Bartholomaeus Anglicus


Bartholomaeus (or Bartholomeus) Anglicus, or Bartholomew the Englishman, was a Franciscan monk of the thirteenth century. He is sometimes confused with another Franciscan and Englishman, Bartholomaeus of Glanville, Glanvilla, or Glaunvilla, who died about 1360. Bartholomaeus Anglicus was born in Suffolk, England in the late twelfth century; the exact date is unknown. He studied natural sciences and theology at Oxford under Robert Grosseteste, then went to Paris to study and teach at the university there. He joined the newly-established Franciscan Order around 1224 or 1225, but continued to teach in Paris. In 1231 he went to Magdenburg in Germany to be a lecturer at the studium. It was there that he wrote his encyclopedia, De proprietatibus rerum (On the nature of things, or On the properties of things), some time before 1260 (probably between 1242 and 1247).

Bartholomeus presents his book

De proprietatibus rerum

In his encyclopedia Bartholomaeus covered all the sciences as known at that time, including theology, philosophy, medicine, astronomy, chronology, zoology, botany, geography, and mineralogy. The work was to serve as instruction for his fellow Franciscans, who were expected to be educated but did not have the time or means to study each discipline individually. Only one bestiary, Cambridge, University Library MS. Gg.6.5, quotes extensively from De proprietatibus rerum, but others were influenced by it.

The work is in nineteen books (19 being 12 + 7, the 12 signs of the zodiac plus the seven planets, so meaning universality), titled in Latin:

  1. De deo (On God)
  2. De angelis (On angels)
  3. De anima (On the soul)
  4. De elementis (On the elements - the four elements; humors of the human body)
  5. De hominis corpore (On the human body - the limbs and organs)
  6. De etate hominis (On the states of humans - the ages of man; the biblical categories of man and woman)
  7. De infirmitatibus (On illness - the meaning and cause of sickness; diseases; medicine and doctors)
  8. De mundo et celo (On the earth and the heavens - the matter of the world; the spheres and circles of the heavens; the zodiac; the motion of the planets; sun and moon)
  9. De temporibus (On time - divisions of the year and day; the seasons)
  10. De materia et forma (On matter and form - the element of fire; materia prima)
  11. De aere (On the air - the element of air; weather; wind, clouds, rain, snow, lightning)
  12. De avibus (On birds - properties of flying things; descriptions of 38 inhabitants of the air)
  13. De aqua (On water - nature of water and wells; pools and rivers; rivers and lakes in the Bible; the ocean, marine animals)
  14. De montibus (On mountains - the world and its mountains; biblical mountains)
  15. De regionibus (On the regions of the world - geography)
  16. De lapidibus (On stones and metals)
  17. De herbis plantis (On herbs and plants - medicinal herbs)
  18. De animalibus (On animals - biblical animals; beasts, serpents, domestic animals, insects)
  19. De accidentalibus (On accidentals - the senses; colors; sounds; odors; taste; weight and measures; liquids)

Bartholomaeus quotes extensively from a wide variety of authors, referring to the works of Greek, Arabian, and Jewish naturalists and medical writers, which had been translated into Latin shortly before. He cites such authorities as Aristotle, Hippocrates, Pliny, Augustine, Boethius, Rabanus Maurus, Avicenna, Solinus, and Isidore of Seville among others.

Manuscripts and Printed Translations

The De proprietatibus rerum was an immediate success, and continued to be popular for centuries. It was translated into several languages, including French (translated by Jean Corbechon as Livre des Propriétés des Choses), English (translated by John Trevisa as On the properties of thinges), Spanish (translated by Vicente de Burgos as El libro de las propiedades de las cosas - printed), Middle Dutch (Van de proprieteiten der dingen - printed), and Italian (translated by Vivaldo Belcazer as Trattato di scienza universale). The translations do not always exactly match the Latin text; chapters are sometimes omitted or reordered, and the text is sometimes modified, condensed or expanded.

