• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7548

    Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books

    12 November 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 18

    ST THOMAS AQUINAS OP (1225-1274), Opuscula; JOHN PECHAM OFM (c.1230-1292), Epistola ad comitissam Flandriae de Iudeis; ?GERARD OF ABBEVILLE (d.1272), Quaestio de Iudeis, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    ST THOMAS AQUINAS OP (1225-1274), Opuscula; JOHN PECHAM OFM (c.1230-1292), Epistola ad comitissam Flandriae de Iudeis; ?GERARD OF ABBEVILLE (d.1272), Quaestio de Iudeis, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
    [France, late 13th century]335 x 240mm. iii paper + 120 + iii paper leaves: 1-1012, catchwords in lower margins of final versos, 52 lines in two columns written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between four verticals, the outer verticals double-ruled, and 53 horizontals ruled in grey, with additional double-ruled verticals in outer margin and horizontals in lower margin, justification: 232 x 74-11-75mm, rubrics in red, some red headings in upper margins, text capitals touched red, paragraph marks alternately in red and blue, two-line initials alternately in red and blue flourished in the contrasting colour, six large initials in red or blue flourished with red and blue, 19 EXTENSIVELY FLOURISHED LARGE 'PUZZLE' INITIALS IN RED AND BLUE, one diagram in red and black ink (lacking at least some leaves from end, a few leaves with eroded margins, some original holes and repairs in text, tears into text ff.1 and 3, three puzzle initials rubbed). 18th-century Italian half sheep and patterned paper over pasteboards, the spine lettered in gilt 'IO. D.THO OP.VAR MS.' (scuffed).

    PROVENANCE:

    1. From script and decoration, the manuscript appears to have been produced in France, perhaps in Paris, in the late 13th or early 14th century. Aquinas is referred to throughout as frater, suggesting a date before his canonisation in 1323. The many marginal annotations in contemporary and later hands show that it was well used.

    2. Perhaps from the Dominican convent of San Domenico, Gaeta (see lot 16): bound uniformly with the manuscript from Gaeta (lot 22) and eleven others and similarly inscribed with title in 17th-century hand (f.1) and 'Foglie * 120 iniziali * 14 Segnato N. A P' (end pastedown); brief 19th-century description in French loosely inserted.

    HSA B2716; Faulhaber, pp.53-4, 90-108.

    CONTENT:

    St Thomas Aquinas, De principiis naturae ad fratrem Sylvestrum, ff.1-2v; De mixtione elementorum ad magistrum Philippum de Castro Caeli, f.3r and v; De motu cordis ad magistrum Philippum de Castro Caeli, ff.3v-4; De eternitate mundi contra murmurantes, ff.4-5; Liber de sortibus, brevior recensio, with the prologue and other sections of the full version added in contemporary hands in the margins, ff.5-6v; De forma absolutionis paenitentiae sacramentalis ad magistrum ordinis, ff.6v-8v; In librum Boetii de hebdomadibus expositio, ff.8v-11v; De rationibus fidei ad cantorem antiochenum, ff.11v-16v; De iudiciis astrorum, ff.16v-17; De operationibus occultis naturae ad quendam militem ultramontanum, incomplete, ending at ...de quibus alica inferiora materialiter componuntur., with a later marginal note Hic est deffectus, f.17r and v; Responsio ad magistrum Joannem de Vercellis de 108 articulis, ff.17v-22; Responsio ad lectorem venetum de 36 articulis, ff.22-24; Responsio ad magistrum Joannem Vercellis de 43 articulis, ff.24-26v; Responsio ad lectorem venetum de 36 articulis, as ff.22-24 but only articles 3, 12-13, 31-35, headed Articuli iterum sibi remissi a quibusdam scolaribus, ff.26v-27; De regno ad regem Cypri, ff.27-35; Compendium theologiae ad fratrem Raynaldum, Liber II, de spe, closing with the additional words ...multo enim difficilius fuit, ff.35-38v; De articulis fidei et ecclesiae sacramentis ad archiepiscopum panormitanum, ff.38v-42; In symbolum apostolorum expositio, ff.42-49; In orationem dominicam expositio, ff.49-53; Liber contra errores graecorum, ff.53-62; Expositio super primam et secundam decretalem ad archidiaconum tudertinum, ff.62-66; De operationibus occultis naturae ad quendam militem ultramontanun, as f.17r and v but complete, ff.66-67; Epistola fratris thome ad comitissam Flandrie de iudeis, traditionally known as the Epistola ad ducissam Brabantiae, ff.67-68.

    John Pecham, Epistola fratris .jo. de pichano ordinis minorum ad comitissam Flandrie De judeis, text opening Queritis igitur premitus qualiter iudeos... and ending ...a domino qui illum deputavit iusticie exercende., ff.68-69.

    ?Gérard of Abbeville, on the same subject, opening Questio est si liceat alico tempore et quo exactionem facere in iudeos., ending ...a domino qui illum deputavit iusticie exercende, ff.69-69v.

    St Thomas Aquinas, De fallaciis, ff.69v-74v; De propositionibus moralibus, f.74v; Responsio ad lectorem bisuntinum de 6 articulis, f.75; De perfectione spiritualis vitae, ff.75v-88v; Compendium theologiae ad fratrem Raynaldum, Liber I, De fide, lacking part of chapter 243 and 244-246, breaking in chapter 243 (headed 253) ...et ideo condampnabitur absque meritorum discussione..., ff.88v-120v.

