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RAIMUNDUS LULLUS, Liber de uenatione substantiae, accidentis et compositi; Liber novus de anima rationalis; Liber novus physicorum et compendiosus

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Northern Italy, c. 1375-1425

TM 777

i (modern paper) + 154 + i (original parchment flyleaf, numbered f. 154) + i (modern paper), on parchment (very fine), early foliation in Arabic numerals in ink top outer corner recto, 1-101, 101a [numbered in a modern hand], 102-153, modern foliation in pencil follows the earlier foliation, complete (collation, i-vii10 viii4 [through f. 74v], viii-xi10 [8, f. 101a] xii-xvi10), some leaf and quire signatures remain in two series, the first quire evidently with leaf numbers only since the third quire is labelled ‘b’, and with the second series beginning with quire nine on f. 75 as ‘a’, boxed horizontal catchwords, center lower margin, quires 1-8, and very bottom inner margin (mostly trimmed and faint) in the remaining quires, written by two scribes in small neat rounded gothic book hands, influenced by cursive scripts (or semitextualis, Derolez, 2003, pp. 118-180), the second scribe beginning at f. 75, red rubrics, alternating red and blue paragraph marks, three- to two-line initials, alternating red and blue, all with red pen decoration, except f. 1v, red initial with blue penwork,  two seven-line ILLUMINATED INITIALS, ff. 1 and 75, initials are pink, edged in black, filled acanthus curls and other foliate motifs in red, pink, green, and yellow on deep blue with white tracery, on highly polished gold grounds, with curling acanthus at the corners and sides and polished gold balls with black rays or spikes; initial, f. 75, extends into a short bar border in the same style decorated with knots, slight ink stains on a few folios, minor dirt and smudges, but overall in very fine condition with wide margins. EARLY WALLET BINDING, with the back cover continuing to form a flat fore-edge flap and then extending three-quarters over the front cover, of blind-tooled brown leather over pasteboard, spine with four raised bands including one at the top for the head band, head and tail bands, tooled in blind, front cover with three sets of quadruple fillets forming a narrow outer panel with intertwined vines, filled with floral and leaf stamps, a middle border with small quatrefoil stamps, and a rectangular panel with eight large diamond stamps of a unicorn, arranged in pairs, the last row slightly cut off, back cover with similar outer border, middle border with round floral stamps and diamond shaped fleur-de-lis stamps, and a narrow inner panel of rope interlace, fore edge flap tooled with similar motifs, with a narrow central panel of diamond-shaped fleur-de-lis stamps, restored, in very good condition apart from slight cracking and wear along the outer extremities of spine and cover of the fore edge. Dimensions 205 x 140 mm.

A handsome manuscript with wide margins and illuminated initials of three texts by Ramon Llull, one of the most intriguing figures from the high Middle Ages. Llull’s thought influenced some of the most important thinkers of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, and continues to hold the interest of a wide audience today. None of these texts are found in North American collections, and all are extremely rare on the market. The provenance of this copy is of special interest, since it was owned by three renowned bibliophiles, the physician and Llull aficionado, Nicolaus Pol (d. 1532), Haven O’More, and Joost Ritman.


1. Written in Northern Italy, possibly in Padua or Venice, at the end of the fourteenth century or early fifteenth century, c. 1375-1425, as suggested by the evidence of the script and illuminated initials. 

The text was carefully corrected after it was copied. The corrections, mostly supplying omitted passages, many quite lengthy, are not in the hand of the scribe, but are almost certainly contemporary, and suggest this was made in a commercial shop – the number of corrections through f. 45v is notable. There are also a few later notes, mostly brief, in an elegant Italic hand commenting on the text, for example, ff. 18, 35-36 and 150 (possibly added by Nicolaus Pol?, see below).

