Leiden,Universiteitsbibliotheek, BPL 88
A ninth-century parchment
manuscript of De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii of Martianus Capella,
heavily glossed especially in the books I, II and IX. The last two quires,
containing the text of book IX, were originally part of another manuscript or
were especially made to complete an already existing, incomplete one. They
contain a different corpus of glosses: in the books I-VIII a version is found
of the Anonymous corpus, in book IX of John the Scot's commentary. The joining
together of these parts must have taken place already in the ninth century. The
last two quires may have been written in Reims.
- J. Préaux, Le commentaire de Martin de Laon
Préaux dates the
manuscript in the second half of the 9th century and identifies its
commentary as a version of the Anonymous corpus, which he attributes to Martin
of Laon. Speculating on the presence of 11th-century annotations of
ownership of the abbey of St. Peter in Ghent, he suggests that the
manuscript was originally written in St.-Omer or Laon, i.e. the two places to
which the monks of St. Peter fled during hostile invasions in 880.
- A. Verhulst, L'activité et la calligraphie du ‘scriptorium’
de l'abbaye Saint-Pierre-au-Mont-Blandin de Gand
Verhulst mentions the ex
libris and anathema-formula of St. Peter's abbey in Ghent and
describes with great precision the Wichardian hand writing on the added
bifolium 1^2 and the last leaf of the manuscript.
- J. Préaux, Deux manuscrits gantois
Préaux again studies the
11th-century additions in ‘Wichardian’ hand, which are found in this
and the above described Vatican manuscript (Vatican, Reg.lat. 1987). He now
suggests a different place of origin. Speculating that the monastery asked her
sister abbeys, i.e. Corbie or Reims, for books to enhance the
educational and cultural level, he identifies one of these two as the probable
place of origin. On the basis of a paleographical study Bischoff suggested a
likeness to the script of Tours in the beginning of this
manuscript, but from book V onwards a localization in Reims. Préaux argues for a
break later in the manuscript using codicological as well as internal evidence;
he considers book I-VIII as one, book IX as a second part.
- C. Leonardi, I codici I, pp. 451-453, 457, 462-464; II,pp.
Leonardi establishes the
same compilation of two parts: book I-VIII and book IX. The joining together of
these two parts must have taken place in the ninth century, for a small,
Carolingian hand writes glosses throughout the entire encyclopedia. Referring
to Bischoff, he locates the second part of the manuscript in Reims.
- G. Glauche, Schullektüre im Mittelalter, p. 45
Because of the presence of
‘Martinus of Laon's’ corpus of glosses, this manuscript is also in Glauche's
list of sources which point to a special interest of the “Irish colony” in De
- T.A.M. Bishop, Autographa of John the Scot
Although Bishop never
mentions the signature of Leiden, BPL 88, he is in fact writing about it in this
paper, in which he is concerned with the problem of two hands, I1
and I2, both identified as the autograph of John the Scot. I2
appears as one of the glossators in the ninth book of Leiden, BPL 88. His conclusion
is that I2 is not the hand of John the Scot, since this hand shows
“nothing peculiarly scholarly; nothing at all to show a moment-to-moment
contact between the acts of thinking and writing” (p. 93).)
- C. Leonardi, Glosse eriugeniane a Marziano Capella
Leonardi adds to his
earlier observations that there are three layers of glosses in the ninth book
of Leiden, BPL 88:
E — a hand of Irish origin, which writes glosses to the narrative part and the
last poem; A — a contemporary continental hand, writing glosses to the
music-theoretical part of book IX; and R — a slightly later (but still
ninth-century) hand which can also be recognized in the other part of this
manuscript (books I-VIII). A and E write a version of John the Scot's
commentary. He remains unable to identify the glosses of R.
- J. Préaux, Les manuscrits principaux, pp. 79, 101, 123
Préaux dates Leiden, BPL 88 in
the third of fourth quarter of the 9th century, locates it in
Auxerre (?), without further references (p. 79). Further on he mentions either
the region Auxerre-Corbie, or Reims as places of origin (p.
101). Leiden, BPL 88 is a source for the Anonymous commentary, here attributed to
Martin of Laon, of a second generation, following earlier sources such as Leiden, Vossianus Latinus Folio 48
and Besancon, Ms. 594.
