Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fonds français 1386

Chronique universelle

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General information

5 frontend papers
4 backend papers
LanguageLanguage object (48)
Approx. date?1290 to 1330
Date notesBnF online catalogue, 'Fin du XIIIe-début du XIVe siècle' Perriccioli Saggesse 1979, 108, 'del secondo quarto del XIV secolo' Palermi 2004, 237, 'all'inizio del [XIV] secolo' Zinelli 2012, 165, 'del primo terzo del Trecento'
Place(s) of productionItaly, Southern Italy
The place of production is disputed: According to Panofsky-Saxl (1933, 262) the MS is derived from BnF 9685 and Cod. Vat. Lat. 5995 'executed in southern Italy about 1300' and bears attributes of Frederician / Manfredian production to the extent that it "so emphatically reverts to pre-Gothic tendencies that we feel as if it echoed the style of the twelfth-century Petrus de Ebulo manuscript preserved at Bern, or even of the famous tapestries of Bayeux'. The decoration is possibly related to two 'Regimen Sanitatis' manuscripts from Naples, 1325-1350 (Perriccioli Saggese 1979, 108-109). This MS has also been linked to the Neapolitan atelier active c. 1300 (Degenhart-Scmitt 1980, 187-191) Southern Italian origination suggested by the inclusion of flyleaves taken from a Beneventan MS and the fact that the MS appears in the inventory of the library of the Aragonese kings of Naples (Avril & Gousset 1984, 166-8). Italian origin is plausible due to directions for the painter in Italian and the presence of miniatures mainly in the lower margins (Oltrogge 1989, 38). For Luca Barbieri the manuscript is 'quasi certamente di provenienza napoletana' (Barbieri 2005, 17). Zinelli identifies northern Italian linguistic traits (from Lombardy/Veneto area) attributable to the scribe, with some Occitan forms attributable to the source (Zinelli 2012, 165) 'Alcuni fogli non portati a termine hanno reso evidente che le scene di battaglia venivano eseguite con una sorta di stereotipi e che i campi così realizzati venivano consegnati da lettere o cifre corrispondenti ciascuna ad un colore, con lo scopo evidente di ottimizzare un lavoro quasi in serie, circostanza che ben si accorderebbe con la considerevole diffusione che il romanzo ebbe a Napoli [...] le osservazioni di Fabio Zinelli circa la presenza di italianismi di area veneta [...] spingono a chiedersi se esso sia stata realizzato a Napoli o se vi sia stato portato' (Perricciuoli Saggese 2012, 351).
First words of second recto folio[f. 2ra] Li Rois Caudinus qui p(re)miers
First words of last recto folio[f. 160ra] fendoient aidiex qant fois
Incipit[f. 1ra] ??...?? thebes riches et puissans. Laius fu / apelle. il avoit feme de sallin(na)ge
Explicit[f. 160vb] Et tantost qil ensot la / nouvelle il se mist en mer a- / uec tout sa navie sierra ta(n)t / auoilles estandues qil vint / en galaence qi ore est apellee / galice aumont oli pretu n- / est d(e) ? grandece / dautece si alerent ca (et) la (con)


Material:Material object (4)
Condition:The MS is in good condition but is fragmentary: the absence of the rubricated heading and chapter numbering for Thebes [f. 2r] indicates that the original start of the manuscript is missing. In addition the first rubricated chapter is numbered 295, and therefore also suggests that folios have been lost. The MS ends abruptly, part-way through Rome II [f. 160v]. The final catch-word indicates that the first words of the missing end folios are '-tree qu(an)t a ??...??e sorent'. Many of the miniatures are incomplete.




Quire structure:Twenty quaternions. Traces of original quire marks can be seen in places; generally the first four recto folios of each quire were numbered with Roman numerals (e.g. see quire 6, ff. 49r, 50r, 51r, 52r). A later hand has added Roman numerals to the final verso folio of each quire. This numbering is not consecutive and appears to be random.
Quire marks:MSQuiremarkDisposition object (55)
MSQuiremarkDisposition object (66)
Catchword disposition:MSCatchwordDisposition object (10)
MSCatchwordDisposition object (21)
MSCatchwordDisposition object (22)