2. Belonged to Nicolaus Pol (c. 1467 – 1532), who served as the physician of Sigismud, the Archduke of Austria (1427-1496), and then of the Holy Roman Emperors, Maximilian (1459-1526), and Charles V (1500-1558), from 1487 until his death in 1532. He received a medical degree in 1494, and almost all of his books were inscribed by him, “Nicolaus Pol, doctor, 1494.” This inscription was formerly included in this manuscript on the verso of the front flyleaf when it was in the Biblioteca Collegiata at San Candido, Innichen; it can be seen in the digital reproduction of the manuscript available at the Reproducció digital del Raimundus-Lullus-Institut de Freiburg (Online Resources). The original flyleaves, including the leaf with this inscription, were removed and replaced by modern paper flyleaves by one of its subsequent owners.

Pol collected a substantial library, estimated at some 1350 volumes, including both printed books and manuscripts, including volumes on medicine, natural sciences, alchemy, astrology and divination. He was particularly interested in the works of Ramon Llull. He owned twenty-two books that included works by Llull, of which fourteen, including this one, were manuscripts (see Frisch, nos. 251-272; Rubió i Balaguer, 1917 and 1985, and Tenge-Wolf, 2005).

3. After Pol’s death in 1532, his library passed to the library at Innichen in the South Tyrol. Surviving volumes of his library are now scattered; some remain Innichen; others are at Innsbruck and Vienna, and in the United States at the National Library of Medicine at Yale University, and in the Dittrick Museum of Medical History at Case Western Reserve University (their collection includes thirty-three volumes purchased in 1929 from Maggs Brothers).

4. Belonged to the Biblioteca della Collegiata (Stiftsbibliothek) at San Candido, Innichen; their manuscript, MS VIII.D.1. Because the manuscript was described and digitized for the Raimundus Lullus Institute in Freiburg, and subsequently described on the Ramon Llull Database, it is still sometimes referred to in the scholarly literature by this shelfmark.

5. Sold at Christie’s, 16 November 1977, lot 312 to Quaritch.

6. From the library of Haven O’More, who purchased it from Quaritch in 1978; sold in his sale, Collection of the Garden Ltd. Magnificent Books and Manuscripts, Conceived and Formed by Haven O’More, Funded by Michael Davis, Sotheby’s, New York, 9 November 1989, lot 3. 

7. The Garden Ltd. was an association formed “primarily to write and develop new manuscripts, to rewrite, edit and publish manuscripts, and to hold and collect rare books and manuscripts.” Its sale was brought about by a lawsuit filed by Michael Davis, the financial partner of the enigmatic and rather odd collector who called himself Haven O’More. Their fascinating story is told by Nicholas Basbanes in A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes and the Eternal Passion for Books (Basbanes, 1995).

8. Belonged to Joost R. Ritman (b. 1941), the Dutch businessman and distinguished collector of art and books, who acquired it from Sotheby’s in 1989; Bibliotheca Philosophia Hermetica, MS 101 (bookplate, inside front cover); briefly described in Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections (Online Resources), and in Gentile, 1999, no. 35, pp. 219-220.


The binding of this manuscript is a rare and fascinating example of a lavishly tooled leather wallet binding. Most extant examples of wallet bindings (bindings in which the back cover continues around to protect the fore edge, often, although not always, fastening on the front cover) from Western Europe are utilitarian bindings made from limp vellum; an excellent example is the Dutch vernacular prayer book from the Convent of St. Cecelia in Hoorn, bound in a sixteenth-century limp vellum wallet binding described on this site, with its original brass clasp in the middle of the front cover (reference number, TM 418; see Hindman and Bergeron-Foote, no. 6, p. 21; additional examples, TM 447, no. 1, p. 11, Italy, fifteenth century; and TM 444, no. 30, p. 77, Germany, sixteenth century). 

Examples of wallet bindings constructed from blindstamped leather over pasteboard, such as the one described here, are much less common. Two known examples are both sixteenth century: British Library, IA8010, printed in Nuremberg, c. 1499, bound in Germany or France (see British Library, Database of Bookbindings: http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/bookbindings/LargeImage.aspx?RecordId=020-000007604&ImageId=ImageId=43407&Copyright=BL), and a manuscript copied in the Low Countires, probably Antwerp, c. 1548 (described on this site, TM 546).