- J.C. Frakes, Remigius of Auxerre,
Eriugena, and the Greco-Leiden, Latin circumstantiae-formula of accessus ad auctores,
p. 241 n. 46
Frakes cites part of the accessus
ad auctorem found in both Leiden, BPL 88 and Vatican, Reg.lat. 1987, to illustrate an “Irish
predilection for the accessus”.
- The results of these
studies are repeated in, among others, C.E. Lutz,
CTC II, p. 370; J.D. Reynolds,
Texts and Transmission, p. 246; B.S. Eastwood,
The chaster path of Venus, pp. 147, 150, 152, 154; and M.-E. Duchez, Jean Scot Erigène premier
lecteur, p. 175.
The manuscript consists of
23 quires; 22 of eight leaves, 1 of four (quire 21) and 1 of six (quire 23).
In quire 1 a bifolium, which was added to the originally eight leaves,
was numbered in the modern foliation: 18 [1-10]. To quire 13
a single, smaller leaf is added after the sixth leaf in the quire, which was
also numbered in the modern foliation (138 [99-107]). For the
rest the collation of this manuscript is regular.
Formula: 18 [1-10]
All quires but the last
carry an original quire-signature, written in the lower margin of their last
versos: I (10v), II (18v), III (26v), IIII (34v), V
(42v), VI (50v), VII (58v), VIII (66v), VIIII
(74v), X (82v), XI (90v), XII (98v), XIII (107v), XIIII
(115v) XV (123v), XVI (131v), XVII (139v), XVIII
(147v), XVIIII (155v), XX (163v), XXI (167v). Quire 22
carries (by error?)
the number XXI (175v).
The foliation is modern,
written in the upper right corner of each recto in pencil.
The leaves measure ca 253 x 235 mm. This must closely resemble
the original size of at least the first part of the manuscript (books I-VIII),
for the marginal glosses are all complete. Only on two folia in quire 23
are glosses in the lower margin damaged by cutting (ff 179r, 180v), which
suggests that this part of the codex came originally from a slightly larger
The parchment is in
general of fine quality. The leaves are relatively thick and stiff, some of the
flesh-sides being perfectly white, some of the hair-sides perfectly smooth
(e.g. quires 5 and 6). The
added bifolium (ff 1^2) and the last two quires are clearly of a lesser
quality, thinner and more worn. The parchment has very few holes and the
margins of only a few leaves show the edge of the skin. All
quires of 8 leaves are arranged according to the pattern HFHF (2-12,
14-20, 22), and the quires of lesser leaves are arranged
in the same manner, taking the number of their leaves into account: quire 21
has HF|HF, and quire 23 HFH|FHF.
Ruling is executed with a
hard point per folium on the hair-side. The dominant pattern of furrows and
ridges is ><><|><>< (1-20, 22). The binio
and ternio show the same pattern in fewer leaves: ><|>< (21),
><>|<>< (23). The pattern for the lay-out of the page
is uniform from quire 1 to quire 21: double vertical through
lines on either side of the text, pricked in the upper and lower margins;
single horizontal through lines as the first and last textline, pricked in the
outer margin; 21 rules, above topline, pricked along the edge of the leaves:
2-2/0/1-1/J, 26<9<135>9>55 x 32<170>50 mm; 21 lines, above
topline, height per ten ca 83 mm.
There are only two exceptions: on f 55 the lower horizontal
through line stops at the third vertical one (2-2/0/1A-1C/J) and on the
bifolium 75^82 both horizontal through lines stop at the fourth vertical one
In the last two quires
five different lay-outs are found. In 22 the first and fourth bifolium
(i.e. 168^175 and 171^172) have two vertical through lines on either side of
the text, one horizontal through line at the head of the text, none below;
2-2/0/1-0/J. A double row of prickings can be seen along the edge of the first
bifolium, a single row on the fourth one. The measurements are ca
25<8<142>7>53 x 27<196>29 mm, ten lines are ca 68 mm high.
The second and third bifolium, however, have 2 horizontal through lines above,
one below the text; 2-2/0/2-1/J, 22<7<142>7>54 x 28<195>28
mm. Again a double row of prickings is found on the one (169^174), a single row
on the other bifolium (170^173).
