30. French miscellany
Northern France (Thérouanne?), beginning of the 14th century
parchment; 335 x 230 mm; fols. iv (i–iii paper) + 265 + iv (iii–iv paper)
Written in littera textualis in two columns, the volume—which opens with two quires of indices penned in red—contains a collection of French texts, including Brunetto Latini’s Tresor (fols. 16r–139r), the Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle (fols. 140r–54v), the Book of the Seven Sages (fols. 155v–183r), the translation of Giles of Rome’s De regimine principum into vernacular French (fols. 187r–262v), attributed to “Henris de Gauchi” in the manuscript, and the pseudo-Hippocratic letter Regimen sanitatis (salutis) ad Cesarem (fols. 266v–7r), which closes the volume. It is no accident that the miscellany contains Latini’s Tresor and the political treatise by Giles of Rome—although there are other works between the two—given the fact that, in the manuscript tradition, De regimine principum is sometimes included in the third book of Latini’s famous encyclopaedia, a book that is devoted not only to rhetoric but also to politics. The juxtaposition—and effective fusion—of the two texts reflects an attempt to complement the political discourse offered by Latini’s text and make it more universal, as it focuses chiefly on ‘Italian customs’, notably communal institutions, while overlooking ‘French customs’ and the government of princes. This sumptuous codex was produced in northern France (probably at Thérouanne). Its rich decoration, in which gold was used extensively, is composed of numerous miniatures, historiated and inhabited initials, and elaborate borders framing the text and occupying the intercolumnar space, with animals, human figures involved in various activities and satirical scenes with grotesque characters (drolleries). It belonged to “Anthoine Trudaine d’Amiens”, as indicated in the ownership inscription (fol. 266v), and subsequently to the chancellor of France Henri-François d’Aguesseau (1668– 1751), whose coat of arms with two fesses and six shells is tooled in gold on the boards of the binding. Once part of the Perrin de Sanson collection, which was sold in 1836, it was purchased by the bibliophile Guglielmo Libri in Paris. In 1847 Libri sold it and other manuscripts from his collection to Bertram Ashburnham, 4th Earl of Ashburnham. The Biblioteca Laurenziana obtained it in 1884, when the Italian government purchased the Libri collection from Lord Ashburnham’s heirs. The manuscript is open at fol. 16r, with the incipit of the Tresor.