[an error occurred while processing this directive] Burgess collection illuminated letter

Burgess Collection

Burgess Collection MS 25

Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (Aurelius Augustinus), Collection of Works on Marriage and Sexuality

Latin, 8 elaborately illuminated initials, 5 plain initials

[Germany, late 12th century]

Scanned Images of MS 25:
 
Binding Initials Line Endings Scripts
front f. 1v f. 63r f. 106v
back f. 99v f. 107r flyleaf
spine f. 106v paper attached inside lower cover

I. Material
II. Construction
III. Preparation of the Page 
IV. Text
V.
Decoration 
VI.
Illustration
VII. Binding
VIII.
Additions
IX.
Provenance

Description

I. Material

The manuscript contains 109 leaves of stout vellum and one back flyleaf of fine vellum (reused vellum from an older manuscript).  Strips of vellum reinforce the fold of the outer bifolios of the first and last quires.  Several leaves near the beginning and end of the manuscript contain wormholes.  There are holes and tears in various leaves.  However, some tears have been repaired by sewing.  23.8 x 16.5 cm.

II. Construction

GATHERINGS  FOLIOS  CONTENTS
18-138 1-104 Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (Aurerlius Augustinus), 
145 105-109  Collection of Works on Marriage and Sexuality

III. Preparation of the Page

Pricking marks for the lines of a double vertical frame are clearly visible on all pages.  Pricking marks for the lines of the text are visible on the outer edge of the leaves.  The writing space varies from an area of 18.1 x 11.8 cm. to an area of 18.3 x 12.2 cm.

Two vertical lines on each side of the writing space (0.7 cm. apart) form a double frame that extends the length of the page.  The lines of the frame and the ruling were drawn by an instrument known as hard point.  This instrument was simply a pointed object (perhaps a stylus) that made an indentation when one drew a line, pressing firmly, on a leaf of parchment.  This instrument was widely used until the elenventh century when it was joined by an instrument known as metal point. (Brown, British Library Guide to Writing and Scripts, p. 66)  The text is written in single columns of 28 lines.  The lines of the text are 0.7 cm. apart.

IV. Text

A. Contents
Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (Aurelius Augustinus), Collection of Works on Marriage and Sexuality

1.  Prologue to De nuptiis et concupiscentia, f. 1v
 Inc.  Prologus sancti augustini in libros de nuptiis et concvpiscentia.  Scripsi dvos libros ad illustrem
 virvm comitem valerium cum audissem pelagianos ei nescio quid scripsisse de nobis quod scilicet
 nuptias dampnaremus asserendo originale peccatum.
 Ex.  Huius operis primus liber incipit, Heretici noui dilectissime fili ualeri.  Secundus autem sic, Inter
 milicie tue curas.

2.  Epistola ad Valerium comitem, ff. 1v-2v
Inc. Item epistola eiusdem ad valerium comitem.  Domino et illustri et merito prestantissimo atque in christo dilectione karissimo filio valerio Augustinus in domino salutem.
Ex. Ab hac ergo epistola perge ad librum quem simil misi, qui tue reuerentie et cur scriptus sit et cur ad te potissimum missus ipse suo principio commodius intimabit.

3.  De nuptiis et concupiscentia, Book I, ff. 2v-18v
 Inc. Heretici novi dilectissime fili valeri qui medicinam christi qua peccata sanantur carnaliter natis
 paruulis necessariam non esse contendunt...
Ex. ... nisi ab homine dei qui te familiarius nouit  audissem quod tam libenter legas ut etiam nocturnas aliquas horas lectioni uigilanter impendas.  Explicit liber i de nuptis.  Incipit secundum.

4.  De nuptiis et concupiscentia, Book II, ff. 19r-46r
 Inc. Inter militie tue curas et inlustris persone quam pro meristris gestas actusque rei publice necessarios
 fili dilectissime et honorande valeri...
 Ex. Saluum faciet autem a peccatis eorum: sunt ergo et in paruulis peccata originalia.  Propter que Iesus  id est salvator possit esse et ipsorum.  Explicit liber ii de nuptiis.

Aurelius Augustinus (Augustine) was born in 354 at Tagaste in North Africa (modern Algeria).  Although his father was a pagan, he was raised as a Christian by his mother.  At the age of sixteen, he moved to Carthage to study rhetoric.  He eventually opened a school there and taught rhetoric for thirteen years.  During his stay at Carthage, he took a mistress and lived with her for more than ten years.  Eventually, he fathered a son with her.  During this period, he also rejected Christianity primarily "because it provided no acceptable solution to the problem of evil."  At this point he became interested in the doctrine of Manicheanism.  For the time being, this dualistic vision of the world provided a satisfactory explanation of the principle of evil.

