Manuscript: Additional MS 8785
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British Library, Additional MS 8785
(De Proprietatibus Rerum)

Produced: Italy (Mantua), before 1309

Language: Latin / Italian

Author: Bartholomaeus Anglicus

Binding: 18th century red morocco
Media: Vellum

Folios: 325  Height: 27 cm   Width: 21.5 cm

Manuscript type: Single-author

Location: British Library, London, England, United Kingdom

Family: n/a


Source: British Library Images Online | Copyright Copyright 2004 British Library / Used by permission | Folio 285r


The De Proprietatibus Rerum of Bartholomaeus Anglicus. Italian translation by Vivaldo del Belcalzer.

Vivaldo del Belcalzer (d. after 1308) was a notary and councillor of Mantua whose sole known work is his compendium and translation into the Mantuan dialect of 'De Proprietatibus Rerum', an encyclopaedia of theology and science in nineteen books by Bartholomaeus Anglicus... Belcalzer, who makes no mention of his source, faithfully reproduces the arrangement and sequence of Bartholomaeus's work in his vernacular abridgement, although the divisions between books 5-7, according to the list of contents in Latin (ff. 5-12v), fall in different places in Belcalzer's work.

Incipit (f. 14r) 'In primament ny referiscom e dom gracie', expl. 'De omnipotent Sant ebenedet y segoy dey segoy. Amen.' Rubricated chapter headings and references to Bartholomaeus's sources (e.g. 'Aristotel', 'Ysidor', 'Costantin') in left and right margins. Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana 2155 (late 14th cent.) and Oxford, Bodleian Library, MSS. Canon. ital. 24 (A.D. 1446) and 131 (15th cent.) are other copies of this text. Add. 8785 is the original given by Belcalzer to Guido Bonacolsi, signore of Mantua 1299-1309, to whom it is dedicated, 'Ding de los e d'onor al segnor so nobel e magnifich meser Gui dey bonacols Capitaniy e perpetual segnor de mantoa ...' (f. 13).

Many inhabited and decorated initials in full colour on blue grounds, whose decoration mainly relates directly to the accompanying text. The opening dedication, the beginning of most of the nineteen books and a number of lesser divisions are marked by major initials.

Subjects of the miniatures are as follows:-

f. 13. Initial 'D' with presentation of the volume to Guido Bonacolsi by Belcalzer.

f. 191v. Earthly paradise. In the centre are two male figures seated in a rocky landscape among flowering trees containing birds. Between them springs a well whose water is parted into four streams in the foreground. On the left and right sides are fiery walls with flames reaching upwards, above which are two angels on each side, one with a sword and the other with a club. Between the angels are stars and a crescent moon.

f. 257. Three figures in a vineyard, two holding two glasses of wine each, the third lying on her back between them, apparently suffering from the effects of the dark wine in a fifth glass above her.

f. 262. A man being chased by a beast with a red man's head, with three rows of teeth, a lion's body and a scorpion's tail.

f. 269v. A bird standing on the horns of a serpent called 'Cerastes' which has another bird in its mouth.

f. 274v. A basilisk with a small quadruped on its hind legs.

f. 278v. A man spearing a beaver beside water in which another beaver swims.

f. 284v. Fauns and satyrs: a figure with a hound's head and a cyclops standing on either side of a flowering tree.

f. 285r. Fauns and satyrs: two figures with cloven hooves and long noses standing on either side of a flowering tree. Fauns and satyrs: three standing figures, one headless with his face in his chest. Fauns and satyrs: three figures, one with enormous ears standing on the left, one walking on all fours in the centre, and one with a single enormous foot standing on the right.

f. 285v. Fauns and satyrs: two standing figures, one with feet turned backwards on the left and one with the feet of a horse on the right.

f. 289. A hyena eating a partially-buried dead man.

f. 292. A beast with a red man's head, with three rows of teeth, a lion's body and a scorpion's tail, standing in front of a flowering tree.

f. 294. Onocentaur: a beast with the upper half of a man, with a shield and sword, and the body of an ass.

f. 296v. A unicorn approaching a woman and, below, a man in armour, with a shield, spearing the unicorn as it sleeps with its head in the lap of the woman.

f. 297v. Two apes, one on the left carrying two young, and one on the right seated in a tree.

[Adapted in part from the British Library catalog]

Editions and Facsimiles

None known


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