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Liber de sancta Trinitate


On the Holy Trinity

This treatise by Vincent of Beauvais consists of 156 contiguous chapters. We can discern several themes in it.

The work starts with an extensive invocation of the Holy Trinity for help in writing this work (chapters 1-5). In the next group of chapters, Vincent subjects the three persons who collectively constitute the Trinity to a closer examination (chapters 6-10). Then, he discusses the qualities of each person, as well as their joint performance (chapters 11-20).


Vincent then turns to the refutation of heretical ideas about the Trinity (chapters 21-22). He seizes this as a transition to a comprehensive description of God as the core of the Holy Trinity. In chapters 23-42, Vincent discusses the unity of God, His predicates and attributes, the names by which one can name Him, and His relationship to the created world. Chapters 43-46 deal with philosophers' views about God and how these philosophers approached the idea of the Trinity.


Chapters 47-68 are the core of the treatise, where Vincent extensively discusses the Trinity itself and the relationships between the three personae.


In the following chapters, 69-138, the focus is on God the Father. Vincent discusses His ethical relationship to the world and especially to man, and here he introduces notions such as providence, good and evil. Chapters 139-140 discuss how one can speak or write about God.


Finally, in chapters 141 through 156, Vincent elaborates on the content of the previous chapters and extends it to the Trinity in its relationship to the world and to man. Here, too, ethical notions predominate.

Source: Albrecht, E. De ontstaansgeschiedenis en de compilatie van het Speculum Naturale van Vincent van Beauvais (+1264), Leuven, 2007, vol. 1, p. 179-180.




I - Additional information on the speculum text as present in the manuscript, or on other texts present in the manuscript, or on material damage; D - Date of the manuscript; P - Country, region or place of production; if available, information on the scribe(s) of the manuscript; O - Medieval and pre-modern owners of the manuscript; L - Hyperlink to digital facsimiles of the manuscript; R - Reference to manuscripts listed in other parts of the inventory, with which this manuscript at the time of its production constituted a set of volumes. Manuscripts that have been collected into a set by a single medieval collector (library) within several decades, are indicated with cf.

List of surviving manuscripts

Only 1 surviving manuscript of the Liber de sancta Trinitate is known today:

  • Basel, Öffentliche Bibliothek der Universität, B.IX.5, ff. 1r-117v

    • I: This is a composite ms. consisting of two parts. The De sancta Trinitate covers almost the entire first part of 119 ff. The first initial letter has been cut out, causing loss of several opening lines of the prologue.

    • D: 13th century.

    • P: France (?).

    • O: Dominicans at Basel (Iste liber est fratrum ordinis predicatorum conuentus Basiliensis).


Lost manuscript

1 manuscript is known that is lost today. It belonged to:

  • Tournai, Benedictan monastery St. Martin, E.46 (lost after ca. 1719).

Editions before 1700


No early editions have been made of the Liber de sancta Trinitate.

Modern editions and translations


Latin text

  • Albrecht, E., De ontstaansgeschiedenis en de compilatie van het "Speculum Naturale" van Vincent van Beauvais († 1264). Ph.D., Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Louvain 2007, vol. 2, pp. 117-120. [listing of all 156 chapter titles of De sancta Trinitate]

Image: Rouen, Bibliothèque municipale 1133, fol. 7ro.

For studies on the Liber de sancta Trinitate

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