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les Enluminures

ANONYMOUS [DEMOULINS, FRANCOIS ?], Le Chapelet des vertus

In French, illuminated manuscript on parchment
[Central France, (Poitou ?), c.1500-1510]

TM 103

70 folios, complete, in irregular quires but text nonetheless complete (collation: i3 [4-1] [first folio of quire cancelled], ii8, iii8, iv6, v7 [8-1], vi8, vii8, viii8, ix8, x6, xi2 [4-2] [last 2 folios were blank]), written in brown ink in a very clear bâtarde script, on up to 19 long lines (justification 105 x 145 mm), rubrics in red, ruled in red, some calligraphic flourishing to letters on top lines extending into upper margin, single-line initials in alternating red or blue with penwork in either brown or red ink for table of contents, chapters opening with 2-line high initials in red or blue with purple or red pen flourishing, LARGE FULL-PAGE ILLUMINATION SET IN ARCHITECTURAL FRAME (f. 3), marginal annotations most often in Latin (some in French), in pale brown ink, usually hardly legible (some erased or deliberately scratched out). Bound in a contemporary full limp vellum binding, smooth spine, traces of gilt edges, some internal staining, but nonetheless generally in sound condition. Dimensions 223 x 170 mm.

One of only four extant manuscripts, this one in a contemporary binding, of which only two are illuminated, of a text on the virtues that was printed many times in the incunable period but remains unedited. Conflicting evidence on the author, patron, and date remains to be resolved (is the author Demoulins, the tutor of King Francis I writing for Louise of Savoy?), as does the unusual iconography of the frontispiece miniature. The relationship between the extant manuscripts and the many incunable editions also merits for further study.


1. Sixteenth-century ex-libris, copied on inner covers: Ex bibliotheca I. De Monthiers. Could this manuscript have been part of the library of Jacques de Monthiers, resident of Pontoise (Val d’Oise), lieutenant general du bailli de Senlis? See Vallet, P., Les de Monthiers et leurs alliances. Contribution à l’étude de la noblesse du bailliage de Ponthoise (1982-1983): “Lieutenants Généraux du bailli de Senlis depuis 1563 jusqu'à la fin de l'Ancien Régime, les de Monthiers habitaient place Belle-Croix, un superbe hôtel qui subsite toujours”; Courcelles, J.B., Généalogie de la maison de Monthiers, Paris, 1828). Or could this owner be related to the family of artists and collectors referred to as Demoustiers or Demonthiers? See Dictionnaire des familles francaises, vol. XV: “Dumoustiers […] étaient une dynastie de peintres, de portraitistes (Geoffroy (1533); Estienne (1569); Daniel, “peintre-bibliophile” [Baron Rothschild, IV, p. 555]; “célèbre peintre mort à Paris en 1631” [Baron Rothschild, I, p. 538].

2. Added ex-libris, pencil or very light ink: “Deforestz, 1670.”

3. Paris, France, Hôtel de Drouot, sale, Vente de Mme D., 12-14 May1930, lot. 133.

4. Comte Chandon de Briailles, Champagne, France, his ownership plate pasted on first flyleaf: “Au Cte. Chandon de Briailles / 1930.” This is probably one of the heirs of Raoul Chandon de Briailles (1850-1908), historian and wine merchant (founder of the Chandon de Briailles mark of champagne), part of whose rich library was bequeathed to the Médiathèque at Épernay--20,000 items concerning the history of Epernay and wine, incunables, and books from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries--and part passed on through the family to his heirs Comtes Henri and François Chandon de Briailles. Evidently, Henri and François continued to augment the library.


The text is divided into 58 chapters, preceded by a table of rubrics.

f. 1-2v, Title and table of contents; rubric: Les rebriches de ce present livre intitulé le Chapelet des vertus;

ff. 3-3v, Prologue reads as follows, “Comme par la souveraine sapience et haulte puissance de Dieu toutes choses sont crees raisonablement, toutes choses doivent a la siene bonne euvre fin. Et pour ce que les esperitz des creatures humaines sont raisonnablement creez par luy a sa semblance, est chose necessaire qu’ilz soeint aournez des vertus par lequelles ilz puissent parvenir a la fin pour laquelle ilz sont faiz. Et car Prudence est mere et conduisseresse de toutes autres vertus sans laquelle nulles des autres ne puet estre bien gouvernee est chose moult convenable et necessaire aux esperitz des creatures estre aornez de Prudence. Salmon en fait mencion en ses proverbes disant: Si intraverit sapiencia cor tuum et scientia anime tue placuerit consilium custodiet et et prudencia servabit te. Proverbiorum secundo capitulo” ;

