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

Burgess Collection

Burgess Collection MS 14

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, De Consideratione

Latin, 5 illuminated initials

[Italy, 15th century]

Scanned Images of MS 14:

frontf. 47vf. 5vE. S. Burgess BookplateScale

I. Material
II. Construction
III. Preparation of the Page 
IV. Text
VII. Binding



The manuscript contains 90 leaves of thick paper and two flyleaves of paper (one front and one back). The final three leaves have been left blank. Vertical catchwords are present on the lower inside margin of the verso of the last leaf of all quires. Several leaves are stained and worn from use, especially toward the beginning and end of the manuscript. 20.2 x 12 cm.

II. Construction

110-9101-90St. Bernard of Clairvaux, De Consideratione (ff. 1-87r)

III. Preparation of the Page

Vertical lines on each side of the writing space form a single frame that extends the length of the page. The lines of the frame 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 on a leaf of parchment or paper. 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 23 lines. The writing space is constant throughout at an area of 16 x 6.7 cm. Although no lines have been drawn on which to write the text, the scribe wrote in a fairly uniform manner. Watermarks in the form of an encircled scale are present on several pages. Briquet's Les Filigranes contains drawings of several such watermarks. However, none are exactly like the one used in MS 14. Nonetheless, it can be ascertained from the watermarks with similar designs that the one in MS 14 was probably created and used in the second half of the fifteenth century. Such scales were mainly used in Italy and France, but also appeared in other areas of Europe. (Briquet, vol. I, pp. 178, 185; vol. III, plates 2488-2500)

IV. Text

A. Contents
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, De Consideratione

1. Prologue, f. 1
Inc. Beatissimi Bernardi ad Eugenium papam. Liber primus de consideratione incipit. Svbit animum dictare aliquid: quod te papa beatissimi Eugeni...
Ex. ...sed ei qui non amat: ei qui uim non sentit amoris.

2. Book I, ff. 1v-14r
Inc. Unde iam ergo incipiam? Libet ab occupationibus tuis...
Ex. ...ne duplo te oneret minus suauus oratio: si et longa fuerit.

3. Book II, ff. 14r-31v
Inc. Beatissimi Bernardi ad Eugenium papam. Liber secundus de consideratione incipit. Memor promissi mei...
Ex. ...hoc siquidem tuis occupationibus sermo breuior: conpetentior est.

4. Book III, ff. 31v-47v
Inc. Beatissimi Bernardi ad Eugenium papam. Liber tercius de consideratione incipit. Finis superioris libri huic principium ponit.
Ex. ..sed ea hostium nobis liber quantus aperiet.

5. Book IV, ff. 47v-63v
Inc. Beatissimi Bernardi ad Eugenium papam. Liber quartus de consideratione incipit. Si mihi plenius innotuisset amantissime Eugeni...
Ex. ...et me pariter absoluere promissione tua.

6. Book V, ff. 63v-87r
Inc. Beatissimi Bernardi ad Eugenium papam. Liber quintus de consideratione incipit. Libri superiores et si de consideratione inscribantur...
Ex. ...sed non finis quaerendi.

7. Colophon, f. 87r

St. Bernard of Clairvaux was born to parents of minor nobility near Dijon in Burgundy in 1190. He eventually began a literary education at a school at Châtillon-sur-Seine. However, he was greatly affected by the death of his mother in 1107. Shortly thereafter, he began to embrace a life of solitude. In 1111, he decided to enter the Cistercian abbey of Cîteaux. The abbey (located south of Dijon in Burgundy) and the order were established by Robert of Molesmes in 1098 with the intention of returning to the original austerity and solitude of the Benedictine order. In 1115, Stephen Harding, the abbot of Cîteaux, sent Bernard to found a Cistercian monastery at Clairvaux in Champagne (near the border of Burgundy). He would eventually found 68 daughter houses of Cîteaux.

After several years at Clairvaux, Bernard's already poor health worsened. However, this did not stop him from beginning to write on several topics. For example, it was during this period that he produced a treatise on the Virgin Mary. In addition, he began to embrace God in a mystical manner and thus opposed the dialectical scholasticism of Peter Abelard. He believed that God should be understood through love and prayer, not rational disputation. (Encyclopædia Britannica Online; Bernard, ed. G. R. Evans, pp. 15-57)

Bernard also found time to advise various popes. Of interest here, Bernard wrote the five books of De Consideratione for Pope Eugenius III. He wrote these books between 1145, when Eugenius became pope, and his death in 1153. Eugenius had been a monk at Clairvaux and Bernard worried about his ability to cope with the change of lifestyle. Eugenius had been accustomed to the contemplative life of a monastery, but he was suddenly required to devote much of his time to the administrative and political affairs of the papacy. In De Consideratione, Bernard advised Eugenius to "set aside time for his spiritual life amidst the pressures of daily business." He believed that Eugenius, through consideration, or contemplation, could achieve a balance that allowed him to deal with the affairs of the church and satisfy his own spiritual needs. (Bernard, ed. G. R. Evans, pp. 145-148)

The copy of De Consideratione contained in MS 14 appears to be complete. However, the scribe did not indicate that the first section of the manuscript is the prologue (as is indicated in the version published in Patrologia Latina, vol. 182, pp. 727-808). He or she simply incorporated it into Book I.

