Volume XXVIII · Number 1 · Summer 1974
The Library of St. Victor of Marseille and the Rochester Catalogue of 1374
--PAUL A. GUNTHER AND JOHN F. D'AMICO
Medieval manuscripts have long been a source of fascination for both the layman and the scholar, and interest in them extends to the libraries monastic and princely where they originated. Their wanderings and subsequent fate form one of the most intriguing chapters of history. Like modern displaced persons, medieval manuscripts have suffered from wars, revolutions, natural disasters, and indifference. The horror stories of the Vatican Archives manuscripts' being used for fish wrappings in Paris during the aftermath of the French Revolution are famous in a long history of misfortune. The 1374 catalogue of the library of the ancient monastery of St. Victor of Marseille, now at the University of Rochester, testifies to a singularly mysterious past and provides added material for outlining the intellectual activities of one monastic group in the Middle Ages.
Library catalogues might not seem to offer the prospect of lively reading, but in the special world of medieval studies they have their interest. As one scholar, Père Joseph de Ghellinck, has noted concerning the importance of medieval library catalogues:
. . .these dry listings of names are something other than a petrification of the ancient rudimentary bibliography. In reality they conceal the matter of an entire chapter in the history of the human spirit, a chapter more important than varied [translated from the French by the authors] 1
Historians have long concerned themselves with medieval monastic libraries, have produced collections of their catalogues for scholarly research, and continue to issue new editions and studies.2 The Rochester manuscript has, however, escaped the serious attention it deserves. Lost to scholarship for centuries, the manuscript only in the last forty years has become the concern of a few specialists. This discussion is in honor of the six hundredth anniversary of the 1374 manuscript and the house it commemorates.
Before proceeding to consideration of the St. Victor library, a few words concerning monastic libraries in the Middle Ages might prove of value.3 As a general rule, monasteries collected only those books necessary for spiritual and liturgical activities : the Bible, theological texts, and missals. With the exception of Cassiodorus, monks and their founders were concerned with leaving as much of secular civilization as possible behind them and hence gave little thought to ancient literary production. That the monasteries became the major repositories for classical writings was essentially an accident of history. Some classical writers were preserved because of their use in education, some because of a Christian interpretation attached to them, others because the monks did not care for them and turned them into palimpsests. Monastic book collecting was a practical matter.
The same consideration extends to the cataloguing of these libraries: practicality was of the essence.4 A series of author-title listings usually sufficed to indicate what codices were in the library or armarium, but these served not simply, or even primarily, for the sake of reference. Books constituted part of the treasure of a house, and the monks would want to make certain that part of their treasure did not simply disappear. Many of the comments made by scribes, such as "large," "small," "beautiful," no doubt served not only to distinguish one codex from another but also to present a relative statement of worth. Another example of the practicality associated with monastic libraries is the fact that a catalogue or list once written would simply be added to over the years as the collection grew, with no catalogue being drawn up. The first catalogue of St. Victor is such a listing, although generally the Victorines were much more concerned about making catalogues than most. Many of the strange practices of medieval librarianship can be explained by the demand for practicality.
The library of St. Victor has long been considered by historians as of great importance for the size and diversity of its collection.5 Although some study has been devoted to the monastery's library in the hope of accurately determining the extent of its holdings, it has been only in recent years that sufficient material has come to light which will make an accurate evaluation possible. St. Victor is fortunate in having preserved five catalogues dating from the late twelfth/early thirteenth to the early fifteenth centuries.6
The most important of the five inventories is the Rochester manuscript of 1374. It is a complete copy, properly notarized and originating at a high point in the monastery's history. In addition to listing the tracts actually at the monastery, the 1374 catalogue also gives miscellaneous information concerning the disposition of the books and the major officials of the monastery at the time of composition.
The history of the monastery of St. Victor of Marseille can rival that of many of her more famous sister institutions in the West.7 The success of Benedictine monasticism has obscured from many the fact that the first centuries of the Christian era saw the essaying of different styles of ascetic life. Marseille was the site of an early attempt to graft Eastern monastic forms to the needs of the West. Indeed, St. Victor predates Benedict's foundation at Monte Cassino by more than a century.
The ancient port city of Marseille, located in Provence, was a center of Mediterranean trade in the late Roman Empire. Christianity arrived there in the third century. Soon the city could pray to its own martyrs and the Marseille Church become an episcopal seat. By the early fifth century Provence, still enjoying a measure of peace, became a gathering place for those hearty spirits who found themselves yearning for a strict Christian life. Despite their enthusiasm, they lacked organization. Mere reception of Eastern forms was not sufficient. At Marseille the occasion for organizing asceticism coincided with the arrival of a monk from Palestine and the invitation of a bishop.
When Bishop Proculus requested him to establish a monastic community in his diocese around 415, John Cassian had already had extensive experience in the monastic life. Born in Latin Scythia, Cassian enjoyed a good classical education. Dissatisfied with mere secular learning, however, he journeyed to Palestine, where he lived in various coenobitic centers and visited others in Egypt. Cassian knew the monastic life intimately, and his background allowed him to approach the Marseille establishment in a new manner. Although the rule of St. Benedict would eventually dominate, even at St. Victor, the fifth century was still experimenting. Cassian realized the peculiar needs of the Western Mediterranean climate and the necessity of adaption to it, such as in diet and dress, if the monastic life were to be successful. His monastery of St. Victor, who was the subject of popular devotion at Marseille, was to be the test of his ideas on the common life. Besides St. Victor, Cassian also founded a female community, St. Sauveur, at Marseille.8
Cassian's place in history is assured as much by his fame as a theologian as by his work as a monastic leader. Besides his writings on the common life, the Institutes and the Conferences 9 (both written at St. Victor), he devoted his intellectual energies to the then important Pelagian controversy concerning the relationship of grace, free will, and predestination. As a contemporary of St. Augustine, Cassian was aware of the African's views on these matters, but he did not hesitate to form his own. Cassian opposed Augustine's theory of predestination and around him grew a group of like-minded men, "Massilians," some of whom were monks of St. Victor. Following Cassian's death, St. Victor remained a local intellectual center, and composition in theology and hagiography continued. In the fifth century the priest Gennadius of Marseille wrote De Viris Illustribus, which included Cassian.10
The sixth and seventh centuries provide little information on the religious life of St. Victor or indeed of Provence in general. The monastery went into decline. One of the abbots of St. Victor took part in the pillage of the episcopal palace during a rebellion against a Bishop Theodore.11 By the eighth century, St. Victor suffered from Arab attacks upon Marseille. Even the names of its abbots cannot be ascertained for much of this period.