This example is richly decorated. Its most distinctive stamp is a large unicorn (similar to EBDB s016372, Passau, Bavaria, c. 1491-2; and EBDB s009804, Austria, no date; see


http://www.hist-einband.de/recherche/ebwerkz.php?rwz=b&id=107689w). Many of the books owned by Pol were bound in stamped calf over wooden boards, most likely in Innsbruck by a binder trained in Augsburg (Fisch, 1947, p. 29). If this binding dates from Pol’s lifetime, as seems likely, it is an early example of a wallet-style binding.


ff. 1-74v, Deus cum tua sapientia et benedictione. Incipimus librum de uenatione substantie et accidentis et compositi, incipit, “Quoniam logica est scentia difficilis labilis et prolixa …”; De diuisione huius libri, incipit, “Diuiditur est liber in decem distinctiones …”; f. 1v, De primi distinctione, incipit, “Distinctio ista diuiditur in duos partes videlicet in principium [sic] et regulas … ad uenandum uel ad inueniendum ea quo queritur et potest queri”, Ad laudem dei et honorem summe sapientie et gratie diuine finiuit Raymundus istam artem apud montem pesulanum in memse februarii m. ccc vii incarnationis domini nostri yhesu christi in cuius custodia sit recomendata et virginis gloriose matris eius gloriose marie;

Raymundus Lullus, Liber de uenatione substantiae, accidentis et compositi (Book of the Quest for Substance, Accident and Composites); Fidora and Rubio, 2008, opus 130, p. 194; seventeen manuscripts recorded in the Lull database, including this one, none in the United States, and this the only one in private hands; critical edition by Madre, 1998, CCCM 114, listing this manuscript p. xviii (incorrectly describing it as dated 1494).

In this work, written in February, 1308 in Montpellier, Llull unites (meta-)physical and logical knowledge to his method. Using the science of logic (that he describes as “difficult, poor and prolix”) and the knowledge of physical phenomena, he includes topics such as chance, design, quantity, complexity, movement, essence and being in ten distinctions. This work is an important one in Llull’s thought, belonging to his later decades when he increasingly sought to express his Art in terms that his contemporary theologians, schooled in Aristotelian logic and metaphysics would accept. The concepts of “substance” and “accident”, are explored in Aristotle’s Categories and Metaphysics. “Substance” is the essence of something (such as “dog” or “man”), whereas “accident” is a dependent quality (such as “white” or “fat”).

ff. 75-143, Deus cum tua virtute incipimus librum nouum de anima, incipit, “Quoniam anima racionalis est …”; De diuisione huius libri, incipit, “Diuiditur hic liber in x. partes …”; f. 1v, De prima parte huius libri et primo de prima specie, incipit, “Queritur utrum anima racionalis sit … quod non posset homo eas[?] scribere nec extimare [sic], Amen”, Finitus fuit hic liber in rome ciuitate anno incarnacionis domini nostri Ihesu christo m cc nonagesimo quarto liber in quo significata essentia animae racionalis  ... et per congitionem sui ipsius sciat melius intelligere recolere et deum amare. Deo gracias. Explicit;

Raymundus Lullus, Liber novus de anima rationalis (New Book of the Rational Soul); Fidora and Rubio, 2008, opus 67, p. 171; This is a Latin translation of the original Catalan work, listed in thirty manuscripts in the Raymond Llull Database, including this one, none in the United States, and none in private hands. The Catalan text is known in only one manuscript.

Edited in Beati Raymundi Lulli Opera VI (1737; reimpr. F. Stegmüller, Frankfurt-M., 1965), int. VII, 415-474; Butinyà, Madrid, 2012, pp. 173-208; and in Celia López Alcalde, ‘Liber novus de anima rationali’ de Ramon Llull. Edición crítica y studio, Tesi doctoral, Barcelona, 2012 (pdf available online, http://orbita.bib.ub.edu/llull/docs/Celia%20tesi%20COMPL%20CORR.pdf), for this manuscript see p. XCVI -XCVII.

