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Consolatory epistle of Warm, Cool, & Lukewarm & together a lie: An Analysis by Mary Parker

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Mary ClarkMary Parker, a student in Dr. Rabia Gregory's History of Christianity class, is sharing her paper on an incunable from Special Collections. We're using her words and images with permission. – KH

Girolamo Savonarola, author of this epistola, was born to a well off family from Padua with his grandfather being a physician and professor at a medical college. Girolamo planned to study medicine as his grandfather had after getting his bachelor’s degree, but instead dropped out to join a Dominican monastery in Bologna without informing his family of his decision until he was already gone (Kirsch 2015).

From early in his life Girolamo felt strongly about the “depravity” of the era that he was living in. After years of study in the monastery and in Ferrara, he was sent to Florence to preach. His career took off after he became prior at the monastery of San Marco. While there, he preached strongly against paganism and the immoral life of many Florentines, as well as against the Medici’s, current rulers of Florence (Amelung 2015).

When Lorenzo de ’Medici died, Savonarola developed into a political as well as a religious leader and began thinking of setting up a theocracy of sorts. His sermons were often very biting and intense as he preached against the immoral life of members of the Roman Curia, against Pope Alexander VI, and against the evils of princes and courtiers. The Medici family was driven out of power due to the people’s hatred of the family’s tyranny and immoral lives. The French king ended up coming to Florence and setting up a theocratic democracy with Christ being the King of Florence and a council that represented all citizens. Girolamo was not directly involved with the government but his sermons and teachings held large influence in the city. Eventually, a sort of moral police force was set up that spied on and denounced people who did not follow the moral guidelines put forth by Girolamo (Kirsch 2015).

His daring and passionate sermons eventually lead to a conflict with Pope Alexander VI. In 1495, the pope commanded Girolamo to go to Rome and defend himself against all of the accusations held against him. He declined saying that his health prevented him and that the journey would be too dangerous. Shortly after, the Pope declared that Girolamo was no longer allowed to preach and that he also could no longer be the prior of the San Marco monastery. Girolamo attempted to justify his actions; and when it came to his preaching, he said he always submitted himself to the Church. A new papal Brief was written that maintained his ban on preaching but judged easily his actions (Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2015).

Girolamo disobediently still preached in Florence with sermons that were strongly against the so called crimes of Rome. All this lead to a possible schism in the Church; therefore, the Pope needed to step in and do something. Girolamo was eventually excommunicated in 1497, but this did not stop Girolamo from celebrating Mass on Christmas Day, distributing Holy Communion, and then subsequently preaching in the cathedral. While all this was occurring, opponents to Girolamo were becoming more powerful and after an attempt at an ordeal by fire; the general people began to turn against Girolamo. The San Marco monastery was attached and he was taken prisoner and eventually condemned to death "on account of the enormous crimes of which they had been convicted". He was then hanged and after his body was burnt at the stake (Kirsch 2015).

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Epistola consolatoria de Caldi, Freddi, & Tiepidi & una frottola insieme is thought to have been published in 1496 by Lorenzo Morgiani and Johann Petri, which means that Girolamo most likely preached this sermon after the second papal Brief commanded him to no longer preach. The epistola is largely speaking about being a lukewarm Christian or even falling prey to Satan’s deceit as can be seen in the later part of my attempt at a translation of the first page of the epistola.

