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[LAURENTIUS DE PRATIS GALLICUS?]. De prescientia et predestinatione Dei

In Latin, manuscript on parchment
[Italy, c. 1450-1500?]

TM 152

114 ff., preceded and ending with a single parchment flyleaf, lacking last quire, mostly in quires of 10 (collation i4, ii-xii10), written in dark brown ink in a rounded humanistic Italic script, on up to 24 long lines (justification 80 x 125 mm.), ruled in light brown ink, headings in pale red, rubrics and some marginal annotations in pale red, vertical catchwords. Bound in a modern (late 19th century?) imitation half-binding of light brown calf over wooden boards, back sewn on 3 raised thongs, paper titlepiece reads “Card. Torque. De Praedesti.” Dimensions 195 x 135 mm.

One of only five manuscripts, the other four in the Vatican Library in Italy, of an unpublished and little-studied theological treatise on “prescience” and “predestination,” attributed in the scholarly literature on slim evidence to the Dominican Laurentius de Pratis, but perhaps instead written by the famous cardinal-ecclesiastic Johannes of Turrecremata, to whom the present manuscript is ascribed in a fifteenth-century rubric.


1.Based on script, the present manuscript likely originates in Italy, although without further research little can be said about a more precise place of origin. The manuscript must have been copied after 1439, since a rubric copied on f. 5 refers to “Johannis de Turrecremata ordinis predicatorum cardinalis sancti sixti….” The Dominican friar Juan de Torquemada was made cardinal in 1439.

2.A nineteenth-century inscription in Italian (confirming that the manuscript was once in Italy), copied on paper and pasted on first parchment flyleaf, reads: “Questo codice contiene un trattato De Prescientia et predestinatione De[i] [con]tra curiosos del Cardinale Giovanni di Torquemada del titolo di S. Sisto, che communemente viene appellato di Turrecremata, il quale mori l’anno 1468 in eta di sopra 80 anni avendo composto molte dotte opera teologiche lo quali sono annoverate dagli scrittori della Storia ecclesiastica. Questo trattato pero da alcuni e stato traslasciato, e nominatamente dal continuatore della Storia ecclesiastica dell’Abate di Fleury. In fine di questo codice, conforme si vedde dalla tavola […] manca quasi tutto il capitulo ultimo contenuto nell’ultimo qu[aderno] che si vedde […] stato perduto”. This note refers to the fact that the work is not included amongst the works attributed to Juan de Torquemada in the Histoire ecclésiastique by Claude Fleury (1640-1723) in 20 volumes, that runs to 1414 (see Dic. des lettres françaises, XVIIe, pp. 497-498), nor in the work by the continuator Jean-Claude Fabre, who added 16 volumes and continued the Histoire ecclésiastique to the year 1594 (see Dic. des lettres françaises, XVIIIe, p. 469: Histoire ecclésiastique pour servir de continuation à celle de M. l’abbé Fleury, 1727-1738).


ff. 1-2v, Table of contents with rubric, [T]abula libelli de prescientia dei et predestinatione contra curiosos incipit feliciter. Prologus de prescientia dei incipit; incipit, “Tractatus incipit. Et primo ponitur primus modus quo facile…”; final rubric, Tabula libelli de prescientia dei et predestinatione contra curiosos exit feliciter;

ff. 3-4v, blank;

ff. 5-7, [Laurentius de Pratis Gallicus], Liber de prescientia et predestinatione dei, Prologue: rubric, Liber de prescientia et predestinatione dei contra curiosos magistri Johannis de Turrecremata ordinis predicatorum cardinalis sancti sixti incipit; incipit, “[D]uos esse procedendi modos contra illos qui de prescientia dei querunt certissimum est. Est etiam modus primus et unus levis expeditus et congruus…”; explicit, “…obmutescere facit canem projectum si fuerit in os eius”;

ff. 7-64v, [Laurentius de Pratis Gallicus], De prescientia divina: rubric, Prologus de prescientia divina; exit. Tractatus incipit. Et primo ponitur primus modus quo facile superbia prescitorum refellitur ; incipit, “[Q]uerentibus curiose divina secreta que sunt altissima sunt profundissima sunt a nostro sensu remota et humanis intellectibus sunt occulta…”;

ff. 64v-114v, [Laurentius de Pratis Gallicus], De predestinatione divina with rubric, De predestinatione divina; incipit, [S]ufficerent ista que dicta sunt si adversarii veritatis cum his que sunt solius prescientie…” [Stegmüller, no. 4025]; last rubric, Questio quare fecit dues diabolum vel [?] sciebat esse casurum; incipit, “[S]i autem de diabolo questio moveatur et queratur quare dues fecit…”; breaking off “[…] Deus enim cum sit su[m]me bonus dyabolum bonum fecit […]” [ends incomplete].

