THOMAS AQUINAS (c.1225-1274). Commentary on the Third Book of the Sentences, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Bologna, third quarter of the 13th century]
317 x 225mm. 121 leaves: 14, 2-512, 616, 7-812, 916, 1013(of 14, final blank cancelled) COMPLETE, catchwords towards the lower inner corner of final versos, occasional signature marks such as 'a2' and 'a3' on ff.6 and 7, two columns of 54 lines written in a gothic bookhand in brown ink between four verticals and 55 horizontals ruled in grey, paragraph marks alternately of red or blue, two-line initials alternately of red or blue with flourishing of the other colour, ILLUMINATED INITIAL with foliate staves of blue and pink shaded brown against a ground of blue and with a dull orange-red beast-mask in the infill, informally written distinctione headings (faint dampstaining to upper margins, cuts or tears in the margins of 10 leaves, a few wormholes at front and back, narrow stain across 22 lines of text on folio 7). 19th-century sheep-backed speckled paper boards (somewhat worn).
1. This is a characteristic Italian university text-book; in this case probably produced in Bologna and within the lifetime of the author. The manuscript initially remained, and was no doubt used, in Italy. It is carefully corrected throughout in a variety of hands. Different readers have jotted nota bene marks or maniculae symbols in the margins and the list of contents, probably added in the 14th-century, is in an Italian hand.
2. A letter pasted inside the upper cover dated 14 February 1880 records Giacomo Manzoni's purchase of the manuscript, with two others including lot 11, thirty years earlier in Savoy from a man who had acquired them in France.
3. Count Giacomo Manzoni (1816-1889), Rome: the letter inside the upper cover was written by Manzoni to Giuseppe Oreglia of the Society of Jesus in Rome. It informed him that three scholastic manuscripts owned by Manzoni were being brought to him. Manzoni was perhaps seeking Oreglia's opinion on the date and origin of the manuscripts -- in the letter he suggested that all three were French and of the mid-14th-century. Oreglia, of the community of La Civiltà Cattolica, had, when still a student, assisted with the foundation of the periodical of that name and continued to write for it throughout his life. It is possible that he was consulting the manuscripts in connection with his researches.
Manzoni had played a prominent part in the movement for the independence and unification of Italy: he took part in all the campaigns in the Veneto in 1848 and when the Repubblica Romana was proclaimed in 1849 he was made Finance Minister. In an effort to get funds Manzoni was involved in negotiations with Palmerston that would have resulted in the sale of the treasures of the Vatican galleries and museums. His refusal to allow this hastened the Republic's inevitable fall. He fled Rome, joined Garibaldi in San Marino and then moved to Corfu. During his exile and travels Manzoni expanded the library that he had inherited from his great-uncle, Bartolomeo Borghese; his purchases included the collection of Guglielmo Libri and a considerable number of books bought after the sale of the Wellesley library. Manzoni returned to Rome in 1874 and at his death there he owned 25,000 volumes. His wish that the collection should remain intact was not fulfilled, and it was sold by G. Sangiorgi in the Palazzo Borghese: Catalogue de la bibliothèque de feu M. le comte Jacques Manzoni, 4 parts, Città di Castello 1892-94. There were 220 manuscript volumes in the collection and 186 of these were offered for sale on 23 and 25 April 1894; the catalogue did not include either the present manuscript or lot 11.
3. Shelf-mark R.II.18 inside upper cover
4. An English private collection
List of titles ff.1-4; Commentary on the Third Book of the Sentences of Peter Lombard by Thomas Aquinas ff.5-121
Peter the Lombard composed his Sentences in the late 1140s as an aid to the study of the Bible and the Church fathers: by the early 13th Century they were the accepted compilation of theological doctrine. The study of the Sentences was obligatory for Aquinas as the second and third years of his degree as Master of Theology in Paris. His Commentary on the Sentences is nonetheless his first great work, and it has been suggested that all his major conclusions are already to be found in it. The Commentary on the Third Book considers the efficient causes of the soul's return to God, with a consideration in particular of the nature and consequences of the Incarnation.