The prophets of Jerusalem went forth: Hyere. xxiii. I Pensado, in happy mood, turn to judge you and see what creatures you are, and the misnomers of this problem should be finally resolved. That what each man deserves to be attributed to him, he will surely now know. To see whether to his benefit he will be shown as great by the creator, the power of the infinite glory of Heaven eternal and its benefits; but being such brutish animals man lives in denial and his mortal needs cause him to undergo more uncomfortable dangers and miseries than other animals undergo. Whereupon complaining Pliny said, sometimes double barked trees have to protect themselves from the heat and the cold found in nature. But man does not have this protection and from birth is naked, wailing and crying in such an excellent fashion. Neither does man have any thoughts from birth. But the nanny stays close like a magnet and protects the child above all else and sympathizes with the baby, protects them from many deadly things, guides them to discover their fate, and tries to get them to avoid fighting and conflicts. Fighting leads to such brutality. But no man should arise into a place of so many evils. However, that Lucifer being deprived of the Glory immortal designs for all humans to live mediocrely and hence end up in deadly misery for a thousand years: after ones first actions it is easier to warn them of the decline that leads to the eternal and deep abyss. Wherefore, be sober and watchful in prayer: surround yourselves with the few nurturing less our adversary Satan as lion come bellowing and devour you. And some said the apostle: Do you know the height of Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light (Savonarola 1496).

From this translation, it appears that Girolamo is fighting against the Catholic Church becoming corrupted by those who have no zeal for Christianity. He is angry not only with the church but also with members of the public who were perhaps not protecting themselves against the worldliness of the time. He was strongly concerned with God’s judgement on the city of Florence for its wickedness and was passionate about the Church regenerating to Holier form (Passaro 2006). He was also extremely zealous regarding the salvation of lost souls and was obviously willing to risk his life for this task. From this sermon, he also felt that Christians and non-Christians alike needed to watch and prepare for Satan’s temptations lest they be taken and destroy for falling prey to them (Kirsch 2015).

clark2clark3The Epistola Consolatoria De Caldi Freddi & Tiepi is bound in brown leather decorated with gold leaf of which Dr. Barabtarlo spoke about during her lectures. The inside cover has a red flowered, stamp design that is simple and beautiful. The book was used often as seen by the external binding being rather beat up on the edges and the internal markings from users’ fingers. One of the original pages is torn out and has been replaced by a printed copy of the original page. There are no comments from anyone besides librarians. There are a total of twelve printed pages with seven of those being Girolamo’s sermon and the other four being a frottola, Italian secular song popular in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

There were only approximately fifteen printers in Florence during the decade of 1490 with only four of these printing prolifically (University of Minnesota n.d.). The epistola by Girolamo was printed by one of these, namely the firm of Lorenzo di Morgiani and Giovanni di Piero di Maganza (Johannes Petri of Mentz). In 1495, Morgiani and Petri were working for Pacini, who commissioned what is said to be the greatest Florentine illustrated book of the century (Hoyt 1939). The epistola referenced here was not of this luxurious quality however. It is more likely that it was used to spread Girolamo’s preaching to the middle class citizens of Florence.

At the start of Girolamo’s career he was full of zealous desire for the renewal of religious life in Italy. His strong preaching and teachings led him to offend many powerful people including the pope. He was an extremely notable religious leader during the pre-Reformations era, and this can be seen through his printed documents such as the one analyzed here.  

Bibliography

Amelung, Dr. Peter. 2015. BRILL. November 2. http://www.brill.com/girolamo-savonarola-religious-and-political-reformer.

Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. . 2015. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. November 2. http://www.britannica.com/biography/Girolamo-Savonarola.

Hoyt, Anna C. 1939. "BULLETIN OF’ THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS ." VOLUME XXXVII , August : 62.

Kirsch, Johann Peter. 2015. Girolamo Savonarola. November 3. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13490a.htm.

Passaro, Anne Borelli and Maria Pastore. 2006. Selected Writings of Girolamo Savonarola. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Savonarola, Girolamo. 1496. Epistola consolatoria de caldi, freddi, & tiepidi & una frottola insieme. Florence: Lorenzo Morgiani and Johann Petri.

University of Minnesota. n.d. "Portfolio Artistic Monographs, Issue 12." 54-55. Seeley and Co., 1894.