St. Victor benefited from the general peace of the Carolingian rule. The Carolingians even made grants of land to the House. However, with the disorder resulting from the decline of the Arnulfian house and the increasing frequency of Arab attacks, the monastery once again went into eclipse.12 The years of the late ninth and tenth centuries are the darkest in the history of the monastery. The religious life of the people as well as the monks suffered greatly. The city was in such an exposed position that the Bishops of Marseille deserted the episcopal residence and took shelter behind the fortress-like walls of St. Victor. The functions of the bishop of Marseille and those of the head of the monastery became confused and the monastery as a separate entity seems to have disappeared.13
Years of foreign attack and incursions upon its lands by aggressive lords left St. Victor with broken walls and reduced possessions. As a bishop had been important in the establishment of the House in the fifth century, so again in the late tenth the Bishop of Marseille, Honorat (948-978), resuscitated the monastery as a step in the general rebuilding of his diocese. To perform the task of regularizing the long dormant spirituality of the monastery, Honorat introduced the Benedictines. The exact date of the introduction is open to question, but 977 seems accurate.14 With the coming of the Benedictines, a new history of the monastery begins.
The Benedictines regularized the religious life of the monastery and began to rebuild it physically. Aid came from some of the secular lords of Provence, who bestowed upon the monastery new lands.15 Throughout the eleventh century, donations to the monastery continued, and certain families became closely attached to it.16 St. Victor developed a reputation for the strict observance of its rule and became, as did its more famous sister Cluny, a center for monastic reform. In the early years of the eleventh century, the relations between St. Victor and Cluny were cordial and grew closer in time. Abbot Isarnus of St. Victor was in friendly contact with Abbot Odilo of Cluny. In 1078, Abbot Bernard of St. Victor praised Cluny in a letter to Abbot William of Hirsau.17 Under Isarnus St. Victor became strenger und kanonischer noch als Cluny.18 St. Victor became a model for monastic life and its rule (consuetudines) spread throughout Southern France.
With the dissemination of its rule and of monks to instruct others in it, the territorial expanse of the monastery grew. Various houses were placed under the control of St. Victor for the purpose of reform by either secular or ecclesiastical lords, and the abbot of the Marseille community appointed the priors for the reformed houses. In such a manner, as well as in the founding of various new churches and houses and with the continued beneficence of laymen, St. Victor developed what one historian has called a church-state (Kirchenstaat).19 First, Provence and other parts of Southern France, then Northern Spain and Sardinia witnessed the dissemination of St. Victor's influence.20
The most intriguing aspect of this expansion was not so much its geographical extent, but the part played by the monastery, especially its abbots, in the furthering of papal power in Northern Spain. In 1050 Leo IX put the monastery under papal protection. Subsequently Gregory VII reinforced the close connection between the Papal See and St. Victor and gave it privileges equal to those of Cluny, freeing it from episcopal control. In so doing, Gregory established a rival to Cluny in Northern Spain and one over which he had closer control. A series of abbots of St. Victor served as Gregory's legates, and St. Victor became a pawn in an ecclesiastical-political power play in Northern Spain. The immediate result for St. Victor was papal support for its expansion. The monastery grew strong enough even to survive a period of papal opposition under Gregory's successor.21
St. Victor's hold over subservient houses was not a benevolent one. The abbot appointed the priors of the dependent houses and the income of some houses was used for the upkeep and administration of St. Victor. The good of St. Victor was primary. By the end of the 1090s, various affiliated houses complained of the heavy hand of the abbot from Marseille and successfully petitioned the pope for their freedom. But despite some setbacks, the territorial empire did not dissolve. The monastery even began to diversify her interests and took some part in the commercial expansion resulting from the Crusades. As one historian of monasticism has noted, this was the "Golden Age" of the Marseille community and lasted approximately one century.22
The glorious days of expansion did not continue long into the twelfth century. Financial troubles plagued the monastery, due to a combination of poor administration and probably over-extension. To meet the needs of the abbey, it became necessary to borrow money from Jewish bankers, a state of affairs that continued until 1185, when it was brought to an end with the aid of Bishop Foulques of Antibes.23 The financial crisis strained the relations between the abbot and the monks, and severe pressures were placed upon the regular life of the monastery. To settle the problems, the arbitration of the pope was requested. Pope Clement III sent Bernard, Cardinal of St. Peter in Chaines, to re-establish order. Bernard reiterated the rule, and among the statutes he issued were some relating to the monastic library and the disposition of its holdings. Bernard's legislation was reinforced in 1196 by Abbot Mainier.24
Although trouble continued under Mainier's successor, Guillaume de Peyre, and Rome had to intervene once again, the abbey's temporal growth continued. A monk named Roncelin, who was the brother of the Viscomte of Marseille, had left the monastery at the death of his childless brother in 1195. For breaking his vows, the pope excommunicated Roncelin and placed Marseille under interdict. In time, however, the people of Marseille arrived at an agreement with Pope Innocent III. Innocent accepted the secularization of Roncelin and his assumption of his dead brother's office, but demanded that he bestow upon the monastery of St. Victor part of his inheritance. Roncelin fulfilled his part of the agreement on 22 July 1212. This added extensively to the monastery's holdings and also meant increased friction between the monks and the city, where much of the new property was located. Along with continued donations came renewed attempts at reform. Early in the thirteenth century, Abbot Bonfils moved to reinforce uniformity throughout those houses dependent upon St. Victor. At the close of the century Abbot Raymond Lordet reformed the monastery itself and concentrated power over the other houses in the hands of the abbot of St. Victor and the priors appointed by him.25
The abbacy of Guillaume de Sabran (1294-1324) began a period of stabilization in which the new acquisitions and reforms of the previous years were given more concrete form.26 The monastery continued to grow in fame and reputation, and St. Victor experienced one more period of greatness before sinking into a decline from which it would never completely recover.