ff. 3v-7v, De la vertu de Prudence; incipit,“Prudence, discretion, sagesse sont trois manieres selon que dit Tulius… ;”

ff. 7v-8v, Exemple sur la vertu de Prudence; incipit, “De la vertus de Prudence on lit es Histoires romaines que ung jour l’empereur de Romme chevauchoit par bois et trouva ung philozophe qu’il fist appeler mais rien ne respondit…;”

ff. 8v-11, Du vice de Folie contraire a Prudence; ff. 11-12v, Du vice de distemperance contraire a la vertu de temperance; ff. 12v-13, De la vertu d’amour .vii. ; ff. 13-15v, De la division d’amour dont la premiere est l’amour de Dieu .viii.; ff. 15v-18, De la seconde amour nommee amour paternelle; ff. 18-19v, De la tierce amour nommee amitié de compaignie .x.; ff. 19v-21, De la quarte amour nommee amour de concupiscence charnelle .xi. capitulo; ff. 21-22, Ystoyre sur la vertu d’amour .xii. ; ff. 22-23, Du vice de envie contraire a la vertu d’amour .xiii. ; ff. 23-23v, De joyeuseté qui est effet d’amour; ff. 23v-24v, De tristesse contraire a joyeuseté .xvie. chapitre; ff. 24v-26, De melencolye contre joyeuseté .xvii. chapitre; ff. 26-26v, Exemple sur le vice de trisse[tesse] dix et et [sic] huit chapitre; ff. 26v-27v, De la vertu de paix dix et neufviesme chapitre; ff. 27v-29v, Du vice de ire contraire a la vertu de paix .xxi. chapitre; ff. 29v-30, Exemple sur le vice de ire .xxi. chapitre; ff. 30-31, De la vertu de chasteté .xxii. chapitre; ff. 31-32, Exemple de la vertu de chasteté .xxiii. ; ff. 32-33v, Du vice de luxure contraire a la vertu de chasteté .xxiiii. ; ff. 33v-34v, De la vertu de force .xxv. ; ff. 34v-35v, De la vertu de pacience .xxvi. ; ff. 35v-38, Du vice de crainte et paour contraire a force et pacience .xxvii.; ff. 38-40v, De la vertu de seureté .xxviii. ; ff. 40v-42, Comment on doit dobter [doubter] l’ennemy de nature humaine .xxix.; ff. 42-42v, De bonne renommee .xxx. ; ff. 42v-43v, De abstinence; ff. 43v-44, Du vice de glotonnie .xxxii. ; ff. 44-44v, De la vertu de contance .xxxiii. ; f. 44v, De incontance vice .xxxiiii. ; ff. 44v-45v, De justice vertu; ff. 45v-46v, Du vice de injustice .xxxvi. ; ff. 46v-47v, Exemple sur injustice .xxxvii.; ff. 47v-49v, Autre exemple sur le vice de injustice .xxxviii.; ff. 49v-50, De la vertu de grandesse ou magnanimité de couraige .xxxix. ; ff. 50-50v, Exemple sur la vertu de grandesse de corage; ff. 50v-51, De vaine gloire contraire a la vertu de grandesse .xli. ; ff. 51-52, Exemple sur le vice de vaine gloire .xlii. ; f. 52, De la vertu de loiauté .xliii.; ff. 52-54, Du vice de faulceté contraire a la vertu de loiaulté .xliv.; ff. 54-54v, Exemple sur le fait de faulceté .xlv.; ff. 54v-55v, De la vertu de verité .xlvi.; ff. 55v-56v, Exemple sur la vertu de verité .xlvii. ; ff. 56v-57v, Du vice de mensonge contraire a la vertu de verité .xlviii.; ff. 57v-58v, De la vertu de misericorde .xlix.; ff. 58v-59, Exemple sur la vertu de misericorde .l.; ff. 59-59v, De cruauté contraire a misericorde .li.; ff. 60-62, De la vertu de largesse .lii. ; ff. 62-63, Du vice d’avarice contraire a la vertu de largesse .liii. ; ff. 63-64v, De la vertu de humilité .liiii. ; ff. 64v-65, Exemple sur la vertu d’umilité .lv.; ff. 65-67, De orgueil contraire a humilité .lvi.; ff. 67-67v, Enseignement contre orgueil .lvii.; ff. 67v-69, Enseignement pour discretement parler .lviii.;