 

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Posted in Classes, Learning through Special Collections, Rare Book Collection, Special Collections, Teaching with rare books

Student work on the Notarial Registry of Bernard de La Turade

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Will Black, a student in Dr. Rabia Gregory's History of Christianity class, chose to write this personal reflection on his work with the fourteenth-century notarial registry in Special Collections. We're sharing his thoughts and images with his permission. – KH

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On Thursday, October 29th, I walked into the Special Collections room in Ellis Library. I requested to see a notarial registry kept by Bernard de La Turade during the late fourteenth century. La Turade was a French notary, which meant he handled the wills, marriages contracts, sales, etc. for his town. It was a rather important position, considering it was the only form of recording that sort of information in the town during his day. People would come to La Turade for all different purposes, and it’s the surviving artifacts of common life that gives researchers a glimpse into the daily life of what France might have been like during the middle ages. It displayed prices of goods, legal documents, ages at which people were married, and all sorts of other little facts that expand upon the picture of daily life that ultimately end up completing the picture of history.

Upon first glance, the registry was unimpressive. It was roughly the size of my hand, slightly bigger. I’d estimate it was eight inches high, five inches across, and an inch and half thick. There were two volumes, the first of which had been aggressively chewed through by mice on the top left hand corner. Both books were a dark tan color, with the color and texture of the book resembling that of a pig ear treat one might give to their dog. According to Dr. Barabtarlo's lecture, the cover was likely animal skin for its protection and durability. Scrawled on the cover of Vol. 1 “1393”, the date of publishing by La Turade. According to a booklet on various binding methods put together by the special collections department at Yale University, the notary had a binding that was considered Gothic. The Gothic method closely resembles modern books of the day, with loose-leaf paper bound to a cover made of thicker parchment or skin. This method of binding was popular from the early fourteenth century until the end of the seventeenth century.

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When I opened the first volume, it was in poor condition. Mice had eaten through the spine on the top left portion of the book, meaning the first 36 pages of the book had to be handled more delicately due to the lack of binding. There was plenty of water damage on the first pages of the book, but this faded about a third of a way through the notary. This book may have been face up in a damp or humid environment and years of water resting on its cover seeped through to the parchment. Before paper became easy to make, parchment was the choice for writing books. Parchment is made out of sheep’s skin and was chosen because it was super durable. During Medieval times, there was no way to have climate controlled rooms and traveling was harsh, so books were required to stand the test of the elements. On blank spaces between entries, one can see the watermarks from the making of the paper. This particular parchment maker had his frame set up so that lines supporting the paper were about two centimeters apart from each other.

By looking at the pages, it’s easy to tell that this book was used quite a bit. The fact that there are two volumes is telling in the fact that there were quite a bit of entries. The pages in both books were well smudged on the margins, resulting from the flipping of pages back and forth to find certain entries. There were also several pieces of scrap paper that had been added to pages via glue or other sticky substances. There were also many, many comments in the margins, entries crossed out, and various other edits to previous entries. This means that this book was used quite a bit over an extended period of time. Another indication that this book had extensive use comes from the fact that the ink recipe changes multiple times in the book. During my time examining the book, I asked Dr. Barabtarlo about the ink changes, and she said the ink recipe the author used a recipes alternating between being heavy in rust or lampblack.

More important than the book itself is the author and his uses for the book. Clearly, as a notary, Bernard de La Turade’s job was to simply be a record keeper. The local lord or other authority in the area likely employed him in the castle or other official building. According to the National Notary Association, notaries in the middle ages/medieval times could have had a role in the clergy. This would make sense considering a notary had to be of high moral character, but there’s no way to know if La Turade was a member or not. This becomes even more confusing as La Turade lived during the period when the clergy started to separate themselves and the role as notaries. Prior to his lifetime, notaries were exclusively clergymen, and after his lifetime it had become a secular business. La Turade was caught between these two eras. La Turade may or may not have been a clergyman, but we do know he was someone who was held in high moral regard. We can say though, that there’s a good chance La Turade got at least some part of his education from a person involved with the clergy in some way, considering they were the main teachers in the middle ages.

