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les Enluminures

MISCELLANY including NICOLAUS DE BIARD, Summa de abstinencia [Dictionarius pauperum] ; BERNARDUS DE PARENTINIS, Tractatus de officio missae [Lilium missae] ; [ANONYMOUS], [Summary on Genesis and Apocalypse]; JORDANUS DE QUEDLINBURG, Expositio dominicae passionis

In Latin, decorated manuscript on paper
Southern Germany [Bavaria] or Northern Switzerland, c. 1425 [partially dated 1423]

TM 205

311 ff., preceded by a single paper flyleaf, missing isolated folios before f.1 and between ff. 119-120 and ff. 252-253 (collation: i11 (12-1), ii-x12, xi11 (12-1), xii-xx12, xxi9 (12-3), xxii11 (12-1), xxiii-xxvi12), a few catchwords towards the end, on paper with different watermarks such as Briquet, no. 14708, Tête de boeuf: Schaffhouse [Schaffhausen], 1424; Lucerne, 1424 (Briquet quotes Piekosinski, no. 933, manuscripts dating from 1424-1426) and Briquet, no. 14846, Landshut, 1427, paper ruled in plummet and ink, written by a number of different hands, in a variety of German cursive scripts, in brown to dark brown ink, text in two columns, with up to 38 lines per column (justification 220 x 140 mm), rubrics in bright red, numerous manicula, capitals stroked in red throughout, passages underlined in red, initials in red (some with ornamental reserved motifs), contemporary marginal annotations. Contemporary monastic binding of green-stained overturned skin over wooden boards, back sewn on 4 raised thongs, five bosses on each cover, traces of two pairs of claps on fore-edge, hasp for chain on bottom of lower cover (chain missing), pastedowns of medieval parchment (14th century?) with musical staves and “Hufnagelnotation” (horse-nail notation), liturgical hymns for Nativity (upper pastedown): “A/b oriente venerunt magi…” and forth Sunday before Ascension: “Ascendente Ihesu in naviculam ecce motus magnus…” (Some waterstaining, but never affecting legibility; Binding rubbed but preserved in its original condition). Dimensions 295 x 210 mm.

Preserved in its original monastic binding, this miscellany was likely destined to a member of one of the mendicant orders, since the theological and exegetical texts it includes would have functioned well as aids for preachers when composing and delivering sermons. Copied by a variety of different hands and composed of different texts, one of which is dated and localized in a scribal colophon, the miscellany offers fertile field for further historical, philological, and codicological research.


1. Script and watermarks suggest a Germanic region of production, corroborated by the presence of a small piece of paper, used to reinforce the first flyleaf (bottom righthand corner of verso), with inscriptions in German: “(…) wir dem wirdigen […] geben, haben, zaven […] an welchen endt…”. This is further corroborated by the presence of pastedowns with “Hufnagelnotation”, a typically German musical notation. Watermarks point to the North of Switzerland, but also to Southern Germany (Bavaria), in keeping with one of the texts ending with a colophon that mentions the town of Volkach (Bavaria) (see below). Text copied on ff. 120-216v is signed and dated by the scribe, a certain Johannis dicti Secretarius (?) from Offenheim (now the town of Stutzheim-Offenheim in Alsace). The scribe finished copying his text in 1423, on the day of the feast of Saint Ruffus: “Explicit tractatus super missam bonus et utilus scriptus per manus Johannes dicti Secreta[rius] (?) de Offenheim adiutarius pro tunc dominiorum (?) in Volkach (… ). Anno domini Mo .CCCC. XXII [1423] ipse die sancti Ruffi martiris…” (f. 216v). Although Alsatian, the scribe seems to occupy the function of “adiutarius” in the town of Volkach (Bavaria).


ff. 1-116v, Nicolaus de Biard, Summa de abstinencia [Dictionarius pauperum], incipit [missing first folio], “[…] Iustitia iusti super eum Ezechiel…”; rubric, Incipit liber sermonii et intitulatus de abstinencia. Capitulum primum; incipit treatise (f. 3v), “Duplex est abstinentia. Prima detestabilis…”; explicit, “[…] hominis ascendit quae praeparavit deus electus suis. Ad quae nos perducat Ihesus Christus Marie filius qui vivit et regnat deus. In seculo seculorum. Amen” (Stegmüller, Repertorium biblicum…, no. 5695);

The Summa de abstinentia or Dictionarius pauperum was perhaps conceived as a complement to the Distinctiones by Nicolas of Biard. Although the author of the work remains anonymous in most extant manuscripts, the De abstinencia is nonetheless commonly attributed to Nicolas of Biard (seemingly by Bernardus Guidonis, see Bataillon, 1994, note 7, p. 246; see also A. Wilmart, 1940, “Notes sur les plus anciens recueils de distinctions bibliques,” pp. 335-346). Of this work, Stegmüller (no. 5695) records 22 manuscripts, with none in North American collections. There is an incunable edition of the Dictionarius pauperum, printed in Paris, André Bocard for Durand Gerlier, 1498 (Goff N-93). According to Bataillon, only one manuscript bears an attribution to Friar Nicolaus O.P. (Innsbrück, Universitätsbibliothek 296) and only one is dated, 1296 (Vatican Library, MS. Ottob. lat. 57) (Bataillon, 1994, p. 246 and note 6, p. 245).

