top of page

Introduction to the theological works


A short introduction

Vincent of Beauvais is the author of several theological works. Historical and textual evidence make it possible to assign a date to a few of these works.

Between 1246 and 1256/1259, working at Royaumont as a lector in theology, Vincent undertook a thorough revision of the Speculum Maius. This revision involved a strong reduction of the massive florilegium from the theological works by the Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers that he had incorporated into the Speculum Historiale. Textual evidence suggests that Vincent, in conjunction with this reduction, compiled a series of theological works. Two of these works, the Tractatus de sancta Trinitate and the Liber gratie, Vincent explicitly mentions in the Bruges version of the Speculum Naturale (Nb II,1), which came into circulation before autumn 1257. In the Saint-Jacques version of the Speculum Historiale that came into circulation after March 1253, Vincent mentions at several places that he inserted flores of Church Fathers and ecclesiastical writers into his opuscula, be it without naming their titles. Vincent repeated his statements in the final (Douai) version of both the Speculum Naturale and the Speculum Historiale. Further study is needed on this topic.

Five theological works have been ascribed to Vincent, but further study is needed to confirm his authorship:

  • Expositio in orationem Dominicam

  • Tractatus in salutatione beate Virginis Marie ab angelo facta

  • Liber de laudibus beate Marie Virginis

  • Liber de laudibus sancti Johannis Evangeliste

  • Liber de penitentia

To these works may be added a Tractatus de vitio detractionis ("Treatise on the sin of slandering"), to which refers Vincent himself in his De morali principis institutione, chapter 22: De vicio detractionis specialem tractatum edidisse me memini, in quo de qualitatibus ac speciebus ac circumstanciis et nocumentis atque remediis eiusdem vicii plenius disserui. So far, however, no surviving manuscript or incunabulum edition of this text has been discovered.

Most of these works by Vincent of Beauvais constitute a terra incognita. Only the Liber de laudibus beate Marie Virginis, the Liber de laudibus sancti Johannis Evangeliste, the Liber gratie and the Liber consolatorius are available in incunabulum or modern editions. The Expositio in orationem Dominicam has been edited under the name of Albertus Magnus. Of the Tractatus de Sancta Trinitate only the chapter titles have been edited.

Image: London, British Library, Arundel 290, f° 3v

For the alphabetical list of manuscripts of the theological works

bottom of page