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From what we know about social structures in Medieval France, where La Turade is from, he likely lived somewhere in the middle of the social ladder. La Turade could read, write, and do simple arithmetic, so he was obviously an educated man. This would save him from having to do hard labor in fields for the entirety of his life. La Turade also interacted with people in important positions, such as governors, lords, dukes, or even kings. His interactions with these people likely moved him up the ladder a couple of rungs. Even though La Turade did hold a position of importance within the town and he likely made a living better than other folk, he never would be confused with someone who would have been in the highest tax bracket. Books were still expensive during this time period, and were a labor to produce. Even though this book contained no writing or artistry when La Turade bought it, the parchment maker still had to skin a sheep, dry the skin, scrape it, and go through the whole tedious process of making usable parchment. The fact that La Turade was able to purchase this book says something about his wage, considering the price of books of the era.

The reality of this book is beautifully underwhelming. This was a simple notary written by a nondescript Frenchman in the late 1300’s. However, it gives insight into the daily life of the people of La Turade’s region. The documentation this book provides is the sole reason historians have jobs. The notarial registry also sheds light on the writing practices of the region and time period. Often these varied from place to place and era-to-era, and the book offers yet another link in the long chain of history. From a mice-bitten, water-damaged book, one infer as to how people of a completely era and culture survived.

– Will Black

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Posted in Learning through Special Collections, Rare Book Collection, Teaching with rare books

The Menaion for the month of June

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Last week we published a mysterious inscription from this manuscript on Tumblr.  In response to requests for more information, we’re also sharing these excerpts from a recently prepared book history.

Written in the Raifa Monastery, near Kazan’ (Russia) in October 1624 (1623?) by the Elder Barsonophius.

Description.

Manuscript on paper 15.3 x 20.7 cm, 4to in 8s, 228 leaves; all quires intact.

Written in Church Slavonic in a single hand on a medium weight paper. Original ms. side notes, contemporary ms. record of date, scribe name and place. Light water stains, occasional spots of wax, a few edges a little frayed, tiny ink holes in two leaves, small worm trail at gutter in lower blank margins of one gathering. A very good clean copy with its original wide margins.

Bound in high quality Russian morocco over thick wooden boards. Metal bosses and centerpieces lost, remains of original brass clasps.

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Contents

The Menaion (from Greek, μην, “month”, Church Slavonic minea) is the name of several liturgical books in the Orthodox (Greek, Russian, Romanian, Georgian, Serbian, etc.) Church.

The Christian calendar comprises two series of offices. There are movable feasts, falling on the days of the ecclesiastical year dependent on Easter (which is determined by the Jewish, i.e. Lunar calendar); and immovable, set to certain days of the month by the solar calendar, such as the feasts of our Lord: His Nativity (Christmas) Transfiguration, Theophany (Epiphany); of the Blessed Virgin, and of the saints. The offices for these “fixed” feasts are contained in the menaia (pl. for menaion). In the Roman breviary it corresponds to the Proprium Sanctorum.

A menaion, one for every month, contains the offices for immovable feasts, according to the liturgical calendar of the Orthodox Church.

Audiences

The Menaia are used by clergy for daily services. This particular menaion is of specific interest because it antedates the extensive reform by Nikon (1605-1681), the seventh Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, c.1654, revising all service books according to the Greek liturgical tradition, a fateful event that led to a deep schism in the Russian Church.

After this reform many of the pre-existing copies were discarded or burned as redundant.

All Russian service books antedating 1624, whether printed or written, are extremely rare and valuable.

Text:

The text has, sometimes substantial and important, variant readings from the standard Menaion for June. Grammatical mistakes signify that the Menaion was read aloud to the scribe rather than copied from another manuscript.

Foliation.

 The ms. contains 29 gatherings, 228 leaves. All gatherings contain 4 bifolia (8 leaves), except the first and last quire, which have 7 and 5 leaves respectively; apparently, first blank leaf of the first quire is used as paste-down, and two blank leaves at the end – one is cut out, the other is used as paste-down.

