Rare Books Blog

February 16, 2010

Fragment: Sextus liber decretalium (Bologna or Padua)
Date: c. 1320-1330?
Found in: Bologna (Italy). Statutorum inclytae civitatis … Bononiae, vol. 2. Bologna: Giovanni Rossi, 1569.

 

Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303) held a doctorate in canon and civil law and, like Gregory IX seventy years earlier, sought to update and expand the body of canon law jurisprudence. He did so by commissioning a new collection of decretals, which he sent to the universities in 1298 with instructions that it be incorporated into the canon law curriculum. The Sextus liber decretalium (the Sixth Book of Decretals, often simply called the Liber sextus) thus took its place beside the Decretum and the Decretales Gregorii IX as a core element of the Corpus iuris canonici. The standard gloss of the Liber sextus was written by Giovanni d’Andrea in the early 1300s.

In the fragment of the Liber sextus seen here (from Book 5, Title 2, Chapter 20) Boniface himself discusses techniques for questioning suspected heretics. Giovanni d’Andrea’s gloss surrounds the main text. The manuscript was probably copied in Bologna as the script is characteristic of Bolognese gothic book hands.

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Richard Rouse (UCLA) assigns an Italian origin to the manuscript and calls attention to the line fillers, which look like exclamation points. Susan L’Engle (Saint Louis University) believes the manuscript is from Bologna or Padua, 1320-1330?, and notes the “Italian script, text keyed to gloss by letters of alphabet, an Italian practice.”

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 16, 2010

 

Fragment: Maimonides’s Mishneh Torah / Vidal of Tolosa’s Maggid Mishneh
Date: c. 1300-1500
Found in: Milan (Duchy). Constitutiones dominii mediolanensis. Novara: Francesco Sesalli, 1567.

Between 1170 and 1180 the famous rabbi, physician, and philosopher Moses Maimonides (d. 1204) compiled a comprehensive compendium of Jewish law (halakha) that he named the Mishneh Torah. While many people opposed the Mishneh Torah when it first circulated, Maimonides defended it as a necessary distillation of existing legal reasoning into a practical code. Regardless of the attacks, the Mishneh Torah rapidly became one of the core texts within Jewish law.

Binyamin Elizur, Head of the Department of Ancient Hebrew at the Academy of the Hebrew Language in Jerusalem, informs us that the small text on the left of the leaf comes from Maimonides’s Mishneh Torah. The portion visible here is from the section on “Financial Damages” (Nizke Mammon), chapter 1, subsection 9. The larger writing to the right is the corresponding passage from the Maggid Mishneh, an exegetical commentary on the Mishneh Torah written by the Catalan rabbi Vidal of Tolosa (1283-1360). According to Elizur, the noteworthy and unusual thing about this fragment is that Vidal’s commentary is written in large letters, while Maimonides’s text is written in small letters on the side. He speculates that the leaf may have originally contained only the commentary, and that passages from the Mishneh Torah were added in the margin later. He notes that the script, both large and small, appears to be Sephardic semi-cursive from the 14th or 15th century.

Dr. Ezra Chwat of the Department of Manuscripts, National Library of Israel, notes that the publication date of the host volume, 1567, “is precisely on the spike of redeployment of Jewish manuscripts” as they were confiscated by the Inquisition in Italy; see Mauro Perani & Enrica Sagradini, Talmudic and midrashic fragments from the Italian Genizah: reunification of the manuscripts and catalogue (Firenze: Giuntina, 2004), pp. 124-125.

Dr. Chwat has added this fragment to the online catalog of Hebrew manuscripts maintained by the Department of Manuscripts, National Library of Israel; the record (in Hebrew) can be viewed here.

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .[at]yale.edu>

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

 

February 16, 2010

Fragment: Unknown
Date: c.1475-1525
Found in: Caccialupi, Giovanni Battista. De pesionibus tractatus uere aureus. Rome: F. Minizio Calvo, 1531.

The vast majority of medieval manuscript fragments found in the Law Library’s bindings are in Latin, but not all of them. In addition to the two Hebrew fragments elsewhere in this exhibit, there is a large, later fragment in what appears to be a form of German, and two very late fragments in French. All three of these fragments are awaiting definitive identification. One of the French fragments (perhaps a deed of sale for a piece of property?) is seen here being used as a “wrapper,” a means of protecting a printed text without applying a hard cover.