In 23 three
different types of lay-out occur in three bifolia:
* ff 176^181: 2-1/0/2-1/J,
19-21A, a single
row of prickings along the edge of the leaf, 30 lines, atl (ca 69 mm per ten),
23<7<145>52 x 25<198>22 mm.
* ff 177^180:
double row of prickings along the edge of the leaf, 31 lines, atl (ca 68 mm per
ten), 25<8<140>7>52 x 21<205>28 mm.
* ff 178^179: 2-2/0/3-2/J,
19-21A, a single row of prickings along the edge of the leaf, 30 lines, atl (ca
69 mm per ten), 20<7<143>8>52 x 25<200>28 mm.
The many different kinds
of lay-out in these two quires may suggest that these were newly composed in
order to complete an incomplete or damaged manuscript. These bifolia were,
perhaps, prepared for other manuscripts, but not yet used.
The text is written by
several scribes in Carolingian minuscule. The
general appearance, however, is relatively uniform, with a small, upright
letter (ca 2 mm high), 3-shaped g's, x's with long descenders to the left, r's
which are tilted to the right and sometimes descend below the line, uncial
capital M's and D's (besides rustic capital ones), and lightly clubbed
ascenders. The letters are somewhat suspended above the lines. Some of the
scribes carefully executed high-quality, very regular letters (e.g. ff 3-19r),
others more of a scribbling, wavering script (e.g. ff 46v-48r). Striking are
the differences in ink-colour, which varies between an almost faded light brown
and nearly black.
In the glosses, several hands can be detected. The main
glossing-activity of the first part of the manuscript took place contemporarily
with or shortly after its making, by two contemporary glossators. The one who
wrote the first layer of glosses wrote his additions in a tiny, very regular
Carolingian minuscule of only 1 mm high. He used both the margins and the space
between the lines and is precise in tying lemma and gloss together with a sign.
The ink he used has a light-brown colour and has occasionally almost faded. The
second layer of glosses must have been added only a few years later, for the
script of this second glossator closely resembles that of the first one. His
glosses are executed in darker ink, seemingly with less care, for the script
does not look as regular as that of the first layer. This hand can also be
found emending and filling in lacunae in the text. Throughout the codex headers
are added which identify the number of the book (verso) and its content
(recto). In the margins one sometimes finds subtitles written in rustic
capitals, which were probably written by the second glossator. The headers,
which look very similar, may also have been written by him.
These two glossators seem to have worked their way through the
manuscript, including the additional last two quires containing book IX. They
are especially active in books I, II, IV, and at the beginning of VIII. In
books I, II and VIII the two hands are approximately equally active, whereas in
III, V, VI and VII hand 2 is by far the most active.
In book IX, finally, the first hand disappears after the first
page and the second hand appears to have been working together with a third
one. This third hand shows many Irish characteristics, such as a high, open e,
a low and open a, an r with a relatively long descender and a straight T-shaped
t. His letters are low, broad, widely spaced and look as if written in haste.
The script was once identified as the autograph of John the Scot Eriugene, then
as I2, the hand of a student of John.
In addition to the three hands, contemporary with the manuscript,
several notes of later hands can be detected. First of all the Wichardian hands
can be observed, who copied large schemes on the topic of Dialectica on ff 1v
and 2r, a figure representing the planets and the zodiac on f 2r, an accessus
ad auctorem, the refrain Scande celi templa with musical notation and a
Greek alphabet with numerical values on f 2v. They have also been active in
some of the books of the encyclopedia, as can be seen e.g. on ff 63r and 78r.
Several later readers of this manuscript wrote their occasional notes in the
margins of Leiden, BPL 88, e.g. on ff 18v, 22r-v, 33v, 43r, 84r, 115r.
The punctuation is partly original, partly added by the (second?)
glossator. Majuscules are used for explicits/incipits, at the beginning
of verses, passages and “sentences”, for titles and subtitles, headers,
refrains, etc. They are written in rustic capital, with occasional uncial M's
and D's. Initial letters of 1.5-3 lines high are found at the head of books or
prose-passages after verses. In book IX, the initial letters of the verses
stand out because of their placement between the double vertical through lines.