Augustine eventually became disenchanted with Carthage and his students and moved to Rome in 383.  Here he opened a school and taught rhetoric for one year before taking a position as professor of rhetoric at Milan.  During this period, Augustine strayed from Manicheanism and took up the skepticism of Cicero.  However, after hearing various sermons of Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, he began to turn again to Christianity.  Having converted in 386, he was baptized in 387 and spent a year in prayer at an Italian villa at Cassiciacum.  Following this, Augustine returned to North Africa and set up a small monastic community in his hometown of Tagaste.  He was ordained by the bishop of Hippo while he was visiting the town in 391. In accordance with the bishop's wishes Augustine moved to Hippo and set up a monastery.  He became bishop of Hippo on the death of Valerius in 396.  He remained in this position until his death in 430.  (Schoedinger, 3-4;  Pope, 82-130)

While at Cassiciacum, Augustine began to write prolifically.  However, the works contained in MS 25 seem to have been written while he was bishop of Hippo.  MS 25 is a collection of Augustine's major works on marriage and sexuality.  These include:  De nuptiis et concupiscentia (On Marriage and Concupiscence), De bono conjugali (On the Good of Marriage), De sancta virginitate (On Holy Virginity) and De bono viduitatis (On the Good of Widowhood). Such a collection of works was not uncommon during the Middle Ages. Many manuscripts in European archives contain these works. (Oberleitner, vols. 1-11)

The prologue that the scribe has placed before De nuptiis et concupiscentia is actually Augustine's Retraction for this work.  Late in his life, Augustine decided to review all of his writings, defending items that might offend others and correcting items that displeased him.  He planned this project as early as 413, but he did not begin until sometime around 427.  These writings became known as his Retractions.

Augustine wrote book I of De nuptiis et concupiscentia in 419. (Pope, p. 349)  In it he sets out his views on marriage and concupiscence.  Julian of Eclanum, a Pelagian, responded to this work with four books of his own.  Augustine then responded to the arguments of Julian with book II of De nuptiis in 420 or 421. (Pope, p. 349)  Julian and other Pelagians believed that the notion of original sin had dangerous consequences because it allowed Christians to become lax and excuse "their sinful behavior on the grounds of their weaknesses," i.e., their sinful nature. (Clark, p. 71)  Pelagians were firm believers that humans possess the free will to choose to do good or evil.  Augustine, however, believed in original sin.  He thought that all people are doomed to death when they are born and do not have the free will to choose good without assistance from God. (Clark, p. 71)  The two books of De nuptiis are preceded by a letter to count Valerius in which Augustine dedicated book I to the count.  The copies of Augustine's Retraction, letter to Valerius and both books of De nuptiis appear to be complete and fairly faithful to the published versions. (Augustinus, Tome I, p. 115; Tome II, pp. 1141-2;  Tome X, pp. 601-82)

5.  De bono conjugali, ff. 46v-62v
 Inc. Incipit liber sancti Augustini de bono coniugali.  Quoniam unusquisque homo humani generis pars
 est...
 Ex. ... sed propter Christum coniuges propter Christum patres fuerunt.  Explicit liber de bono conivgali.

Augustine wrote De bono conjugali in 401.  In it he attempted to find a middle ground in the debate between Jerome and Jovinian concerning the virtues of celibacy and marriage.  In the 380s and 390s Jerome had been the main advocate of an ascetic movement in Western Christianity that extolled the virtues of celibacy.  He believed that marriage was simply a lower way of life.  Jovinian, however, argued against these ideas.  He believed that marriage was "equal in status with virginity if the married person led a virtuous life." (Clark, p. 42)  In response to these opposing views, Augustine wrote De bono conjugali.  In it he conceded the superiority of virginity, while at the same time admitting the goodness of marriage. (Clark, p. 43)  The copy of De bono conjugali contained in MS 25 appears to be complete and fairly faithful to the published version. (Augustinus, Tome VI, pp. 533-70)

6.  De sancta virginitate, ff. 63r-85v
 Inc. Incipit liber de sancta virginitate.  Librum de bono coniugali nuper edidimus in quo etiam Christi
 uirgines amonuimus atque ammonemus...
 Ex. ... benedicite sancti et humiles corde dominum ymnum dicite et superexaltate eum in secula.
 Explicit liber de sancta virginitate.