The bird, fish and animal sections in most of the Latin De proprietatibus rerum manuscripts are not illustrated; more of the French ones are. Some have a single composite image for the start of the bird and animal sections, showing several birds and animals together; some of these illustrations show the animals in a rectangular grid, but there are some manuscripts where they are shown in naturalistic scenes. Several of the French manuscripts have very similar illustrations for the bird and animal group images. A few manuscripts have individual illustrations for some or all of the birds, but fully illustrated manuscripts, where every bird and animal has an illustration, are very rare. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, fr. 22532 (French version) appears to have been intended to be fully illustrated, and most chapters do have small images, but there are framed and unframed spaces where illustrations were never completed.

The De proprietatibus rerum now exists in over 200 manuscripts and several early printed editions. At least three of the manuscripts were destroyed by fire during World War II (e.g. Bibliothèque Municipale de Tours, MS. 701 and 702), and several contain only fragments of the text; these are not included here. Some of the manuscripts in the various languages are shown below, generally the ones with a digital facsimile online; a more extensive list can be found under the Manuscripts tab above. The Middle Dutch and Spanish translations, both of the late fifteenth centuries, were only issued in printed form.

Latin (original)

French (translated in 1372 by Jean Corbechon)

French - Provençal/Occitan dialect (translator unknown)

English (translated by John Trevisa)

Italian (translated by Vivaldo del Belcalzer)

Middle Dutch (printed, translator unknown, 1485)

Spanish (printed, translation by Vinçente de Burgos, 1485)


The parts of De proprietatibus rerum of interest here are books 12 (birds), 13 (marine animals) and 18 (land animals). The divisions are not entirely consistent; Book 12 includes some insects and other flying animals, and Book 18 also includes insects as well as some animals found in Book 12. Book 13 is primarily about water (lakes, ponds, rivers, oceans) but also includes several fish and marine animals in chapter 26.

Some chapters have descriptions of other animals embedded in them, in addition to the description of the animal the chapter is mainly about. In the lists below such animals are shown under the main animal as indented bullet lists.

The lists are based on the animals described in manuscript Bibliothèque Nationale de France, lat. 17817 (original Latin version), with other manuscripts and books used as references:

  1. Aquila (eagle)
  2. Accipitre (hawk)
  3. Alieto (falcon)
  4. Apibus (bee)
  5. Bubone (owl)
  6. Columba (dove)
  7. Coturnicibus (quail)
  8. Ciconia (stork)
  9. Cornice (crow)
  10. Corvo (raven)
  11. Cygno (swan)
  12. Culice (gnat)
  13. Cicada (cicada)
  1. Fenice (phoenix)
  2. Grue (crane)
  3. Gallo (cock)
  4. Gallo gallinacio (cock [capon])
  5. Gallina (hen)
  6. Griphe (griffin)
  7. Herodio (falcon)
  8. Hirundine (swallow)
  9. Kaladrio (caladrius)
  10. Lauro (gull)
  11. Locusta (locust)
  12. Mergulo (mergus)
  13. Milvo (kite)
  1. Nocticorace (owl)
  2. Onocraclo (bittern)
  3. Pelicano (pelican)
  4. Perdice (partridge)
  5. Pavone (peacock)
  6. Passeribus (sparrow)
  7. Strucione (ostrich)
  8. Turture (turtledove)
  9. Vulture (vulture)
  10. Ulula (owl)
  11. Upupa (hoopoe)
  12. Vesptilione (bat)

