fifteenth-century manuscript from Doesbroch, Cambridge, St. John’s College, MS 64. Another manuscript, Paris, Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, MS 1363, attributing the text to Hugh of St. Victor, ends at chapter 26 of Migne. London, MS Royal 6 B V, attributing the text to Bernard, ends with chapter 22 as the ending of book one (although no second book follows); London, Royal 6 E III, ends mid chapter 22, with a marginal addition noting “deficit multum.” The tradition represented in our manuscript is particularly noteworthy, since its concluding sections depart from the printed tradition.

ff. 93-132v, [f. 92v, two headings in different hands: Incipit liber apologeticus beati bernardi; and Sequitur in apologetico beati bernardi], incipit, Uenerabili patri VV [added in margin: frater] [added in later hand: Bernardus] fratrum qui in claraualle sunt inutilis seruus …. Vsque modo si qua me scriptitare [sic] … fiat omnino precor et supplico valere. Explicit liber apologeticus beati bernardi; f. 133rv, blank, except for a reversed impression, offset from f. 132v (?), and pen trials in a number of hands.

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), Apologia ad Guillelmum abbatem; edited by Jean Leclercq and H. M Rochais, Tractatus et Opuscula, in S. Bernardi Opera,Rome, Editiones cistercienses, 1963, volume 3, pp. 81-108, listing about sixty-eight manuscripts, not including this one; also printed in Migne, PL 182:526-40.

This work was written by Bernard c. 1124-1125, at a time when the traditional monastic life represented by Cluny and its many abbeys was challenged by the new, more austere interpretation represented by the Cistercians. In this treatise Bernard defends the Cistercians against the charge of slandering the Cluniac monks and also presents a thorough condemnation of the Cluniac monastic life and their lavish food, clothes, and buildings. Oft-quoted and as important for the history of art as for theological studies, the Apologia is perhaps the foundation text of the early Cistercian movement and may represent Bernard’s voice at its most eloquent.

The pseudonymous works that circulated as works by St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) testify to his importance in the history of medieval monastic thought and spirituality. This manuscript includes three such texts, all related to the monastic life. Although these texts were printed in the nineteenth-century by Migne, they have not been studied by modern scholars. Of special interest is the Pseudo-Bernard text, De interiori domo, or De speculum conscientie, as it is entitled in this manuscript, which circulated in a number of versions in late medieval manuscripts. The version of this text in this manuscript includes an ending different from that found in Migne’s printed text, which has never been edited. Together with the Admonitio of Basil of Caesarea, and Bernard’s Apology, these texts were probably copied to be read, possibly in the refectory, of a Cistercian monastery as part of the spiritual enrichment and education of the monks.

Numerous medieval texts circulated under the names of many different authors, for a wide variety of reasons. Anonymous texts in manuscripts composed of a number of different texts often were often attributed to the main author of the volume, or simply the first author, in subsequent manuscripts. At other times, writers considered themselves unworthy of claiming their texts and attributed them instead to more renowned writers as an act of humility. Finally, attributing a text to a well-known author may have been prompted as a way to give the text more authority. The number of works that circulated under the name of Bernard of Clairvaux is especially noteworthy. Bernard’s nineteenth-century bibliographer, Leopold Janauschek, found 120 works of prose and 67 poetic works attributed to Bernard in printed editions that modern scholars do not consider to be actual works by Bernard; see Leopold Janauschek, Bibliographia bernardina; qua Sancti Bernardi, primi abbatis claravallensis, operum cum omnium tum singulorum, editiones ac versiones, vitas et tractatus, de eo scriptos quotquot usque ad finem anni MDCCCXC reperire potuit collegit et adnotavit P. Leopoldus Janauschek ..., Vienna, A. Hölder, 1891, pp. 1v-xiv.

