BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
Beinecke MS 214 France, 1229
Petrus Comestor, Historia Scholastica, etc.
1. f. 1r [Title-page in half-uncials, rows alternating orange and
blue:] In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti amen. anno ab
incarnatione domini millesimo ducentesimo uicesimo nono petrus
monachorum omnium minimus obtulit istum librum beatissimo martiri
quintino. Si quis eum abstulerit in die iudicii ante conspectum domini
nostri ihesu christi ipsum sanctissimum martirem contra se accusatorem
A colophon, also by Petrus, is recorded in a record of a
manuscript given to Mont-Saint-Quentin in 1206, Paris, B. N. lat.
12692, f. 208v (see W. B. Clark, "Art and Historiography in Two
Thirteenth-Century Manuscripts from North France," Gesta 17  pp.
37-48, especially p. 38, n. 11.)
2. ff. 2v-180v Incipit prologus epistolaris ad guillelmum tunc
senonensem postea uero remensem archiepiscopum...Item prefatio magistri
petri manducatoris in hystoria ueteris et noui testamenti. [Adapted
slightly for use as incipit in orange and blue half-uncials at the
bottom of the second text column; text of preface:] Imperatorie
maiestatis est in palatio habere mansiones. auditorium uel consistorium
in quo iura decernit...Et nota differentiam translatus enoch subuectus
est helias ascendit ihesu propria scilicet uirtute. Expliciunt
Stegmueller, v. 4, nos. 6543-64. Text missing at beginning of 2
Kings (one folio following f. 85), and at end of 2 Kings and beginning
of 3 Kings (one bifolium following f. 90).
3. ff. 181r-203r Incipiunt actus apostolorum. huc usque ystoriatus
est magister petrus. Ab hinc dissipuli [sic] eius. Anno nonodecimo
imperij tyberij cesaris adhuc procuratore iudee pilato...et in loco
magis honorabili scilicet in cathacumbis. Explicit liber actuum
apostolorum. f. 203v blank.
Stegmueller, v. 4, nos. 6565 and 6785, attributed to Petrus
Parchment, ff. iii (parchment) + 203 + iii (parchment), 450 x 305
(314 x 203) mm., trimmed. Written in two columns of 47 lines, single
vertical bounding lines, three lines between text columns, triple
horizontal bounding lines at top, center, and bottom of written space,
all full across. Ruled in crayon. Prickings in inner and lower margins.
I^^8 (1, 8 cut out and trimmed, then reinserted on new stub,
suggesting perhaps that title-page is not in its original position):
II-X^^8, XI^^8 (-6), XII^^8 (-4, 5), XIII-XXV^^8, XXVI^^6. Quire signatures
(.i., .ii., etc.) center verso. (Collation in Clark, op. cit., note 2,
Written in bold, early gothic bookhand by one scribe (see art. 1
and below). Writing above top line, with tall ascenders in upper
margin. Various corrections in a different hand (s. xiii). Guide-
letters for illuminator throughout. Scattered short marginal glosses
(brown ink) in a similar but smaller hand (s. xiii). Transcriptions of
rubrics in a 15th-century hand.
Richly illuminated in early gothic style by the same workshop
which produced its probable companion volume, Brussels, Bib. Roy. MS
9178-87, a collection of secular chronicles and genealogies (see Clark,
op. cit.). The half-uncial presentation text is set inside a double
frame of orange and blue strips, the latter decorated with orange dots;
the entire page crowned by an elaborate architectural canopy above four
trilobe arches supported at the side of the frame by columns, in blue.
There are twenty-three historiated initials orange or blue, decorated
with stylized foliage in white, occasionally with biting dragon and
curling vine serifs, set in or above orange frames, on gold grounds: f.
2r (two initials) Petrus Comestor presenting his book to William of
Champagne, Archbishop of Sens, and Petrus copying the book; f. 3r a
Genesis initial, an elaborate armature structure, orange, blue, and
green on gold, with the seven days of Creation and the four rivers of
Paradise (comparable to those in three Channel-style Bibles of the
Mainerius group, Paris, B. N. lat. 8823, f. 1r; B. N. lat. 11535, f.
