Special Collections




11–12  OCTOBER 2013


Dzon, Mary
The Portrayal of Mary’s Widowhood Miracles in Late-Medieval Europe

While apocryphal narratives about Mary’s birth and assumption were very popular and widespread in the Middle Ages, only a few medieval narratives that treat the Virgin’s life cover her activities after the death of her son and her own final days, and none do so with much detail. An exception is the thirteenth-century Vita Mariae, a long Latin poem thought to be written by a German monk. In this text, Mary lives a mixed life, alternating between contemplation and manual labor at home, and the performance of good deeds in aid of those around her and further abroad. A focal point of the new church, Mary is seen to exercise a quasi-episcopal role in Jerusalem: she strengthens many Christians in their newly-adopted faith, sends the apostles out to preach, and spreads the Good News, both orally and through writing. In her old age, Mary is also shown to work miracles for ordinary people in need of physical assistance of various sorts. This paper focuses on the miracle section of the Vita Mariae, exploring possible contextual explanations for its inclusion, particularly its relationship to contemporary stories about Mary’s posthumous miracles. The illustration of these Miracles of the Virgin likely provided only minimal assistance to the artists who depicted Mary’s widowhood miracles in two late-medieval manuscripts of the Vita Mariae. 

Fein, Susanna
Harley 2253, Digby 86, and Auchinleck: The Evidence for an Early Middle English Canon from the West Midlands
My purpose in this talk is to reconstruct and characterize the “canon” of vernacular admonitory and secular verse, ca. 1270–1340, recognized and utilized by the compilers of some important anthologies, namely, Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Digby 86, London, British Library, Harley MS 2253, and the Auchinleck Manuscript (Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Adv MS 19.2.1). Although the West Midlands-based canon surfaces in other books, I will focus here on these three to show how there was a recognition of specific types of English texts for core literary concerns. Thorlac Turville-Petre (1996), Ralph Hanna (2000), and A. S. G. Edwards (2011) have each briefly noted overlaps of content among early collections of Middle English verse, but no one has focused attention on the emergent patterns. To provide one example: the texts shared by Harley and Auchinleck number only two, The Harrowing of Hell and The Sayings of Saint Bernard. But widening the net to include Digby allows one to glimpse an horizon of canonical expectation. In all three books one finds a version of the body/soul debate and a pairing of it with Harrowing. Looking at several meaningful clusters, one can identify some cultural principles that led compilers toward their selections as they pursued innovative projects marked as both literary and ambitiously vernacular.

Gwara, Scott
Medieval Manuscripts in the Andrew Dickson White Collection at Cornell: Pedagogical, Social, and Aesthetic Contexts
Between 1875 and 1897 Andrew Dickson White, first president of Cornell, built the best university collection of pre-1600 manuscripts in North America. Cornell was founded on the model of the German research university. In keeping with the new science of Textkritik, original sources were studied in transmissional context. With his secretary George Burr, White acquired manuscripts in Europe. Before 1878 he bought a Romanesque Pauline Epistles and a Richard of St. Victor, De patriarchis, odd purchases for the author of a History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. White wanted Cornell to be “an asylum for Science—where truth shall be sought for truth’s sake, not stretched or cut exactly to fit Revealed Religion.”
White’s tastes developed, however. At Paris bookshops in 1885–86 Burr and New Testament scholar Caspar René Gregory found manuscripts of St. Augustine’s Soliloquies, Cicero’s works, sermons, and the Faits d’Armes et de Chevalerie by Christine de Pisan. Burr acquired eight manuscripts, including a palimpsest of Cicero’s works, Satires of Juvenal and Persius, Pliny’s Natural History, a glossed Consolation of Philosophy, and Ficino’s Claves platonicae sapientiae. Leaving behind a tenth-century copy of Augustine’s sermons, a volume of Offices, and a treatise “On Angelic Nature,” Burr bypassed texts of “Revealed Religion.” White was buying representative manuscripts for his Humanities faculty. My illustrated lecture reveals the manuscripts White sought, and why.