In 1361 a new abbot was elected. Guillaume de Grimoard had a reputation as a law professor and papal legate before becoming Abbot of St. Victor. He held the office for only one year, and in 1326 he was elected pope with the name Urban V. The new pope did not forget his former spirtual home. Once established upon the throne of Peter, Urban decided to revive the splendor of St. Victor. He reinforced the autonomy from episcopal control that St. Victor enjoyed and the power of the abbot over dependent houses. He gave new houses to the monastery and extended its jurisdiction within its domain. Urban also began to rebuild the monastery physically and placed the librarian of the monastery in charge of its construction. Urban's concerns were not limited to land and power. As a true academic, he moved to ensure the intellectual life of his former home. At the request of the monks, he established the college of St. Benoît et St. Germain at Montpellier for legal studies and a liberal arts college at Trets. In both schools the monks of St. Victor received special consideration. Under Urban's paternal care, the monastery enjoyed its last years of greatness.27 The 1374 catalogue was written but four years after Urban's death and thus shows the monastic library at one of its high points.
The monastery soon had the opportunity to exhibit its newly acquired luster. Urban's successor, Gregory XI, the last of the Avignon popes, en route to Rome stopped at Marseille from 23 September to 2 October 1376, and stayed at the monastery.28 St. Victor retained some of its new glory into the fifteenth century. In 1404 and again in 1407, Pope Benedict XIII was housed at the monastery during his visits to Marseille.29 In 1424 the office of Abbot of St. Victor came directly under the appointment of the pope without the need of an election by the monks, and years of absentee abbots followed. St. Victor always suffered from bad administration and financial difficulties and was further injured by abbots whose sole concern was the revenues due to their office. The prior, together with the other major monastic officers including the librarian, was given the actual administration of the monastery. As a result, tension between the monks and abbots not in residence and their appointed representatives worked against the regular life of the house. In 1484 the library was so badly maintained that the pope had to intervene to remedy the situation.30
Our concern with the history of the monastery ends with the fifteenth century. From the fifth to the fifteenth century the monastery had experienced both great success and failure. Having almost lost its identity in the ninth century, it had rivaled Cluny as a model of monastic discipline in the eleventh. The reasons for its subsequent decline cannot be dealt with in depth here. As has been seen, poor administration and financial crises were constant sources of disruption within the monastery, and absentee abbots only intensified these conditions.
However, perhaps a deeper, psychological defect must be sought, and the financial crises are indications of more essential problems. The twelfth century witnessed the beginning of a decline among Benedictine houses throughout Europe which continued through the Middle Ages. The black monks had ceased to hold an important part in the life of medieval society. The task of preserving the Gospel and learning had ended, Europe was no longer a marginal civilization, and the monks found no new objectives to replace their earlier ones. Further, the increased temporal possessions which they commanded and the important position they held in the feudal hierarchy drew the attention of the monks away from spiritual matters and occupied them more and more in administration and defense of their holdings against jealous lords and cities. Finally, the very leader of a monastery, the abbot, too often played the role of feudal noble or absentee landlord and ceased to offer spiritual direction. Monasteries became fiefs for the younger sons of the nobility. As a group, the Benedictines had lost their reason for existing and their spirituality declined.31
St. Victor's history follows this general outline. It had become deeply involved in land and temporal administration, lost control over the office of its abbot, and suffered from continual financial problems. However, unlike other houses, it did not reject all learning, although the predilection for law on the part of its monks is a telling sign of the shift to less spiritual concerns. The monastery continued a fitful existence until the eighteenth century, when it was secularized. It is to be regretted that St. Victor has not yet found a modern historian to chronicle its worthy past.
From time to time, the history of the monastery supplies the historian with information concerning the fortunes of the library. We can say little concerning the pre-Benedictine library. No doubt the literary activity of John Cassian and his followers necessitated a library of biblical, patristic, and some classical works. The references that John makes in his works written at St. Victor would sustain this view. How large a collection was actually in the monastery cannot be determined. The years of siege and spiritual disintegration which preceded the Carolingian empire probably witnessed dispersal of all or most of this collection. As is well known, the Benedictine rule demanded some type of book collection in each of its houses. The monks were to read a spiritual tract once a year and engage in scriptorial activity.32
The rapid reform and growth of the eleventh century no doubt increased the library's size and diversity. In reforming other monasteries, the monks of St. Victor would have dispatch copies of liturgical works for use in the dependent houses. St. Victor could also draw upon the resources of its dependencies. This reverse aid can best be shown in the case of the Monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll, famous for its scriptorium.33 The Chronicle of St. Victor written on the margins of a Bede manuscript originated at Santa Maria.34 Cross fertilization is also evident from liturgical manuscripts.35
From charters of the early eleventh century, we know that donations of books were made to the monastery and that books were among its possessions, 36 but there is no information concerning a library. The first definite mention of a library (armarium, actually a cupboard for storing books) comes from the statutes issued by Cardinal Bernard in 1195 in his attempts at reform.37 By the end of the twelfth century, it is evident that the collection was a source of concern to some of the monks. Care was not taken of the books since the cardinal's promulgation was aimed at maintaining the library collection intact.
After listing various reforms for the monastery, Bernard turned to the disposition of the library. Under pain of excommunication, no monk was to take from the library any book without the permission of the librarian (armararius). Whoever had done so was to return the book(s) within seven days or be reprimanded and expelled from the monastery. Further, the cardinal ordered that all books excepting breviaries for the private use of the monks were to be remitted to the librarian. Any book which had been removed from the library and taken from the monastery was to be returned within four months. From these rules it is evident that the library was losing books and that various monks kept private books in addition to their breviaries. Any private books a monk might have brought with him when entering the monastery had to be surrendered to the general collection.
As mentioned above, Bernard's statutes were reinforced by Abbot Mainier in 1198. Mainier also issued regulations relating to the upkeep of the library. In the statute de armario Mainier ordered all books, regardless of source, to be placed in the library, exempting only breviaries and missals for use in the church.38
The twelfth century witnessed the production of the first catalogue of St. Victor's library. Formerly this list was dated as early twelfth century, but the catalogue is a composite work written between the late 1190s and about 1260.39 The text has been published twice and need not detain us here. It shows that the monastery had an appreciable collection. The catalogue numbers three hundred items, including the library of Archbishop Guillaume Riboti, who in his testament of 1257 donated his entire library to the monastery, exempting only his breviary.40 Liturgical, theological, classical, and historical tracts are included, revealing a broad general collection with biblical and theological tracts dominating.