The work is an example of the genre known as biblical distinctions. Such compilations proliferate primarily in the thirteenth century, the earliest collection being the Summa Abel of Peter the Chanter (d. 1197). Other important examples include those by Alan of Lille (before 1195), Peter of Capua (after 1219), the Franciscan Maurice of Provins (c. 1248), and Nicolas Gorran (perhaps before 1280). Used as instruments in the teaching of theology, compilations of distinctions were “designed and employed equally, if not predominantly, for the writing of sermons” (Rouse, 1974, pp. 29-31, esp. p. 30) and thus as aids to preaching. Distinctions “distinguish” the four levels of meaning (literal, allegorical, anagogic, and tropologic), and for each meaning a scriptural illustration is furnished.

Little is actually known of Nicolas of Biard. The primary evidence, summarized by Bataillon, comes from two sources, the records for the Parisian university exemplars giving numbers and prices of pecias of his works and the manuscripts themselves. University records dated from the years 1274 and 1276 cite his sermons, and in 1304, the records mention the sermons, the Distinctiones, and a second work of distinctions, called De abstinentia. Bataillon: “It is often said that this [the Summa de abstinentia] is only an abbreviation of the Distinctiones, but that is completely mistaken: the Summa has fewer chapters than the Distinctiones, but these chapters are much longer than, and often have nearly nothing in common with, the corresponding ones in the Distinctiones” (Bataillon, 1994, p. 246). Nicolas de Biard was certainly a mendicant, but it is not known for sure whether he was a Domincan or a Franciscan. Nor are the dates of his writings known, although the university records provide a terminus ante quem.

ff. 117-117v, Table of contents, alphabetical order, rubric, Registrum et primo de ‘a’; incipit, “De abstinentia / De adulatione / De ambitione…”;

ff. 118-119v, blank,

ff. 120-216v, Bernardus de Parentinis, Tractatus de officio missae [Lilium missae], incipit [missing first folio], “[…] accedit ad celebrationem misse… Incipit tractatus hujus operis. Sciendum tamen quod in lectura multas repertationes…Dividitur ergo iste tractatus in tres partes…”; explicit, “[…] Ego frater Bernhardus de Parentinis ordinis predicatorum provincie Tholosane et conventus Ortesus in Gasconia secutus sum… quod nobis concedat dei filius benedictus. Amen. Explicit tractatus super missam bonus et utilus scriptus per manus Johannes dicti Secreta[rius] (?) de Offenheim adiutarius pro tunc dominiorum (?) in Volkach (… ). Anno domini Mo .CCCC. XXII [1423] ipse die sancti Ruffi martiris…” (see T. Kaeppeli, 1970, vol. I, no. 643, pp. 230-232, who provides a list of 82 manuscripts; ed. Caesaraugustae [Zaragoza], 1478; Coloniae [Cologne], 1484);

Bernardus de Parentinis or Parentis O.P. was a Dominican friar from Orthez (Southwestern France) who resided in Toulouse. The present work on the Office of the Mass has not been edited critically.

ff. 217-218, Thematic table of contents to text above: heading, Sequitur registrum huius tractatus;

f. 218v, blank;

ff. 219-252, [Anonymous], [Summarium totius Bibliae, Gen-Apoc.] [Summary on contents of Scriptures, from Genesis to Apocalypse], incipit, “In principio creavit deus celum…De opere sex dierum et distinctione… Igitur perfecti sunt celi etc. Requiescit dominus…”; last rubric, Continentia capitulorum librorum evangeliorum 1o super Matherum; explicit, “[…] nolite iudicare cap. vii.” (text interrupted) (Stegmüller, Repertorium biblicum…, no. 9814 or 9815);

Stegmüller records a single manuscript for this summary of Biblical texts: Barcelona, Archivo de la Corona de Aragon, Ripoll 202 (14th c.), ff. 213-242.