  1. Piscibus (fish)

  1. Animals in general
  2. Specific animals
  3. Ariete (ram)
  4. Agno (lamb)
  5. Agno agniculo (lamb [yearling])
  6. Agna (lamb [female])
  7. Apro (boar)
  8. Asino (ass)
  9. Angue (snake)
  10. Aspide (asp)
    • Dipsa (dipsa)
    • Ypna (asp [hypnalis])
    • Emorroys (asp [haemorrhois])
    • Prester (asp)
    • Seps (seps)
  11. Aranea (spider)
  12. Ape (bee)
  13. Bove (ox)
  14. Bubulco (oxherd [human])
  15. Bubalo (buffalo)
  16. Basilisco (basilisk)
  17. Botrace (botrax)
  18. Bombice (silkworm)
  19. Camelis (camel)
  20. Cameleopardo (giraffe)
  21. Cameleonte (chameleon)
  22. Caprea (goat [wild])
  23. Capreolo (capreola)
  24. Capra (goat [domestic])
  1. Cane (dog)
  2. Caniculo (dog [female])
  3. Aliis proprietatibo canus (dog)
  4. Catulis (dog [puppy])
  5. Castore (beaver)
  6. Cervo (stag)
  7. Ceraste (cerastes)
  8. Cornu (horns of animals)
  9. Cocodrillo (crocodile)
  10. Colubro (snake)
  11. Damula (goat [wild])
  12. Dromedario (dromedary)
  13. Dipsade (dipsa)
  14. Dracone (dragon)
  15. Equo (horse)
  16. Equa (horse [mare])
  17. Poledro (horse [foal])
  18. Elephante (elephant)
  19. Elephatibus (elephant)
  20. Item de Elephatibus (elephant)
  21. Edus (goat [kid])
  22. Eruca (caterpillar)
  23. Faunis et satyris (Faun and satyr)
  24. Femine (female and male)
  25. Fetans (breeding)
  26. Fetu (the fetus)
  27. Ficario (wild man)
  28. Formica (ant)
  29. Formicaleone (ant-lion)
  30. Fuco (bee [drone])
  31. Griphe (griffin)
  32. Glire (dormouse)
  33. Grillo (cricket)
  34. Hinulo (stag [fawn])
  35. Hirco (he-goat)
  36. Hiena (hyena)
  37. Hericio (hedgehog)
  38. Herinacio (hedgehog)
  39. Iuvenca (bull [calf])
  40. Leone (lion [male])
  41. Leena (lion [female])
  42. Leopardo (leopard)
  43. Lepore (hare)
  44. Lynce (lynx)
  45. Limace (slug)
  46. Lupo (wolf)
  1. Mulo (mule)
  2. Mure (mouse)
  3. Mustela (weasel)
  4. Migali (ferret)
  5. Murilego (cat)
  6. Noctiluco (glow-worm)
  7. Onagro (onager)
  8. Onocetauro (onocentaur)
  9. Orice (oryx)
  10. Ove (sheep)
  11. Pathera (panther)
  12. Pardo (pard)
  13. Pilosis (wild man)
  14. Pigaro (capreola)
  15. Pigmeis (Pygmy [human])
  16. Porco (pig [domestic])
  17. Pediculo (louse)
  18. Pulice (flea)
  19. Rhinocerote (monocerus or unicorn)
  20. Rana (frog)
  21. Salamandra (salamander)
  22. Sanguisuga (leech)
  23. Stellione (newt)
  24. Serpente (snake)
  25. Simia (ape)
  26. Syrena (siren)
  27. Scorpione (scorpion)
  28. Sue (pig [domestic, female, sow])
  29. Tauro (bull)
  30. Tragelapho (tragelaphus)
  31. Talpa (mole)
  32. Taxo (badger)
  33. Tigride (tiger)
  34. Tinea (clothes-moth)
  35. Teridine (woodworm)
  36. Testudine (snail)
  37. Tortuca (tortoise)
  38. Vacca (cow)
  39. Vacca agresti (cow [wild])
  40. Vitulo (cow [calf])
  41. Urso (bear [male])
  42. Ursa (bear [female])
  43. Vulpe (fox)
  44. Verme (worm)
  45. Vermiculo ([little] worm)
  46. Vipera (viper)

See also Encyclopedia.