Another, fragmentary, inventory, probably dating from the late thirteenth century or early fourteenth, lists ninety-seven codices. This list, part of the Bouches-du-Rhône Archives,41 is divided into two sections: the first is an enumeration of liturgical works, the second libri de medicina parui uciloris. In addition, there are seven legal works. The catalogue supplied incipits and explicits in most places. Three borrowers of library codices are named: the Bishop of Marseille, who borrowed a liber de laude celestis proxime; Petrus de Rochablana, a legal scholar, who had three legal tracts, and a Magister B, who withdrew one of the medical works.
The Reform tracts of Guillaume de Sabran again provide specific information concerning the administration of the library. Guillaume, in the statute de libris armarii qualiter sit agendum, January 1294, ordered that two inventories be made of all books in the monastery, and that one of the catalogues be deposited with the armararius.42 Whether the fragmentary catalogue mentioned above resulted from Sabran's edict is conjectural. Another statute from Sabran's period dated 6 November 1298, contains the following instructions: omnes quoque libri qualescumque sint, debent ad officium armarii pervenire.43 To aid in his care for the library, the armararius had at his disposal the revenues of the priory of St. Ferréol and took a share in the general revenues of the monastery. An accounting of 1337 shows the librarian in receipt of eighty tournois, one fifth of the entire sum.44
The Rochester catalogue seems to have been prepared with Sabran's instructions in mind. Perhaps the rebuilding of the monastery by Urban V occasioned a general accounting of the house's treasures. Two other catalogues supplement the 1374 list, one dated 1410 and the other 1418. These inventories were formerly part of the collection of the New York Historical Society, which donated them to the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris in 1969.45 The first catalogue lists 271 items and supplies the incipits and explicits, but this text does not seem to cover the monastery's entire book collection, which would certainly have been larger. It mentions the armararius at the time as one Guillaume Alexander. The 1418 manuscript lists 425 codices with incipits and explicits. Both manuscripts indicate the continuing care paid to the library. The 1418 catalogue shows that the size of the collection remained about the same, although there is a change in the actual manuscripts, with some titles disappearing and new ones appearing.
Before continuing to a more specific discussion of the 1374 manuscript, something should be said concerning the fate of the library. Information relating to the library confirms that it was still at the monastery until the last quarter of the sixteenth century. The last date of its known presence at the monastery is December 1579 and it seems that by 1591 it was no longer at St. Victor. The French jurist and historian J. A. B. Mortreuil, in his monograph on the library theorized the collection was removed at the order of Cardinal Julien de Medicis, who occupied the office of abbot from 1570 to 1588. According to Mortreuil, the cardinal sent the library to his relative Catherine de Medicis, then queen mother of France. Catherine was an avid collector of manuscripts, and the cardinal would have helped ensure continued favor with the fine collection of St. Victor. Although this theory has been questioned, it seems the most likely solution to the mystery of the library.46 Today identification of various extant manuscripts from the Monastery of St. Victor shows that those that remain are scattered throughout libraries in France, the Vatican, and, of course, Rochester.
The 1374 catalogue consists of four pieces of vellum connected by an adhesive substance. Since the edges are not cleanly cut, the sheets are not of a uniform size. The individual sheets measure approximately 51. cm. by 38 cm. and the total roll is approximately 202 cm. by 38 cm. The folios are written on only one side and there is no sign of ruling. The text, written in a calligraphic Gothic hand, is generally clear and legible. The folios are in fine condition. The hand is like that common to Southern France, and similar scripts can be found in the Avignon Registers from the same period.47 The reverse of the first folio bears a shelf marking "Marseille No. 173 / Catalogus librorum / qui extabant in monasterio / anno 1374," which refers to the inventory of 1567.48
The spelling, as well as some palaeographical peculiarities in the manuscript, betrays its writer to have been either a native of Southern France or Northern Spain. There is decided tendency to mix "c" and soft "t" as would be expected from these regions: thus etiam becomes eciam, persecutione reads persecucione. Further, the placing of a dot in the center of a capital "O" is also common to those areas. Exceptional is the use of the diphthong "ae" in the spelling of the proper name Caesarius and in the wordinchaenato rather than the general "e."
The manuscript is properly notarized with the notarial deposition and sign at the bottom of the fourth sheet. The notary was Johannes de Thama, a citizen of Marseille. He wrote in a cursive Gothic hand typical of the fourteenth century notarial style. Apart from the notarial sign at the bottom of the fourth sheet, the only other decoration is the Christogram forming the "I" of the In at the text's opening. The catalogue names the following officers of the monastery: Raymundus Comitus the armararius, Johannes de Sanhis the prior of the cloister, Pontius Posaquus the prior of St. Peter, Bertrandus Beriquus porterius of the monastery, and Petrus Ganotus the sacristan.
The catalogue is arranged along lines common to medieval monastic inventories. After an introduction giving the date 20 April 1374 and naming the dignitaries present, the list of the codices follows, each entry beginning item. It seems probable that the notary or someone designated by him read off the names of the codices as they were presented to him and were in turn recorded by a scribe, probably a monk. The scribe was not himself certain of the works being read to him. He spelled Isidor two ways,Isidorius and Ysidor; Alcuin is rendered Albinus and Alcoynus. Greek and foreign names are mangled. He divided the proper name Bonaventura bona ventura, and the biblical book Deuteronomy de uteronimi. Even the words library and librarian are not spared, almarium and almararius. The reading of the titles might also explain the inconsistencies in the use of "c" and "t." The use of the phrases quedam alia and multa alia approximately twenty-five times indicates that there was no attempt to be complete in the listings. Except for the liturgical texts, incipits and explicits were not recorded. Probably the titles were given in the order they were found either on the tables or presses or in whatever else they might have been housed in the library and church. Although biblical works (texts and commentaries) and the works of Augustine begin the sequence, it is unlikely that the library was arranged in a strict chronological or alphabetical order.
