TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Collected texts on the life, passion, translation, and miracles of Saint Cyriac; WALAFRID STRABO, Vita sancti Galli (Life of Saint Gall); PSEUDO-FAUSTUS OF MONTE CASSINO [ODO OF GLANFEUIL], Vita sancti Mauri (Life of Saint Maur); WANDALBERT OF PRÜM, Vita et miracula sancti Goaris (Life and Miracles of Saint Goar); Vita Burchardi episcopi; PAUL THE DEACON, Historia Langobardorum (History of the Lombards)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on paper
Eastern Germany (Worms?), c. 1500-1505, partially dated 1501

TM 907

i (paper) + 115 + i (paper) folios on paper (with watermarks similar to Briquet no. 12625, Pot: Worms, 1499, Eppelsheim, 1499, Cologne, 1504; Briquet no. 1744, Armoiries - Trois fleurs de lis: Paris, 1482, Cologne, 1481-1494, Siegen, 1482-1489, Koblenz, 1482-1500; Briquet no. 8580, Lettre P: Belmont, 1500), early foliation in ink, upper outer rectos, 1-114 (final leaf unfoliated), complete (collation I. ff. 1-17v, i2 ii3[structure uncertain; no loss of text] iii8 iv4; II. ff. 18-59v, v-vi8 vii8 [-5; stub where leaf was excised between ff. 37 and 38, with no loss of text] viii8 ix8 [-5; stub where leaf was excised between ff. 52 and 53, with no loss of text] x6 [-5 and 6; two stubs where two leaves were excised between ff. 59 and 60, with no loss of text]; III. ff. 60-115v, xi-xvii8]), ruled faintly in lead with full-length horizontal and vertical bounding lines, pricking in outer margin of ff. 6-13, 68-75 (justification I. ff. 1-17v, 179-180 x 122-124 mm.; II. ff. 18-59v, 182 x 122-123 mm.; III. ff. 60-115v, 180-192 x 122-123 mm.), written in six hands in two columns: (1) ff. 1-15v, partially above top line in light brown ink in a careful Gothic hybrida hand on thirty-four to thirty-nine lines, (2) ff. 18-58, below top line in dark brown ink in a diminutive Gothic cursive hand on forty-five to forty-eight lines, (3) ff. 60-67, partially above top line in faded brown ink in a Gothic cursive hand that goes from widely spaced to cramped over these pages, from twenty-three to forty-two lines, (4) ff. 67v-70, below top line in dark brown ink in a neat Gothic hybrida hand on thirty-eight to forty-eight lines, (5) ff. 70v-75v, below top line in a spindly Gothic cursive hand on thirty-eight lines, (6) ff. 76-114v, below top line in dark ink in a diminutive Gothic hybrida hand on forty-two to forty-five lines with rubrics (underlined in red) in a larger, bolder version of the same script, rubrics underlined in red (ff. 1-15v, 60-114v) or written in red (ff. 18-59v), capitals touched in red, one-line red paraphs, guide letters for initials, one- to three-line red initials, fourteen four- to seven-line initials marking beginnings of and major divisions within texts, leather fore-edge tabs (ff. 18, 36, 46, 60, 72) and traces where tabs have been lost (ff. 35, 70), marginal annotation in multiple hands (see especially ff. 60-70), some cropped (see f. 71), very minor worming (see ff. 1, 57-59) and occasional marginal spotting, otherwise in excellent condition.  Sixteenth-century binding (dated 1556), perhaps by Petrus Betz, of blind- and gilt-stamped calf over wooden boards, rebacked, spine with three raised bands with red leather label with gilt-stamped inscription, “INCIPIT / LEGENDA / DE SCO / CORIACO / &c. / M.S.,” and later paper label, brass corner pieces with bosses on upper and lower boards, one intact fore-edge clasp and traces of another one, binding lightly scratched and scuffed, cracking and wear at the upper hinge.  Dimensions 248 x 196-205 mm.