All quires are numbered in Church Slavonic numbers, apparently by the scribe.

Leaf numbering made in a different ink, by a different (19th cent.?) hand in Arabic numerals at the top right corner.

Script. 

The text is written in elegant Cyrillic polu-ustav (semi-uncial, a minuscule) script, in a single hand, with characteristic overwriting, ligatures and abbreviations that are common in Cyrillic as well as Latin manuscripts, motivated mainly by two reasons : to distinguish sacred names and matters from ordinary ones, and to save space. Stresses are absent which is unusual for Slavonic service manuscripts. Small dots over the text suggest that it was chanted.

Colophon.

At the foot of the first ten leaves contemporary manuscript record of date, origin and scribe.

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The inscription could be translated as: In the year 7132 of our Lord, in the month of October in 22nd day [has finished writing] this book Menaion [for the] month of June, for the Glory of the most pure Theotokos (Mother of God), in the Raifa monastery, in this same monastery tonsure monk Elder Barsonophius.

This inscription clearly indicates not only the name and position of the scribe – Elder Barsonophius, but gives us the place –Raifa monastery, and the date – 1624 (1623?).

The Raifa monastery (about 450 miles East from Moscow) dedicated to the Mother of God was established in 1613 by hieromonk Philaret. This secluded, beautiful place on the lake Sumka was surrounded by deep woods populated by wild animals.

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Mystery

At the very end of the manuscript, at the bottom of the last page, there is a mysterious inscription in Cyrillic characters:
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The language is not Slavonic, and resists deciphering.

We assumed a possibility that our Fr. Barsonophius could have been a local man of Tatar or Cheremiss origin, and asked native speakers of those languages to look at the inscription. Alas, they failed to recognize anything familiar.

Any service book in the seventeenth century was regarded as a venerable, even sacred thing, thus the smallest mistake or a slip of the pen was considered a sin. It was customary for a scribe to finish a manuscript with a humble request to readers to correct mistakes if found. However it is only a conjecture. So far a language of this final inscription has remained an enigma for these researchers, who would be grateful for any clue.

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Posted in Rare Book Collection

The Battle of Waterloo

map-2You, whose greatcoats were lithely streaming,
Reminiscent of broad sails,
Whose voice and spurs were gaily ringing
Like silver bells,

Whose eyes, like diamonds, were leaving
On hearts their delightful trace,–
The charming fops of vanished being
In time and space.
(Marina Tsvetaeva, To the Generals of 1812)

“The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.”

Two hundred years ago two very ambitious generals met in the battlefield.

Napoleon Bonaparte, former Emperor of the French, and Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, had a lot in common: both were forty-six years old, born only a few month apart; both had very little interest in education, but could make rapid and precise mental calculations; overconfident and dictatorial, both were unhappily married yet loved by many women. The difference between them was one — but a major one: Wellington was born noble, while Napoleon was not… That defined their characters: almost “supernaturally balanced” Wellington was not vain in any sense, treated everyone equally, with the same directness, from monarchs to soldiers; Napoleon admired pomp, power and attention; treated people as inferiors, including kings and princes. Wellington cared for his soldiers, never sacrificed his troops for a quick victory; Napoleon was his complete opposite, could not stand rivals and claimed all credits for victories for himself. He never learned from his failures, in which he usually blamed others.

The battle of Waterloo was one of the bloodiest at the time. More than fifty thousand men and countless horses were left dead on the field at the end of the day.