There were, however, certain broad lines of order. The catalogue has five basic subdivisions: infra librariam (which includes most of the entries), libri iuris, de libris ecclesie,in armario claustri and in ecclesia. From these divisions it is obvious, that the monastery's books were not relegated to one room. (There is no mention of private breviaries.) The first designation shows that there was a special room devoted to the housing of the manuscripts, where the majority of the codices were kept and consulted. No information is provided concerning decorations.
The second division, libri iuris, although singled out as a separate section, does not seem to have been separated geographically from the other codices in the library, but was probably kept on separate tables. The fact that the law books received special designation indicates the importance of law and legal studies in the intellectual life of St. Victor in the late Middle Ages. We know of a letter dating from the late eleventh century49 from a monk of St. Victor requesting permission of his abbot to attend the University of Bologna to study law. The law school at the University of Montpellier also attracted Victorines. When Urban V, the monastery's former abbot, entered Marseilles, the monks urged upon the pope their need for legal training. Urban subsequently founded the law school of St. Benoît et St. Germain with special provisions for St. Victor monks. In their interest in the law, the monks were following the fashion in ecclesiastical learning of their day. The number of law books is one of the marked differences from the earlier catalogues. The extensiveness of St. Victor's holdings and the resulting litigations no doubt acted as a stimulus to legal expertise. The interest in law included both canon and civil.
The third section, de libris ecciesie, is problematic. There are only twenty-two entries, most of which are liturgical works (including a codex containing diversi cantus antiqui). Were these books part of the library collection, as in the case of law books, or were they separate from the general collection? Two references in the text lead to the conclusion that these books did not belong to the library, although they must have been there at the time the catalogue was assembled. The first entry reads Primo breviarium notatum in duobus voluminibus et est cappelle sancti Anthonii; in the following section, another liturgical piece is from the chapel of St. Anthony. It would seem from this that some books were brought from this chapel and deposited in the library and the church. Another entry is part of a breviary which est capitulo inchaenato. Thecapitulum is a place where monks and canons meet and could be one of several rooms. Perhaps the chapel of St. Anthony was the normal capitulum for the monks, or all the books relating to the capitulum were kept together. This is conjectural.
The fourth section, in armario claustri, probably refers to a cupboard either in the refectory or near the monks' cells. In it were kept those religious works which were most proper to the monastic life: spiritual tracts to be read during meals, the rule of St. Benedict, Cassian's monastic writings, Smargadus' dyadema monarchorum, Prosper of Aquitaine's de vita activa et contemplativa, some hagiographical works, pieces on the cloistered life, the medicinal work Macer and a herbal, and, finally, a few biblical and legal reference works. In short, these codices refer directly to the life of the monks, to the care of the monks (spiritual and temporal), or to reference works commonly consulted.
The last section includes those liturgical manuscripts specifically related to divine worship. They were kept in the church of the monastery for use at various times throughout the year. As a reform center, the liturgy developed by St. Victor had broad influence. Those houses which were apparented to St. Victor took part in its liturgical tradition. In like manner, St. Victor shows close liturgical connection with the Cathedral Church of Marseille.50 Further, St. Victor and Cluny had liturgical relations. The sacristan was responsible for these codices.
How many works by various authors were at the disposal of a St. Victor monk? It is impossible to give a definite number. The codices are not recorded in their entirety. Don Philibert Schmitz51 has noted for an earlier period that to arrive at a more or less correct accounting of the number of individual works at a monastery it is necessary to multiply the number of codices by two or three. In this catalogue are listed 460 items, individual codices containing one or more tracts (some works were in more than one volume and this would bring the number of individual codices to about 480). Many codices are indicated as containing more than the names given through the use of the formulae quedam alia and multa alia. Using Dom Schmitz' figures, the 460 figure multiplied two or three times would provide between 900 and 1300 works for the monks to consult. That number cannot be verified. Over 600 works are mentioned by name; certainly 700 would not be an exaggeration.
How does St. Victor's library compare with libraries of other monasteries at the time? Numbers in themselves are not certain and not always useful. However, some figures might prove helpful. Père de Ghellinck gives the following examples: Klosterneubourg 366 volumes, Admont 391, Heiligenkreuz 308, Durham 388, and Lanthony 486, all in the fourteenth century.52 Geneviève Nortier, in her study of Northern French houses, cites the following for the fourteenth century: Bec 700 manuscripts, Jumiège 800, St. Ouen 700.53 None of these monastic houses could equal the holdings of the great medieval universities or of the popes which would have had a collection of around 2000 manuscripts. St. Victor's total (depending upon the means used for calculation) is of comparable size with that of other monastic libraries of its day, and no doubt larger than most.
As would be expected from a group of monks, the Bible and theology dominate their library. Some sixty codices contain various sections of the Bible, many of which are glossed with some complete testaments and at least one complete Bible. Approximately forty-five other codices include expositions on one or more sections of the Bible by patristic and later writers. After the Bible, Augustine is named most frequently, a common occurrence in monastic libraries. The African bishop is designated approximately thirty times. Pope Gregory the Great follows Augustine among the church fathers in frequency. Jerome, Ambrose, Origin, Prudentius, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and, of course, John Cassian are included. Doubles of some works are to be found. There was a tendency on the part of monastic libraries to be conservative, and they remained closely attached to patristic writers despite the influence of scholasticism.54
The classics of the medieval world are not slighted: Isidor of Seville, the Venerable Bede, Alcuin, Paulus Orosius. Other medieval writers are: Pastachius, Amalrius of Metz, Hugh of St. Victor, Innocent III, St. Bernard, Robert Grosseteste, Odo of Cluny, Ives of Chartres, Alanus of Lilie, and less well-known authors such as Johannes Bellatis, John of Abbavilla, William of Assura, and Hugh of St. James. Summae are often given without any indication of author. Hagiography enjoyed a definite popularity. There is even an extract from the Talmud quodam libro ludeorum, perhaps used for apologetical purposes.
Some of the Greek fathers are also represented, all in Latin translation: Cyril, Athenasius, John Chrysostom and Gregory of Nazianus. The Latin classical authors were relatively popular, and some commonly used as school texts were Cato, Aristotle, Plato, Arator, and Seneca (the most popular of the ancients at St. Victor). Although Cicero appears in the other catalogues, he is not mentioned in this inventory: perhaps the great stylist was relegated to an alium. There are a few medical and scientific tracts, including a piece on the astrolobe. History found a place in writings as different as Josephus and an unspecified chronicle. The puzzling liber monasterii sancti Victoris massilia might refer to a collection of laws and is underlined in black ink in the manuscript, as is the work on the astrolobe. Vernacular is represented only by the entry Regula sancti Benedicti in Romancio.
