TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Vulgate Bible

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Southern France, Montpellier or Toulouse?, c. 1230-40

TM 327

ii (modern paper) + ii (parchment) + 491 folios + ii (modern paper) + ii (parchment) + 491 folios + ii (modern paper), modern foliation, 1-494, in pencil, bottom, outer corner, beginning with the flyleaves as ff. 1-2, and with one error, so f. 285 is followed by f. 287, on very thin parchment with some holes and repairs, complete (collation i12 [beginning f. 3] ii-xii16 [through f. 190] xiii24 [-1, before f. 191] xiv4 [-4, following f. 216, cancelled with no loss of text] xv14 xvi16 [-16, following f. 245, cancelled with no loss of text] xvii12 [-11 and 12, following f. 255, cancelled with no loss of text] xviii-xxi12 xxii10 xxiii16 xxiv14 xxv-xvi12 xxvii10 xxviii-xxix12 xxx-xxxii16 xxxiii4 [-4, following f. 453, cancelled with no loss of text] xxxiv20 xxxv21 [structure uncertain; text is complete]), horizontal catchwords in many quires, leaves in quire 13, ff. 191-213 (Psalms), are signed with red letters, written below the top line by at least three scribes in very small precise gothic bookhands in two columns of forty-seven to fort-nine lines (three columns in the Interpretation of Hebrew Names), ruled in lead with single full-length vertical bounding lines, and often with the top and bottom two lines, or the first, third, ante-penultimate and last ruled line full across; some folios with an additional horizontal rule, lower margin, and with full-length double vertical rules in the outer margin, prickings in the three outer margins on most folios (justification 125-123 x 85-82 mm.), many guide letters for the initials and numbers for the chapters remain, red and blue running titles, modern chapters numbered in the margin in red and blue roman numerals with a red or blue paragraph mark, chapters in the Old Testament begin with one-line alternately red and blue initials within the line of text, many chapters in the New Testament begin with 3- to 4-line alternately red and blue initials with pen flourishes in the other color, each Psalm begins with alternately red and blue 2-line initials with contrasting pen flourishes, opening words following the initial of Genesis and Matthew copied in elongated red and blue majuscules, books and most prologues begin with 5- to 8-line parted red and blue puzzle initials with red and blue pen flourishes, some with figurative details including animal (monkey?), bird and human heads. Attractively bound in modern dark brown calf by Courtland Benson, blind-stamped with triple fillets, fleur-de-lis, human heads, and other stamps, spine with five-raised bands. Last leaf partially torn away, with some loss of text on recto (blank with later notes on verso), some staining and damage to the edges of the four folios preceding the last one, with no loss of text, opening leaves darkened, but legible, throughout there are a some leaves that are soiled through use, but most are in excellent condition, and all are legible. Dimensions 168 x 115 mm.

Small one-volume Bibles are one of the most significant achievements of thirteenth-century book production. Once easily obtainable (seventeen are listed in the Schoenberg database for 1973), they now change hands much less frequently (the Schoenberg database lists only four in 1996). This example from Southern France is of particular importance because of its text and extensive marginal glosses, which likely reflect hitherto unstudied lectures on the Bible. Many of the more studied and famous examples of Parisian shops are lovely artifacts, but textually are of little interest; this book, with its charming grotesques and attractive pen initials, is an important witness to the reception of the Vulgate current in early thirteenth-century Parisian Bibles in Southern France.


1. Copied in Southern France to judge by script, decoration, and later provenance. The script and decoration are a mix of northern and southern features typical of manuscripts from Southern France, and the style of both suggest a date c.1230-1240, which places this Bible in the period directly following the Albigensian Crusade (1208-1229). In the wake of this brutal suppression of the Cathar heresy (and the colonization of Southern France by the Capetian Kings of the north), there were continued efforts by the Church to promote orthodoxy in both teaching and preaching, including the foundation of the University of Toulouse in 1229. Numerous masters and students from Paris traveled to Toulouse during its early years, and it is perhaps telling that details from the text of this Bible suggest a Parisian exemplar from ca. 1200-30 was consulted when it was being copied. The extensive marginal glosses also suggest that a student in Theology owned this book. Alternative, in view of this Bible’s later links to Montpellier, it is possible that it may in fact have been copied there. Montpellier was also an important center of learning in Southern France in the thirteenth century. The University of Montpellier was known especially for its Schools of Medicine and Law, but even before the formal recognition of a Faculty of Theology, theology was certainly studied there in the Franciscan and Dominican convents.

