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JACOBUS DE MILANO [JACOBUS MEDIOLANENSIS ?], Stimulus Amoris [long redaction]

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
[France, possibly Tours, c. 1475-1500]

TM 76

109 leaves, complete (collation i-xiii8, xiv5 [of 6, blank vi canceled]), horizontal catchwords, foliated in ink, written in brown ink in an elegant lettre bâtarde on 28 long lines, ruled in pale brown ink (justification 140 x 100 mm.), headings and running titles in red, paragraph marks alternately in red and blue, 2- and 3-line burnished gold initials on alternately blue and red grounds, many containing long-beaked bird heads or biting dog heads in camaïeu d’or or white, a LARGE HISTORIATED INITIAL, some cockling of vellum and worming of front and end leaves, slight darkening of edges of leaves, otherwise in excellent condition with wide clean margins with pricking visible. CONTEMPORARY BINDING of blind-stamped calf over slightly beveled wooden boards sewn on 5 raised bands, sides divided by multiple fillets into two central vertical strips and three frames, the outer frame stamped with repeated impressions of a tool of two birds flanking a tree, the inner frames with repeated impressions of floral stamps and the central strips with fleur-de-lys (see Gid, vol.I, no.50, p.53), 2 hinged metal clasps and catches (one clasp missing), binding crudely repaired, endleaves replaced. Dimensions 210 x 150 mm.

Previously unrecorded manuscript of the popular Franciscan devotional handbook by James of Milan on the love for Christ, a spiritual vade mecum intended primarily for women and the laity, the present copy presenting the later long redaction, illuminated, elegantly written, and in an original binding.


1. Nineteenth-century red ink cipher bookstamp (ff. 1r and 109v) with “HOC EST SIGNUM MEUM” and a cipher made up of the letters D, E, T, M, and L.

2. J. R. Ritman, Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, Amsterdam, MS 171.


f. 1-2, [Prologue] rubric, Amoris stimulum Boneventure; incipit, “Ad te domine levavi animam...”; explicit, “... sit spes mea et cor meum. Amen.”;

ff. 2-3, [Table] rubric, Explicit prologus. Incipit tractaus; incipit, “Liber iste qui stimulus amoris in dulcissimum ...”; rubric, Capitula prime partis;

ff. 3-49, [Part I] rubric Incipit prima pars. Qualiter ad amorem Dei .. .; incipit, “Quia cor contemplantis ...”; explicit,”... continuam cordis nostri Amen”;

ff. 49-49v, [Table] rubric, Explicit prima pars. Sequitur secunda et primo tabula capitulorum ipsius secunde partis;
ff. 49v-71v, [Part II] rubric, Incipit secundam pars libelli hujus. In qua spiritualiter tractas de perfectu hominis in contemplatione et primo qualiter homo possit amplius proficere capitulum primum; incipit, “Ut homo possit amplius ...”; explicit, “... unum cum christo. Amen”;

ff. 71v-72, [Table] rubric, Explicit secunda pars. Incipit tabula capitulorum tertie et ultime partis;

ff. 72-109v, [Part III], rubric, Incipit tercia pars et primo que inducunt hominuem ad contemplationis quietem; incipit, “Si ad contemplacionis quietem ...”; explicit, “... noster tractatus laudet deum omnis spiritus. Amen. Explicit deo gracias.”

Attributed to Jacobus de Milano, who may or may not be identical with Jacobus Mediolanensis, lector in Milan in the late thirteenth century, the Stimulus amoris (in English: The Prick of Love or The Goad of Love) was one of the most important and influential Franciscan texts of the Middle Ages (for Jacobus de Milano, see Sbaralea, p. 455). From the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century, it was wrongly attributed to Saint Bonaventura (c. 1217-1274), among whose works it was published. Written c. 1300, the work was predominantly meant for literate lay people and female religious, as a kind of spiritual vade mecum. It takes the form of a meditational poem on the life of Christ centered on the love for and imitation of Christ, adoration of the Virgin, and the contemplation and union with God.

It was of immense significance for late medieval spirituality and was widely spread by the Franciscan Order. Approximately 90 manuscripts exist of its original short version of 23 chapters. In the early fourteenth century the text was divided into three parts, and in the middle of that century it was split again into chapters, as in the present manuscript. Of this, the long version, approximately 150 manuscripts survive (see Eiserman, pp. 64-210, for a list of manuscripts). There are also as many as 150 abbreviations and abstracts, as well as multiple translations, into English, Germany, Italian, and Spanish. The long version was first printed in Brussels, c. 1483-84, edited by Johannes Quentin, and was printed again seven times before the end of the century (see Goff B-962 to B-969).

The text is edited and translated The short version is edited in Quaracchi,10, reprinted in the Bibliotheca Franciscana Ascetica Medii Aevi, 4. The long version contained in the present manuscript is edited in Peltier, 1868, pp. 631-703. There are translations of the German, English, Italian, and Spanish versions. A new critical edition is awaited.

The present manuscript is not listed by Eiserman, who records six copies of the Stimulus in North America. One is in New York, St. Bonaventura University, The Franciscan Institute Library (without signature), one in the Library of Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, MS 159.B.; two in Washington, D.C., Library of the Holy Name College, MSS 13 and 72; one is in Chicago, The Newberry Library, MS 90.1; one is in Cambridge, MA, Harvard University, The Houghton Library, MS Typ. 146 H


f. 1, historiated initial A, in blue, containing a half-length image of Christ displaying the wounds of the Passion and holding a cross and palm.

Judging from the style of the initial on f. 1r, the manuscript was probably illuminated in Tours. The close-up composition, features and modeling of the figure of Christ suggest a follower of Jean Bourdichon, one of the two great Tours artists of the end of the fifteenth century.


Bonaventura, Saint. Opera omnia. Ed. Collegium a S. Bonaventura, 10 vols., Quaracchi, 1882-1902, vol. 10 (Quaracchi)

Bonaventura, Saint. Opera Omnia, ed. A.-C. Peltier, XII, Paris, 1868), vol. 12, 631-703. (Peltier)

Canal, J.-M. “El stimulus amoris de Santiago de Milan y la meditatio in Salve Regina,” Franciscan Studies, 26 (1966), 174-188.

Eiserman, Falk. Stimulus amoris, Inhalt, lateinische Belieferung, deutsche Übersetzungen, Tübingen 2001 (with earlier bibliography).

Hinton, Walter, trans. The Goad of Love. An unpublished translation of the Stimulus Amoris, London, 1952.

James of Milan. Stimulus Amoris, in Bibliotheca Franciscana Ascetica Medii Aevi, Quaracchi /Grottaferrata, Collegium San Bonaventurae, 1905, 1949 (2nd ed.).

Klapper, Joseph, ed. Schriften Johanns von Neumarkt, 3 Teil: Stachel der Liebe. Übersetzung des Liber, qui dicitur Stimulus amoris, Berlin, 1939.

Sbaralea, J. H. Supplementum et castigatio ad scriptores trium ordinum Sancti Francisci, 1806..

Ubald d’Alençon, trans. L’aiguillo d’amour, Paris, 1910.

Online resources

Franciscan Authors: Jacobus de Milano