This work, written in Rome, possibly in 1296 (although the date 1294, attested in this manuscript is found in other copies and was accepted in the most recent critical edition) consists of a series of twenty-four general and 240 particular questions formulated according to the “Rules of 53, tabula generalis” of Llull’s Art. Its special focus is on the structure of the human soul, and the role of the three faculties.

ff. 143v-153v, Deus cum tua virtute gratia sapientia atque ineffabili caritate. Incipit liber nouus phisicorum  et compendiosus, incipit, “Cum rerum phisicarum principa sufficienter determinare valde sit … Sufficiant autem haec brevitate gaudenti quoniam his subtiliter perscrutatis possunt alia adipisci”, Ad laudem et honorem Domini nostri Jesu Christi qui verus Deus et verus homus est finivit Raimundus istum librum Parisius mense Februarii. Qui inceptus fuit mense Januarii die ultima sole eclipsante anno 1309 incarnationis Domini nostri Jesu Christi.

Raymundus Lullus, Liber novus physicorum et compendiosus (The New and Brief Book of Physics); Fidora and Rubio, 2008, opus 157, p. 207; known in sixteen manuscripts including this one on the Llull Database, none in the United States, and none in private hands; ed. Riedlinger, 1978, CCCM 303 (based on fourteen manuscripts, including this one).

In this work, written in Paris in February 1310, Llull confronts the view found in Aristotelian Physics, which argued that knowledge of physical phenomenon is acquired through the senses and the imagination. In Llull’s unified worldview, in contrast, Physics is based on the principles and rules of his Art. In particular, he argued that nature was present in God (and God present in nature), and thus an understanding of nature is open at its limit to an understanding of God.

This manuscript includes texts by one of the most intriguing figures of the High Middle Ages, Ramon Llull (1232-1316). Llull’s thought, expressed in a huge corpus of works, was important not only in his own day, but throughout the Renaissance and Early modern period; his thought has held renewed fascination for today’s historians and logicians. It is interesting to see these three works, all of which deal with different aspects of Llull’s theory of knowledge, copied together. Two of them, De venatione, and Liber novus physicorum, are late works, and are expressions of Llull’s concern at that time in his life to formulate his ideas in ways that would be accepted by the established community of academic theologians in Paris, by using logical and metaphysical methods of argument based on Aristotle.

Ramon Llull (1232-1316) was born in Palma, on the island of Majorca, previously part of the Islamic Almohad Empire, which had only recently been conquered by King James I of Aragon. He was from a wealthy family, married, and had children, but in 1263 he experienced a conversion, and devoted the remainder of his life to Christ, preaching, writing, and leading missionary efforts to convert his Islamic neighbors. 

Llull was an amazingly prolific writer. The most recent catalogue of his works lists 280 texts by him (Fidora and Rubio, 2008, pp. 134-242; see also Bonner, Selected Works, 1985, vol. II, 1257-1304; Plaltzeck, 1962-64, includes 292 works, of which 256 are preserved; and the Ramon Llull Database, online resources). He wrote in Latin, Arabic, Catalan, and had works translated into French, Provençal and Italian. He was important as a contributor to many fields, including philosophy, theology, and apologetics. The central expression of his system of thought, which he called his “Art”, was “a complex system, using semi-mechanical techniques combined with symbolic notation and combinatory diagrams, which was to be the basis of his apologetics in addition to being applicable to all fields of knowledge” (Bonner, Doctor Illuminatus, 1985, p. 1). Because of his strong desire to convince unbelievers (in particular Jews and Muslims) of the truth of Christianity, Llull’s Art differs from most other (indeed, probably all other) medieval philosophical writings, in that he constructed an abstract system that purposefully avoided relying on earlier authorities – even the Bible, and aimed to base his system on fundamental notions accepted by people of all faiths.  


Basbanes, Nicholas. A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books, New York, 1995, chapter six, “To Have and to Have No More.”

Batllori, Miguel. “El lulismo en Italia. (Ensayo de síntesis)” Revista de Filosofía 2 (Madrid, 1943), pp. 253-313, 479-537; 3 (1944), pp. 146, this manuscript mentioned p. 309.

Batllori, Miguel. Ramon Llull i el lul·lisme, ed. ‘Eulàlia Duran, Valencia, Tres i Quatre, 1993, pp. 253-276 (mentioning this manuscript, pp. 257, 273, 276).

