Sunday, 15 March 2009

The Manuscripts: 2

Manuscript G

Bibliothèque Nationale, 6265, paper, 106 folios

Manuscript G belonged to Claude Fauchet and contains the Vita Ludovici, the Historia Ludovici VII, extracts from Hugh de Fleury and part of William of Jumieges Gesta Normannorum. The manuscript was copied in 1515 from a book from the monastery of Saint-Magloire de Paris and derived from Manuscript E or a similar manuscript. The scribe of Manuscript G often corrected errors in the original.

Manuscript H

Bibliothèque du Vatican, regina Christina, 461

This is the most recent manuscript copied in 1567 transcribed from a manuscript in St-Denis similar to Manuscript A. However, the copyist, Sanson Hayet Gulielmus modified and spelling and vocabulary of the original in ways that were not always advantageous. It was not available to Molinier.

Manuscript I-L

There are four further manuscripts that contain copies of the Vita Ludovici, unknown to Waquet.

Manuscript I: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Reg. Lat. 550.

This is a copy of the Continuations of Aimoin, written about 1202-5[1] and housed in the library of St-Denis. Here it later served as the basis for the initial section of Manuscript E, itself largely a copy of the Continuations of Aimoin.[2] The Vatican manuscript contains the whole of Suger’s original work and, unlike Manuscript J continued with the Historia Regis Francorum Ludovici Septimi, a compound history of Louis VII comprising the fragment composed by Suger before 1151, together with a continuation written by a monk of Saint-Germain-de-Prés that carried the narrative to the birth of Philip Augustus in 1165. However, it omits some of the interpelations relevant to Saint-Germain-de-Prés found in MS 12711 but adds two texts absent from it: Einhard’s Vita Karoli and the Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle.

Manuscript J: Bibliothèque Nationale, 12711.

This is a copy of the Continuations of Aimoin but it only contains a few chapters of Suger’s Vita Ludovici.

Manuscript K: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Reg. Lat.624

Manuscript L: Chantilly, Musée Condé, MS 869[3]

Manuscripts K and L consist of two versions of the early vernacular prose history called Chronique des rois de France, written between 1217-1218 and the early 1230s[4] probably in or near Paris.[5] Both manuscripts include the first translation of the Vita Ludovici into French.

The existence of the Old French Chronique des Rois de France at the Musée Condé in Chantilly was first reported by Ronald Walpole in 1978.[6] He noticed that the version of the Pseudo-Turpin contained in Chantilly MS 869, a manuscript dating from the fifteenth century strongly resembled one published by Claude Buridant from a thirteenth century Histoire des rois de France, preserved in the Vatican Manuscript 624. Elie Berger[7] had noted similarities between MS 624 and the Grand chroniques de France in 1879 but it was a century later when Pierre Botineau was equally struck by the similarities between MS 624 and the Chantilly manuscript.[8] He also established that when Primat translated the Vita Ludovici in the first part of the Grandes chroniques in the 1260s or early 1270s he used this vernacular text as a source. Shortly after Buridant published his edition of the Pseudo-Turpin found in the Histoire.[9] Botinaeu and Buridant believed that Vatican 624 contained a unique version of the vernacular Pseudo-Turpin but Walpole was able to demonstrate that the text of Chantilly 869 provided a second exemplar (what he called Pseudo-Turpin I) and that MS 869 might be a second copy of the whole Chronique.[10] His hypothesis has been confirmed by examining the text as a whole and it is clear that MS 869, though dating from the fifteenth century is a considerably more complete version of the Chroniques des rois de France than Vatican 624.

Gillette Labory has shown that Chantilly 869 is not a copy of Vatican 624, though the two versions are closely related.[11] The Vatican 624 manuscript dates from the end of the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth century. The language of the scribe, according to both Buridant and Walpole suggests a Burgundian copyist, possibly from the western part of that county.[12] The text of Chantilly 869 is a later copy, dating from the last quarter of the fifteenth century and written in Francien, the language of the Ile de France. Unlike Vatican 624, Chantilly 869 is richly decorated with twelve large and 102 smaller miniatures but the manuscript is incomplete at the end, owing to mutilation. Labory has shown that the Anonymous’ use of the Continuations of Aimoin cannot be perfectly matched to the readings found in either Bibliothèque Nationale, 12711 (Manuscript J) or Vatican 550 (Manuscript I). While the Continuations is certainly his major source, it cannot be shown that the Anonymous directly translated either of these manuscripts and this is reinforced by his consistent supplementing of the Latin sources in his compilation with additional material.