Manuscripts of historical works from the Middle Ages are always of special interest.  Assembled in the Renaissance, this is an intriguing collection of historical texts and five saints’s lives from the early Middle Ages.  Paul the Deacon’s History of the Lombards is well-known and often studied today; the lesser-known saints’s lives are all very rare on the market.  Why was someone at the beginning of the sixteenth century interested in these particular texts? A possible answer is that these texts were gathered together to tell the history of a monastery near the German city of Worms.  Still in the exceptional binding made for the great German bibliophile, Ottheinrich, Elector Palatine, its illustrious provenance continues into the nineteenth century.


1. The first text is dated 1501 and evidence of watermarks, script, and decoration all suggest that the manuscript as a whole was produced around the same time, very likely in eastern Germany, possibly for the abbey of St. Cyriacus or Lorsch.

The contents suggest that this was compiled in the vicinity of Worms; three of the five saints featured had were particularly venerated in eastern Germany near Worms. Burchard served as bishop of Worms (1000-1025), where he oversaw important rebuilding projects and created many churches and monasteries.  According to his legend, Saint Goar was a hermit in Oberwesel, which was later said to be the site of a church built in his honor by Charlemagne.  Just north of Oberwesel and about fifty miles north of Worms, the town Sankt Goar still bears the saint’s name.  The collegiate church and abbey of St. Cyriacus, a very old foundation in Worms-Neuhausen, acquired relics of Saint Cyriac from Rome, thanks to the intervention of Samuel of Worms (841-856), then bishop of Worms and abbot of the imperial monastery of Lorsch (it is possible that St. Cyriacus connected this story to the account of the translation of Cyriac’s arm to Bamberg, included here).

Frederick III (1415-1493), Holy Roman Emperor (1452-1493) paid a special visit to Worms in 1488 to visit the relics of Saint Cyriac in the newly renovated abbey of St. Cyriacus (it had been attacked and plundered in 1460).  Perhaps his visit inspired a renewal of interest in the abbey’s history, and in the power of saints’s legends to buttress the power and prestige of monastic foundations as demonstrated in the Life of Saint Maur

The abbey of St. Cyriacus was suppressed by the Elector Palatine in 1565, nine years after we know this book was acquired by Ottheinrich (see below); it thus seems possible that it was then part of a neighboring monastic library, perhaps that of Lorsch, which was suppressed by Ottheinrich in 1556.

2. Ottheinrich, Elector Palatine (1502-1559), one of the greatest bibliophiles and German collectors of the Renaissance.  This manuscript’s 1556 binding was produced especially for Ottheinrich, most likely by the Heidelberg-based book-binder Petrus Betz (see below, Binding), indicating that this volume was part of Ottheinrich’s library by that date.

3. Frederick North (1766-1827), 5th Earl of Guilford (1817-1827).  His bookplate (bearing the family coat of arms and the mottoes “LA VERTUE EST LA SEULE NOBLESSE” and “AUSPICIUM MELIORIS ÆVI”) is glued to the front pastedown.  North’s library was auctioned in seven sales between 1828 and 1835.

4. Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872), Middle Hill; his no. 11914 written twice in pencil on the front pastedown and printed on small label on the spine; he purchased it from one of the Guilford sales (Phillipps, 1837, p. 206).  Phillipps was an English antiquary and book collector renowned for having amassed the largest nineteenth-century collection of manuscripts.  Fittingly self-described as a “vello-maniac,” he collected over 100,000 manuscripts and in doing so nearly bankrupted himself and his family.

5. Sold Sotheby, Wilkinson, and Hodge, May 19, 1913, lot 1116 (Bibliotheca Phillippica: Catalogue of a Further Portion of the Classical, Historical, Topographical, Genealogical, and Other Manuscripts and Autograph Letters of the Late Sir Thomas Phillipps …, London, 1913).