It seems that fate was not on Napoleon’s side this time. It had been raining the whole night before, and by the dawn the battlefield turned into a bog. Napoleon’s cannons got stuck in the heavy mud up to the axles; Wellington’s smaller troops were positioned uphill, so Napoleon’s cavalry could not effectively attack; while Wellington was athletic and exceptionally fit, Napoleon’s suffering from hemorrhoids that day was also seen by historians as the reason for his failure; both sides were exhausted in the five hours of fighting, when Blucher with his Prussian troops arrived and decided the outcome of the battle in favor of the Allies. This ended Napoleon’s military career and the war which was going on and off since 1805.

big-book2Here in Special Collections we have a very beautiful book, A Summary of the Life of Arthur Duke of Wellington: from His First Achievements to the Decisive Battle of Waterloo, June 18, 1815, by Robert Southey.

Known mostly as one of the finest poets of the so called “Lake School”, Robert Southey (1774-1843) was also known to his contemporaries as a biographer of John Wesley and Lord Nelson, and to the majority of us as the author of “The Three Bears”.

The book in our collection is bound in a crimson morocco leather with gold tooled borders. But the most delightful secret lurks in its fore-edge paining. Practically unnoticeable to the unsuspecting reader, it suddenly reveals a battlefield when edges are squeezed properly. You can then see charging soldiers, explosions… And if you look long enough you might even hear a distant rumble of cannons!

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Posted in Rare Book Collection, Special Collections

Shells, Snails, and Peacocks

A selection of decorated papers from Ellis Library Special collections is now on display now in Ellis 401.Decorated paper must be one of the most visually striking elements of rare books. They are found as endpapers, pastedowns, and on the covers of books produced in Europe from the 17th century onward. With a little background you can begin to appreciate their textures and patterns, and to identify the papers found in our collection and beyond.

El sacrosanto y ecuménico concilio de Trento Translated by Don Ignacio López de Ayala published in Madrid in 1785  Rare BX830 1545.A4 A7

El sacrosanto y ecuménico concilio de Trento
Translated by Don Ignacio López de Ayala
published in Madrid in 1785
Rare BX830 1545.A4 A7

Of the many kinds of decorated papers, marbled papers are the best represented in our collections. The art of marbling paper was invented in Japan and spread to Europe by the early 17th century. Though no two sheets are alike, certain designs became traditional. These designs are sometimes named after a formal resemblance, such as the “peacock,” sometimes after the country of origin, as the “Turkish” pattern, or both, such as the “French curl.”

Histoire naturelle : générale et particulière Volume 12 by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon published in 1749 in Paris by l'Imprimerie royal  Rare QH45 .B78

Histoire naturelle : générale et particulière
Volume 12
by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon
published in 1749 in Paris by l’Imprimerie royal
Rare QH45 .B78

Traditional artisans create these designs in oil-based pigments that float on the surface of water. In a carefully orchestrated sequence, they rake and comb the pigments to rake to achieve a design whose swirls and veins resemble those observed in polished marble. The design “lifts” as paper absorbs the pigment.

Marbled papers are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Artists such as Ann Muir create traditional as well as original designs. In a surprising twist, new technology has created a new demand for decorated papers; luxury cases for mobile devices sometimes incorporate them to create a book-like effect.

Vida de Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra by Martín Fernández de Navarrete  published in Madrid by la Imprenta Real in 1819 Rare PQ6337 .N27

Vida de Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
by Martín Fernández de Navarrete
published in Madrid by la Imprenta Real in 1819
Rare PQ6337 .N27

These and many other examples of decorated papers from our collections are on display now in 401 Ellis and can be viewed between 9-5.

Further Reading
Link to an article by Joel Silver with a bibliography:
http://www.finebooksmagazine.com/issue/0306/marble.phtml
Link to a guide at Washington University
https://content.lib.washington.edu/dpweb/patterns.html

Apotelesmata astrologiae Christianae, by Pedro Ciruelo. Published  in Madrid, by Arnaldi guillelmi Brocarij, 1521 RARE QB26 C5

Apotelesmata astrologiae Christianae, by Pedro Ciruelo. Published in Madrid, by Arnaldi guillelmi Brocarij, 1521
RARE QB26 C5

Posted in Exhibits, Rare Book Collection, Special Collections
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