    The Dominican St Thomas Aquinas, recognised as one of the greatest theologians of the Christian faith, made a crucial contribution to western philosphy through his assimilation of Aristotelian ideas, partly as mediated through Averroes and Arab philosphers. From them came Aquinas's new emphasis on human reason and the validity of the material world. His revolutionary thinking was greeted with suspicion and hostility from those who adhered to accepted Augustinian beliefs in the exclusive power of divine illumination and the impotence of human reason. One of the leaders of the opposition to Aquinas's ideas was the Franciscan John Pecham and the theoretical debate became entrenched in the wider conflict between the two mendicant orders. It was very much the Dominicans who adopted and promoted Aquinas's work but it gradually acquired more general support. In 1567 his feast was ranked with those of the Four Fathers of the Church; in 1879 the Pope declared him the pre-eminent teacher of the Church.

    THIS LITTLE KNOWN AND UNDER-STUDIED VOLUME OF AQUINAS'S OPUSCULA IS 'ONE OF THE EARLIEST IN EXISTENCE', ACCORDING TO LEONARD BOYLE ('Thomas Aquinas and the Duchess of Brabant', Proceedings of the PMR Conference, 8, 1983, pp.25-35). It was not consulted for the volumes of the authoritative Leonine edition (the more recent volumes with texts included on this compilation are S. Thomae de Aquino, Opera omnia iussu Leonis XIII, vols XL (1968), XLI (1970), XLII 1979 and XLIII (1976)) and does not appear in Shooner's lists of manuscripts (H.V, Schooner, Codices manuscripti operae Thomae de Aquino, III, Bibliothecae Namur-Paris (1985)). Its importance for the textual transmission of these Opuscula invites further research.

    Along with his great Summa theologica (see lots 19-21), Thomas Aquinas composed numerous 'little works', often in response to specific requests, the case for much of this collection with its emphasis on strictly theological works. The range of his thought, however, is immediately apparent in the two opening treatises, scientific-philosophical explorations of the principles of nature and of the combination of the elements. The same selection of texts included here, from the opening De principiis to the Epistola ad comitissam Flandriae, ff.1-68, appear in the same order, and with many of the same headings, as items 10-32 on ff.126v-222 of a closely related Aquinas compilation from the Abbey of St Victor in Paris. Dated to the late 13th century, the St Victor codex, now BnF, ms lat. 14546, was used for the Leonine edition. Both manuscripts give the De sortibus in the shorter form that probably did not originate with Aquinas himself, to the concern of a corrector in the Paris manuscript, and both have the partial repetitions of the De operationibus occultis naturae and of the Responsio ad lectorem venetum. In the Paris codex, the Epistola ad comitissam Flandriae breaks off in article 4, whereas it is complete in the present lot. The following text in the Paris manuscript, by a different scribe, is the Compendium theologiae, liber I, the final, interrupted, text in the volume offered here.

    The break in the text of the Epistola ad comitissam Flandriae makes it most unlikely that the present manuscript was copied from the Paris manuscript. It is possible that the scribes of the St Victor manuscript had access to the full texts of the present volume but decided to omit the items between the Epistola and the Compendium, because they were not by Aquinas, ff.68-69v, or of dubious authenticity, the De fallaciis and the De propositionibus modalibus, with its diagram, ff.69v-74v. Aquinas's fame attracted attributions, as people were well aware, and his followers within the Dominican order attempted to draw up lists of certain works. The Responsio ad lectorem bisuntium, f.75, could have been excluded because it had already been copied into the Paris manuscript, although so had the De forma absolutionis, as ff.67v-70v, before it was repeated on ff.134v-137 as part of the sequence in common with the present lot. The penultimate text, the De perfectione spiritualis vitae, is refered to in the final rubric of the Paris manuscript. If the present lot were not the direct model, the two must derive from the same exemplar, where the scribe initially had only an imperfect copy of the De operationibus and so repeated the text when he gained access to the complete work. It is, therefore, probable that the present lot also originated in Paris, possibly even at the Abbey of St Victor, noted for its scholarship and its library.

    This is a rare oportunity to acquire a collection indicative of the range and depth of Aquinas's thought, made within about a quarter century of his death. The only one of its texts recorded at auction since 1975 is the De regno ad regem Cypri, which appears here as it was left by Aquinas, breaking in Bk II chap. 4, ff.27-35: a 15th-century Ferrarese manuscript of the text as completed by Ptolomey of Lucca was sold at Sotheby's, 22 June, 1993, lot 94. This is, moreover, probably a unique opportunity to acquire the writings on the Jews by John Pecham and ?Gérard of Abbeville since the only other copy known is in a much later manuscript of the 15th century in the Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris, ms 1652. This manuscript shares no other texts with the present lot but is again from the Abbey of St Victor.

    Margaret of Constaninople, Countess regnant of Flanders (1244-1278), raised wider questions on the treatment of Jews within a Christian state when she sought advice on the morality of ways of raising money from her subjects, in particular whether a Christian should take any advantage from the profits of usury, immoral for Christians but legitimate for Jews. Her questions were addressed to leading teachers at the university of Paris: the Dominican Thomas Aquinas, the Franciscan and future archbishop of Canterbury, John Pecham, and an unnamed secular theologian, perhaps Gérard of Abbeville (see Boyle, op. cit. and the review by Gilbert Dahan, Bulletin de théologie ancienne et médiévale, 1986-1990, pp.530-531). They can be dated to 1269-1272 when Pecham was Franciscan lector in Paris, serviens fratribus minoribus pro tempore parysius in officio lectionis, as he describes himself in the opening of his letter, f.68. The response from Thomas Aquinas, ff.67-68, achieved a wide circulation, whereas the other two nearly disappeared. The replies were not uniform: Pecham, more willing to compromise in the interests of state finance, is generally more tolerant in his approach to the Jews and reveals an awareness of their positive contribution to Christian society. These significant interventions in the debate that accompanied the persecution and expulsion of the Jews from many European countries in the later 13th century have yet to be published.


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Special Notice

    No VAT on hammer price or buyer's premium.