Manuscripts of Theological Works



Recent publications

Clesse, G., How to Evaluate the Impact of Arabic Sources in 13th-century Latin Encyclopedias.
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Ninitte, F., La tradition arabo-musulmane dans le "Speculum Historiale" et dans sa traduction française par Jean de Vignay.
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Villarroel Fernández, I., De enciclopedia a florilegio: la transmisión de los libros V y VI del "Speculum doctrinale" de Vicente de Beauvais.
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Tugwell, S., Soundings in Exeter College MS 15 and the evolution of Vincent of Beauvais's Speculum Naturale.
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For a full list of recent publications, click here

Inventory of manuscripts of Vincent's theological works

manuscript London, British Library, Arundel 290, fol. 3v

Liber de laudibus Beate Marie Virginis, beginning of chapter 1, from manuscript London, British Library, Arundel 290, fol. 3v

This inventory lists 69 surviving manuscripts that contain one or more of Vincent's theological works:

The inventory also gives brief information on 4 manuscripts that are lost today.

The manuscripts of each of these seven works are presented in separate sections containing succinct descriptions. If available, the descriptions start with information on the text as found in the manuscript under consideration; and, if occurring, they also signal conjunctions with other works by Vincent of Beauvais. Then follows, as far as available, information on the date and geographical region of production of the manuscript and on its medieval and later owners. If online facsimiles are available, hyperlinks are added to the descriptions.

The manuscript tradition of Vincent's theological works is a terra incognita. Viewing the number of surviving manuscripts, the Liber de laudibus beate Marie Virginis must have been by far the most popular of these works: it survived in 51 manuscripts from Western-, Southern- and Central Europe and is known to have existed in at least one more manuscript that is lost today. More significantly: after the Speculum Historiale, the Liber de laudibus beate Marie Virginis was the second most popular text by Vincent of Beauvais. Its surviving manuscripts outnumber, if not almost double, those of the Speculum Naturale and the Speculum Doctrinale and of the political work Liber consolatorius ad Ludovicum regem de morte filii.

The 27 surviving manuscripts of the Liber de laudibus sancti Johannis Evangeliste, mostly from France and Central Europe, suggest a lesser popularity. This figure, however, roughly equals or even surpasses the number of surviving manuscripts of the Speculum Naturale, the Speculum Doctrinale and the Liber consolatorius ad Ludovicum regem de morte filii.

Opposed to this, the numbers of surviving copies of the Liber de sancta Trinitate (1), the Liber gratie (4) and the Liber de penitentia (4) are very small, while those of the Expositio in orationem Dominicam (9) and the Tractatus in salutatione beate Virginis Marie ab angelo facta (8) are just modest.

For several manuscripts of Vincent's theological works, the era and area of production need to be specified and, especially, medieval ownership needs to be established. Yet, keeping options open, a few patterns become visible when one puts together the information available today. Most manuscripts of the Liber gratie, the Liber de penitentia, the Expositio in orationem Dominicam and the Tractatus in salutatione beate Virginis Marie ab angelo facta date from the 13th and 14th centuries. Opposed to this, the manuscripts of the Liber de laudibus beate Marie Virginis and the Liber de laudibus sancti Johannis Evangeliste suggest a much stronger interest for these texts during the 15th century (22 out of 52 surviving manuscripts, resp. 10 out of 27).

The provenance of about only half of these manuscripts being known, the role of the Augustinians (Canons Regular, Congregation of Windesheim, Fratres Vitae Communis) and Dominicans in the circulation of Vincent's theological works seems preponderant. Eye catching is the fact that, in the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century, manuscripts containing Vincent's Expositio in orationem Dominicam, Tractatus in salutatione beate Virginis Marie ab angelo facta, Liber de laudibus beate Marie Virginis and Liber de laudibus sancti Johannis Evangeliste had entered into the library of the Augustinian abbey of St. Victor at Paris. Similarly, the library of the Dominican convent at Basel possessed copies of Vincent's Liber de sancta Trinitate, Liber de laudibus beate Marie Virginis, Liber de laudibus sancti Johannis Evangeliste, and Liber de penitentia. Did these two houses play a key role in the circulation of Vincent's theological works, like the Dominican houses in Southern England did in the diffusion of Vincent's De morali principis institutione? (see: Inventory of manuscripts of Vincent's political works) Further study is required to find an answer to this question.

In 26 of the surviving manuscripts of Vincent's theological works, the Liber de laudibus beate Marie Virginis and Liber de laudibus sancti Johannis Evangeliste are companions. A similar co-occurrence can be observed in 7 manuscripts that contain the texts of both the Expositio in orationem Dominicam and the Tractatus in salutatione beate Virginis Marie ab angelo facta. These coexistences are made visible in the table used in the Alphabetical list of manuscripts.