Manuscript

British Library, Additional MS 8785
(De Proprietatibus Rerum)

Codicology

Produced: Italy (Mantua), before 1309
Location: British Library, London, England, UK
Type: Encyclopedia
Language: Latin / Italian
Folios: 325
Author: Bartholomaeus Anglicus
Illustrated: Yes
Binding: 18th century red morocco
Media: Vellum
Dimensions: Height: 27 cm Width: 21.5 cm
Folio 296v

Description

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. There are only a few full color animal images, and most have darkened or otherwise degraded with age.

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.f. 257. Three figures in a vineyard.
  • 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 [manticore].
  • 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 [weasel].
  • f. 278v. A man spearing a beaver beside water in which another beaver swims.
  • f. 284v. monstrous human races: a figure with a hound's head and a cyclops standing on either side of a flowering tree.
  • f. 285r. monstrous human races: two figures with cloven hooves and long noses, one headless with his face in his chest, one with enormous ears, one with feet turned backwards, and one with the feet of a horse.
  • f. 289r. A hyena eating a partially-buried dead man.
  • f. 292r. A beast with a red man's head, with three rows of teeth, a lion's body and a scorpion's tail [manticore].
  • f. 294r. 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 spearing the unicorn as it sleeps with its head in the lap of the woman.
  • f. 297v. Two apes, one carrying two young, and one seated in a tree.

[Adapted in part from the British Library catalog]

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British Library