Hand, Joni
Lessons for My Daughter: Women as Educators in the Late Middle Ages
Sometime between 1497 and 1503, Anne of France wrote Les enseignements d’Anne de France for her daughter, Suzanne of Bourbon, which contained lessons to prepare her for life as a noblewoman. In this manuscript, Anne suggested appropriate texts for Suzanne to read, and justified much of her advice by quoting a variety of authors. Some of the texts she recommended are also tutorial in nature, such as Les enseignements de saint Louis à son fils, written by Louis IX, King of France, and The Book of Virtues and Vices, a book of religious instruction written for Louis’s son, Philip III, King of France.
The lessons in Anne’s manuscript can be grouped into two categories: those dealing with piety, and those pertaining to marriage and family. These were considered the two realms in which a noblewoman was expected to function, and Anne’s gift to her daughter underscored the importance of the mastery of both worlds. Her attempt to educate Suzanne in these areas demonstrates that late medieval noblewomen acted as teachers for their young children, a duty for which they were responsible until tutors and confessors took over their educational needs. This paper will discuss the manuscripts mentioned above and how they were used as teaching tools in the late Middle Ages.

Joyner, Danielle
Hortus Deliciarum: Medieval Masterpiece?
The ribbed vaults of St. Denis, the carefully chiseled tympanum at St. Lazarus of Autun, and the opaquely painted pages of the Bury Bible are all declared masterpieces of medieval art, and their creation alongside so many other stunning examples is designated as a hallmark of the supposed “twelfth-century renaissance.” The Hortus Deliciarum, a manuscript made for the instruction of canonesses at the Augustinian foundation of Hohenbourg, rightfully deserves a place amidst this canon of works. The 320-folio compilation artfully blends diverse visual traditions into a cohesive narrative of salvation that compels first the eye, then the mind, and finally—ideally—the soul. Amidst a century of manuscripts that experiment with imagery and delight in stylistic effect, the tremendous Hortus Deliciarum truly stands as masterpiece – or does it? Can an object that exists only as a modern reproduction earn that label? Does this designation offer new insight into the nature of the twelfth-century manuscript? Might this label find an analogous concept in the late twelfth century, or is it an awkward and inappropriate anachronism? This paper considers these and other questions concerning the Hortus Deliciarum and its possible status as a masterpiece of medieval art. 

Kren, Thomas K.
Extra-devotional Imagery in the Grandes heures of Anne of Brittany and the Hours of Louis XII
Richly illuminated private books of hours famously rank among the most luxurious works of art a medieval woman might hope to acquire, especially in France where they attracted the talents of the best artists. Such works were generally personalized to the devotional requirements of the patron or owner. Yet in the fifteenth century many of the most lavish and original examples were being made for male patrons and, during the second half of the century, many men’s books were personalized with a seductive image of a nude Bathsheba to accompany the Penitential Psalms, a standard devotional text. The transparently titillating character of such images reflects their extra-devotional function; they inevitably provoked responses in some women’s devotional books. In 1503 Anne of Brittany commissioned an exceptionally costly Grandes heures from court artist Jean Bourdichon that was closely patterned on one he had recently illuminated for Louis XII. However, Anne’s book introduced an extra-devotional character of its own, one arguably more suited to a woman’s eyes but rarely seen again. This lecture investigates this body of imagery in the context of royal pictorial traditions, relations between the king and queen, and Anne’s position at court.

Lakey, Christopher R.
What Makes a Diagram a Masterpiece?
The Venerable Bede’s De natura rerum survives, at least in part, in 143 extant manuscripts dating from the eighth through the fifteenth century, and in three early modern printed editions, marking it as one of the most popular textbooks of science in the Middle Ages. Out of these manuscripts, one in particular has received sustained attention from a range of medieval luminaries, including art historians Harry Bober and Madeline Caviness, historians of science Lynn Thorndike and Bruce Eastwood, and Brian Stock: Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, MS. W.73. But what makes this short, twelfth century “hodge-podge” of cosmological and computistical texts by Bede, Isidore of Seville, and Abbo of Fleury a masterpiece by art historical standards? I will offer a critical reexamination of the manuscript’s historiography and a close reading of its distinct artistic features (e.g. the use of yellow wash to signify the illumination of the sun in folio 4r, and the recurring chromatic relations of green and red set in formal alignments against the ornamental script), which will result in a reassessment of the complicated role of diagrams in medieval aesthetics. Comparing it to manuscripts from the “Byrhtferth group”—e.g. the St. John’s Computus (Oxford, St. John’s College, MS. 17) and the Peterborough Computus (London, British Library, Cotton MS Tiberius C.I, fols. 2–17+ Harley MS 3667)—I will argue for W.73’s masterpiece status by foregrounding its unique features. Although only nine folios in length, W.73 contains twenty complicated diagrammatic representations of high artistic merit embedded within a unique mélange of texts that set it apart from the group in distinct ways. 