Colours are used to mark beginnings of books, poems and prose-passages. There
are several titles and initials in red ink, and
passages with capital letters in brown ink, coloured with ochre.
Sometimes the two colours are found together, as for example on ff 96r-96v,
where red capital letters are marked with ochre.
Again there are few
sources which reveal the history of this manuscript. As was noted above, the
codex contains parts from two different manuscripts, bound together in the
ninth century. Bischoff noted that the script of book I-IV resembled that of Tours, and suggested that the
second part could have been written in Reims.
Although Préaux argued for a break later in the manuscript — i.e. from book IX
onwards —, he accepted the localization in Reims. Like Vatican, Reg.lat. 1987, Leiden, BPL 88
was part of the library of St. Peter's abbey in Ghent in the eleventh century,
as can be concluded from the presence of ‘Wichardian’ script in the added
bifolium and the anathema on f 2v (the same as that found in Vatican, Reg.lat. 1987
on f 146v):
Liber s. petri gandensis
ecclesiae. Servanti benedictio. Tollenti maledictio. Qui folium ex eo tulerit.
vel curtaverit. anathema sit.
(Book of the church of Saint Peter of Ghent. A blessing to the
keeper, a curse to the thief. May he who took or cut a folium from it be
In an early article Préaux
voiced the hypothesis that the manuscript could have been written in St.-Omer
or Laon, two places to which the monks of St. Peter's fled for hostile Norman
invasions in the 880's. In
later articles, however, he opted for a second hypothesis, which dates the
arrival of the manuscript in St. Peter's abbey in Ghent in the period when
Wichard was abbot, i.e. 1034/35-1058, and seeks the place of origin among its
sister abbeys, Corbie or Reims. Because the two ways of establishing the origin
of the manuscript, i.e. Bischoff's hypothesis based on paleographical evidence
and Préaux' hypothesis based on historical evidence, partly concur, Reims is now generally accepted
as the place of origin of the second part, that is, the last two quires, of the
Again like Vatican, Reg.lat. 1987, the codex was in the sixteenth century
obtained by the humanist scholar Franciscus Nansius, from whose heirs the
university library of Leiden bought the manuscript ca.
1600. There it received the signature Biblioteca Publica Leiden, Latina 88. A schidula with
this signature is attached to the spine of the codex and a stamp of the library
can be seen in the lower margin of f 3r.
Today, the codex has a
parchment spine and cardboard covers, covered with marbled paper. On the
inside, paper leaves are glued to the covers. Two paper fly-leaves open the
book, the second one watermarked with a bunch of grapes. The codex has five
double cords (spaced 55-42-44-48-42-36 mm). The sewing is not original, for
several now unused sewing stations can be seen in the gutters of the quires. In the
back of the codex, no paper fly-leaves are present, but there is a parchment
folium which carries the signature BPL 88 and the number 182 (i.e. the
182nd folium of the codex). On it is a Leiden, Latin text in a
fourteenth-century cursiva. Its
measurements do not concur with the manuscript: it is part of a bifolium, from
which the first leaf is cut to a strip of only 35 mm wide, the second measures
200 (width) x 240 (height) mm. Its prickings are enigmatic: they run along the
edge of the strip and form a rectangle on the edge of the preserved folium.
Perhaps another piece of parchment was sewn onto it to make it large enough to
serve as a cover. The leaf is now fixed to the sewing with one piece of string.
The manuscript contains:
 In the last
two quires a chaotic mixture of lay-outs is found, which may suggest that these
were made from left-overs of already pricked and ruled, but otherwise unused
 L. Traube, preface to E.K. Rand, Iohannes Scottus, in: Quellen
und Untersuchungen I (1906), vii-ix; id., Autographa des Iohannes
Scottus, in: Paläographische Forschungen V (1912), (non vidi).
Rand denied the identification in the article The
supposed autographa of John the Scot.
 In the short
summary that precedes his paper Leonardi states that he envisages it as a
preliminary study for a new, critical edition of the B-version of John's
commentary to book IX. This project, however, was never realized.