The law books include collections of the decretals of various popes and Gratian, and glosses and summae of various commentators, especially Gaufrido, Tancred, William of Mandagoto, Johannes Andreae, Hostiensis and William Durandus. Civil law stands alongside canon law. Besides various sections of Justinian's code, there are copies of liber feuclorum, lex Gothorum, and a formularium notarium. Approximately a hundred entries are devoted to the various legal texts. Included is an entry relating to local conciliar decrees, acta sinodalia.
Although the scribe or reader usually limited himself to mere titles or the incipits and explicits in the case of the liturgical books in ecclesia, he does occasionally provide his opinion of a codex. He calls one glossed piece on the prophets pulcre, undoubtedly illustrated. Another is cited as quasi de nouo, while the scribe speaks of decreta antiqua and leges Romane antique. Size attracts him when he describes two breviaries: unum est magnum et aliud parvum. One breviary combines both age and unique size: breviarium oblongum notatum et antiquissimum. Occasionally a critical comment appears. Referring to a collection of thirty-six sermons, he notes that aliqua suntparva et pauci valons; he then adds that they are all antiqua. A liber scintillarum is referred to as ubi sunt multa bona dicta. When certain works are noted bene glosatus he probably means that there were many marginal notes, as opposed to his comment bene glosatus et bonus, implying a judgment as to the value of the gloss. However, the most intriguing comment is Epistole et evangelia in uno volumine de lettera antiqua. What did the writer mean when he wrote lettera antiqua? Probably that it was in Carolingian script, but other suppositions are at least possible, perhaps half-uncial.
The summary of the 1374 catalogue allows us to make a few general statements on the library of St. Victor at the close of the Middle Ages. First, the library commanded impressive resources. The number of codices, while not overwhelming, can be compared favorably with those of other monastic houses. Secondly, the monks had some diversity in reading matter. The library was well stocked in essential biblical and theological works from various periods, and it possessed representatives from the classical world. The law books comprised over one-fifth of the entire collection. The intellectual life within the walls of St. Victor was potentially strong. Third, the monks had allocated a special room for the books. What the libraria might have contained as furnishings is not mentioned, although it was probably a reading room as well as a depository. Finally, St. Victor did not follow closely the latest currents in theological thought outside law. Although Bonaventure, Peter the Lombard, Grosseteste, and Aquinas are included, scholastic writers are few. The following century did see their number increase, but generally the Victorines were conservative as readers.
As a final consideration, how did a fourteenth century catalogue of an ancient French monastery find its way to Rochester? The inventory, as well as a deed from St. Victor, was discovered in the university library by the late Donald B. Gilchrist, university librarian, during the relocation of the campus in the 1920s. And though Edgar B. Graves of Hamilton College spent much time and effort in an attempt to solve this puzzle, his diligent researches proved fruitless.55 The catalogue was consulted by the French legal scholar Cujas in 1576, and subsequent references would indicate it remained there throughout the sixteenth century and did not suffer the fate of the library it records.56 If this is true, then the manuscript likely remained at Marseille through the secularization of the monastery only to suffer displacement during the French Revolution. But its fortunes until the 1920s are unknown.
Many scholars and libraries have aided the authors in their researches. First, to Robert Volz and the staff of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Departments of the University of Rochester the authors are grateful for aid and kindness. Also in the United States: James John (Cornell University), Alfred J. Marion (University of Pennsylvania), Edgar Graves (Hamilton College); in Toronto: Leonard Boyle, OP., Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies; in Marseilles: Madeleine Villard (Archives départementales des Bouches-du-Rhône), Mlle F. Cotton (Bibliothèque Municipale de Marseille), Daniel Drocourt, Arnaud Ramière de Fontanier (Archives de la ville de Marseille); in Paris: Denise Bloch (Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris), Henri Wytenhove (Musées des Beaux-Arts); in Cologne: Odilo Engles, Theodor Schieffer, Jürgen Stohlmann (University of Cologne); and the staffs of the Archives des Bouches-du-Rhône, the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris, the Vatican, and the University of Cologne.
- Joseph de Ghellinck, S. J., "En marge des Catalogues des Bibliothèques médiévales." Miscellanea Francesco Ehrle, v. V, Studi e Testi 41, (Roma; Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1924), p. 332.
- For example: Gustavus Becker, Catalogi Bibliothecarum Antiqui (Bonn: Cohen et Filium, 1885); Theodor Gottlieb, Über Mittelalterliche Bibliotheken (Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz 1890) Die Mittelalterlichen Bibliothekskataloge Deutschlands, Oesterreichs und der Schweiz, (Vienna-Munich, 1915-); Léopold Delisle, Le Cabinet des Manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Nationale, 3 vols., (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1868-81); M. Manitius, "Ungedruckte Bibliothekskataloge," in Zentralblatt für Bibliothekswesen, XX, 1903, pp. 3-19, 89-115, 161-172.
- In general, see Gottlieb, op. cit.; James Westfall Thompson, The Medieval Library (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939), pp. 30-53; Joseph de Ghellinck, S. J., "Les Bibliothèques Médiévales," in Nouvelle Revue Théologique, LXV, 1, (1938), pp. 36-55, and Dom David Knowles, The Religious Orders in England, Vol. II (Cambridge University Press, 1955), pp. 331-53.
- Heinrich Schreiber, "Quellen und Beobachtungen zur Mittelalterlichen Katalogisierungspraxis besonders in Deutschen Katausen," in Zentralblatt für Bibliothekswesen, XLIV (1927), p. 3.
- J. A. B. Mortreuil, L'Ancienne Bibliothèque de l'Abbaye Saint Victor (Marseille: Marius Olive, 1854) ; pp. 3-6, and Jean Chelini, "La Bibliothèque de Saint-Victor au Moyen Age," in Provence Historique, XVI (1966), pp. 520-21.
- James Stuart Beddie, "Libraries in the Twelfth Century : Their Catalogues and Contents," in Anniversary Essays in Medieval History by Students of Charles Homer Haskins (New York : Houghton Mifflin Co., 1919) ; p. 4, notes the exceptional nature of two or more catalogues even in the thirteenth century.