2. Ownership note, dated 30 March 1361, of Master Barnabe Piguet, master of arts and doctor of decretals, witnessed by Masters Robert Le Nouin and Colin Barbe (note in French, f. 1, front flyleaf).

3. C. 1500, sold by Jean Vielle to Oliver Jasmonte, master of theology, for two gold scuti (Latin note, f. 1, front flyleaf).

4. Notes from various fifteenth and sixteenth-century owners, including a quotation citing Justinian, Ecclesiastes 10:16 and Proverbs 8:16, and the inscription composed by Pius II, pope from 1458-64, for the tomb of his parents (front flyleaf, f. 1); two small drawings, one mostly effaced, which may be images of the stamps of a legal notary (front flyleaf, f. 2).

5. Seventeenth-century inscription from the Capucin convent in Montpellier, “ad usum fratrum Capucinorum Montispelis, Catalogo Inscriptus sub Linea B.” The convent was destroyed in the Wars of Religion. It was rebuilt in the 1620s, and its library was re-endowed through gifts by local families. It was suppressed during the French Revolution. In the seventeenth-century, the Capuchin library also included the famous two-volume Bible from the first quarter of the twelfth century, London, British Library, MS Harley 4772-3, given to the Capuchins in 1622 by François Ranchin, chancellor of the Medical School, which includes an ownership note identical to the one in this Bible (see Walter Cahn, Romanesque Manuscripts: the Twelfth Century. A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in France [London: Harvey Miller, 1996], pp. 60-61, no. 49 ills. 110, 111, pl. VI).

6. Belonged to Baron Wladimir de Cäneisen, Byzantinist and art historian (his sale, Andrieux, Paris, 15 December 1930, lot 12.

7. Belonged to Judge Walter Beals (1876-1960) of Seattle, the presiding judge of the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi War Criminals (see de Ricci, Census, 1935, p. 2188 no. 2).


ff. 1-2, parchment flyleaves, with a list of the books of the Bible added on f. 1v;