After the death of Philip I, the Anonymous of Chantilly/Vatican translated the Vita Ludovici Grossi of Suger introducing it with a long preamble:

Of this King Louis, about whom we have now begun to write, we have already spoken in the preceding history of the king, even though this was only in brief, concerning how he was crowned king after the death of King Philip his father in the city of Orleans. But, the Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis who was raised his cleric and who greatly loved him wrote up his deeds and his life where he shows very clearly what loved he possessed for him. This life and deeds of the noble King Louis the Fat we have begun to relate in French just as Abbot Suger recounted it in Latin, to the extent that we have been able. But it vexes us sorely to do this task. For no one should attempt to undertake such a thing unless he is perfect in writing, for no one can know how difficult a thing it is to translate from Latin into French unless he has done it himself and attempted it. However much it grieves us, we have to do it because we are constrained to do so and would not dare to contradict or refuse. But I heartily pray those who read this book that they do not blame or reproach me for having undertaken this thing, for they should know that I do it as if forced, as someone who is inadequate to perform such a task. We have said this to excuse ourselves, but let us continue the history as the valiant Abbot Suger relates it…

The Anonymous was not the only writer to complain of the intricacies of Suger’s Latin and when Primat made extensive use of the Anonymous’ own translation, he too was confronted by the problem of Suger’s language and grammar. There is some difference between the French translations of the Vita Ludovici: in Chantilly 869 it is complete while Vatican 624 lacks a section corresponding to about thirty folios in Chantilly.


[1] Marc du Pouget ‘Recherches sur les chroniques latines de Saint-Denis: Commentaire et edition critique de la Descriptio clavi et corone domini’, thesis, Ecole des Chartres, 1977, p. 16.

[2] Aimoin was a monk of Fleury who wrote a Historia Francorum at the beginning of the eleventh century during the abbacy of Abbot Abbon, to whom he dedicated the work. Aimoin’s text stopped in 634 and only later was it completed by a number of continuations. Lemarignier, J. F., ‘Autour de la royauté française de IXe au XIIIe siècle. Appendice: la Continuation d’Aimoin at le manuscript Latin 12711 de la Bibliothèque Nationale, Bibliothèque de l’Ecole des Chartres, vol. cxiii, (1955), pp. 25-36 has shown that between 1015 and 1025 a copy of Aimoin was taken to Saint-Germain-des-Prés where it was continually interpolated over the next century and a half. The initial continuation carried the narration to 1031, the second to 1165. Around 1175, Suger’s lives of Louis VI and Louis VII were added.

[3] On both the Vatican and Chantilly manuscripts, see Walpole, Ronald N., ‘Prolegomenes a une edition di Turpin français dit le Turpin I’, Revue d’Histoire des Text, vol. x, (1980), pp. 199-230 and vol. xi, (1981), pp. 325-70 and Labory, Gillette, ‘Essai d’une histoire nationale au XIIIe siecle: La Chronique de l’Anonyme de Chantilly-Vatican’, Bibliothèque de l’Ecole des Chartres, vol. cxlviii, (1990), pp. 201-54.

[4] The anonymous author of the Chronique des rois de France began his translation in the reign of Philip Augustus. He recalled Philip Augustus’ conquest of Normandy (1204-1205) and his description of the king as a ‘good son’ and defender of the church suggests that it was written after 1213 when Philip Augustus was reconciled with Queen Ingebourg, whose repudiation and exile from court had resulted in the realm being placed under a papal interdict. Gillette Labory argues that the Anonymous’ prayer for the king’s recovery (he had fallen ill in 1217) close to the beginning of the work suggests a date between 1213 and 1217 for the start of the work and that he ended writing in the early 1230s since he is aware of the election of Jean de Brienne as emperor in Constantinople in 1229-1231 but does not mention his death in 1237.

[5] Discussion of these two manuscripts is grounded in Spiegel, Gabrielle M., Romancing the Past: The Rise of Vernacular Prose Historiography in Thirteenth-Century France, California, 1993 especially pp. 269-323.

[6] Walpole, Ronald N., ‘La traduction du Pseudo-Turpin du Manuscrit Vatican Regina 624: à propos d’un livre récent’, Romania, vol. lcxix, (1978), pp. 484-514.

[7] On the Vatican manuscript see, Berger, Elie, ‘Notices sur divers manuscripts de la Bibliothèque Vatican’, Bibliothèque des Ecoles françaises d’Athènes et de Rome, vol. vi, (1879), p. 10 and Walpole, Ronald N., ‘La Traduction du Pseudo-Turpin du Manuscrit Bibliothèque Vatican 624: A Propos d’un livre recent’, Romania, vol. xcix, (1978), pp. 484-514.

[8] Botineau, Pierre, ‘L’Histoire de France en français de Charlemagne a Philippe-Auguste: La Compilation du Ms. 624 du Fonds de la Reine a la Bibliothèque Vatican’, Romania, vol. xc, (1969), pp. 79-99.

[9] Buridant, Claude, (ed.), La traduction du Pseudo-Turpin du Manuscrit Vatican Regina 624, Geneva, 1976.

[10] Ibid, Walpole, Ronald N., ‘La traduction du Pseudo-Turpin du Manuscrit Vatican Regina 624: à propos d’un livre récent’, pp. 484-514.

[11] Labory, Gillette, ‘Essai d’une histoire nationale au XIIIe siecle: La Chronique de l’Anonyme de Chantilly-Vatican’, Bibliothèque de l’Ecole des Chartres, vol. cxlviii, (1990), pp. 201-54.

[12] Walpole, Ronald N., ‘Prolegomenes a une edition du Turpin français dit le Turpin I’, Revue d’Histoire des Text, vol. x, (1980), pp. 199-230 and vol. xi, (1981), pp. 325-370, p. 203-206.

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