Augustine wrote De sancta virginitate in 401, shortly after De bono conjugali.  In it he continued his search for a middle ground in the above mentioned debate between Jerome and Jovinian.  Again, he upheld the superiority of virginity, but he also admonished those leading the celibate life not to consider marriage an evil or a sin. (Clark, p. 61)  The copy of De sancta virginitate contained in MS 25 appears to be complete and fairly faithful to the published version. (Augustinus, Tome VI, pp. 573-618)

7.  De bono viduitatis, ff. 86r-99v
 Inc. Augustinus episcopus servvs Christi servorvmque Christi religiose famule dei iuliane in domino
 dominorum salutem.
 Ex. ... quia ibi copiosis disputaui.  Perseueres in gratio Christi domini.  Explicit liber de bono vidvali.

Augustine wrote De bono viduitatis in 414.  It was written for an aristocratic widow whom Augustine advised not to remarry.  This work is considered one of Augustine's anti-Pelagian writings.  As noted above, Pelagius and his followers believed that the notion of original sin had dangerous consequences because it allowed Christians to become lax and excuse "their sinful behavior on the grounds of their weaknesses," i.e., their sinful nature. (Clark, p. 71)  Pelagians were firm believers that humans possess the free will to choose to do good or evil.  Augustine, however, believed in original sin.  He thought that all people are doomed to death when they are born and do not have the free will to choose good without assistance from God. (Clark, p. 71)  Because "Juliana and her family enjoyed a friendly relationship with Pelagius, Augustine wished to warn her . . . not to accept Pelagius' views concerning the self-sufficiency of the human will for the accomplishment of virtuous behavior."  He advised her to remain chaste, but reminded her that a life of chastity is a "gift from God, not the result of human effort alone." (Clark, pp. 78-9)  The copy of De bono viduitatis contained in MS 25 appears to be complete and fairly faithful to the published version. (Augustinus, Tome VI, pp. 621-50)

8.  Letter to Jerome concerning James 2:10, ff. 99v-106r
 Inc.  Augustinus ad ieronimum...Quod ad te scripsi honorande mihi in christo frater Ieronyme querens
 de anima humana . . .
Ex. Maxime tamen istam sententiam, quicumque totam legem seruauit offendat autem in uno factus est omnium reus, si aliquo modo melius exponi possenouit dilectio tua, per dominum obsecro ut id nobiscum communicare digneris.  Explicit.

This letter, written in 415 to Jerome, is Augustine's interpretation of James 2:10 - Quicumque enim totam legem servaverit, offendat autem in uno, factus est omnium reus (For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it).  The copy of the letter contained in MS 25 is complete and fairly faithful to the published version. (Augustinus, Tome II, pp. 889-900)  This letter was most likely included in MS 25 because it briefly addresses the issues of chastity and marriage in the context of James 2:10.

9. Reply from Jerome concerning the above letter, f. 106
 Inc.  Venerabili pape Augustino Hieronimus.  Virum uenerabilem fratrem meum, filium dignationis tue
 orosium presbyterum...
 Ex. ...pleraque prioris laboris ob fraude cuiusdam omisimus.

This letter, written in 416, is Jerome's brief reply to Augustine's two recent letters to him - one on the origin of the human soul and one interpreting a passage from James (number 8 above).  The reply simply lauds Augustine for his eloquent writing and insightful interpretations.  (Pope, pp. 204-5; Augustinus, Tome II, pp. 914-15)  The copy of the letter contained in MS 25 is complete and fairly faithful to the published version. (Augustinus, Tome II, pp. 914-15)

10. Retractationes, ff. 106v-109v
 Inc. Incipit retractatio librorum beati augustini episcopi.  De achademicis.  Libri iii.  Hoc opus sic
 incipit. O utinam romaniane hominem sibi aptum...
 Ex. ... uerba ponens eiusque ... ressponsiones suas.

This section of the MS 25 contains a list of the works mentioned by Augustine in his Retractationes.  This list is composed of the name, number of books and incipit of each manuscript.  As noted above, by 413 Augustine had decided to review all of his writings, defending items that might offend others and correcting items that displeased him.  However, he did not begin until sometime around 427.  These writings became known as his Retractions.  The full text of Augustine's retraction for De nuptiis is included in MS 25 as the prologue noted above.