Lindquist, Sherry

Masculinist Devotion in the Hands of a Female Beholder: Jeanne of Boulogne and the Belles Heures
The Belles Heures, the second-most famous book that the gifted Limbourg Brothers made for Duke Jean of Berry, features unusual nudes tailored to the particular devotional and sexual proclivities of the famous manuscript enthusiast. And yet, the book contains a portrait of the duke's young wife, Jeanne of Boulogne, and Martha Easton plausibly argues that certain elements of the book were directed to her. This paper considers how even the most personalized luxury books seem to have been made for a community of readers and considers the implications of gendered programs of illumination for a mixed viewership.

Nelson, Ingrid
Voice and Lyric in MS Harley 2253
Voice has been central to the definition of the lyric genre since the nineteenth century.  This paper will examine representations of voice and the shifting subject positions of the lyric “I” in some of the English and French lyrics of London, British Library, Harley MS 2253 as well as the manuscripts' devotional texts. Building on but departing from Leo Spitzer's classic essay that reads the medieval "I" as an anonymous Everyman, I will argue that the Harley 2253 lyrics use the first-person voice as a medium of authority that in turn defines the genre of lyric. In contrast to the authority of the material text (which has been the subject of so much critical discussion following Minnis's landmark work), the authority of the voice is contingent, labile, and situated. Yet the compilation and layout of the Harley manuscript reveal the scribe-compiler working through problems associated with transferring a "situated voice" onto the written page, whether that voice is speaking in an interlude, a prayer, or a lyric. The Harley scribe’s copies and layout of prayers, dialogue poems, refrain poems, and single-voice poems reveal a complex theory of vocalization in which the authority of lyric language is co-constitutive with mutable situations of utterance and inscription. Thus, the lyrics of Harley 2253 implicitly define a genre that represents multiple subjectivities by joining two media, voice and the written text.

Pearsall, Derek
Medieval Anthologies, Compilations, Miscellanies: The Rage for Order
Manuscript compilations of all kinds, of varying degrees of coherence, or none, play a large part in late medieval English manuscript production. Their numbers are nowhere near as great as the sum of manuscripts surviving, mostly commercially produced, of texts of the major English poems and prose works, but the uniqueness of these individually produced compilations makes them specially important and interesting. Distinctions need to be made between different kinds of compilation and the different kinds of unity of design achieved or intended, and some contrasts also made between production of such manuscripts in English and those in Latin and French (Anglo-Norman) in England. Much interest must attach to the attempts of many modern scholars of book-history and reception to find unity or coherence in manuscripts where there is evidently none, and some explanation is tentatively offered in this paper of the larger historical and psychological motives that may drive such a strategy.

Quigley, Maureen
Collecting the ‘Grandes chroniques de France’ in England
Some time after 1428, a Grandes chroniques de France, originally produced for King John II of France, entered the possession of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of King Henry IV of England. Today Humphrey is well-known as the leading humanist of the early English Renaissance and a major donor to the library at Oxford University. In this presentation, I will examine the role that this Grandes chroniques manuscript and other books owned by French kings might have played in a humanist collection. How would this book owned once by a French king and now by an English regent have suited a humanist “taste?” While recent scholarship focuses most on Humphrey’s patronage of translations of ancient Greek and Roman texts, and his collecting is said to be modeled on Italian humanist practice, I would like to suggest that he, instead, modeled himself on the French kings. Actively collecting works owned by John II, whose bibliophilia and erudition was acknowledged by Petrarch, and Charles V, whose own humanist interests were renowned, Humphrey’s actions sought in part to aggrandize the English position during the Hundred Years War and effectively to bring about a material translatio studii from France to England.

Ramírez-Weaver, Eric
Making It in Aachen: The Leiden Aratea and Looking at Louis the Pious’s Court
The Leiden Aratea stands at the intersection of Carolingian art and science as one of the definitive records of the court school of Louis the Pious. Traditional treatments of Carolingian manuscript illumination and in particular Louis’s court at Aachen have emphasized the antiquarian aspects of the Frankish reforms, which sought the renewal of a classical heritage evident on Frankish terrain at sites like Trier and Cologne but reinterpreted with a Christian gloss. Florentine Mütherich’s work in particular has underscored the pellucid links to antiquity in the formal presentation of illuminations like the star pictures in the Leiden Aratea, and this was true mutatis mutandis for all important manuscripts of Louis’s court school. This suggests that the political and artistic motivations for the manufacture of such a codex exceeded their scientific value and remain importantly within the realm of the visual and aesthetic ties, which united stylistically modalities of classical or late antique creative production on lost celestial globes, in manuscript illumination, painted frescoes, or the tesserae of floor mosaics which had survived into the early medieval period. A critical reexamination of the star pictures and the planetary configuration on folio 93v of the Leiden Aratea, which has been linked iconographically to the motifs of the months in one such lost late antique calendrical masterpiece, the Calendar of 354, permits an opportunity to interrogate the complicated role of pastiche in the formulation of a creative Carolingian masterpiece. Carolingian creativity at Louis’s Aachen required an appeal to the classical past in the service of a programmatic effort at identity formation for the converted Christian Franks. A working definition of a Frankish masterpiece draws upon the political, ideological, purely aesthetic, and historic connections of a manuscript such as the Leiden Aratea to the textual transmission of classical and late antique texts, to artistic precedent, and to local history.