6. Maurice Burrus (1882-1959), an Alsatian politician and tobacco magnate; his no. 834 written in pencil on the front pastedown and his bookplate (bearing the ex libris “Maurice Burrus. Deputé du Haut-Rhin. M.CM.XXXVII”) glued to the front pastedown.  Burrus was an avid philatelist and collector of books.  He purchased the volume at the “Vente Hubner“ in 1937, as recorded in purple ink on a small sticker in the lower corner of the rear flyleaf, recto.  (An adjacent sticker bears additional bookseller marks from that sale.)

7. Additional notes in pencil on the front pastedown and recto and verso of the front flyleaf include identifications of various contents of the volume, as well as some additional booksellers’s marks.


I. ff. 1-17v:

ff. 1-15v, Incipit legenda de sancto Cyriaco, incipit, “SI iuxta euangelice racionis gloriam qui sanctos honorat ...”; f. 2v, Passio sancti cyriacj martyris, incipit, “TEmpore quo maximianus augustus rediens de partibus affrice ad urbem romam volens placere diocleciano ...”; f. 7, De translatione sancti cyriaci diaconi et martyris prologus, incipit, “CUm me circumseptum recogito vetustam prothoplasti in obedienciam magis ...”; f. 9, De miraculo capitis sancti cyriacj, Prologus, incipit, “CAntate domino canticum nouum in sanctis suis ipsum pariter collaudantes quoniam memoriam fecit dominus ...”; f. 11v, Qualiter brachium sancti cyriaci translatum sit ad partes transalpinas ac in bamberga reconditum per ottonem inperatorem [sic], incipit, “LEgimus quod in inicio primj hominis plasmator deus omnia quecumque operatus est ... Qui cum patre et spiritu sancto viuitet regnat deus in secula seculorum.  Amen.  Finitum ac prescriptum est anno salutis quingentesimo primo”; [ff. 16-17v, blank but ruled];

A series of hagiographical texts recounting the legend (Acta sanctorum, 1751, pp. 332-334), passion (Bibliotheca hagiographica latina [BHL] no. 2056), and translation (Acta sanctorum, 1751, pp. 334-336 and BHL no. 2064) of Saint Cyriac, with accounts as well of the miracle of his head (Acta sanctorum, 1751, pp. 336-338 and BHL no. 2065) and of the translation and concealment of his arm at Bamberg (Acta sanctorum, 1751, pp. 338-340 and BHL no. 2066).  The Passion is also found in manuscripts identified as the Passio Marcelli papae (Passion of Pope Marcellus) (BHL no. 5235).  The final account, on the translation and concealment of the arm of Saint Cyriac here extends well beyond the end of the text as recorded in the Acta sanctorum and the BHL (the additional text begins near the bottom of the second column of f. 14v), presenting an account (only summarized in the Acta sanctorum) of how the abbess Pretiosa obtained the relics of Nicholas of Myra from Emperor Basil of the Byzantine Empire.  According to the Schoenberg Database, no other copies have appeared on the market in the last century.

II. ff. 18-59v:

ff. 18-35, Incipit prefacio walafridi augiensis cenobij abbatis de vita beati galli confessoris, incipit, “Nisi me sanctarum autoritas [sic] scripturarum et precipue illa veridici prophete sentencia qua sacrificio obediencia prefertur ... mentem offendat.  Finit”;

The Vita sancti Galli confessoris (Life of Saint Gall, Confessor) was written by Walafrid Strabo around late 833 or 834.  It was most recently edited in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH) (Krusch, 1902) and is listed in BHL nos. 3247-3249.  Krusch identified thirty-three manuscript copies of the text in 1902 (MGH, pp. 242-246) and a further nine in 1920 (MGH, pp. 834-835).  Despite the text’s popularity in the Middle Ages, no other copies have appeared on the market in the last century, according to the Schoenberg Database.