These works, although they were not actually written by Bernard, are, in terms of their historical impact, in many ways are just as important as his “real” works. As Ulrich Köpf has argued, there is a need for a modern, critical edition of Bernard’s pseudonymous works and their manuscript tradition. Studying manuscripts such as this one, which collects a number of texts under Bernard’s name, is an important, and still neglected, aspect of understanding Bernard’s impact on the intellectual and monastic life of the Middle Ages (see Köpf, 1994, p. 34ff.).


Bernard of Clairvaux, Cistercians and Cluniacs; St. Bernard's Apologia to Abbot William, translated by Michael Casey, introduction by Jean Leclercq, Kalamazoo, Michichigan, Cistercian Publications, 1970.

Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint, Opera ad fidem codicum recensuerunt, eds. J. Leclercq, C.H. Talbot, and H.M. Rochais, Rome, Editiones Cistercienses, 1957-1977.

Bertola, E. “Di alcuni tratti phicologici attribute ad Ugo da S. Vittore”, Rivista di filosofia neo-scolastica 51 (1959), pp. 436-455.

Bloomfield, Morton W., et. al., Incipits of Latin Words on the Virtues and Vices 1100-1500, Medieval Academy of America Publication 88, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1979.

Brigué, L. “Alger de Liège”, in Studia eucharistica: DCCi anni a condito festo Sanctissmi Corporis Christi, 1246-1946, Antwerp, Nederlandsche Boekhandel, 1946, pp. 47-61.

Evans, Gillian Rosemary. Bernard of Clairvaux, New York, Oxford University Press, 2000.

Folliet, Georges. “Un abrégé du De sacramento corporis et sanguinis domini d’Alger de Liège, mis sous le nom de S. Augustin”, Recherches Augusiniennes 8 (1972), pp. 261-299.

Goy, Rudolf. Die Überlieferung der Werke Hugos von St. Viktor; ein Beitrag zur Kommunikationsgeschichte des Mittelalters, Stuttgart, Hiersemann, 1976.

Köpf, Ulrich, “Die Rezeptions- und Wirkungsgeschichte Bernhards von Clairvaux. Forschungsstand und Forschungsaufgaben”, in Bernhard von Clairvaux. Rezeption und Wirkung im Mittelalter und in der Neuzeit, ed. Kaspar Elm, Wolfenbütteler Mittelalter-Studien, 6, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz Verlag, 1994, pp. 5-65.

Lehmann, Paul, Die Admonitio S. Basilii ad filium spiritualem, Sitzungsberichte der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Klasse 7, München, Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1955

Migne, J. P., ed., Patrologia cursus completus, series latina…, Paris, 1844-1864

Newhauser, Richard, and István Bejczy, A Supplement to Morton W. Bloomfield et al. Incipits of Latin works on the virtues and vices, 1100-1500 A.D., Turnhout, Belgium, Brepols, 2008

Online resources

Gildas, M., “St. Bernard of Clairvaux”, The Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2, New York, Robert Appleton Company, 1907. Retrieved March 4, 2010 from New Advent:

Medieval Source Book, partial translation of Bernard’s Apology by David Burr:

“Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153”, by M. Basil Pennington O.C.S.O.:

Vernet, A., “Bernhard v. Clairvaux, III. Werke”, in Lexikon des Mittelalters, Stuttgart, Metzler, [1977]-1999, vol. 1, cols 1995-1996, in Brepolis Medieval Encyclopaedias - Lexikon des Mittelalters Online:

McSorley, Joseph, 'St. Basil the Great”, in The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 2, New York, Robert Appleton Company, 1907. Retrieved 11 Mar. 2010:

Ehlers, J., “'Hugo v. St-Victor”, in Lexikon des Mittelalters, Stuttgart, Metzler, [1977]-1999, vol. 5, cols 177-178, in Brepolis Medieval Encyclopaedias - Lexikon des Mittelalters Online:

Gildas, Marie, “Cistercians”, Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 3, New York, Robert Appleton Company, 1908; retrieved 17 Mar. 2010

Cistercian website

“The Cistercians”, Medieval Church.org.uk