Vincent of Beauvais compiled his Speculum Maius in several stages. Its arrangement was gradually changed, and its size became larger and larger. This section contains a brief sketch of the genesis of the Speculum Maius.
The Speculum Naturale, Doctrinale and Historiale each consist of several distinct components. Over the course of a couple of decades, Vincent created different versions of almost all the components.
Volumes, and set of volumes are key notions of the manuscript tradition of the Speculum Maius. This section explains these notions and sketches some issues related to the diffusion of the manuscripts of the Speculum Maius.
In the Speculum Naturale, Vincent treats natural history. He structured his material following the biblical order of the six days of Creation.
The Speculum Doctrinale contains a detailed exposé on all the arts and sciences known in the 13th century. The text breaks of in the discussion of theology, the last science in the series. This speculum thus remained in an unfinished state.
The Speculum Historiale presents a chronological history from the Fall of man to Vincents' lifetime. In this framework Vincent corporated florilegia from the works of classical and medieval Latin authors.
Speculum Morale (apocryphal)
Vincent planned a fourth part to his Speculum Maius, the Speculum Morale. For reasons unknown, he did not accomplish it. In the years 1310-1320, members of the Franciscan order compiled a Speculum Morale, possibly using material Vincent had already collected.
Manuscripts of the different specula
We choose to present the list of manuscripts of each speculum in the specific section of that speculum.