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Paris » BnF » MS NAL 1587

Library Place Paris
Library Name BnF
Shelfmark MS NAL 1587
Folio Range Whole MS (109 fols)
Date VIII ex. / IX in.
  • Brittany (probably)
  • Saint-Gatien of Tours
  • Stolen by Libri in 1842
  • Acquired by the BnF in 1888.
  • Empty folio, only containing the signature Uuarnerius written near the bottom (1r)
  • Carpet page, with In nomine Dei summi amen in the upper margin (1v)
  • Gospel of Matthew (2r-32r)
  • Gospel of Mark, with explicit (and incipit of the next item): Explicit euangelium cata Marcum. Item incipit euangelium cata Lucan (32v-52r)
  • Gospel of Luke, with explicit (and incipit of the next item): Amen. Finitum euangelium cata Lucan. Item nunc orditur euangelium secundum Iohannem in Xpo Ihu (52v-85r)
  • Gospel of John (85v-109r)
  • Rubricated 'Hisperic' colophon by Holcundus: Ego Holcundus mihi trinitas missereator . amen. Precor uos omnes Xpiani ut pro me commonem Deum diprecemini peccatore pium ut ne demergar in pyri flagae baratro sed fiam cum binis exercitibus in bapho ubi habitant thesaredes ter et octoades bis uates et eucusi thesera senes et XX ter et sex bini discipuli ut uobiscum omnium Xpm salvatorem exorent diem eglemon epacacon ecaton in hoc enim tota agiograpa pastricatur ·: emanuhel. :· amen amen (109r)
  • Entry tinmocniam, possibly a Brittonic word or name? (109r, lower margin)
  • Empty folio (109v).
Old Breton Materials No
Irish / Hiberno-Latin materials Yes
Connection with Brittany

This is the famous 'Gospel-book of Saint-Gatien' (a name due to its provenance from Saint-Gatien of Tours). If the Breton origin of this MS could be proven beyond reasonable doubt, NAL 1587 would then certainly be one of the earliest extant Breton manuscripts (or even the earliest). The 'insular' character of this Gospel-book is strong, and it involves script, abbreviations, decoration, text, and even ruling and codicological structure (the codex is constituted by quinions). Indeed, for a long time this manuscript was believed to be Irish, until a more careful assessment of the script, as well as of the extraordinary colophon on fol. 109r and the explicit/incipit on fol. 85r, led scholars to reassign NAL 1587 to a continental scriptorium under heavy insular influence (for a brief but useful summary of scholarly views on this MS, see Simpson (McKee) 1999: 276–8).

Overall, the following elements concur in pointing to Brittany as the most likely region where this MS was written probably shortly before or shortly after AD 800:

  1. the use of a rare formula to introduce John's Gospel on fol. 85r (a formula also found in other Breton Gospel-books);
  2. the presence of the non-Irish (Brittonic? Germanic?) name Holcundus in the colophon on fol. 109r;
  3. the strongly 'Hisperic' character of that same colophon;
  4. the occurrence of the abbreviation ɔc for contra (a strong Breton diagnostic, cf. Lemoine 2008: 190–1);
  5. the occurrence of the invocation In nomine Dei summi in the superior margin of fol. 1v (cf. Lemoine 2008: 196);
  6. the provenance from Saint-Gatien of Tours.

For some scholarly views favouring, either tentatively or strongly, the attribution to Brittany, see e.g. Bischoff 1994: 30 and Kat. §5092; Lemoine 1995: 12–4; McGurk 1987: 176, 189; Simpson (McKee) 1999: 278).

Number(s) in Bischoff's Katalog 5092
Essential bibliography

Bibale; Bischoff 1990: 90; Bischoff 1994: 12, 30; BnF Archives et Manuscrits; CLA V, §684 = ELMSS; Deuffic 2008: 122, 128; Dumville 1993: 1; Dumville 2005: 61; ILLB In23; John 1995: 118; Lambert 2018: 14; L&S §960; Lemoine 1988: 235 (n. 6); Lemoine 1995: 12–4; Lemoine 2001: 263, 268; Lemoine 2004: 156; Lemoine 2008: 187–8, 190, 194, 196; Lindsay 1915: 477; McKitterick 1989: 420 (n. 157); McGurk 1987: 176, 189; OHLP 257; PMSB 313 (§91bis); Rand 1929: 93–3; Simpson (McKee) 1999: 276–8, 285, 289–90; Smith 1992: 167 (n. 80); Wikipedia.

URLs for digital facsimile
Last Updated 2021-06-12 09:36:11
Author Jacopo Bisagni
DHBM Identifier #168
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