B. Script

MS 14 was written in the tradition of the Humanistic System of scripts. This system is believed to have begun in Florence just prior to 1400. The development of this system was a conscious reformation of scripts with the aesthetic intentions of reviving clarity and legibility in book production. The system comprises three different types of script: Humanistic Book Script, Humanistic Cursive Book Script and Humanistic Cursive. MS 14 is written in Humanistic Cursive Book Script. This script was invented by Niccolò Niccoli by c. 1420. As with other scripts of this tradition, Humanistic Cursive Book Script was influenced by examples of Caroline Minuscule dating from the late twelfth century. Humanistic Cursive Book Script differs from Humanistic Book Script mainly in its more cursive ductus. This was caused by the fact that Humanistic Cursive Book Script was developed with the primary intention of being an alternate, more rapid form of Humanistic Book Script. (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, pp. 126-7, 130-3)

Because one of the goals of the humanistic system was to restore clarity and legibility to scripts, there was also a strong desire to reduce the need for abbreviation. Nonetheless, certain abbreviations remained. This was generally the case with Humanistic Cursive Book Script. Because this script was intended as a more rapid form, it is understandable that some abbreviations were used. (Compare, for example, Brown, Western Historical Scripts, plates 50, 51.) MS 14 is relatively free of abbreviations. Occasionally, abbreviations for terminal letters were used.

MS 14 was written by one scribe. Light brown ink was used throughout. Ligatures of s-t are common throughout. Joined letters are frequent throughout. Fusion of letters is rare. The Humanistic feature of the two-compartment g is common throughout. Tall s and pointed a are also prevalent. These Semigothic Cursive letter-forms were often favored in Humanistic Cursive Book Script. (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, p. 132)

V. Decoration

A. Initials
MS 14 contains five illuminated initials. The initials begin each of the five books of De Consideratione. However, the first one begins what is technically the prologue of the work (as indicated in section IV above). Each initial is light yellow and intertwined with white, yellow and reddish-brown vine-work. Such initial decoration was typical of fifteenth-century Renaissance manuscript illumination, especially in Italy. (De Hamel, pp. 239) The vine-work emanates into the margin in each case. Each initial spans five to ten lines. 
B. Paragraph Signs

This manuscript contains no paragraph signs.

C. Line Endings

This manuscript contains no line endings.

D. Border Decorations

This manuscript contains no border decorations.

VI. Illustration

This manuscript contains no illustrations other than those noted in the section concerning initials.

VII. Binding

There are no remnants of the original binding. MS 14 was rebound in black morocco over paste or pulp boards. Small diagonal strips have been impressed on the upper and lower covers. Two intertwining lines have been stamped close to the edges of the upper and lower covers. "M. S. S. S. BERNARDI DE CONSIDERATIONE" has been gilt stamped on the spine. Reddish-brown paint has been speckled on the edges of the manuscript.

VIII. Additions to Manuscript

A. Inside upper cover, upper left corner: "309" (in pencil) and "2553" (in ink), written on a small rectangular piece of paper (attached).

B. Inside upper cover, upper left corner: "14" (circled, in pencil).

C. Inside upper cover, upper left corner: "BML" (partially underlined, in pencil).

D. Inside upper cover, upper right corner: "4" (in pencil).

E. Inside upper cover, middle: bookplate of Edward Sandford Burgess (attached, in black ink).

F. Recto of front flyleaf, upper right corner: "Burgess Ms. 14" (in pencil).

G. Verso of front flyleaf, upper center: "written about the year 1470, collated & perfect" (in ink).

H. Inside lower cover, upper left corner: "Rym" (in pencil).

I. Inside lower cover, center: bookplate of Edward Sandford Burgess (attached, upside down, in black ink).

J. Recto of every leaf, upper right corner: page numbers (in pencil).

K. Marginalia throughout (in yellow ink; occasionally in brown ink).

IX. Provenance

Edward Sandford Burgess purchased MS 14 from a book dealer named Frederick Morris in 1898. 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 12; Faye and Bond, pp. 433)


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

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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