6v; and Bib. St. Genevieve, MS 8, f. 7v; f. 30r (two initials) a scribe
portrait and the Finding of Moses (Exodus); f. 46r a scribe portrait;
f. 46v Sacrifice of a sheep, a bull, and doves (Leviticus); f. 62r a
scribe portrait; f. 62v Moses expounding the tablets (Deuteronomy); f.
66r Joshua at Jericho (Joshua); f. 70r Joshua made leader, the army
departs (Judges); f. 76r Ruth removes kinsman's shoe (Ruth); f. 77r
Presentation of Samuel (1 Kings); leaf with miniature missing following
f. 85 (2 Kings); f. 116v Tobit, Raphael, Tobias (Tobit); f. 118v
Jeremiah and the People (Jeremiah); f. 119v Ezekiel eats the scroll
(Ezekiel); f. 121r (two initials) scribe portrait and Daniel in the
Lions' Den (Daniel); f. 129v scribe portrait; f. 130r Decapitation of
Holofernes (Judith); f. 134r Esther receives scepter (Esther); f. 139r
Mattathias slays apostate Jew (Maccabees); f. 149r (two initials)
Zachariah receives prophecy, Annunciation (Gospels); f. 181r Ascension
of Christ (Acts).
Six large foliate initials, in a style dependent on Channel-School
models: tight pink and blue vine scrolls with dragon terminals, in some
cases on a green trellis, set in light orange frames, edged in black,
against gold grounds; on f. 2v an I running the full length of the page
(Preface); f. 66r (Joshua); f. 77r (Prologue, 1 Kings); f. 127r (Story
of Susannah), f. 134r (Esther) and f. 144r (2 Maccabees), blue capitals
with white highlights, filled with vine scrolls and framed as above,
against gold grounds. 6- and 3-line initials, red and blue, with blue
or red penwork respectively; a few (e.g., f. 98v) in a more elaborate
manner with penwork in both colors. On some pages a single column of
text is further divided by a vertical guilloche pattern in orange ink.
Rubrics in orange throughout.
Some pages sewn; some bleeding of orange ink; upper right corner
of f. 190 cut out. Text not damaged.
Binding: s. xix-xx. Gilt, gauffered edges. Brown goatskin blind-
tooled, with elaborate bosses and fastenings, by Lortic.
Written in or just before 1229 in Northeastern France for the
Abbey of Mont-Saint-Quentin, as indicated on the title-page (see art.
1) and given by Petrus, who is possibly to be identified with a "Petrus
monachus sancti quintini de monte" commemorated on August 10 in the
obituary of Corbie (Paris, B. N. lat. 16776, f. 177r). The same Peter
gave Brussels, Bib. Roy. MS 9178-87 to Mont-Saint-Quentin in 1227,
according to a colophon (now lost) recorded by the Burgundian
chronicler Aubert le Mire (Donationum belgicarum [Antwerp, 1629] I,
71). See Clark, op. cit., and Exhibition Catalogue, no. 18, pp. 189-90.
A note (s. xv?), f. 203v, reads, "Liber iste est de monte sancti
quintini prope perronam." Belonged to Octave Godechon, Mont-Saint-
Quentin. Collection of Ambroise Firmin-Didot (book label, with date
1850, inside front cover; Bibliotheque Ambroise Firmin-Didot,
manuscrits et imprimes [Paris, 26 and 31 May 1879] no. 13). Owned by
Leon Gruel, Paris, 1937. Library of Andre Hachette (his sale catalogue,
Paris, 16 Dec. 1953, no. 10 and Times Literary Supplement, 22 Jan.
1954). Sold by Laurence Witten to Louis M. Rabinowitz, who presented it
to Yale in 1954.
secundo folio: [f. 2r blank; f. 3r:] De prima
Bibliography: Faye and Bond, p. 41, no. 214.
Exhibition Catalogue, pp.
189-90, no. 18, pl. 6 of f. 3r.
E. Quantin, ed., Notice sur l'Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Quentin et
description d'un manuscrit execute en 1229 (Peronne, 1885).
Chefs d'oeuvre de l'art francais,
International Exposition (Paris, 1937) no. 748.
C. Nordenfalk, book review in Zeitschrift fuer
(1938) pp. 353-55.
T. E. Marston, "A Thirteenth-Century Manuscript of Comestor's
Historia Scholastica" Gazette 30 (1955) pp. 60-63.
Barbara A. Shailor