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 16, 2010

Thanks to the following individuals for their assistance in the preparation of this exhibit:

 

Moshe Bar Asher

Academy of the Hebrew Language

Binyamin Elizur

Academy of the Hebrew Language

Ezra Chwat

National Library of Israel

Margot Fassler

Yale University

Shana Jackson

Lillian Goldman Law Library

Ivan Marcus

Yale University

Laura Saetveit Miles

Yale University

Michael Rand

Academy of the Hebrew Language

Anders Winroth

Yale University

 Thanks also to our colleagues in the blogosphere who helped spread the word about the exhibit, including:

Finally, thanks to all the members of the Medieval Academy of America who attended an open house for the exhibit on March 19, 2010, during the Academy’s 2010 Annual Meeting, and especially to those who provided additional information on the manuscripts on display: Elizabeth Brown (CUNY), George Brown (Stanford University), Lisa Fagin Davis (Simmons College), Consuelo Dutschke (Columbia University), Dennis Dutschke (Arcadia University), Joseph Dyer (University of Massachusetts-Boston), David Ganz (King’s College London), Susan L’Engle (St. Louis University), William Mahrt (Stanford University), Hope Mayo (Harvard University), Richard Rouse (UCLA), Matthew Salisbury (University of Oxford), Alison Stones (University of Pittsburgh), Rod Thomson (University of Tasmania), Linda Voigts (University of Missouri-Kansas City), and Mary Wolinski (Western Kentucky University).

– Benjamin Yousey-Hindes & Mike Widener, curators

 ”Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

 

February 16, 2010

Fragment: Unknown
Date: 1350-1425
Found in: Repetitiones decem legum. [Paris: André Bocard for Jean Petit, 1507.]

The nature of the fragments used here as pastedowns is not entirely clear. The front pastedown (the first of the two images above) contains a list of benediction prayers for the Mass, some for the feast of the Virgin Mary (also known as the feast of the Assumption), and others more commonly associated with the feast of All Saints. Looking for clues on the other side of the leaf we find that the half-page of text there is severely effaced and of little help. Meanwhile, the rear pastedown (the second image) is a page from a completely unrelated manuscript (it appears to be a prayer book of some kind). We can say, however, that the front manuscript fragment is written in a low-quality version of the cursive book hand known as Anglicana, and appears to be English in origin. This judgment is supported by the fact that the title page bears an early inscription by “Cuthberti Shirbroke de Rockeland,” a cleric and doctor of canon law from a noted Norfolk family.

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 16, 2010

 

Fragment: Mahzor
Date: c. 1300-1500
Found in: Parsons, Robert. Elizabethae reginae Angliae edictum promulgatum Londini 29. Novemb. anni M.D. XCI. [Rome?: s.n.], 1593.

Alongside the many pieces of the Christian liturgy preserved in the Law Library’s bindings, we find a reminder that medieval Europe was home to many vibrant Jewish communities as well. Michael Rand, of the Academy of the Hebrew Language in Jerusalem, has identified the fragment seen here is a folio from a mahzor, a Jewish service book used on the high holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) and the pilgrimage festivals (Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot). According to Rand, the folio features a liturgical poem (piyyut) of a type called yotzer. This yotzer was used to celebrate Shavuot (which falls seven weeks after Passover and corresponds to the Christian feast of Pentecost). It is titled “Ayelet Ahevim Matnat Sinai” and deals with the revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai. The yotzer bears the name “Shim’on” in the acrostic, which has led some scholars to speculate that it was composed by the 10th-century poet Shim’on bar Yitshaq of Mainz. Rand points out that this particular poem was employed in the Ashkenazic, Roman (i.e. Italian), and Romaniote (i.e., Byzantine) prayer rites, and the formal script found here (called “square script”) appears to be Italian.

This fragment has been added to the online catalog of Hebrew manuscripts maintained by the Department of Manuscripts, National Library of Israel; the record (in Hebrew) can be viewed here. Thanks to Dr. Ezra Chwat of the National Library of Israel for cataloging the fragment and providing additional information about it.

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .[at]yale.edu>

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

 

February 16, 2010

 

Fragment: Epistolary (Northern France)
Date: c. 1175-1250

Found in: Bartolomeo, da Brescia. Casus Decretorum. Basel: Nicolaus Kessler, 1489.

The parchment used here as a pastedown comes from an epistolary and shows the epistle readings for two Masses. The first reading is 1 Peter 1:1-7, which was for the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter in Antioch (Cathedra Sancti Petri in Antiochia) on February 22. Originally this feast, commemorating Saint Peter as the first bishop of Antioch, was probably a Christianization of the ancient Roman holiday known as Caristia, when families gathered together to honor the dead and settle feuds. The second column features part of the reading for the feast of Saint Mathias the Apostle on February 24 (Acts 1:15-26). Note the red and blue pen-flourished initials used to mark the beginnings of the readings.

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Thanks to Richard Rouse (UCLA) for clarifying the origin of the manuscript fragment.

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

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