THOMAS AQUINAS (c.1225-1274). Summa theologica, Prima secundae, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Paris, final quarter 13th century]
360 x 250mm. 160 leaves: 1-1312, 144, COMPLETE, with signature marks (a-o) on the first six folios of each gathering and catchwords framed in red in lower margins of final versos, two columns of 59 lines written in brown ink in a small regular gothic bookhand between four pairs of verticals and 60 horizontals, justification: 270 x 175mm, with an additional vertical close to the gutter and an additional pair of horizontals for the running headings, headings and rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, chapter numbers in heading of letters alternately blue or red, paragraph marks and two-line initials alternately blue or red with flourishing of the other colour, one eight-line and 114 three-line puzzle initials with penwork flourishing of both colours and text-height cusped baguettes of red and blue (erasure of ownership inscription in upper margin of first folio and below colophon, minimal rodent damage to lower outer corner of final folios). 19th-century speckled sheep-backed boards (scuffed at lower edges).
1. This is a classic and handsome example of a text-book produced in Paris by the professional and well organised book-trade that served the university. The guide letters for the initials, and some of the rubrics and running headings survive in the margins and the leaf signatures remain in the outer corners of the first half of each gathering: written in red they number the first four leaves with multiples of the letter until, for example 'aaaa', and then 'av' and 'avi'. They take this form throughout the book, which is the work of a single scribe who identifies himself in the colophon that follows the Chapter list as 'Johannes Scotus'. The manuscript was carefully corrected and the margins contain notes and copious cross-references.
2. A letter pasted inside the upper cover of lot 10 dated 14 February 1880 records Giacomo Manzoni's purchase of that manuscript with two others, including this one, thirty years earlier in Savoy from a man who had acquired them in France.
3. Count Giacomo Manzoni (1816-189), Rome: the letter inside the upper cover of lot 10 was written by Manzoni to Giuseppi 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 perhps 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. Oreglia may have been 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 inevitable fall of the Republic. 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 Biblioteca Mostra, bought in Corfu, 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 10.
3. Shelf-mark R.II.19 inside upper cover and No 9 on front endleaf
4. An English private collection
Prima secundae of the Summa theologica of Thomas Aquinas ff.1-157v, followed by a list of chapter headings ff.157v-16Ov
The Summa theologica, the second of Aquinas's total statements of theology, is regarded as the opus magnum of Thomist theology. His own description of the Summa, that it treats 'first of God, secondly of the journey to God of reasoning creatures, thirdly, of Christ, who, as man, is our road to God' is a disarmingly simple summary of a work of some 3,000 articles which creates a structure of faith of dizzying scale and detail, the imposing realisation of Aquinas's lifelong synthesising of Aristotle and the Christian tradition, natural reality and the divine, faith and reason. The composition of the Summa theologica occupied the last seven years of Aquinas's life; he left it unfinished when he renounced his writings shortly before his death. His work on the second part may be dated to his last period in Paris, 1269-1272: the Prima secundae treats of man's final end and general moral themes, leaving the consideration of particular virtues and vices to the Secunda secundae.