f. 252v, blank;

ff. 253-285, Unidentified sermons, incipit, “[…] quod habuit in ordinatum timorem…”; rubric, In die pasche; incipit, “Nota hodie est festam pasche…Exsurge gloria…”; explicit, “[…] quas dimitto propter brevitatem etc”(missing first folio rendering precise identification of sermons difficult);

ff. 286-287v, blank;

ff. 288-309v, Jordanus de Quedlinburg [Jordanus de Saxonia], Expositio dominicae passionis [Meditationes de vita et Passione Christi], incipit, “Inspice et fac secundum exemplar, quod tibi […] Et si Christus ubique in Scriptura dicatur mons...”; explicit, “[…] resurrectionis gloriam per venire valeam” (according to Stegmüller, ed. by J. Hommey, Supplementum Patrum… [Paris, 1684], to be verified; Stegmüller, no. 5141, who identified 6 manuscripts; A. Zumkeller, 1962, no. 646, pp. 348-353, with a very complete list of extant manuscripts; Distelbrink, 1975, no. 229, p. 204; Bestul, 1996, p. 192, no. 31);

An Augustinian hermit, Jordanus de Quedlinburg (or de Saxonia) (c. 1300-c. 1380) was a prolific theologian and predicator. He is better known for his work entitled Liber Vitasfratrum, which discusses contemporary conventual life and provides an account of the history and spirit of the Augustinian order (see A. Arbesmann and W. Hümpfner, Jordani de Saxonia…Liber Vitasfratrum…, New York, 1943). The work which widely popularized his name remains the present Meditationes de vita et Passione Christi.

The Latin text of this work is preserved in numerous manuscripts, and was published many times in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (first edition: Antwerp, Gerhard Leeu, 1485). The Meditationes were translated at the end of the Middle Ages into German and Dutch. One of the most appreciated texts in Central European convents, used profusely by preachers, the work begins with a discussion of the twelve fruits of meditation on the Passion and continues with a series of prayers organized around the sixty-five articles of the Passion. The work is to be placed in the context of the flourishing tradition of medieval Passion narratives, and there is a possibility that Jordanus of Saxony’s work influenced the development of the devotion of the Way of the Cross. To quote A. Arbesmann and W. Hümpfner: “He [Jordanus of Saxony] stands in the middle of the current of German mysticism. Even though he does not say much of it explicitly, it is abundantly clear that Jordanus was familiar with the heights of mysticism from personal experience” (A. Arbesmann and W. Hümpfner, 1943, p. xxxix). Since the seventeenth century, there has been no revised modern edition of this text, representative of late medieval devotion to Christ’s humanity and Passion.

ff. 310-311v, blank.

Whereas scholars have studied the changing phenomena of literary anthologies, or collected works, during the later Middle Ages, they have not focused similarly on their religious counterparts, miscellanies composed of often-diverse theological, spiritual, and exegetical compendia like the present manuscript. Why are certain texts written and bound together? Do such manuscripts then serve as exemplars for other comparable anthologies of the same texts? Or is each manuscript entirely unique? Are such anthologies more common in monastic communities, and if so in what regions or for what orders? Or, are they equally made for and used in university milieu? These are the kinds of questions that the study of the present manuscript, especially in comparison to others of its genre, could help answer, and the answers would begin to tell us a great deal about the use of miscellanies in the intellectual and religious life of the later Middle Ages.

Miscellanies like the present one need to be studied for what they reveal about original provenance, what can be gleaned from their anthologized contents, and signs of contemporary and later use. With its many biblical aids, this manuscript most likely served within a mendicant milieu for use in composing sermons, for example. Because it reveals evidence of chaining, it was most likely kept in a monastic chained library, probably in Germany or Switzerland on the basis of watermarks and the colophon of one of the texts. Interestingly, although in a contemporary binding, it unites texts by different scribes—each scribe in a scriptorium undertaking to copy one work for later anthologizing? This manuscript, and others like it, offer fertile territory for further research along many lines, historical and philological (since many contain unedited texts known in few exemplars).


Bataillon, L. J. “The Tradition of Nicolas of Biard’s Distinctiones,” in Viator 25 (1994), pp. 245-88.

Bestul, Thomas Howard. Texts of the Passion: Latin Devotional Literature and Medieval Society, Philadelphia, 1996.

Distelbrink, B. Bonaventurae scripta authentica dubia vel spuria…, Rome, 1975.

Kaeppeli, T. Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum Medii Aevi, Volume I, A-F, Rome, 1970.

Marrow, J. Passion Iconography in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance: A Study of the Transformation of Sacred Metaphor into Descriptive Narrative, Ars Neerlandica I, Kortrijk, Van Ghemmert, 1979.

Rouse, R. H. and M. A. Rouse. “Biblical Distinctiones in the Thirteenth Century,” Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du moyen age 41 (1974), pp. 27-37.

Stegmüller, F. Repertorium biblicum Medii aevi.. ., Madrid, 1940-1980.

Wilmart, A. “Un répertoire d'exégèse composé en Angleterre vers le début du XIIIe siècle”, in Mémorial Lagrange, Paris, J. Gabalda, 1940, pp. 307-346.

Zumkeller, A., “Manuskripte des Augustiner-Eremitenordens in mitteleuropaïschen Bibliotheken,“ in Augustiniana 12 (1962), pp. 299-357.

Online resources

On Jordanus de Quedlinberg