Raybin, David
The Work of Scribe A of MS Harley 2253
Given the importance of London, British Library, Harley MS 2253, it is surprising that the first 48 folios, more than one-third of the manuscript, are little known and, in part, unedited. This lacuna is largely explained by two circumstances: (1) the Anglo-Norman secularized spiritual verse in these folios is in the hand of the unidentified man we call Scribe A, and has been assumed to be unimportant to the famous Ludlow Scribe B’s compilation; and (2) presumably because of this, Ker did not include folios 1–48 in his facsimile, and thus they have been largely unavailable for study. The only significant treatments of Scribe A’s verse are Thompson (2000) and Fein (2013).
With Fein’s forthcoming three-volume edition/translation of the complete manuscript, Scribe A’s texts will be available for reading and analysis. As lead translator of the manuscript’s Anglo-Norman, I have acquired a close acquaintance with Scribe A’s work: a version of the Vitas patrum, a selection from Herman de Valenciennes’ La Passioun Nostre Seignour, De la passioun Jhesu from the Gospel of Nicodemus, and lives of the apostles John the Evangelist, John the Baptist, Bartholomew, and Peter. My talk will explore how these texts function as a self-contained generic unit that reflects the professional interests of Scribe A.

Russell, Arthur J.
Layout as Scribal Intervention: Reframing Richard Maidstone’s Penitential Psalms
Versions of a late fourteenth-century Middle English translation of the seven penitential Psalms attributed to Richard Maidstone (d. 1396) survive, in whole or in part, in no fewer than twenty-seven manuscripts. By the close of the fifteenth century, Maidstone’s Penitential Psalms had found its way into a variety of manuscript collections—from carefully planned and executed books of hours to more workaday “common profit” books—and into the hands of a variety of readers—from cloistered monks to urban layfolk. In many of these manuscript collections, Maidstone’s translation takes on a particular function or use, be it as a model of sound translation, as in London, British Library, Royal MS 17.C.xvii, or as a devotional script, as in San Marino, Huntington Library, MS HM 142. The scribes of these manuscripts supplement the meaning of the Penitential Psalms by inventing layouts that emphasize certain textual features over others. This paper examines the diverse layout design and decoration strategies used by various scribes to reframe the Penitential Psalms to suit their own particular needs and, in some cases, the tastes of their patrons.

Sand, Alexa
Dynastic Virtue: Isabella Stewart and “La somme le roi”
The Somme le Roi is a compendium of moral, instructional texts composed in French for King Philip III of France in 1279. It enjoyed over two hundred years of immense popularity in Europe, translated into half a dozen languages and propagated through manuscript copies and early print editions. The earliest manuscripts include an extensive and highly inventive pictorial component which was also widely copied in luxury versions of the Somme and which was probably integral to the book’s conception. Throughout its long and varied history, the Somme in its illustrated form was particularly closely identified with French royalty; early copies seem to have been intended for princely viewers or for those with ambitions to associate themselves with royal authority, and these copies were avidly collected by such royal bibliophiles as Jean II of France, Jean de Berry, and John of Bedford. These princes and others also commissioned new copies, which continued to accumulate and circulate among their noble descendants, perpetuating the association between the French Somme and French royalty. One of the last lavishly illuminated manuscripts of the Somme, painted by a follower of the Rohan Master for the royal duchess Isabella Stewart of Brittany in 1464, stands witness to the enduring significance of the Somme as a marker of royal identity and an index of the claim to authority through exemplary moral virtue staked by and for French monarchs from the time of Louis IX onward. This paper investigates the manuscript (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 958) in the general context of the history of princely collecting and copying of the Somme as well as in terms of Isabella’s identity as a descendant and consort of princes of royal blood and her vigorous activities as a patron of the visual arts.

