Sally Crawford

title.none: Mallet, Catalogue des Manuscrits (Sally Crawford)

identifier.other: baj9928.0710.005 07.10.05

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Sally Crawford, Oxford University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2007

identifier.citation: Mallet, Jean and Andre Thibaut, eds,. Catalogue des Manuscrits de L'Abbaye de Clervaux. Bibliotheca Manuscripta Monasteriorum Belgii, vol. 2. Turnhout: Brepols/ Encyclopedie Benedictine, 2006. Pp. 400. ISBN: 2-503-52276-0.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 07.10.05

Mallet, Jean and Andre Thibaut, eds,. Catalogue des Manuscrits de L'Abbaye de Clervaux. Bibliotheca Manuscripta Monasteriorum Belgii, vol. 2. Turnhout: Brepols/ Encyclopedie Benedictine, 2006. Pp. 400. ISBN: 2-503-52276-0.

Reviewed by:

Sally Crawford
Oxford University

The Benedictine monastery of Clervaux, Luxembourg, is only a dozen kilometres away from the German border, twenty kilometres from the Belgian border, seventy from the French border and a mere hundred from the Dutch border. Though now this location gives the town of Clervaux an international flavour, its location has had a detrimental and complicating effect on the manuscript collection of the monastery during the wars of the last century.

The manuscript collection is effectively divided into two disparate parts, consisting of the fourteen medieval manuscripts belonging dating to before 1500, to which the main part of this publication is devoted, and donations and acquisitions in the monastic library dating from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, which are included as a supplemental list.

As the publication makes clear from the outset, the history of this modern monastic foundation and its library is "tormented" (8). As a result of political, religious and war-related upheavals, the monastery transferred from its original location at Glanfeuil, France (1890-1901) to Baronville, Belgium (1901-1910), thence to Clervaux, Luxembourg (1910-1941), and from Luxembourg to Belgium once more (1941-45), before finally settling back at Clervaux in 1945. Not surprisingly, then, the medieval, and most valuable part of the collection: sa partie la plus coherente et la plus precieuse au regard de l'erudition (8) came to the abbey only within the last few decades, from the Abbey of Saint-Jerome in Urbe, which itself was founded only in 1933.

From the outset, then, unlike other recently-published English manuscript collections, such as that of Worcester Cathedral Library (R.M. Thomson with M. Gullick, A descriptive catalogue of the medieval manuscripts in Worcester Cathedral Library, Woodbridge 2001), or St John's College, Oxford (R. Hanna, A descriptive catalogue of the Western Medieval manuscripts of Stain John's College, Oxford, Oxford 2002), this manuscript collection is not going to provide an insight into medieval monastic libraries, or into the development and patterns of acquisition of an institution over centuries; rather it reflects the ad hoc acquisitions of a modern religious house and the generosity of its main lay benefactors.

The catalogue begins with a substantial introduction to the history of the fortunes of the monastery from 1890 to 2004. The lives, families and donations of its main benefactors are also recorded in autobiographical detail, culminating in a geneaology of the interlinked families Wendel, Gargan and Coetlosquet, whose generous support of the monastery and its bibliographic holdings are warmly acknowledged.

Of the fourteen medieval manuscripts held by the monastery, MS 1 contains epistles of Pseudo-Alexander, Euphemius's Latin translation of the life of St Basil of Caesaria, the Ordo consecrationis virginum of Ecgbert of York, and an anonymous Ordo in novissimo agone. MS 2 contains dialogues of Gregory the Great, followed by the Biblia pauperum of Nicolas de Hanaps and the Tractatus virtutum of Guillaume Peyraut; in MS 3 are works of St Bonaventure; MS 4 contains an introduction to works of Cassian in Italian; MS 5 contains writings of Gilles de Rome. MSS 6 and 7 are minor liturgical manuscripts; MS 8 contains the meditations of Simon Bonhomme of Metz and an anonymous Ordo iudiciarius; MS 9 contains works by Gregory the Great and sermon 14 of Pseudo-Maximus; MSS 10 and 11 are books of hours; MS 12 is a fragmentary Sophismata; MS 13 contains a poem in Old French on the Battle of Metz of 1324, and MS 14 is a register of notarial acts.

MSS 7, 8, 9 and 13 came from the library of Vicomte Maurice du Coetlosquet (date and place of acquisition unknown) and were donated to the library in 1911; MSS 1 and 10 were donated by members of the secular clergy; MSS 6 and 11 were given by other benefactors, and MSS 2, 3, 4 and 5 were bought from an Italian hermitage. It is less clear how the two remaining manuscripts came into the monastic collection: MS 14 appears to have been donated by the family of a monk of Clervaux, but the provenance of MS12 is still unknown.

The each entry in the catalogue of medieval manuscripts begins with a brief title, number of folios, date, dimensions, and the incipit and explicit. The sections that follow record details of the binding and materials; the state of preservation; details of the construction of the manuscript, including lost pages and method of folding, with schematic diagram; evidence for pricking and scheme of ruling; number of lines; a schematic diagram of the page layout; headings; script; and decoration. Each folio is then described in detail, with full referencing to related manuscripts and publications. The medieval manuscript catalogue is followed by indices devoted to the manuscript watermarks; a list of the eighteen known and four unknown authors; an alphabetical index of the liturgical incipits; personal names; place names; and cited manuscript archives. This section of the volume ends with twenty colour plates from the medieval manuscripts.

By contrast, the rest of the post-medieval material in the library, which does not form the focus of this volume, is described in only summary detail; the 232 recent books are dealt with in thirty pages. The books post-dating 1500 (all, with the exception of 31, 49 and 165, on paper), had previously been indexed and placed on computer; a more detailed description of them was intended for this publication, but we are informed in the introduction that this scheme had to be abandoned due to circumstances beyond the authors' control.

This volume is a testament to the considerable scholarly effort and persistence of the authors, but the long history of its creation is evident in the final result, which is perhaps trying to cater two very different sets of readers. The catalogue of medieval manuscripts is a valuable achievement, which will offer a useful resource to the professional academic, but the extensive introduction, with its somewhat distracting and irritatingly lengthy footnotes, offering intensely detailed biographical histories of the births, careers and family ties of every lay and ecclesiastic who made any contribution to the monastic library (and most of these contributions relate to the post-medieval books), has very little in it of immediate relevance to the medieval scholar, though there is material here of interest perhaps to the historian of modern ecclesiastical politics and patronage, and to those who have a direct interest in the monastery. A further quibble with this volume is the quirky indentation and alternations in font size, which do not aid the reader.

It is clear, then, that this is, of course, no book for the general reader or for the uninitiated beginner. It is primarily of importance as a scholarly, detailed, diligent work of reference for the knowledgeable academic and specialist of medieval manuscripts, and should be valued as such.