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Luxembourg » Bibliothèque Nationale » MS 89

Library Place Luxembourg
Library Name Bibliothèque Nationale
Shelfmark MS 89
Folio Range Fragment (4 fols)
Date IX 2/3
  • Eastern Brittany (probably)
  • North-Western Francia (?)


  • Hisperica Famina, recensions B and C, with glosses
  • Medical text from the Prognostica Galieni, followed by list of the six days of Creation, number of years from Creation to the Deluge, etymology of sol ('sun') from solus, with no overt breaks to separate these heterogeneous textual elements (Paris, BnF, Lat. 11411, fol. 99v)
  • Poem Ad deum meum conuertere uolo (Paris, BnF, Lat. 11411, fol. 99v + Luxembourg, BN, 89, fol. 4r).
Old Breton Materials Yes
Irish / Hiberno-Latin materials Yes
Connection with Brittany

This fragment originally belonged to one and the same MS together with Paris, BnF, Lat. 11411 {A}, fols 99–100. The original MS, which reached the monastic library of Echternach in unknown circumstances, contained recensions B and C of the Hisperica Famina, with Old Breton glossing. According to Bischoff (Kat. §2534), this MS was written in the frontier area between Eastern Brittany and North-Western Francia ('Wohl Nordwestfrankreich, bretonisches Randgebiet') around the second third of the ninth century; while this may well be right (see below for the possibility that the scribe of this MS was actually not Breton-speaking), it is nonetheless unclear why Bischoff ascribed this MS to the 'bretonisches Randgebiet', rather than to Brittany itself (cf. also Lapidge 1985, esp. 1–3 and 8, where an origin in Echternach is suggested).

A remarkable feature of this MS (occurring at fol. 99r of Lat. 11411, cf. Jenkinson 1908: 30) is the explicit formula in basilionis polinonomate finitum est hoc opus sit · sic · sat · hoc · hic elion eie in honomate, which precedes a copy of the prognostic text known as 'Sphere of Life and Death' or 'Apuleian Sphere' (inc. Ratio spere Pitagore philosophi que Apollogius describit). Regardless of its bizarre (and corrupt) Latin, the importance of this explicit resides in the fact that several precise parallels can be found in a small group of MSS, all written in Brittany or anyway strongly connected to Brittany: as pointed out by Jenkinson (1908: xxxii) the phrase in basilioni libro occurs in London, BL, Royal 5.E.XIII (unfortunately, Jenkinson did not indicate the folio number) in relation to a citation from one of the biblical books of Kings; moreover, the Hellenizing collocation in honomate can be found in the incipit formulas In honomate sumitonantis ars Euticis gramatici incipit in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Auct. F.4.32, fol. 1v, In honomate filii redemptoris cosmi a m(alo) in Paris, BnF, Lat. 6400B, fol. 249(bis)r, and, finally, In diuine sanctae Trinitatis honomate nunc orditur euangelium cata Matheum in Angers, BM, MS 24, fol. 5r (Lemoine 1989: 147). As for the use of the word poli (gen. sg. of polus) to refer to heaven or perhaps to the whole universe, we may compare this with Arbedoc's colophon in Paris, BnF, Lat. 12021, fol. 139v, where God is referred to by the Hisperic phrase herum poli, 'Lord of heaven' (cf. Lemoine 1995: 12–13; Lemoine 2001: 262–3; Lambert 2018: 25–6). In view of all this, the reading in basilionis polinonomate can be reconstructed as in basilionis poli honomate, i.e. 'in the name of the King of heaven' (for the implications of the h/n confusion in nonomate for honomate, see Lemoine 2008: 186; Lemoine 2010: 219, n. 20).

It is also important to say a few things about the Old Breton glosses that accompany recensions B and C of the Hisperica Famina (recension C being, in particular, a set of glossae collectae rather than a continuous text, cf. Herren 1974a: 9–10): in addition to being very numerous (94 in the Luxembourg fragment and 9 in the Paris fragment, cf. DGVB 5–6), Lambert has recently pointed out that some of them contain linguistic archaisms, such as the systematic use of the perfective particle ro in verbal forms glossing Latin perfects (Lambert 2018: 24–5); this suggests that, while the MS itself may date from the second third of the ninth century (as proposed by Bischoff), its contents were in all likelihood copied from an older Breton exemplar. This is supported by other kinds of evidence, such as the incorrect placement of some glosses; indeed, as has been summarised in Lemoine 2010: 219, 'précédant le texte que nous connaissons [i.e., of recension B of the Hisperica Famina] il y a, au moins, un modèle glosé en breton lui-même copié d'un modèle glosé en latin et très vraisemblablement écrit d'une main insulaire' (note that these considerations also apply to recension C). Significantly, Lemoine added that it is probable that this copyist 'ne comprenait pas le breton, pas plus que l'hispérique d'ailleurs.' It should finally be noted that Fleuriot's puzzling mention of 'Luxembourg ms 167' in DGVB 121, s.v. couuuantolion (a reference mechanically reproduced in Bauer 2008: 148), must in fact be an erroneous reference to Luxembourg, BN, 89.

Number(s) in Bischoff's Katalog 2534
Essential bibliography

Bauer 2008: 136–47; BnF Archives et Manuscrits; Bradshaw 1889: 412, 462–3, 467–70, 488; CLH §570, 573; DGVB 5–6; Dronke 1986; Falmagne and Deitz 2009: I, 179, 189, and Abb. 6; Gaidoz and Bradshaw 1890; Grosjean 1957: 37–8; Herren 1974a: 7–10; Herren 1974b: 70; Jenkinson 1908: xii–xiii, xxx–xxxvi; Lambert 2018: 23–5; Lapidge 1985; Lemoine 1985: 288; Lemoine 1989: 147; Lemoine 1995: 12; Lemoine 2008: 186; Lemoine 2010: 219–20, 223; L&S §326, 327; PMSB 302 (§49) and 311 (§84); Rhys 1872: 346–7; Rhys 1873–5; Rhys 1892; Schrijver 2011: 10; Smith 1992: 168 (n. 83); Wickersheimer 1966: 123–4.

URLs for digital facsimile
Last Updated 2021-06-07 14:33:36
Author Jacopo Bisagni
DHBM Identifier #83
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