ff. 3- 374, Old Testament: f. 3, [General prologue] Frater ambrosius [Stegmüller 284]; f. 5, [Prologue to Genesis] Desiderii mei [Stegmüller 285]; f. 5v, Genesis; f. 23, Exodus; f. 39, Leviticus; f. 50v, Numbers; f. 66, Deuteronomy; f. 79, Joshua; f. 88v, Judges; f. 98v Elimelech peregrinatur in terram moabitidem cum uxore suam et duabus filii … patris David [Capitula list to Ruth, Series K in Biblia sacra iuxta latinam vulgatam versionem ad codicum fidem cura et sudio monachorum Abbatiae pontificiae Sancti Hieronymi in Urbe O.S.B. edita, ed. H. Quentin, et. al. (Rome 1926-94), vol. 4, pp. 366-367]; f. 99, Ruth; f. 100, [Prologue to Kings] Viginti et duas [Stegmüller 323]; f. 101, De patre et matre danielis [sic] et Samuelis … et liberi saulis [part of the Capitula list to 1 Kings, Series E in Biblia sacra iuxta latinam vulgatam versionem…, vol. 5, pp. 58-59]; f. 101, 1 King; f. 114, 2 King; f. 125v, 3 King; f. 138v, Ochozias [om. consulit] Beelzebub ignis de celo … omnia et de ioachim [Capitula list to 4 Kings, Series E in Biblia sacra iuxta latinam vulgatam versionem …, vol. 6, pp. 52-53); f. 139, 4 King; f. 151, De adam usque ad ioab … et obitu david [Capitula list to 1 Chronicles, Series unica, forma b in Biblia sacra iuxta latinam vulgatam versionem …, vol. 7; f. 152, 1 Chronicles; f. 162v, 2 Chronicles, concluding with the Prayer of Manasses (Stegmüller 93,2); f. 175v [Prologue to Ezra] Utrum difficilius [Stegmüller 330]; f. 176, 1 Ezra; f. 179v, Nehemiah; f. 184v, 2 Ezra (=3 Ezra, Stegmüller 94,1), ending mid column-b, f. 190; remainder and f. 190v, blank; ff. 191- 216{leaf with Psalms 1-8 missing} Psalm 9-150, ending gloria patri et fili et spiritu sancto sic erat in principio et nunc et semper; [f. 216v, blank.]; f. 217, [Prologue to Tobit] Chromatio et heliodoro … Mirari non desino [Stegmüller 332]; f. 217, Tobit; f. 220v, [Prologue to Judith] Apud herodem [sic] [Stegmüller 335]; f. 221, Judith; f. 226, [Prologue to Esther] Librum hester [Stegmüller 341 and 343 written as one prologue]; f. 226, Esther; f. 231, [Prologue to Job] Cogor per singulos [[Stegmüller 344]; f. 231v, Job; f. 241, [Prologue to Proverbs] Iungat epistola [Stegmüller 457]; f. 242, Proverbs; f. 250, Ecclesiastes, with Eccl. 1:``copied twice, once as a prologue beginning on f. 249v; f. 252v, Song of Songs; f. 254, [Prologue to Wisdom] Liber sapientie [Stegmüller 468]; f. 254, Wisdom, text ends mid col a, f. 255v at Wisdom 6:7; remainder blank; continues f. 256; f. 259v, [Biblical introduction to Ecclesiasticus written as a prologue] Multorum nobis; f. 259v, Ecclesiasticus; f. 272, [Prologue to Isaiah] Nemo cum prophetas [Stegmüller 482]; f. 272, Isaiah; f. 288v, [Prologue to Jeremiah] Ieremias prophetam [Stegmüller 487]; f. 289, Jeremiah; f. 308, Lamentations; f. 310, [Prologue to Baruch] Liber iste [Stegmüller 491]; f. 310, Baruch; f. 311v, [Prologue to Ezekiel] Hezechiel [sic] propheta [Stegmüller 492]; f. 311v, Ezekiel; f. 329 [Prologue to Daniel] Danielem prophetam [Stegmüller 494]; f. 329v, Daniel; f. 337, [Prologue to Minor Prophets] Non idem ordo est [Stegmüller 500]; f. 337, [Prologue to Hosea] Temporibus Ozie, ends mid col a, f. 337v; remainder blank; Hosea begins top col.b [Stegmüller 507]; ends mid col a, f. 337v; remainder blank; Hosea begins top col.b}}; f. 337v, Hosea; f. 340, [Prologues to Joel] Sanctus Ioel [Stegmüller 511]; Iohel fatuel filius [Stegmüller 510]; f. 340 Joel; f. 341v [Prologues to Amos] Ozias rex [Stegmüller 525]; Amos propheta [Stegmüller 512]; Hic amos [Stegmüller 513]; f. 341v Amos; f. 344, [Prologue to Obadiah] Iacob patriarcha .. and Hebrei hunc… sonat aliquid [Stegmüller 519 and 517 written as one prologue; f. 344, Obadiah; f. 344v, [Prologue to Jonah] Sanctum ionam [Stegmüller 524]; Ionas columba [Stegmüller 521], here written as one prologue with red paragraph and marginal note marking the beginning of the second prologue; f. 344v, Jonah; f. 345v, [Prologue to Micah] Temporibus ioathe [Stegmüller 526]; f. 345v, Micah; f. 347, [Prologue to Nahum] Naum prophetam [Stegmüller 528]; f. 347, Nahum; f. 348, [Prologue to Habakkuk] Quatuor prohete [Stegmüller 531]; f. 348v, Habakkuk; f. 349, [Prologue to Zephaniah]; Tradunt hebrei [Stegmüller 534]; f. 349v, Zephaniah; f. 350v, [Prologue to Haggai] Ieremias propheta [Stegmüller 538]; f. 350v, Haggai; f. 351, [Prologue to Zechariah] Anno secundo [Stegmüller 539]; f. 351v, Zechariah; f. 354v, [Prologue to Malachi] Deus per moysen [Stegmüller 543]; ff. 355v-356, [Prologues to Maccabees] Domino excellentissiomo … Cum sim promptus; Reuerentissimo domino … Memini me; Machabeorum libri [Stegmüller 547, 553, and 551]; f. 356, 1 Maccabees; f. 367, 2 Maccabees.