 Leonardi sees
in this irregularity in the quire-numbering another argument for his thesis
that the last two quires of BPL 88 originally belonged to a different
manuscript. Although I do agree with his conclusion, I doubt whether the
irregular quire-numbering found in 22 can serve as evidence, for the
number has exactly the same lay-out as the other ones. This makes me suspect
that the quire-numbering was added after the joining together of the two parts,
just like two of the layers of glosses and the headers, uniformly added
throughout the manuscript, and that the irregularity is simply an error.
 There are,
however, also folia that show the markings of the skin, e.g., ff 52v, 54v, 83r,
88v, 90v, all hair-sides of quire 12.
 Only two in
the main part of the manuscript (book I-VIII): ff 119, 127; five in its additions (bifolium 1-2 and book
IX): ff 2, 169, 171, 176.
 A bad spot in
f 89, and possibly the missing edges of ff 158, 159, 160, and 161.
 Both the added
bifolium in quire 1 and the added folium in quire 13 remained
unruled: 00><><|><>< (1),
 The ruling of
lines 19-21 reaches the edge of the page.
 I counted four
vertical projecting lines on either side of the text, but for only two of
these, prickings were made in the upper and lower margins.
 The script
changes slowly, and it is difficult to point to the exact places where a change
of hands occurs, but I suspect breaks in ff 19r-19v, 32r-32v, 46v, 48r, 54r,
59r, 61v, 71r, 71v, 87v, 167r-168v. The last two quires (ff 168r-181v) are
clearly written in a different hand, using long ascenders and descenders
(without clubbing), closed g's, one-storeyed a's, st-ligatures. The scribe
spaces his letters less widely, which, combined with the larger number of
writing lines, makes the page look very full.
 T.A.M. Bishop, Autographa of John the Scot,
pp. 90-92. For a description of this insular hand, cf. C. Leonardi, Glosse eriugeniane a
Marziano Capella, pp. 175-178.
 In her study
of musical notation in Martianus Capella manuscripts, Corbin did not look at Leiden, BPL 88.
She did, however, look at the 11th-century neumes on f 1r-v in the Vatican manuscript Vatican, Reg.lat. 1987,
which are an exact parallel to those in Leiden, BPL 88. The neumes can thus be
identified as of Lorrainian origin. S. Corbin,
The neumes of the Martianus Capella manuscripts.
 Ff 3r,
22v-24r, 24v-26v, 27r-31v, 40r-v, 79v-80r, 96r-v. Some of these red majuscules
are written in red ink, others are redrawn with red ink (ff 24v-26v, 27r-31v,
40r-v), perhaps when the second or third layer of glosses was added to the
 Ff 3r, 8r-v,
9r, 10v, 11r, 13r, 17v, 18r, 58v, 59r, 60v, 61r, 96r-v.
 He suggested
this in a personal letter (29 December
1957) to J. Préaux,
who repeated his view in Deux manuscrits gantois, pp. 18-19.
 Le commentaire
de Martin de Laon, p. 457: "Or je crois qu'il est permis de
supposer avec assez de vraisemblance que cet important codex de 182 folios
[...] ne provient sûrement pas de Saint-Pierre de Gand, dont l'histoire
intellectuelle n'est guère brillante. D'autre part il n'est pas sans intérêt de
noter ici que lors des invasions normandes de 880, Gand servit de quartiers
d'hiver aux pirates et que dès 846 les moines de Saint-Bavon et de Saint-Pierre
se réfugièrent à Saint-Omer, puis à Laon [...]. On peut raisonnablement penser
que le Leidensis 88 arriva à Gand lors du retour des moines après les
 Each of the
two localizations is, however, a hypothesis; neither is in itself based on
conclusive evidence. The localization should therefore be taken for what it is:
 I have been
unable to reconstruct the sewing-method in its original form.
 The text has
been identified by one of the librarians as "b. Bernardi, Orationem ad cor
b. Virginis". The librarian refers to BPL 90 and BPL 94, in which leaves
of the same manuscript can be found.
 One of the
annotations on the fly-leaves identifies fragments from the same missal in BPL
48 and BPL 120, both of which also belonged to Franciscus Nansius. The fragment
itself is now filed away in box BPL 2514 (B:78).