- For general bibliography, see Dom L. H. Cottineau, (Répertoire Topo-Bibliographique des Abbeyes et Prieurés (Mâcon: Protat Frères, 1939), cols. 1774-1778; Jean-Rémy Palanque, ed., Le Diocèse de Marseille (Paris : Letouzey et Aîné, 1967), and the abridged history of St. Victor published by the Centre Régional de Documentation Pédagogique d'Aix-Marseille, Marseille, 1966, entitled Saint-Victor. See also the articles in Provence Historique, XVI (1966). For documentary material see M. Guérard, Cartulaires de l'Abbaye Saint-Victor de Marseille, 2 vols., in the Collection de Documents inédits sur l'histoire de France, Ière Série, (Paris: Lahure, 1857). For archival material see Les Fonds des Archives Départementales des Bouches-du-Rhône, vol. 1, part 2 (séries anciennes "G" et "H"), Dépôt Principal de Marseille, ed. André et Madelaine Villard (Marseille: Archives des Bouches-du-Rhône, 1970). Much work has been done on the archaeology of the monastery; see the late Fernand Benoît's L'Abbaye de Saint-Victor et l'Eglise de la Major à Marseille (Petites Monographies des Grands Edifices de la France) 2nd ed. (Paris: Lauren, 1966), and the recent catalogue Saint-Victor de Marseille Site et Monument, Archives de la Ville de Marseille, Musée du Vieux Marseille (Maison Diamantée, Basilique St. Victor, 1973).
- On Cassian, see Owen Chadwick, John Cassian: A Study in Primitive Monasticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1950); 2nd ed., revised (1968), Palanque, op. cit., pp. 22-25; H. I. Marrou, "Jean Cassien à Marseille," in Revue du Moyen Age Latin, I, 1, (1945), pp. 5-26, and idem, "Le Fondateur de Saint-Victor de Marseille: Jean Cassien," in Provence Historique, XVI (1966), pp. 297-308.
- For editions, see Migne, Patrologia Latina, vols, 49-50, and Chadwick, John Cassian 2, p. 163.
- Chadwick, John Cassian 1, p. 199, and Palanque, op. cit. pp. 25-8; for Gennadius' De Vins Illustribus see the edition by E. C. Richardson in Texte und Untersuchungen, XIV, (Leipzig, 1896).
- Palanque, op. cit., pp. 31-33.
- For a general history of the area, see Archibald R. Lewis, The Development of Southern French and Catalan Society, 718-1050. (Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1965), esp. ch. VIII.
- See the disagreement between L. H. Labande, "L'Eglise de Marseille et l'Abbaye de Saint-Victor à l'époque carolingienne," in Mélanges d'Histoire du Moyen Age. . . à Ferdinand Lot (Paris: Champion, 1925), pp. 307-329, and E. H. Durat, "L'Eglise de Marseille et l'Abbaye de Saint-Victor à l'époque carolingienne (Réponse provisoire à M. L. H. Labande)," in Mémoires de l'Institut historique de Provence, IV, 1927, pp. 87-93; idem, "Un évêque inconnu du Xe siècle à Marseille," in Revue d'histoire de l'Eglise de France, XXVII (1941), pp. 165-179, and Palanque, op. cit., pp. 34-6.
- P. A. Amargier, O. P., "966 ou 977. La date d'un millénaire," in Provence Historique, XVI (1966), pp. 309-321.
- For example, see Guérard, op. cit., I, n. 430 (pp. 436-37); 405 (pp. 404-9), and Lewis, op. cit., p. 355, for further references.
- See P. A. Amargier, O. P. "Ordo Victorinus Massiliensis," in Revue Mabillon, LXVIII (1971), p. 107.
- See H. E. J. Cowdrey, The Cluniacs and the Gregorian Reform (Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1970), p. xxi.
- See Paul Schmid, "Die Enstehung des Marseiller Kirchenstaats," in Archiv für Urkundenforschung, X, 2, p. 177.
- Ibid., also Jean-François Lemarignier, "Political and Monastic Structures in France at the end of the Tenth and Beginning of the Eleventh Century," translated inLordship and Community in Medieval Europe: Selected Readings, ed F. L. Cheyette (New York, N.Y. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964), pp. 100-127.
- See Schmid, op. cit., and Jean-Claude Devos, "L'Abbaye Saint-Victor de Marseille et la réforme grégorienne," in Mélanges Raoul Busquet, Provence Historique, XV (1965), pp. 32-40; idem, "La Formation du Temporal et la Congrégation de l'Abbaye Saint-Victor de Marseille," in Positions des Thèses, Ecole Nationale des Chartes, (Paris : Ecole des Chartes, 1957), pp. 45-7, and Abbé Arnaud-d'Agnel, "Les Possessions de l'Abbaye de Saint-Victor de Marseille en Rouergue," inAnnales du Midi, XVI (1904), pp. 499-467; idem, "Les Possessions de l'Abbaye de Saint-Victor de Marseille dans le sud-ouest de la France," in Revue Mabillon, 11(1906), pp. 177-184, and Alberto Boscolo, L'Abbazia di San Vittore, Pisa e la Sardegna (Padua, 1958).
- Schmid; Anscari M. Mundó, "Monastic Movements in the East Pyrennees," trans. in Noreen Hunt, Cluniac Monasticism in the Central Middle Ages (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1971), pp. 111-122, and Ernest Werner, Die gesellschaftlichen Grundlagen der Klosterreform im 11. Jahrhundert (Berlin: Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, 1953), ch. V, pp. 88-102. For the development of monastic tendencies in this period see Norman F. Cantor, "The Crisis of Western Monasticism, 1050-1130," in The American Historical Review, LXVI, 1, (1960), pp. 47-67.
- Don Léon Guilloreau, "Les Statuts de Réformation de Mainier et de Raymond Lordet, Abbés de Saint-Victor de Marseille," in Revue Mabillon, VI (1910), p. 66.
- The Chronicle of St. Victor contains the following entry: "Pateat cunctis quod anno dominice incarnationis MCLXXXV, mense primo, dominus Fulco, Antipolitanus episcopus, monasterium Massiliense restauravit, cum de manibus ludeorum vallem Massilie liberavit." The editor notes the payment was for 40,800 sous. J. H. Albanès, "Le Chronique de Saint-Victor de Marseille," in Mélanges d'Archéologie et d'Histoire, de l'Ecole française de Rome. VI (1886), p. 319.