ff. 374v-453v, New Testament: f. 374v, [Prologue to Matthew] Matheus [om. ex Iudaeis] sicut in ordine … intelligendam … [Stegmüller 590]; f. 374, Matthew; f. 385, [Prologue to Mark] Marcus euangelista [Stegmüller 607]; f. 385, Mark; f. 391v, [Prologue to Luke] Lucas sirus [Stegmüller 620]; f. 391v Luke [Luke 1:1-4, often copied as a prologue, here begins with a major initial; Luke 1:5 is marked as chapter one (no initial)]; f. 402v, [Prologue to John] Hic est Iohannes [Stegmüller 624]; f. 402v, John, ending with a rubric written in display script in black: Explicit liber quattuor euangelioum; f. 410v, [Prologue to Acts] Lucas natione syrus [Stegmüller 640]; f. 411, Acts; f. 421, [Prologue to the Catholic Epistles] Non ita [om. ordo] est [Stegmüller 809]; f. 421v, James; f. 422v, 1 Peter; f. 423v, 2 Peter; f. 424, 1 John; f. 425, 2 John; f. 425v, 3 John; f. 425v, Jude; f. 426, [Prologue to Romans] Romani sunt [Stegmüller 677]; f. 426, Romans; f. 430, [Prologue to 1 Corinthians] Corinthii sunt [Stegmüller 685]; f. 430, 1 Corinthians; f. 433v, [Prologue to 2 Corinthians] Post actam [Stegmüller 699]; f. 433v, 2 Corinthians; f. 436v, [Prologue to Galatians] Galate sunt [Stegmüller 707]; f. 436v, Galatians; f. 437v, [Prologue to Ephesians] Ephesi sunt [Stegmüller 715]; f. 437v, Ephesians; f. 439, [Prologue to Philippians] Philippenses sunt [Stegmüller 728]; f. 439, Philippians; f. 440, [Prologue to 1 Thessalonians] Thessalonicenses sunt [Stegmüller 747]; f. 440, 1 Thessalonians; f. 441, [Prologue to 2 Thessalonians] Ad Thessalonicenses [Stegmüller 752]; f. 441, 2 Thessalonians; f. 442, [Prologue to Colossians] Colossenses et hi [Stegmüller 747]; f. 442, Colossians; f. 442v, [Prologue to 1 Timothy] Timotheum instruit [Stegmüller 765]; f. 442v, 1 Timothy; f. 443v, [Prologue to 2 Timothy] Item Timotheo [Stegmüller 772]; f. 443v, 2 Timothy; f. 444v, [Prologue to Titus] Titum commonefacit [Stegmüller 780]; f. 444v, Titus; f. 445, Laodicenses; f. 445, [Prologue to Philemon] Philemoni familiares [Stegmüller 783]; f. 445, Philemon; f. 445, [Prologue to Hebrews] In primis dicendum [Stegmüller 793]; f. 445v, Hebrews; f. 448v, [Prologue to Apocalypse] Iohannes apostolus et euangelista [Stegmüller 834]; f. 448v, Apocalypse, ending … Explicit liber apocalypsis feliciter [ends f. 453, top col. b; remainder blank];

ff. 454-494v, [Interpretation of Hebrew Names] Aaz apprehendens … Zuzim consiliantes eos uel consiliatores eorum [Stegmüller 7709].

