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les Enluminures

HUGO RIPELIN OF STRASBOURG, Compendium Theologicae Veritatis

In Latin, manuscript on parchment
[Germany, c. 1400-1450]

TM 6

142 folios, mostly in quinions, (i-ix5 [quire missing between ff. 90 and 91, arabic foliation, 88 and 99], x-xiv5 [quire missing between ff. 140 and 141, arabic foliation, 148 and 159], xv2 [missing six folios, including the explicit]), catchwords in the lower margins framed in black ink, period foliation in arabic from 1-162, following 2 folios not foliated, text copied on 33 long lines in a neat Gothic bookhand in brown ink on 33 long lines (justification 185 x 120 mm.), ruled in brown ink, red and blue alternating paragraph signs, rubrics in red, notes and corrections in several hands (words erased and corrected: f. 70), instructions to the rubricator in the margins, alternating red and blue initials of 2 or 3 lines, decoration sometimes incomplete, manicules, parchment finding tabs, PARCHMENT BOOKMARK still in place. MEDIEVAL BINDING (SIXTEENTH-CENTURY ?) of red-dyed leather over boards, traces of clasps and bosses, spine on four thongs, defective, label of paper glued to the spine (seventeenth-century ?) with title in pen, "Compendium theologicae veritatis (pergament manuscript)," scraped and used, but binding sound though in need of repair. Dimensions 264 x 180 mm.

Intact manuscript copy of one of the most important theological manuals of the Middle Ages, handsomely written and in an attractive early binding. The present copy preserves a rare fifteenth-century bookmark, a cut-out piece of parchment functioning like a modern-day paperclip.


1. Binding, script, and provenance suggest that the manuscript was made in Germany, perhaps in the northwest, Rhenish section, where Hugo Ripelin's works were extremely popular.

2. On the front pastdedown a contemporary ? ex-libris "presens liber videlicet compendium theologice veritatis pertinet ad doctorem (name erased) perpetue permansurus."

3. f. 1, An ownership inscription in the upper margin in German.


ff. 1-3, Table of rubrics (with arabic pagination added);

f. 3- 3v, Prologue, incipit, "Veritatis theologice sublimitas cim superni sit splendoris";

ff. 3v-28v, Book I, On the Nature of God, Rubric, Quid est deus; incipit, "Deum esse multis modis ostenditur";

ff. 28v-61, Book II, On the Nature of Creatures, Rubric Incipit liber ii de creaturis rerum; incipit : Summe bonitatis triplex est effluxio";

ff. 61-81, Book III, On Corruption and the First Sin, Rubric, Incipit liber tercius de corruptela et primo de malo igneris; incipit, "Malum triplex est";

ff. 81-90, Book IV, On the Incarnation of Christ, Rubric, Incipit liber quartus de incarnacione christi; incipit, "Sicut deus rerum principium est"; du cinquième livre intitulé selon les autres manuscrits : « de sanctificatione gratiarum ».

ff. 91-117v: Book V, On the Holy Mystery of Grace, De sanctificatione graciarum, begins incompletely "... capitur et vulneratur";

ff 117v-139v, Book IV, On the Medicine of the Sacraments, Rubric, Incipit liber vi De medicina sacramentali; incipit, "Celestis medicus humani generis reparator";

ff. 139v-142, Book VII, On the End of the World, Rubric, Incipit liber vii, De fine mundi; incipit "Finale judicium quedam sunt antecedencia"; quire missing between 141v-42, f. 141 ending incompletely ",,,ita ut anullo..." and 142 beginning sufficit implere decalogum ...; and ending Exomnibus ...."

Hugo 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 subprior 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 dates from c. 1260 toward the end of his life.

For a long time, the Compendium was erroneously attributed to Albertus Magnus (and occasionally to Bonaventura or to Thomas Aquinas). Attribution to Hugo Ripelin is confirmed by a Dominican Chronicle (the Annals of Colmar). Composed of seven books that treat major theological themes in a clear, straightforward, and logical manner, the Compendium begins with the nature of God and the nature of God's creatures. Then, it reviews the Fall of Man and the Incarnation, which made possible the Mystery of Grace and the benefits of the Sacraments. It concludes with the end of the world. It takes as its model Saint Bonaventura's Breviloquium and was equally influenced by Bartholomeus Anglicus Proprietatibus Rerum and Alexander of Hales Summa theologica. Quickly it became one of the best known and most influential writings of the Middle Ages (Mandonnet: "the most widely read and most perfect manual of the Middle Ages").

The Compendium theologicae veritatis was translated at an early date into the vernacular. By the sixteenth century there existed more than 1000 manuscripts, including translations in Dutch, French, Icelandic, Armenian, and Italian (see the partial listing in Bloomfield). There are 15 different German translations. 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). There is a critical edition by Peltier 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, on ascetic manuals, and on Rhenish spirituality in the Middle Ages.


Bloomfield, Morton et al., Incipits of Latin works on the virtues and vices, 1100-1500 A.D., Mediaeval Academy of America Publications 88, Cambridge, Mass., 1979 (for a listing of the manuscripts).

Fischer (H.), "Hugo Ripelin de Strasbourg," in Dictionnaire de la Spiritualité, vol. VII, col. 894-96.

Hugo Ripelinus Argentoratensis, La somme abregiet de theologie: kritische Edition des französischen Übersetzung von Hugo Ripelins von Strassburg Compendium theologicae vertatis [sic], München, W. Fink, 1982.

Mandonnet (Pierre), "L'ordre des frères prêcheurs," in Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, vol. VI, esp. col. 902.

Peltier, A. C. Saincti Bonaventurae Opera Omnia, VIII, Paris, 1866.

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

Online resources

Biographical entry in Biographish-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon