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    Sale 7590

    Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books

    4 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 38

    ROBERT PULLEN (d.1146): Sermones de communibus sanctorum , in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM

    Price Realised  


    ROBERT PULLEN (d.1146): Sermones de communibus sanctorum , in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
    [France, second half 12th century]181 x 125mm. i paper + 46 leaves + i paper: 1-58, 66, 26 lines written in black ink in a proto-gothic bookhand between two verticals and above and between 25 horizontals ruled in grey, text block: 91 x 153mm, prickings for horizontals on many leaves, headings in red or green, some text capitals touched red or green, two- and three-line initials in red, blue or green, some decorated in the same or a contrasting colour (lacking final ?2 folios, staining to ff.45-46). 17th-century vellum (worn).


    The manuscript was produced in France and was possibly part of a larger compilation: the remainder of the final sermon probably ran on to two folios, which may have been detached within an entire quire to separate a subsequent text. Since St Bernard of Clairvaux, to whom the final sermon has been attributed, supported Robert Pullen as a lecturer in Paris in the years around 1140, Pullen's sermons survive in what are often essentially Cistercian compilations, largely from monastic libraries. The limited decoration here is consistent with the austere requirements of the Cistercian order. Pullen's authorship was significant for a very early owner, since Magister Robertus p, trimmed through the first stroke of u, l on line below, appears in a near-contemporary hand on f.1.

    In the 17th century the volume was bound and annotated in a way typical of the French collectors associated with the Parlement de Paris in the 16th and 17th centuries. Many of their manuscripts came from monastic libraries and were frequently divided into their component texts. A copy of the Sermons on the Communal, attributed to Robertus Pulleinus and titled Liber I de communi sanctorum, is recorded in the famous library of Alexandre Petau (d.1672), who had inherited many books from his father, Paul (1568-1613), see Casimir Oudinus, Commentarius de scriptoribus ecclesie antiquis, II, 1722, col.1120, and for the identification and subsequent history of Petau books K. de Meyier, Paul en Alexandre Petau en de Geschiedenis van hun Handschriften, 1947. Another copy, listed as 'Roberti Pulli Cardinalis Sermones de communi sanctorum', was in the Dupuy library founded by Claude (1546-1594) and expanded by his sons Pierre (d.1645) and Jacques (d.1656), see Philippus Abbeus, Nova bibliotheca manuscriptorum librorum, 1653, p.28. It has not been identified among the Dupuy manuscripts that passed to the Bibliothèque du Roi that became the Bibliothèque nationale de France and it is possibly identifiable with the present lot, titled Roberti Pulli Cardinalis Sermones de communibus sanctorum on the verso of the first paper leaf. The annotation of the number of sermons and the defective end, on the final paper leaf, and the titling in ink on the upper cover are typical of Dupuy volumes, see J. Delatour, Une bibliothèque humaniste au temps des Guerres de Religion, les livres de Claude Dupuy, 1998. In the 18th century, a scholar noted on the first paper leaf in French that the texts were unpublished and that this manuscript contained more sermons than any recorded in Cave's Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum historia literaria of 1688-98.

    Abbé Nicolas-Antoine Labbey de Billy (1735-1825): armorial book stamp of the Bibliotheca Billiana on verso of first paper leaf. The Latin quotation about Pullen from Simeon of Durham on the recto may be in his hand. The Abbé de Billy began amassing his notable library as an exile in Italy during the Revolution and continued his collecting after his return to Besançon. Pullen's Sermons were an appropriate acquisition: Billy himself published educative sermons and was an historian of the university of Besançon. He had promised his books to the university but finally left them to be divided between his heirs.

    Daniel Rock (1799-1871): engraved bookplate as canon of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Southwark, an office he held from 1852; his pencil annotation dated 1859, f.41v, and further notes on final paper leaf. Rock was an historian of the liturgy, whose pioneering study of the Sarum rite appeared between 1849 and 1854, and an expert in the material remains of the medieval church, who advised Pugin and catalogued artefacts for what became the Victoria and Albert Museum. The re-establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in England in 1850 may have given a particular appeal to this work by the first English Cardinal.

    The property of a religious institution.


    Robert Pullen (d. 1146): 26 sermons for the communal of saints, the first, de Apostolis, opening 'Hoc est preceptum meum...[John, XV, 12] Tria sunt diligenda...' (Schneyer, Repertorium der lateinischen Sermones des Mittelalters, V, 1973, pp.221-3, nos 20-46), f.1; Robert Pullen or St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): sermon opening 'Egredimini filie jerusalem...[Song of Songs, III, 11] Adhuc infirmis et delicatis...', f.45v, breaking at 'In tercia visione. erit admirabilis...', f.46v (Schneyer, op. cit, no 11; published by J. Leclercq and H. Rochais eds, Sancti Bernardi opera, VI, 2, 1972, pp.201-3).

    A blank has been left for the heading for the final sermon, which appears in two 12th-century copies with the title Exortacio de egressione huius seculi, 'Exhortation on leaving this world' (Eton College, ms 38, f.212v, N. Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, II, 1997, p.671, see also I, 1969, p.331 for the present manuscript; Queens' College, Oxford, ms 348, f.6, see www.queens.ox.ac.uk/library/ms/descriptions). Otherwise, as in the title given to the volume in the 17th century, the sermons are for the communal of saints, being on apostles, martyrs, confessors, doctors and virgins.

    Robert Pullen was an exceptional teacher and churchman. One of the first lecturers in Oxford to be recorded by name, he came to be regarded as a founding figure in what would become the University. He was the first Englishman to be made a cardinal, in 1144 in Rome, where his presence at the papal curia encouraged the attendance of other Englishmen, among them Nicholas Breakspear, the future Pope Adrian IV. Between Oxford, which he left in 1138, and Rome, he taught in Paris and compiled his eight books of Sentences, a comprehensive theological study that ranged from the existence of God to the Last Judgement and the after life. Pullen's ground-breaking work, however, was rapidly overtaken as an essential text in the schools by the more tautly organised Sentences of Peter Lombard, written by 1158 on Pullen's model. Pullen's Sentences were printed in 1655 but the study of his sermons is still largely dependent on the manuscripts. For Pullen, see F. Courtney, Cardinal Robert Pullen, an English Theologian of the Twelfth Century, Analecta Gregoriana LXIV, 1954.)

    The same set of sermons on the Communal, based on the texts of the Gospels read at the appropriate masses, with the addition of the Exortatio (Schneyer 20-46, 11) appears with an attribution to 'Robertus Pulo' in a manuscript in Paris, acquired by Colbert in 1682, with a provenance from the Cistercian Abbey of Foucarmont (BnF, ms lat. 2945, ff.46v-93). The only other copy known is a 13th century compilation from the Chapter Library at Reims, where the Sermons on the Communal, without the Exortatio and without attribution, appear as part of a sequence of sermons for the liturgical year (Reims, Bibliothèque municipale, ms 586). The copies in the Petau and du Puy libraries are recorded with an attribution to Pullen but without details of texts. The identification of 'Robertus Pulo' with Pullen and the accuracy of the attribution have been much debated. The present lot is of great significance in providing further, near contemporary, evidence for Pullen's authorship.

    These sermons, addressed to a monastic audience, differ in character from another set of sermons, intended for scholars, in the vein of the Biblical exposition of Pullen's Sentences (Schneyer nos 1-19). All nineteen appear with an attribution to Pullen in two manuscripts (Lambeth Palace, ms 458, of the 12th century; Hereford Cathedral Library, ms O II 8, of the 13th century), and selections appear with the same attribution in other compilations, such as Eton College, ms 38. The presence in the Lambeth and Hereford manuscripts of the Exortacio (Schneyer 11), the final sermon in the present lot and in BnF ms lat 2945, has been used to support the attribution of the Sermons on the Communal to Robert Pullen. H.M. Rochais and R.M.I. Binot, however, have argued for St Bernard's authorship of the Exortacio, which was therefore included by Rochais as an almost certain work of the saint in his edition of Bernard's sermons, see above and Rochais and Binot, 'La collection de textes divers de ms Lincoln 201 et saint Bernard', Sacris erudis, XV, 1964, pp.54-61.

    The re-attribution of the Exortatio has called into question Pullen's authorship of the Sermons on the Communal. The present lot provides an early witness, apparently independent of BnF ms lat. 2945, to Pullen's authorship and significantly alters the weight of evidence in his favour. Further research might discover other sections from its parent volume to reveal more about its sources and the circumstances of its production.

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