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Liber gratie


Book on grace

In the Liber Gratie, Vincent of Beauvais discusses the mystery of man's redemption through the coming of Jesus Christ. Vincent explicitly mentions this treatise as a writing of his in the Bruges version of the Speculum Naturale (Nb II,1), which circulated before the autumn of 1257.

The Liver Gratie is divided into four books dealing successively with the conception and birth of Jesus, the period between his incarnation and passion, the Passion of Christ and finally his resurrection.

Although much shorter than the Speculum Maius, the Liber Gratie has a respectable size of 470 chapters. The work is composed of a concatenation of quotations from various traditional, theological writings. Besides numerous citations from the works of Greek and Latin Church Fathers, Vincent amply borrows from writings by Bede the Venerable, Gregory the Great, Peter of Ravenna and Hugh of Saint-Victor.

While that could be a possibility, the Trinity is not mentioned in this work; Vincent addresses only God the Father and God the Son.

It is notable that, both in the manuscripts and the early edition, there is no prologue in this treatise; this is in contrast to the other works by Vincent's hand. This omission is partly compensated by a long exposition that precedes the table of contents of the first book, but in it, only the contents of that book are discussed.

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

List of surviving manuscripts



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.

4 surviving manuscripts of the Liber gratie are known today:

  • Basel, Öffentliche Bibliothek der Universität, A.XI.1, ff. 1r-250r

    • I: The ms. also contains Vincent’s Liber de laudibus beate Marie Virginis and Liber de laudibus sancti Johannis Evangeliste. The ms. was used as a source to the Basel 1481 incunabulum edition by Amerbach, possibly in combination with ms. Basel, Öffentliche Bibliothek der Universität, B.VIII.31.

    • D: Ca. 1450.

    • P:

    • O: A monastery at Basel.

  • Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz, MS Magdeb. 32, ff. 3r-169r

    • D: Middle of 15th century (1462-1469) (f. 169r: Explicit liber gratie, sit laus deo per infinita secula seculorum. Amen. Anno domini. 1462).

    • P: Germany (Leipzig, Magdeburg), commissioned by Peter Rode.

    • O: Peter Rode, Canon Regular at Magdeburg († 1483); by Rode bequeathed to the Dominicans at Magdeburg; Domstift at Magdeburg; Domgymnasium at Magdeburg.

  • Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale, VII.B.11, ff. ??

    • D: 2nd half of 14th century.

    • P:

    • O:

  • Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Ottob. lat. 723, ff. 1r-242v

    • I: The ms. also contains Vincent's Liber de laudibus beate Marie Virginis and Liber de laudibus sancti Johannis Evangeliste.

    • D: 16th century.

    • P:

    • O:


Lost manuscripts

2 manuscripts are known that are lost today. They belonged to libraries at:

  • Naples, Archivio di Stato, Museo 18 (13th-14th century);

  • Tournai, Benedictan monastery St. Martin, E.47 (lost after 1640).

Editions before 1700

  • Basel, Johannes Amerbach, 1481
    Vincentius Bellovacensis Opuscula. Scilicet: libri de gratia: libri laudum Virginis gloriose: liber de sancto Johanne evangelista: liber de eruditione puerorum regalium: Liber consolatorius de morte amici.
    Digital facsimile of a copy kept by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek at Munich: 2 Inc.c.a. 1122.

Modern editions and translations

Latin text

Image: edition Basel, Johannes Amerbach, 1481 -- Bayerische Staatsbibliothek at Munich: 2 Inc.c.a. 1122 (no pagination).

For studies on the Liber gratie

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