Small, portable Bibles which include the complete text of the Vulgate in one compact, although often rather thick volume revolutionized the use and ownership of the Bible. The earliest examples of these portable Bibles were copied in Paris at the end of the 1220s or the early 1230s, and the format was adopted quickly throughout Europe. This Bible is an important early example of a portable Vulgate copied in Southern France in the period following the Albigensian Crusade, when the Church was emphasizing the importance of Orthodox teaching of the Scriptures, and preaching.

Although it is not unusual to find marginal comments in portable thirteenth-century Bibles, the amount of commentary in this volume sets it apart from most surviving examples. Genesis, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Job, Isaiah, the Minor Prophets, and the Gospels all include extensive marginal commentary written in extremely small, precise thirteenth-century hands. These marginal glosses are not random notes added by various readers, but are rather a formal commentary, copied with considerable effort, by an early owner of the Bible. The content of the notes vary, including numerous cross-references to other books of the Bible, explanations of difficult words and of the spiritual sense of a passage, and distinctions, which record the multiple sense of various words in different biblical passages, as well as lengthier passages which expound on particular passages at length; the Glossa Ordinaria and patristic sources are frequently cited; most of the comments are unidentified. For example, the comment on Genesis 28 includes a long list of the use and meanings of “lapidem”; two passages in Leviticus (chapters 15 and 22) note that leprosy signifies heresy. This added commentary deserves further study; it may represent the notes added by a theology student from Montpellier or Toulouse (notes of this type, although written in a larger script, are more commonly found in the margins of manuscripts of the Glossa Ordinaria).

Intriguingly the extensive glosses on ff. 233-237v (Job 8-29) and ff. 287-288v (Isaiah 59-66) have been washed or scraped away; the amount of commentary on these pages was especially profuse, often completely encircling the biblical text in all the outer margins. Consultation of these glosses with ultraviolet light might tell us whether this was done simply to clean up the pages or because the content was in some way offensive.

The text of this Bible is extremely interesting and deserves further study. Details of its text link it to the proto-Paris Bible, a biblical text that circulated in Paris during the first thirty years of the thirteenth century in a small group of Bibles. Textually, the proto-Paris Bible was the direct ancestor to the Paris Bible of c. 1230, which was characterized by a new order of the biblical books, a certain set of prologues, a distinctive text, modern chapter divisions, and the glossary of Hebrew Names.

The order of the books of the Bible in the Old Testament follows the new Paris Order. The New Testament in this Bible is arranged according to a different order (Gospels, Acts, Catholic Epistles, Pauline Epistles and Apocalypse). The Pauline Epistles include the Epistle to the Laodiceans and are arranged as follows: 1,2, Thessalonians, Colossians, 1,2, Timothy, Titus, Laodiceans, Philemon, Hebrews; an order also followed in Paris, BNF, MS lat. 342, a thirteenth-century New Testament from Southern France; see Berger, Histoire de la Vulgate, App. 1, no. 6).

The prologues used before the biblical books in this Bible are especially interesting. The Paris Bible circulated with a standard set of prologues, which are included here with the following exceptions: lacking are Stegmüller 311 (Joshua); Stegmüller 328 (Chronicles); Stegmüller 357 (Job); Stegmüller462/3 (Ecclesiastes);Stegmüller589 (Matthew); and Stegmüller (839) Apocalypse. The prologue to the Apocalypse is Stegmüller 834 instead of 839. Especially noteworthy is the fact that three of the six new prologues that were introduced to the unglossed Vulgate in manuscripts of the proto-Paris Bible are included (Stegmüller 513 (Amos) and Stegmüller 547 and 553 Maccabees).

