LIVES OF SAINTS and THE HISTORY OF THE LONGOBARDS, in Latin, decorated manuscript on paper [northern Germany], 1501
A fascinating and unique compilation of lives of saints (Cyriacus, Gall, Maur, Goar, Burchard) followed by Paul the Deacon’s incomplete History of the Longobards, in a 1556 Ottheinrich binding.
(1) The first text is dated 1501 – the subsequent texts are all contemporaneous. The watermarks date from c.1500: the pot with a crown and quatrefoil is very similar to WILC 1963 and 50207, from Zwolle and Deventer c.1495-96. The script is German, and the Dutch paper suggests a northern German production. (2) OTTHEINRICH, ELECTOR PALATINE (1502-1559), one of the greatest bibliophiles and German collectors of the Renaissance: his binding, by Petrus Betz, dated 1556. (3) FREDERICK NORTH, 5TH EARL OF GUILFORD (1766-1827): his bookplate on inside upper cover. (4) SIR THOMAS PHILLIPPS (1792-1872): his no 11914. His sale, Sotheby’s, 19 May 1913, lot 1116. (5) MAURICE BURRUS, no 834. Purchased at the ‘Vente Hubner’ in 1937.
Legenda de Sancto Cyriaco ff.1-15v; blanks ff.16-17; WALAFRID STRABO (c.808-849), Vita Sancti Galli, ff.18- 35; Vita Sancti Mauri abbatis ff.35-46; WANDALBERT VON PRÜM (c.813-c.870), Vita Beati Goaris, ff.46v-58; blank f.59; Vita Sancti Burchardi episcopi Wormaciensis ff.60-70; PAUL THE DEACON (c.720s-799), Historia Longobardorum, ff.71-114v.
The texts of Walafrid Strabo and Wandalbert von Prüm were very popular during the Middle Ages, but the present, very specific, sequence must indicate a deliberate choice. St Goar died in Oberwesel and was venerated in Germany; St Burchard was Bishop of Würzburg in the 8th century and St Cyriacus was revered in the Electorate of the Palatinate: these Germanic links suggest a bespoke commission. The compilation is in an exceptional binding executed for Ottheinrich, Elector Palatine from 1556 (an identical binding is found on another Ottheinrich manuscript, Vatican Library, Cod. Pal. germ. 96).
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION AND CONDITION:
250 x 207mm. 114 leaves, COMPLETE, modern foliation in pen followed here, 38 to 48 lines in two columns, ruled space: 182 x 123mm, rubrics and headings in red (occasional marginal spotting). In an OTTHEINRICH BINDING, dated 1556, calf over wooden boards gilt and blind-stamped by ?PETRUS BETZ: gilt central panel on upper cover with portrait of Ottheinrich and the gilt legend ‘OTTHAINRICH VON G. G. PFALTZ / GRAVE BEY REIN DES HEILIGEN / RÖMISCHEN R. ERTZ. VND CHÜR / H. IN NIDERN VND OBER BEYERN' and his coat of arms, initials and motto on lower cover: ‘O.H.P.’ (Ottheinrich Pfalzgraf Churfürst) and ‘M.D.Z.’ (Mit der Zeit), brass cornerpieces and clasp (rebacked, lacking one clasp, lightly scuffed).