Teviotdale, Elizabeth C.
Changing the Canon of the Mass in the Beauvais Sacramentary
The Beauvais Sacramentary (Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, MS Ludwig V 1) comprises the surviving ten leaves of a deluxe liturgical manuscript almost certainly created at the behest of Roger, bishop of Beauvais (998–1016). According to tradition, its parent manuscript was one of three liturgical codices left to the cathedral church of Saint Peter by Roger. A half century or more after the manuscript was originally copied, a single scribe added new text to the canon of the mass on top of an erasure, in a margin, and on an inserted slip of parchment. This paper explores the character of the emended text and the motivation for the interpolations. It is proposed that the intervention was most probably made in preparation for the dedication of the Augustinian church of St. Quentin-de-Beauvais by bishop Guy of Beauvais on Sunday, October 4, 1069.

Wright, Benjamin
Scrapbook Antisemitism: Codicological and Textual Transformations of a Monastic Book in Response to Anti-Jewish Violence
On April 24, 1326, a Jew who had converted to Christianity was burned at the stake for allegedly desecrating a religious image at Cambron abbey a few years earlier. The accusations that led to this man’s murder, however, have an uncanny similarity to a series of anti-Jewish miracle stories contained in a book copied by the monastery’s scribes more than a century before the alleged desecration. Based on the initial observations of Therèse Glorieux, this paper explores this book (Brussels, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, MS II 942). Codicological and paleographic evidence suggests that the book underwent several transformations to alter the presentation of its texts, adding pieces of other manuscripts to the book and rewriting portions of the existing texts. Marginalia and emendations written in fourteenth-century hands raise further questions about the possible motivations and intentions of the codex’s manipulators. By examining the evidence of manipulation, this paper hypothesizes an original “Cambron Miracle Book” from which the current manuscript was created. Reading this Cambron Miracle Book’s anti-Jewish stories in their original arrangement gives a different understanding of the texts informing Cambron’s anti-Jewish defamers, a reading obscured by subsequent codicological interventions.

Zanichelli, Giusi
Bologna and the Decretum Gratiani
The production of manuscripts underwent a first radical transformation in the second half of the eleventh century in the still mysterious scriptoria of the Giant Bibles, located somewhere in, or around, Rome. The relative uniformity of codicological characteristics, of the text, and of the illustrations attests to a centralized planning for this “serial” production; the ideology behind these choices identifies as patrons the ecclesiastical hierarchy adhering to the reform. Around the middle of the twelfth century a second serial production of manuscripts took place in Bologna, at the university, thanks to the sudden spread of a canonical text: the Decretum Gratiani. The purchasers of these illustrated copies belonged to the ecclesiastical hierarchy, but the programming of the illustrations was the responsibility of the members of the workshops and the magistri. The monastic scriptoria were replaced by lay and cosmopolitan ateliers, which produced codices for study and not for the liturgy. Moreover, in contrast to the Bibles, the texts were not fixed but were continually incremented by the authors, their followers and by the glossators. Nevertheless, some links between the two productions persisted, particularly in the use of models. Through the study of the various layers of the text and glosses, the different hands of the scribes, and the stylistic and iconographic options chosen by the illuminators, my study aims to reconstruct the complex system of production of legal manuscripts in Bologna, in a phase in which the surviving codices are the main documents by which to understand the culture-in-making of the University of Bologna.

Zonno, Sabina
A Woman’s Book: The History of the Magnificent Parisian Psalter in Padua (Seminary Library, MS 353)    
A little-known treasure of Parisian Gothic art that competes with the most precious manuscripts ordered by the court of King Louis IX in the 1250s–1270s has been housed in Padua since the fourteenth century. The materials of this lavish Psalter—fine, white parchment, burnished and pounced gold leaf, precious colored inks, and the pigments and paint— are of excellent quality. Even more impressive is the rare beauty of the opening pages that present an exceptional cycle of eight full-page miniatures, and a sophisticated series of ten historiated initials at text divisions, illuminated by a master of exceptional skills. This princely book was commissioned by a woman of the highest aristocracy who is portrayed before the Virgin and Child in a single full-page miniature on fol. 133v, and her identity is still a matter of lively discussion. To retrace the international history of this captivating work of art, I will first examine the evidence for a possible identification of the patroness with Isabelle of France, daughter of Louis IX and wife of Thierry de Champagne, and second, explore the possible ways in which the manuscript arrived in Padua and describe its second life in the female Benedictine monastery of Saint Peter where it was in the hands of the abbess Bartolomea da Carrara and of her community after her death.