This unpublished treatise deals with the important theological problem of “prescience” or the foreknowledge of God in regard to future contingent facts, as well as the associated problem of “predestination,” by which God has appointed and ordained all events occurring in time, including those that are influenced or even proceed from man’s free will.

Until further study confirms otherwise, this work is attributed in the scholarly literature on slim evidence to Laurentius de Pratis Gallicus, a French Dominican preacher and master in theology from Arras, confessor for the Dominican convent of La Thieulloye or Thieuloye near Arras, active in 1451 (see “Arras” in Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastique, Paris, Letouzé et Ané, 1925, vol. IV, col. 695). He is known only for this unique work recorded in Kaeppeli under the title Liber praescientiae dei de praedestinatione ac libero arbitrio contra curiosos Parisius publice disputatus (see Kaeppeli, III, no. 2822). Kaeppeli cites four other manuscripts, all dating from the fifteenth century and all in the Vatican Library: Vat. Urbin. 8, ff. 165-199v (Anon.) (see Codices Urbinates Latini, Roma, Typis Vaticanis, 1902, p. 15); Vat. Urbin. 59, ff. 273-307 (Anon.); Vat. Urbin. 564, ff. 1-50, with the following incipit and colophon: “In hoc codice continetur liber de prescientia dei contra curiosos Parisius publice disputatus”; f. 50: “Explicit liber de praesciencia dei, predestinatione ac libero arbitio contra curiosos editus a magistro Laurentio de Pratis ord. sancti Dominici”; Vat. lat. 11565, ff. 24-57v (Anon.). Among these four manuscripts, there is only the one manuscript (Bibl. Vat. Urbin. 564) that bears evidence of Laurentius de Pratis’s authorship. On Laurentius de Pratis, see also Quétif and Echard, Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum, II, 997. (Stegmüller, followed by the database “In principio,” wrongly attributes the work, citing one of the four manuscripts Urb. Lat. 8, ff. 165-200, to Joachim of Flore [see Stegmüller, III, no. 4025; and critical edition by Huck, 1938, pp. 278-287])

The present, previously unknown manuscript, which dates close to the lifetime of its author(s), presents new evidence for a possible alterative authorship of the little-studied treatise. In a fifteenth-century rubric entirely integral with the text, the work is unequivocally attributed to Johannes de Turrecremata, or Juan de Torquemada, and not Laurentius de Pratis Gallicus. A Dominican like Laurentius de Pratis and his contemporary, Johannes de Turrecremata (1388-1468) was a leading ecclesiastical figure in the fifteenth century. He was born in Valladolid, entered the Dominican convent of the same city, was named cardinal of the Roman Church in 1439, and acted as a key figure in several of the Church councils of his day. The subject of the present treatise would seem to be consistent with his interests as expressed in his voluminous writings, and, if the work is by him, it would present new evidence on his theology. Indeed, it should be compared with the work on the same subject by Joachim of Flore. Further research accompanied by a critical edition is necessary to resolve the question of authorship, confirming whether the work is, in fact, by Laurentius de Pratis or whether it is a hitherto unrecorded treatise by the celebrated Johannes of Turrecremata.


Baraut, C. “Joachim de Flore,” in Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique, Paris, 1974, vol. VIII, col. 1184.

Binder, K. “El cardinal Juan de Torquemada y el movimiento de la reforma eclesiastica en el siglo XV,” in Revista de teologia, t. 3 (1953), pp. 42-66.

Huck, J.C. Joachim von Floris und die joachitische Literatur, Fribourg-en-Brisgau, Harder & Co., 1938 [critical edition of the unpublished treatise, based on the sole manuscript in Padua, Bibl. Ant. N. 322].

Garrastachu, J.M. “Los manoscritos del Card. Torquemada en la Bibl. Vaticana,” La Ciencia Tomista 41 (1930), pp. 188-217, pp. 291-322.

Kaeppeli, T. Scriptores ordinis Praedicatorum Medii Aevi, III, Rome, 1980, pp. 24-42, no. 2822.

Lederer, S. Die spanische cardinal Johann von Torquemada, sein Leben und seine Schriften, Freiburg, 1879.

Quétif J. and Echard J., Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum, Paris, 1719-1721, II, p. 997.

Sieben, H. J. “Torquemada, Juan de,” in Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique, tome XV, Paris, 1991, col. 1048-1054.

Stegmüller, F. Repertorium biblicum medii aevi, III, Matriti, 1951, no. 4024 and 4025.

[Vatican]. Bibliothecae Apostolicae Vaticanae codices manu scripti recensiti… Codices Urbinates Latini, Rome, Typis Vaticanis, 1902.

Online resources

Work securely attributed to Joachim de Flore, with the Dialogi de prescientia et predestinatione

History of the Dominican Order with many useful links