B. Script

The text of MS 25 was written in the tradition of the Protogothic System of scripts.  Generally, this system corresponds with the Romanesque period of art and architecture.  Protogothic script encompasses the transition from Caroline Minuscule to Gothic Minuscule.  It was prevalent in areas under Norman and Angevin rule from the end of the eleventh century to the mid-thirteenth century.  The system comprised three different types of script:  Continental Protogothic Book Script, English Protogothic Book Script and Protogothic Documentary Script. (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, pp. 72-9)  MS 25 was written in Continental Protogothic Book Script.  This script is more compressed than Caroline Minuscule, but is still much less compressed than the later Gothic scripts. (Compare MS 25 with Brown, Western Historical Scripts, plates 28-31.)  In addition, Continental Protogothic Book Script contains simple feet "which generally consist of an upwards turn of the pen," as opposed to the formally applied feet and serifs of Gothic scripts.  (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, p. 73)

MS 25 was written by one scribe.  The shade of ink varies from dark to light brown.  Rubrication in red/orange occurs throughout.  Occasionally, red/orange dots have been placed inside capital letters, especially at the beginning or end of sections.  The ligatures of c-t and s-t are common throughout.  Joined letters are frequent throughout.  Fusion of letters is rare.  The ampersand and the tironian et sign are prevalent throughout.  Elongated descenders appear in certain words in the final lines of various pages.

The script on the back flyleaf appears to be Gothic Glossing Script.  This script was part of the of the Gothic System of scripts.  This complex system of scripts was prevalent from the late twelfth to the sixteenth century.  The complexity of the system resulted from "the formation of distinct categories of script suited for use in a well perceived hierarchy of books and texts." (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, p. 80)  General features of the system are a more extreme lateral compression than that which developed in the Protogothic System of scripts and increasing elaboration of minims. (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, p. 80)  Gothic Glossing Script is "essentially a smaller, modified version of the lower grade Gothic book scripts." (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, p. 90)

The script on the sheet of paper pasted on the inside of the lower cover appears to be Later German Cursive.  This script was also part of the of the Gothic System of scripts.  Later German Cursive was prevalent in Germany from the late thirteenth century.  It is distinguished from other Gothic scripts by rounded loops in letters such as l and d, the "descent of the final minim of h and m below the line and the closed round s." (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, p. 104)

Considering that the flyleaf appears to have been attached to the manuscript when it was originally produced, it would seem that the earliest date for the origin of the manuscript would be the late twelfth century.  Also, it would appear that the manuscript was likely rebound in the late Middle Ages (late thirteenth to fifteenth century) and this was when the sheets of paper were pasted down inside the upper and lower covers.  (See section VII below)

V. Decoration

A. Initials
MS 25 contains two large, four medium and two small illuminated initials, as well as five small red/orange initials.  Each section of the manuscript begins with one of the initials.  The small red/orange initials have been placed at the beginning of De nuptiis and Retractationes, in the middle of De sancta virginitate (f. 72v) and two of them have been placed in the middle of Retractationes (f. 109r).  The small red/orange initials span from 2 to 3.5 lines and contain no elaborate illumination.  The other initials vary in size from 4.5 to 10.5 lines and contain elaborate illumination.  The prologue of De nuptiis begins with a gray and white S (spanning 8.25 lines) in the shape of a dragon.  The dragon has several red/orange dots along the center of its body.   The initial is painted on what was perhaps once a burnished gold background.  Only a yellowish residue of the paste to which the gold was applied remains.  A white vine emanates from the mouth of the dragon and winds around the body of the initial.  Certain areas of the background have been painted red/orange.

Epistola ad Valerium comitem begins with a red/orange and white D (spanning 5 lines).  White vines wind around the initial and the background is partially covered with a yellowish residue of the paste to which gold was once applied.  Part of the background is also painted red/orange.

The second book of De nuptiis begins with a white, gray and red/orange I (spanning 4.5 lines).  White vines wind around the initial and the background is partially covered with a yellowish residue of the paste to which gold was once applied.  Part of the background is also painted red/orange.

De bono conjugali begins with a white, gray and red/orange Q (spanning 10.5 lines).  White vines wind around the initial and the background is partially covered with a yellowish residue of the paste to which gold was once applied.  Part of the background is also painted red/orange.  A red/orange dragon forms the tail of the Q.  Red/orange lines emanate from the mouth of the dragon.

De sancta virginitate begins with a red/orange and white L (spanning 7 lines).  White vines wind around the initial and the background is partially covered with a yellowish residue of the paste to which gold was once applied.  Part of the background is also painted red/orange.

De bono viduitatis begins with a red/orange A (spanning 5.5 lines).  The background is covered with a yellowish residue of the paste to which gold was once applied.  A gray ram is painted in the center of the initial. Red/orange lines emanate from the mouth of the ram.

The letter to Jerome begins with a white, gray and red/orange Q (spanning 7.5 lines).  White vines wind around the initial and the background is partially covered with a yellowish residue of the paste to which gold was once applied.  Part of the background is also painted red/orange.  A gray and red/orange dragon forms the tail of the Q.  Red/orange lines emanate from the mouth of the dragon.