One of the esteemed writers of his time, Walafrid Strabo (c. 808-849), monk and poet, was born in Swabia and entered the Benedictine monastery of Reichenau as a child.  He was sent to Fulda to study under the prominent Carolingian teacher and writer Rabanus Maurus (c. 780-856) and, having already received recognition for his talents as a poet and writer, was summoned to the imperial court to serve as court poet and tutor to the future Charles the Bald (823-877), son of Louis the Pious (778-840).  Louis rewarded Strabo for his services by appointing him abbot of Reichenau in 838.  He was especially esteemed in the later Middle Ages for this work, which he wrote during his time at court, as well as for his works of biblical exegesis.

ff. 35-46, Incipit prologus in vitam sancti mauri abbatis, incipit, “FAustus famulorum christi famulus omnibus monachis qui sunt in oriente et occidente ... per omniam benedictus deus qui regnat in secula seculorum amen.  Explicit vita sancti maurj abbatis”;

Odo of Glanfeuil issued the Vita sancti Mauri (Life of Saint Maur) in 864, claiming it was a revision of a life composed by Faustus of Monte Cassino, a companion of Saint Maur and a fellow student of Saint Benedict; it is now generally accepted as Odo’s own work.  The text is printed in the Acta sanctorum (Jan. I, 1039-1052) and is listed in the BHL as no. 5773. According to the Schoenberg Database, no other copies have appeared on the market in the last century.

Benedictine monk and hagiographer Odo of Glanfeuil (d. 886) entered the abbey of Glanfeuil no later than 856, and by 861 he had become its abbot.  He was forced to flee soon after, however, because the abbey was under threat by Normans marauding along the Loire.  It was at this time that Odo claimed to have discovered the Life of Saint Maur, which asserted that Glanfeuil Abbey had been founded by Saint Maur, the first disciple of Saint Benedict (512-584).  This would have made Glanfeuil the oldest Benedictine monastery in France.  Armed with this Life and the abbey’s relics of Saint Maur, Odo was able to extend the cult of Saint Maur to Paris, specifically the abbey of Saint-Pierre-des Fossés, where the Glanfeuil monks settled and where Odo became abbot in 868; that abbey would later be renamed Saint-Maur-des-Fossés.

ff. 46v-58, Incipit prologus in vitam et actis atque miracula beati goaris editus ad illustrem virum marcuardum abbatem monasterij prumie, incipit, “Miracula diuinorum operum humano generi fide semper integra esse suscipienda ...”; f. 51v, Incipit liber de miraculis que gesta sunt apud memoriam sancti goaris ex quo ecclesiam eius edificari coepta est, incipit, “EXplicitis iam que de vita et actibus beati goaris goaris [sic] scripture a maioribus utcumque mandata repperj ... existunt litteris digna admiracione tradantur.  Finit hic”; [ff. 58v-59v, blank but ruled];

Wandalbert of Prüm wrote his Vita et miracula sancti Goaris (Life and Miracles of Saint Goar) in 839.  There are two critical editions of the text, although the first by Oswald Holder-Egger (1887) includes only the prologue and the miracles, excluding the life of Saint Goar.  The second, by Stiene (1981), includes the full text.  The text is listed in BHL as nos. 3566-3567.  The text circulated in at least twelve other manuscripts copies (listed in Stiene, 1981, pp. XLI-LVI), and it was first printed first in 1489 in Mainz (Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke M51399).  According to the Schoenberg Database, no other copies have appeared on the market in the last century.

Little is known of the life of Wandalbert of Prüm (813- d. after 850), a Benedictine monk and theological writer.  He was a monk at the Benedictine abbey of Prüm, and it was here that Abbot Markward commissioned him to rewrite an old life of Saint Goar.  He is also known for a verse martyrology he finished later in life, around 848.

