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Components of the Speculum Maius

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The specific components of a Speculum

Each individual speculum is a constellation of several components:

- A Libellus Apologeticus (LA) or General Prologue to the Speculum Maius;

- A short prologue to the specific speculum (i.e. Naturale, Doctrinale or Historiale);

- A list of chapter titles of this specific speculum;

- The text itself of this specific speculum, which is divided into books and chapters. Opposed to     this, the three books of the (apocryphal) Speculum Morale (Mor) are divided into distinctiones.

- A résumé of other specula, which is incorporated into the text. Given the physical size of a      single speculum (at least two manuscript volumes), Vincent of Beauvais had previewed that only few people could afford a full copy of the Speculum Maius. For this reason, Vincent provided each authentic speculum with a résumé of one or more other specula. In this way, the reader could get an impression of the contents of the other specula.

Of most of these components, different versions exist; and of some of them, even different redactions:

  • 4 versions of the Libellus Apologeticus (LA-1, LA-2, LA-3 and LA-4); of the last version, 3 redactions are known (LA-4A, LA-4B, LA-4C);

  • 2 versions of the short prologue to the Speculum Historiale (Phist);

  • 3 versions of the text of the Speculum Naturale (Nat-1, Nat-2, Nat-3); the differences between the versions testify to drastic revisions covering long stretches of text;

  • 5 versions of the text of the Speculum Historiale (Hist-1, Hist-2, Hist-3, Hist-4, Hist-5); here too, the differences between the versions testify to drastic revisions covering long stretches of text;

  • Connected with these versions of the text, the lists of chapter titles exist in different versions;

  • 2 versions of the résumé of the Speculum Naturale (Rnat-1, Rnat-2);

  • 2 versions of the résumé of the Speculum Historiale (Rhist-1, Rhist-2). Rhist-1 also knew a limited independent diffusion, under the name Memoriale Temporum.

To these components, Vincent added:

  • A dedicatory letter to king Louis IX of France; this letter introduces the first version of the Speculum Historiale (Dijon version);

  • An alphabetical index that accompanies the last two versions of the Speculum Historiale. The index to the fourth (St.-Jacques) version is much more detailed than the one to the fifth and final (Douai) version.

Thus, the following constellations characterize the specula and their versions:

Speculum Naturale, Tournai version (siglum: Na)

  • Libellus Apologeticus (LA-2) + short description of the contents of 29 books of text, numbered as 2-30 + list of chapter titles of books 1-13 (the titles of books 14-30 have not been identified as yet);

  • Text of the Naturale (Nat-1) consisting of 29 books, numbered as books 2-30; it seems that only the text of books 1-8 have survived;

  • Résumé of the Speculum Historiale (Rhist-1).

Speculum Naturale, Bruges version (siglum: Nb)

  • Libellus Apologeticus (LA-4B) + Prologue to the Speculum Naturale (Pnat) + list of chapter titles;

  • Text of the Naturale (Nat-2) consisting of 31 books, numbered as books 2-32;

  • Résumé of the Speculum Historiale (Rhist-2).

Speculum Naturale, Douai version (siglum: Nc)

  • Libellus Apologeticus (LA-4C) + Prologue to the Speculum Naturale (Pnat) + list of chapter titles;

  • Text of the Naturale (Nat-3) consisting of 32 books, numbered as books 2-33;

  • Résumé of the Speculum Historiale (Rhist-2).

Speculum Doctrinale (siglum: Do)

  • Libellus Apologeticus (LA-3) + Prologue to the Speculum Doctrinale (Pdoct) + list of chapter titles;

  • A short résumé on the Fall of man (Rmor);

  • Text of the Doctrinale (Doct) consisting of 17 books, numbered as books 2-18; the text we know today, seems uncompleted.

Speculum Historiale, Dijon version (siglum: Ha)

  • Dedicatory letter to king Louis IX of France;

  • Libellus Apologeticus (LA-1) + Prologue to the Speculum Historiale (Phist-1) + list of chapter titles;

  • Résumé of the other specula (Rnat-1);

  • Text of Historiale (Hist-1, books 1-15, to which the final 16 books of Hist-5 have been added) consisting of 31 books, numbered as 1-31.

Speculum Historiale, Klosterneuburg version (siglum: Hb)

  • Libellus Apologeticus (version unknown) + Prologue to the Speculum Historiale (version unknown) + list of chapter titles;

  • Résumé of the other specula (version unknown);

  • Text of the Historiale (Hist-2) consisting of 29 books, numbered as 2-30.

Speculum Historiale, Vienna version (siglum: Hc)

  • Libellus Apologeticus (LA-4A) + Prologue to the Speculum Historiale (Phist-2) + list of chapter titles;

  • Résumé of the other specula (Rnat-2);

  • Text of the Historiale (Hist-3, books 1-15, to which the final 16 books of Hist-5 have been added) consisting of 31 books, numbered as 1-31.

Speculum Historiale, Saint-Jacques version (siglum: Hd)

  • Libellus Apologeticus (LA-4C) + Prologue to the Speculum Historiale (Phist-2) + list of chapter titles;

  • Résumé of the other specula (Rnat-2);

  • An alphabetical index (long version);

  • Text of the Historiale (Hist-4) consisting of 31 books, numbered as 2-32.

Speculum Historiale, Douai version (siglum: He)

  • Libellus Apologeticus (LA-4C) + Prologue to the Speculum Historiale (Phist-2) + list of chapter titles;

  • Résumé of the other specula (Rnat-2);

  • An alphabetical index (shorter version);

  • Text of the Historiale (Hist-5) consisting of 31 books, numbered as 2-32.

Speculum Morale [apocryphal] (siglum: Mo)

  • A Prologue by the author of the Speculum Morale;

  • Text of the Morale (Mor) composed of 3 books;

  • List of the titles of the distinctiones.

For information on the manuscript tradition of the Speculum Maius.

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