Three books of the Bible (1 Kings, 4 Kings and 1 Chronicles) are introduced by capitula lists, copied here as continuous prose texts in the same format as the prologues. Capitula lists summarized the biblical text, chapter by chapter, and were copied as lists, often with numbers agreeing with the chapters. The three capitula lists in this Bible are also found in manuscripts of the proto-Paris Bible. They are extremely rare outside these Bibles, and prove that the scribes of this Bible had access to a proto-Paris Bible dating from c.1200-1230.

The chapters divisions are equally of interest and also prove the scribes were working from an exemplar dating from the early decades of the thirteenth century. Throughout, the biblical text is divided into numerous unnumbered chapters. Modern chapter divisions, usually numbered in the margins, are also marked throughout. After c. 1230, it is rare to find Bibles with both older and modern chapters.

Although the extra-biblical features of this Bible prove the scribes had access to a proto-Paris Bible, its textual history is more complex. The New Testament, as we have noted, is arranged according of a different order, and although some of the “new” Paris prologues are included, many are omitted. The actual text of the biblical books also indicate that another exemplar was used; characteristic readings found in Paris Bibles are lacking in Joshua and Numbers, for example; in contrast, the text of Ruth does include readings characteristic of Paris Bibles.

The Bible was copied by a number of scribes in very small, precise Gothic bookhands. In at least two passages, the change of hand occurs at the beginning of a quire, and it is possible that two scribes were working simultaneously. Leaves at the end of quires sixteen and seventeen, following ff. 245v and 255v, were cancelled, so that the text continued correctly from the previous quires.


Vibrant red and blue pen initials are used throughout; the biblical books and prologues begin with very fine red and blue “puzzle” initials, and many chapters begin with red or blue initials; all are decorated with pen decoration in one or both colors, often with long extensions into the margins. Many initials incorporate amusing grotesques, including animal heads (monkeys?), birds and human heads (for example, ff. 5v, 88v, 334v, 355v, 397v, 411, 412, 415, 419v, 425v, 434v, 439v, 444v). The style of the pen decoration is a mélange showing the influence of motifs from Southern Europe (with some similarity to the type found in Paris, BnF, MS nouv. acq. lat. 836, dated 1240, from Castille?; see François Avril, Jean-Pierre Aniel, et. al., Manuscrits enluminés de la Péninsule Ibérique [Paris, 1982], 71-72, no. 79, pl. XLI) as well as motifs current in Paris during the early thirteenth-century (see Patricia Stirnemann, “Fils de la vierge. L’initiale à filigranes parisienne: 1140-1314,” Revue de l’Art 90 [1990] 62-65).


Berger, Samuel. Histoire de la vulgate pendant les premiers siècles du moyen âge, Paris, Hachette, 1893; reprint Hildesheim, 1976.

Biblia sacra iuxta latinam vulgatam versionem ad codicum fidem … cura et studio monachorum abbatiae pontificiae Sancti Hieronymi in urbe O. S. B. edita, ed. Henri Quentin, et. al., 18 vols., Rome, Typis polyglottis vaticanis, 1926-94.

Lambert, M. D. Medieval Heresy, London, 1977.

Light, Laura. “French Bibles c. 1200-30: a new look at the origin of the Paris Bible,” The early medieval Bible: its production, decoration and use, ed. Richard Gameson, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 155-176.

Light, Laura. “The New Thirteenth-Century Bible and the Challenge of Heresy,” Viator 18 (1987), pp. 275-288.

Moore, R. I. The Formation of a Persecuting Society, Oxford, 1987.

Rashdall, Hastings. The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, new edition eds. F. M. Powicke and A. B. Emden, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1936, 2:116-139 and 160-173.

Stegmüller, Fridericus. Repertorium biblicum medii aevi, Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1950-61, and Supplement, with the assistance of N. Reinhardt, Madrid, 1976-80.

Online resources

Latin Bible

Medieval Universities

Medieval University
(New Catholic Encyclopedia; “Universities, Origin and Organization”)

(New Catholic Encyclopedia; “Montpellier, Diocese of”)