Bonner, Anthony. The Art and Logic of Ramon Llull: A User’s Guide, Leiden and Boston, 2007.

Bonner, Anthony, ed. and translator. Doctor Illuminatus. A Ramon Llull Reader, Princeton, New Jersey, 1985

Bonner, Anthony, ed. and translator. Selected Works of Ramon Llull (1232-1316), Princeton, New Jersey, 1985 [none of the works in this manuscript are included in this book, but it is one of the main sources on Llull’s life and works].

Butinyà, Júlia, ed.  Los mundos de Ramón Llull en las lenguas de hoy, Madrid, 2012, pp. 173-208.

Derolez, Albert. The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books from the Twelfth to the Early Sixteenth Century, Cambridge, 2003.

Fidora, Alexander and Josep E. Rubio, ed. Raimundus Lullus: An Introduction to his Life, Works and Thought, contributions by Óscar de la Cruz ... [et al.], translated by Robert D. Hughes, Anna A Akasoy and Magnus Ryan, Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis 214, Turnhout, 2008.

Fisch, Max Harold. Nicolaus Pol, Doctor, 1494: With a Critical Text of his Guaiac Tract, ed. with a translation by Dorothy M. Schullian, New York, 1947, this manuscript, no. 271, p. 194 (as SC VIII.d.1), incorrectly described as on paper.

Gentile, Sebastiano and Carlos Gilly. Marsilio Ficino e il ritorno di Ermete Trismegisto (Marsilio Ficino and the return of Hermes Trismegistus), Florence, 1999.

Hindman, Sandra and Ariane Bergeron-Foote. Binding and the Archaeology of the Medieval and Renaissance Book, Text Manuscripts 1, Les Enluminures, 2010.

Madre, Alois, ed. Raimundi Lulli Opera Latina, Tomus XXII, 130-133, in Monte Pessulano et Pisis anno 1308 composita, Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis 114, Turnhout, 1998, listing this manuscript p. xviii (incorrectly describing it as dated 1494).

Platzeck, Erhard-Wolfram. Raimund Lull; sein Leben, seine Werke, die Grundlagen seines Denkens (Prinzipienlehre), Düsseldorf, L. Schwann, 1962-64.

Riedlinger, Helmut, ed. in Raimundi Lulli Opera Latina, Tomus VI, 156-167, Parisiis anno MCCCX composita, Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis, 303, Turnhout, 1978

Rubió i Balaguer, Jordi. “Los códices lulianos de la biblioteca de Innichen (Tirol)”, Revista de Filología Española 4 (Madrid, 1917), pp. 303-340 (reprinted in Rubió i Balaguer, 1985).

Rubió i Balaguer, Jordi. Ramon Llull i el lul·lisme, Barcelona, Publicacions de l’Abadia de Montserrat, 1985, describing this manuscript, no. 3, pp. 427-8 (reprint of the article listed above).

Tenge-Wolf, Viola. “Nikolaus Pol und die Llull-Handschriften der Stiftsbibliothek San Candido/Innichen”, in Ramon Llull und Nikolaus von Kues. Eine Begegnung im Zeichen der Toleranz, eds. E. Bidese, A. Fidora and P. Renner, Instrumenta patristica et mediaevalia 46, Studia lulliana 2, Turnhout, 2005, pp. 261-286, this manuscript mentioned pp. 275, 283, 285.           

Online resources

Einbanddatenbank (EBDB - Database of Book Bindings)

Ramon Llull Database; San Candido, Innichen, Biblioteca della Collegiata (Stiftsbibiothek), MS VIII.D.1
http://orbita.bib.ub.edu/llull/ms.asp?1329 (as Ritman, MS 101)

Reproducció digital del Raimundus-Lullus-Institut de Freiburg

Digital reproduction, as San Candido, MS VIII.D.1, http://freimore.uni-freiburg.de/receive/DocPortal_document_10576 (described with the index on f. iv, and another recipe following f. 154, both now missing)

Ramon Llull Database; describing this manuscript,

Nicolaus Pol Collection, Dittrick Medical History Center, Case Western Reserve University