III. ff. 60-115v:

ff. 60-70, Incipit vita sancti borchardi episcopi wormaciensis, incipit, “ERat igitur burchardus in prouincia hassia genitus … laus et gloria per infinita secula seculorum.  Amen”;

The Vita Burchardi episcopi (Life of Bishop Burchard) was written soon after Burchard’s death in 1025, probably by Ebbo of Worms or another canon at Worms.  It has been edited by Waitz (1841) and is listed in the BHL as no. 1486.  According to the Schoenberg Database, only one other copy of this text has appeared on the market in the last century.

ff. 70v-114v, Incipiunt capitula libri primi historie longobardorum, Capitulum j, incipit, “DE germania quod plures nutriat populos ideoque ex ea multe gentes egrediantur ...”; f. 71, Incipit liber hystorie longobardorum primus, Primum capitulum, incipit, “SEptentrionalis plaga quanto magis ab estu solis remota est … maxima semper cura francorum auarumque pacem custodiens”; [f. 115, blank but ruled].

Paul the Deacon wrote the Historia Langobardorum (History of the Lombards) in the late eighth century.  There is a critical edition of the text in Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Waitz, 1878), and it has been translated into many languages, including English (Foulke, 1907).  A popular text in the Middle Ages, the History survives in over twenty manuscripts dating before the eleventh century and in over eighty from subsequent centuries (McKitterick, 2004, p. 77). Pani (2000, pp. 404-412) provides a definitive list of 115 manuscript copies, three in North American libraries and the remaining 112 in European libraries; the present manuscript does not appear on Pani’s list.  The work was first printed in Paris in 1514.  According to the Schoenberg Database, only two other copies have been on the market in the last century.

Benedictine scribe and historian Paul the Deacon (c. 720s-799) was born in Cividale del Friuli to a Lombard family and was educated at the royal court of Pavia, where he also served as tutor to the daughter of the Lombard king Desiderius, Adelperga, who would become the duchess of Benevento and one of Paul’s patrons.  By 763, he was also a deacon at Monte Cassino. 

The History of the Lombards includes six books of varying lengths, primarily in prose, but with passages of verse at religiously significant moments, beginning with the Lombards’s mythical origins in Scandinavia and concluding in the 740s, with the death of the Lombard King Liutprand (reigned 712-744).  The text’s abrupt ending has variously been attributed to Paul’s death or to his unwillingness to chronicle the fall of his people; Liutprand was regarded as one of the most successful Lombard monarchs, and ending with his reign meant ending on a high note, especially where a Lombard audience might be concerned.  Arguing, on the other hand, that the work was written as a legitimation of Frankish rule, McKitterick (2004) has suggested that Paul might also have intended to position Liutprand as “a worthy predecessor of Charlemagne,” who in turn could be understood to uphold the best traditions of the Lombards (p. 72).

This fascinating and complete collection of hagiographical and historical texts shows signs of deliberate compilation.  Though many of these texts were very popular in their own right, their careful arrangement in this volume suggests that the compilers had a particular sixteenth-century audience in mind.  Dating from the eighth- to eleventh-century, most of the texts are Benedictine and Carolingian.  The preponderance of saints whose lives are featured in this volume share an overlapping region of particular veneration in the vicinity of Worms (see Provenance, above).  Taken together, they blend legends and chronicles to provide a religious and secular history of a particular region and of a series of exemplary figures connected to the region’s past.  Further study of this intriguing volume promises insights into how the History of the Lombards and the accompanying saints’s lives were received on the eve of the Reformation, many centuries after their composition.


Bound in brown calf with a blind-stamped rectangular frame consisting of pairs of men and women in various poses and, within this frame, a blind-stamped, lozenge-shaped frame filled with vines, flowers, and nude female busts.  Gilt-stamped flowers adorn the inner corners of the rectangular frames and appear above and below the gilt central panel on the lower board, which bears the coat of arms, initials, and motto of Ottheinrich, Elector Palatine (1502-1559).  Specifically, the initials “O. H. P.” stand for “Ottheinrich Pfalzgraf Churfürst” and the letters “M. D. Z.” stand for “Mit der Zeit.”  The gilt central panel on the upper board, surmounted by a gilt-stamped putto and above the gilt-stamped date, 1556, offers a portrait of Ottheinrich, along with the legend “OTTHAINRICH VON G. G. PFALTZ- / GRAVE BEY REIN DES HEILIGEN / RÖMISCHEN R. ERTZ. VND CHÜR / H. IN NIDERN VND OBER BEYERN.”  This was likely the work of the Heidelberg-based book-binder Petrus Betz, from Augsburg, who was active producing bindings for Ottheinrich at this time.  It is quite similar, for example, to the binding of Heidelberg, Universitätsbibliothek, Cod. Pal. germ. 96, which Betz fashioned for Ottheinrich in 1558.