The reply from Jerome begins with a red/orange U (spanning 4.5 lines).  The background is covered with a yellowish residue of the paste to which gold was once applied.  A gray bird with red/orange legs and talons is painted in the center of the initial.

Many of these illuminated initials help with the dating of the manuscript.  They do not corroborate the eleventh-century origin noted in Julia Burgess' notes or Faye and Bond.  (JB, box 6, folder 14;  Faye and Bond, p. 431)  David Diringer has noted that initials in German manuscripts were ornamented only with interlaced branchwork (or vinework) during the eleventh century.  Initial decoration in the form of animals and monsters did not appear until the twelfth century. (Diringer, p. 215)  Thus, it seems likely that MS 25 originated in the twelfth century rather than the eleventh.

B. Paragraph Signs

This manuscript contains no paragraph signs.

C. Line Endings

Two types of line ending are present in MS 25.  Occasionally, lines end with a dot surrounded by several other dots.  The dots are in the same color as the ink used in the line in which they appear (either brown or red/orange).  These endings usually occur at the beginning or end of sections. (See, for example, f. 63r.)  Such dots may be indicative of German manuscript production.  They appear in an illustration of the Pruem Gospel Book (Diringer, Fig. IV-24a) and do not seem to be present in any of the illustrations originating in other areas of Europe.

Various other lines end with a series of dashes separated by two or three comma-shaped marks.  The number of dashes varies according to the space allotted.  The color of ink used is either brown or red/orange.  Occasionally, this type of line ending finishes with three vertically stacked dashes that fan out into the margin.

D. Border Decorations

This manuscript contains no border decorations.

VI. Illustration

This manuscript contains no illustrations other than those noted in the sections concerning initials and line endings.

VII. Binding

MS 25 is bound in old deerskin over wooden boards with beveled edges.  However, this is probably not the original binding.  As mentioned above, the script on the paper pasted on the inside of the lower cover indicates that MS 25 was likely rebound in the late Middle Ages (late thirteenth to fifteenth century).

The deerskin is white and appears to have been alum-tawed rather than tanned.  It remains a soft, suede-like binding.  There are remnants of what appear to have been designs tooled or scratched into the binding.  The design, in the form of a large X, is much more visible on the lower cover.  Each leg of the X is about 2cm. wide.  The X is encompased in a single frame.  The wooden boards remain in good condition except for various worm holes.  The deerskin, on the other hand, has been scratched off or stained in several places (especially on the upper cover).  There are remnants of vellum labels on the upper cover and the spine.    However, the writing on these labels is no longer visible.  A pull-tab of leather remains on the top of the spine.  MS 25 was likely written and kept in a monastery in a box or on a shelf.  The tab would have been used to pull the manuscript from its resting place.  There are also remnants of a single clasp on the lower cover.  The leather strap and clasp likely hooked onto a catch (no longer extant) in the middle of the upper cover.  Clasps were usually placed on the lower cover of manuscripts originating in Germany and the Netherlands, while those placed on upper covers usually originate in England, France, Italy or Spain. (Diehl, vol. I, p. 65)  This corroborates that MS 25 probably originated in Germany.

VIII. Additions to Manuscript

A. Inside upper and lower covers:  sheets of paper have been pasted down, covering the edges of the deerskin.  The sheet of paper inside the lower cover was reused from an unknown manuscript.

B. Inside upper cover, upper left corner:  /3 (in pencil), 12 (circled, in pencil).

C. Inside upper cover, center:  St. Augustine, Opera, German work, XI cent., £100 (in pencil).

D. Inside upper cover, lower left corner:  Burgess 25, 617 (with a square around it), 69 (all in pencil).

E. Inside lower cover, upper center:  ff 109 + 1 (underlined, in pencil).

F. Leaf numbers have been added on the upper right corner of every leaf (in dark brown ink).

G. Occasional marginal comments (in brown ink).

IX. Provenance

MS 25 was purchased by Edward Sandford Burgess from Bernard Quaritch, Ltd., London, in 1923.  It was part of the collection of manuscripts inherited by Julia Burgess, sister of Edward Sandford Burgess, on his death in 1935.  This collection was then given to (and partly purchased by) the University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon. (JB, Box 6, Folder 14; Faye and Bond, pp. 431)

Bibliography

Unpublished Source

Julia Burgess Papers.  Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries.  UO Coll. 209, 9 boxes and 9 separate volumes. [Referred to above as JB.]

Published Sources

http://library.uoregon.edu/ec/exhibits/burgess/ms25.html
Last revision: 10/30/06 by N. Helmer
Created by Ian Rush for Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries
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