ff. 69-70v, rubric, Aucuns ditz des philozophes sur la discrecion de parler .lix.; incipit, “Ung philozophe dist a ung syen amy… “; explicit, “[…]Et il respondit quant il ne parle que a point et que le beau parleur vault mieulx que taire. Et dit, refrain ta langue et tes mauvaises vouluntés et ce te sera la plus belle robe dont tu puissez estre vestu. Explicit.” [this rubric different in Paris, BnF, fr. 1892: “De plusieurs vertuz”; also in Paris, BnF, fr. 1893: “Enseignement notable pour discretement parler “]

This is the Chapelet des vertus, a treatise naming Prudence as the mother of all virtues, which was likely composed or translated from the Italian by François Demoulins de Rochefort for Louise de Savoie, the mother of King Francis I (for this attribution, see especially Lecoq, pp. 77-101, esp. p. 85; and Maulde La Clavière, pp. 391-392; and Martin, 2000, pp. 183-189). François Demoulins was the tutor of the young François d’Angoulême (future Francis I) until 1508 and again in 1513. He is last heard of in 1524, the year Erasmus dedicates to him his treatise De modo confitendi. Demoulins dedicated other treatises to Louise of Savoy; she is the patron he refers to as “Dame Prudence” in Dialogue sur la folie du jeu (Paris, BnF, fr. 1863, dated 1505) and in Traité des vertus cardinales (Paris, BnF, fr. 12247, c. 1509]). Among his many works only the Chapelet des virtues was printed. Other important writings, considered exemplary of Christian humanism, remain in autograph manuscripts (see DLF, p. 334).

Apart from the present example, there are only three other known manuscript copies of this text, (Paris, BnF, MSS fr. 1892 (on paper) and 1893 (on parchment); and New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, ms. 771). Only the copy in New York is illustrated (with five miniatures; see Corsair record below). Some contradictory evidence presented by a preliminary study of the manuscripts warrants further study. Paris, BNF, MS fr. 1893 bears a contemporary colophon: “Se present livre apartient a noble homme Gilles de la Haye escuier, seigneur de Chantelou. Et fut fait l’an de grace mil CCCC quatre vingz et sept [1487]” (f. 55) and finally New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, Ms. 771, dated by De Ricci (vol. 2, p. 1500) c. 1480 was “written for a Montmorency-Laval whose arms are covered by those of Francois de Rochechouart [died 1553].” Could these indications contradict the attribution to François Demoulins, who composed some twenty years later?

The treatise identifies Prudence as the mother of all virtues, which without her cannot be governed, and Folly in charge of all the vices. It offers the reader 58 chapters, each chapter divided into 2 parts: first is the exposition of the virtue or vice; second an exemplum or story illustrative of the particular virtue or vice being treated.

The work is influenced by other similar compilations. One is entitled Les dits moraulx des philosophes, a collection of moralistic sayings compiled from various authorities by Guillaume de Tignonville (died 1414). The Ditz moraulx des philosophes is the French version of an Arabic work of the eleventh century (Bühler, 1941; Schofield, 1936; see also Yale, Beinecke Library, MS. 285). Discussing the Dits attributed to Guillaume de Tignonville, among others, Morawski notes that “La généalogie de ces différents Dits reste encore à faire.” Further research could reveal whether the Chapelet des vertus is actually a French adaptation of another treatise, the Fior di virtù, with additions from the Dicta philosophorum (see Bühler, 1947, p. 36; Bühler, 1970, p. 120-127; see the textual description of the Morgan M.771).

Although there is no modern critical edition of Le Chapelet des vertus, there are many printed edition, including eight incunables (see Bühler, 1970), among which we cite the following: 1). Caen, Petrus Regnault, n.d. (Pellechet, 3516); 2). Paris, A Cayllaut, n.d. [active 1483-1506] (Pellechet, 3517); 3). Lyons, Guillaume Le Roy [c. 1487] (Claudin, III, p. 172); 4). Lyons, Pierre Mareschal and Barnabe Chaussard, 1498 (Brunet, I, 1796; Baudrier, XI, p. 37; Yemeniz, no. 534); 5). Paris, Philippe Le Noir [c. 1515] (Rothschild, III, no. 2557); 6). Lyons, J. de Vingle, 1516. Like the extant manuscripts, the dating of the incunables, beginning as early as 1487, offers evidence that appears to contradict the accepted attribution to Demoulins.