- Guilloreau, Les Statuts, pp. 66-77, Mortreuil, op. cit., pp. 10-11, and Guérard, op. cit., II, 856 (pp. 249-51), and 898 (pp. 286-7).
- Guilloreau, Les Statuts, pp. 77-91.
- Guilloreau, "Chapitres Généraux et Statuts de Guillaume de Sabran, Abbé de Saint-Victor de Marseille (1294-1312)," in Revue Mabillon, VI (1910-11), pp. 300328.
- See Jean-Claude Devos, "L'Abbaye de Saint-Victor au temps d'Urbain V," in Provence Historique, XVI (1966), pp. 453-462; M. Chaillon, La Vieille Eglise de Saint-Victor de Marseille et le Pape Urbain V., (Marseille: Tacussel, 1929); Louis Stouff, "Une création d'Urbain V: Le Studium papal de Trets 1364-1365," in Provence Historique, XVI (1966), pp. 528-539; M. Chaillon, Régistre de Comptes pour le Collège Papal Saint Benoît et Germain à Montpellier 1368-1370, (Paris: Picard et Fils, 1916).
- See the article by André Bouyala d'Arnaud, "Grégoire XI le Dernier Pape d'Avignon a l'Abbaye de Saint-Victor," in Saint-Victor (Centre Régional de Documentation Pédagogique) who cites Pierre Ronzy, Le Voyage de Grégoire XI ramenant la papauté d'Avignon à Rome (1376-1377), (Florence: Publications de l'Institut Français de Florence, 1952).
- Palanque, op. cit., p. 63.
- Ibid., pp. 73-78.
- Dom Philibert Schmitz, Histoire de l'Ordre de Saint Benoît, (Liège: Les Editions de Matredsous, III (1948), pp. 3-11.
- See Anscari Mundó, " 'Biblioteca' Bible et Lecture du Carême d'après Saint Benoît" in Revue Bénédictine LX, 1950, pp. 65-92, and Karl Christ, "In Caput Quadragesime," in Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswissenschaft, LX (1943), pp. 33-49.
- Rudolf Beer, "Die Handschriften des Klosters Santa Maria de Ripoll," in Sitzungsberichte der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, Philosophische-Historische Klasse, 155/158, 1907/8.
- This is Vatican library, Reg. lat. 123. See Joseph-Hyacinth Albanès, "La Chronique de Saint-Victor de Marseille," pp. 64-90, 287-326, 454-468 ; Anselm M. Albareda, "Els Manuscrits de la biblioteca vaticana Reg. lat. 123, Vat. lat. 5730 i el scriptorium de Santa Maria de Ripoll," in Catalonia Monastica (Monserrat, 1927), pp. 23-96.
- See Joseph Lemarié, "Influence lyonnaise sur l'antiphonaise de l'office de Saint-Victor de Marseille," in Revue Bénédictine, LXXVIII, pp. 138-145, and idem, LeBréviaire de Ripoll, in Scripta et Documenta, 14 (Abadia de Monserrat, 1965), pp.36-39, 68-75.
- Guérard, op. cit., I, n. 430, pp. 436-437; n. 405, pp. 404-407; II, n. 668, p. 14.
- Guérard, II, n. 856, pp. 249-251; Mortreuil, op. cit., p. 10, and Chelini, op. cit., pp. 521-2.
- Guérard, op. cit., II, n. 898, pp. 286-7, and Guilloreau, Les Statuts, pp. 76-77.
- Mortreuil, op. cit., pp. 54-63; the manuscript was published earlier by L. de Mas-Lastrie in J. J. Champollion-Fragec, Documents historiques inédits, I (Paris, 1841), pp. 657-665; see also Gottlieb, p. 120.
- Archives des Bouches-du-Rhône, 1 H 133: 654.
- Ibid., 1 H 97: 470.
- Guilloreau, Chapitres Généraux, pp. 316-320.
- . Ibid., pp. 322-326.
- Mortreuil, op. cit., p. 24, fn. 52, and Archives des Bouches-du-Rhône 1H 342: 173.
- . See Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des Chartes, CXXVII (1969), p. 438, fri. 2, and Ibid. CXXX (1972), p. 510. The New York Historical Society was unable to supply information as to the history of the two manuscripts.
- See Mortreuil, op. cit., and Augustin Fabre, Observations sur la dissertation de M. Mortreuil intitulée l'ancienne bibliothèque de Saint-Victor (Marseille: Librairie Provençale, 1854); Mortreuil, Réponse aux observations de M. Augustin Fabre sur l'ancienne bibliothèque de Saint-Victor (Marseille: Librairie Provençale, 1854), and Fabre, Nouvelles observations sur l'ancienne bibliothèque de l'Abbaye St-Victor (Marseille: Librairie Provençale, 1854).
- Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Reg. Aven., 156, Urbanus V, An. II, Pt. I, t. VIII.
- Archives des Bouches-du-Rhône, 1 H 1117 f.
- Ibid., 1 H 45: 213, and Mortreuil, L'Ancienne Bibliothèque. . . p. 20.
- Dom Joseph Lemarié, Le Bréviaire de Ripoll; Cowdrey, op. cit., p. 172, and V. Saxer, "Les Calendriers liturgiques des Saint-Victor et le sanctoral médiéval de l'abbaye," in Provence Historique, XVI (1966), pp. 489-91.
- Schmitz, op. cit., II, p. 76.
- Ghellinck, "Les Bibliothèques Médiévales," p. 52.
- Geneviève Nortier, Les Bibliothèques Médiévales des Abbayes Bénédictines de Normandie. Bibliothèque d'Histoire et d'Archéologie Chrétiennes, 9 (Paris: P.Lethielleux, 1971), p. 4.
- Ghellinck, "Les Bibliothèques Médiévales," p. 45.
- Seymour de Ricci and W. J. Wilson, Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, vol. II (New York, 1940), p. 1868.
- Mortreuil, L' Ancienne Bibliothèque, pp. 12-13, 26-31.
- The transcription of the Inventory of the Library of S. Victor de Marseille