Acta sanctorum augusti, ex latinis et graecis, aliarumque gentium monumentis ..., ed. John Baptist Sollerio, John Pinnius, William Cuper, and Peter Boschius, vol. 2, Venice, 1751.

Acta sanctorum, ed. Johannes Bollandus and Johanne Carnandet, Paris, 1863-.

Bachrach, David S.  The Histories of a Medieval German City, Worms c. 1000-c. 1300: Translation and Commentary, London 2014.

Bibliotheca hagiographica latina antiquae et mediae aetatis, ed. the Bollandists, Brussels, 1900-1901.

Foulke, William Dudley, trans.  Paul the Deacon.  History of the Lombards, ed. Edward Peters, Philadelphia, 1907.

Ghosh, Shami.  Writing the Barbarian Past: Studies in Early Medieval Historical Narrative, Leiden, 2016.

Holder-Egger, Oswald, ed.  “Wandalberti miracula S. Goaris,” in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores, vol. 15, part 1, Hanover, pp. 362-373.

Krusch, Bruno, ed.  “Vita Galli auctore Walahfrido,” in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptorum Rerum Merovingicarum, vol. 4, Hanover, 1902, pp. 280-337.

McKitterick, Rosamond.  History and Memory in the Carolingian World, Cambridge, 2004.

Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptorum Rerum Merovingicarum, vol. 4, Hanover, 1902.

Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptorum Rerum Merovingicarum, vol. 7, Hanover, 1920.

Pani, Laura.  “Aspetti della tradizione manoscritta dell’Historia Langobardorum,” in Paolo Diacono: Uno scrittore fra tradizione longobarda e rinnovamento carolingio; Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi Cividale del Friuli – Udine, 6-9 maggio 1999, ed. Paolo Chiesa, Udine, 2000, pp. 367-412.

Phillipps, Thomas.  Catalogus librorum manuscriptorum in bibliotheca D. Thomae Phillipps, Bart., Middle Hill, 1837.

Presser, Helmut.  “Einbände der Nachfolger Ottheinrichs in Mainz,” Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 31 (1956), pp. 331-340.

Stiene, Heinz Eirch, ed.  Wandalbert von Prüm: Vita et Miracula sancti Goaris, Frankfurt am Main, 1981.

Taylor, Anna Lisa.  Epic Lives and Monasticism in the Middle Ages, 800-1050, Cambridge, 2013.

Waitz, Georg, ed.  “Pauli Historia Langobardorum,” in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores Rerum Langobardicarum et Italicarum, Hanover, 1878, pp. 45-187.

Waitz, Georg, ed.  “Vita Burchardi episcopi,” in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, vol. 4, Hanover, 1841, pp. 830-846.

Wells, Scott.  “Walafrid Strabo c. 808-849,” Encyclopedia of Monasticism, ed. William M. Johnston and Christopher Kleinhenz, London, 2000, pp. 1385-1386.

Online Resources

Remy, Arthur F. J.  “Walafrid,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 15, New York, 1912

Schlager, Patricius.  “Paul the Deacon,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 11, New York, 1911

Vita Burchardi episcopi Wormatiensis,” Repertorium “Geschichtsquellen des deutschen Mittelalters,” Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2017

“Walafridus Strabo, Vita s. Galli confessoris,” Repertorium “Geschichtsquellen des deutschen Mittelalters,” Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2017

“Wandalbertus Prumiensis, Vita et miracula s. Goaris,” Repertorium “Geschichtsquellen des deutschen Mittelalters,” Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2017

TM 907