BARTHOLOMAEUS ANGLICUS. c.1203-1272.
Anglo-Norman manuscript on vellum, "Le livre des region et des provins dont la Bible" [De Proprietatibus rerum xv]; "Le tretiz de set mortens pechez"; "Les dis commandemens"; "Les xii articles de la fei"; "Les vii sacremens de sainte eglise"; and "La passion." [England, c.1260.]
32 leaves recto and verso, 2 blanks cancelled else complete, 41 lines, brown ink in a neat, early gothic bookhand, written space 162 x 110 mm, rubricated, one- and two-line initials in alternating red and blue with occasional contrasting penwork. Period vellum self-wrappers. Custom clamshell box. Overall rubbing and wear, first half with some nibbling to edges, f.19 with 4cm circular excision (blank on recto, with loss of text to verso).
Provenance: possibly John Kemp[?] (late 16th century inscription on 31v: "John ... cum comitatu." At least one other manuscript passed from John Kemp to Thomas Denton, see Bodleian Laud Misc. 28); Denton family (two 17th century inscriptions on 31v); Christie's, June 20, 1990, lot 28 to Quaritch.
13TH CENTURY ENCYCLOPEDIA: WRITTEN IN ENGLAND BY TWO SCRIBES NOT LONG AFTER THE WORK WAS FIRST COMPILED BY BARTHOLOMEUS ANGLICUS, CIRCA 1245. De Proprietatibus rerum xv is a collection of glosses on things and places mentioned in the Bible, gathering a large number of primary and secondary sources and with particularly admirable geographical information. Bartholomaeus was a Franciscan who studied and taught at Paris and Magdeburg. His work became very successful and was translated from Latin into French in 1372 by Jean Corbechon and into English by John Trevisa in 1398, becoming one of the most important compendia of medieval knowledge. The first edition appeared in Cologne in 1472 (see lots 1022 & 1023 for other incunable editions). The present is one of the earliest possible translations, and substantially pre-dates any other Anglo-Norman copy.
Dr Ruth Dean analyzed this work in Anglo-Norman Language and Literature, 1999, and her advance research was cited when this manuscript appeared at Christie's in 1990: "The text is based heavily on Isidore (Etymologiae) but adapts freely in the ordering of the information ... this manuscript is arranged alphabetically by place name ... The material not based on Isidore offers penetrating insights into the society which wrote it. The entries for England (and there are separate entries for Kent, Scotland and Ireland) and Normandy are especially revealing. To the Norman aristocracy, England was the isle of Albion, colonized by Brutus after the fall of Troy (an apocryphal story made popular by Geoffrey of Monmouth), whose sons were the 'angels' of Gregory the Great, a wealthy country, the richest island in the world, full of good things, the people well-spoken and courageous. The Normans, on the other hand, live in a fertile land, with good harbors, their laws are civilized, the world's greatest city is Rouen, and the people of this province are strong, brave, fine warriors, well dressed, well spoken: 'deboneire en curage, peisible en compagnee.'"
Following the De Proprietatibus rerum xv is an anthology of Christian tenets (f.19v to f.21r) and a long account in rhyming couplets of the Passion (f.21v to end).