The present manuscript constitutes an interesting case-study of the interwoven and sometimes inextricable relations between on-going manuscript production and circulating printed copies of a given work. One of the first incunable version of the Chapelet des vertus was published in Lyons by Guillaume Le Roy, whose son Guillaume II Le Roy painted many manuscripts and produced woodcuts for Louise de Savoie and her children (artist referred to as the “Maître au Nombril”: see Avril/ Reynaud, 1993, p. 363, on Le Roy; see also Martin, 2000, pp. 185-187).


f. 3, full-page miniature surrounding text; text and illustration placed in architectural frame composed of niches with philosophers, identified in French (reading from top left: Aristote; Tulius (Cicero); Oracius; Platon; top right: Boece; Hermes; Socrates; Juvenal; Senecq). The illustration is composed of two compartments: upper compartment with kneeling male figure (but not a monk), holding a scroll: “Vertueux Amour” and surrounded by six praying nuns, characters all holding inscribed scrolls: “Cherité de prudence; Temperance; Vertu de largesse; De la vertu de misericorde; Chasteté; Force de vertu […] “; lower compartment painted beneath text with “l’homme mondain” and seven vices with their attributes (gloutonnie; luxure; injustice; paresse; envie; avarice; orgueil) [Homme mondain entouré de sept vices].

The kneeling male figure remains unidentified. Could he be the spiritual confessor for a female congregation, much like the Franciscan Gabriel Maria, co-founder of the contemporary Order of the Annunciate at Bourges, also known as the “Religion des Dix Vertus ou Plaisirs de Notre-Dame”? This order was placed under the influence of none other than Prudence.


Baudrier. Henri. Bibliographie lyonnaise: recherches sur les imprimeurs, libraires, relieurs et fondeurs de lettres de Lyon au XVIe siècle, par le président Baudrier…, 13 vols., Lyon and Paris, 1914, vol. XI, p. 37

Bühler, Curt F. The Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, London, Early English Text Society, Oxford University Press, 1941.

Bühler, C. “The Text of Incunable IA 46385,” in Essays in honour of Victor Scholderer (1970), pp. 120-127.

Bühler, C. “The Fleurs de toutes vertus,” Proceedings of the Modern Languages Association, 62 (1947), pp. 32-44 and 64 (1949), pp. 600-601.

Claudin, Anatole. Histoire de l'imprimerie en France au 15e et au 16e siècle, 4 vols., Paris, 1900-1914, vol. 3.

Delisle, Léopold. Catalogue général des manuscrits français, Paris, 1868, vol. 1.

“Demoulins, Du Moulin ou Des Moulins, François”, in Dictionnaire des lettres francaises, Le XVIe siècle, Paris, 2001, p. 334.

Fersin, Nicholas, The Florentine Fior di virtù of 1491, Philadelphia, 1953.

Lecoq, Anne-Marie. François Ier imaginaire: symbolique et politique à l’aube de la Renaissance française, Paris,1987.

Martin, H.J. Mise en page et mise en texte du livre français. La Naissance du livre moderne (XIVe-XVIIe siècle), Paris, 2000.

Maulde La Clavière. Louise de Savoie et Francois Ier: trente ans de jeunesse (1485-1515), Paris, 1895.

Morawski, J. “Les diz et proverbes des sages,” in Biblioth&egrve;que de la Faculté des Lettres de l’Université de Paris, 2e série, ii, 1924.

Moreau, B. Inventaire chronologique des éditions parisiennes du XVIe siècle, Abbeville, F. Paillart, 1985, t. III (1521-1530).

[Picot, Emile]. Catalogue des livres composant la bibliothèque de feu M. le baron James de Rothschild, tome III, Paris, 1893, no. 2557.

Thenaud, Jean. Le Triumphe des vertus. Premier traité, Le Triumphe de Prudence, ed. Titia J. Schuurs-Janssen, Geneva,1997.

Vallet, Pierre. Les De Monthiers et leurs alliances. Contribution a l’étude de la noblesse du bailliage de Ponthoise, 1982-1983.

Online resources

New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.771 (Corsair record)

Short history of the Chapelet