Physical description

General description:Text written in two columns in littera textualis. Miniatures without frames, often incomplete. Multiple artists. Oltrogge 1989, 38.
No. of illustrations:99
General illustration:Illustrations are generally at the bottom of the page. Larger illustrations (which take up almost the whole page) are reserved for Thebes (15v, 19v) and Troy sections (29v, 30r, 40v, 41r). There is evidence of multiple artists and the predominance of green is unusual. Many illustrations are unfinished (directions to the painters in Italians remain). Oltrogge 1989, 38. The large, facing miniatures depicting battle scenes are similar to those also found in Carpentras 1260, Paris BnF 1985 and BL Royal 20 D I (Jung 1996, 535 note). 'La tipologia delle miniature presenti lo apparenterebbe a quegli esemplari di localizzazione discussa tra Napoli ed area ligure-toscana, e ad un altro manoscritto trecentesco, probabilmente di origine veneta, il ms. Wien Österreich National Bibliothek, Cod. 2576' (Palermi 2004, 238).
General decoration:The decorative hierarchy is as follows: 1) New text segments are introduced by a large decorated initial (c. 9-11 lines tall, with the exception of f.25rb which is 17 lines tall) with flourishes, followed by decorated introductory capitals (often with ornamental banding in red/brown/green), with the exception of f. 140ra which has no introductory capitals . The manuscript has fourteen such segments, six of which map on to our text segment divisions (Thebes, Greeks and Amazons, Troy, Rome I, Orient II, Rome II), while eight others provide further segmentation within the Troy, Alexander and Rome II segments. It is striking that 4/8 of these additional segments relate to parts of the text concerned with fathers and fatherhood, as indicated by the accompanying rubricated chapter heading (indicated below). The segmentation of the manuscript, as indicated by the presence of large decorated initials with flourishes, is therefore as follows: f. 1ra, Thebes f. 20rb, Greeks and Amazons f. 24rb, Troy f. 25rb, Troy 2, “qe prians ne fu / mie avec son pere quant troie fu destruite” (N.B. extra large initial) f. 42rb, Troy 3, “que li grezois de i / vindrent apres lagrant stru / cion de Troie” f. 59vb Rome I f. 75ra, Orient II f. 92rb, Orient II 2, “Dou Roi / Phelipe li pere alixandre coment / il vint a pere” f. 96va, Orient II 3, “De Aatanab le Roi de gypte / qi fu peres alixandres si comli p / lusors con tent et dient” f. 122rb, Rome II f. 126va , Rome II 2, “si comence la bataille entre cieus de Cartage et li Romainz” f. 130va – Rome II 3, “Cicom / ence la ouchession de la grant hai / ne de Cartage et de Rome” f. 140ra – Rome II 4, “Coment anibal assembla sa / ?ent por vengier la mort son / pere le ?uage de Cartage” f. 157ra – Rome II 5, “Ensi / comence la bataille des ?aced / momens? encontre les Romains” 2) Rubrication and medium initials (c. 3 lines tall) with flourishes (alternating blue and red), designate the start of new chapters. Chapters are numbered from 295 to 708, representing much shorter textual units than other manuscripts in the tradition (e.g. BnF 9685). MFLCOF segments 6 and 9 (Eneas and Alexander) are introduced using rubrication and a medium initial, c. 3 lines tall (f.43rb and f.92ra), and should therefore be considered in this manuscript as chapters, rather than segments.
Evidence of readership:
Foliations description:

Mise en page

Description 1
Page sampled
LayoutMSLayout object (3)
Page dimensions290x192 (mm)
Justification185x140 (mm)
15mm between columns
RubricationChapters are rubricated.
Writing above top line?False
Sample page layout:


Level of Execution:Execution object (3)
ScriptScript object (2)
Folio rangeFrom 1 to 160
Scribe description:Littera textualis: Oltrogge (1989)


DescriptionFrom BnF online catalogue: library of Aragonese kings of Naples (de Marinis 1969, pl. 38-44)
Datec. 1450
PlacePlace object (92)
DescriptionThe MS is among the possessions confiscated by Charles VIII in 1495. It possibly entered the royal library of Blois (see "bloys" written on the verso of the flyleaf), but it is not to be found in that library's catalogues of 1518 and 1544. It bears a sixteenth-century title on the same folio: 'Diverses histories de gestes depuis Oedippus jusques à Hannibal', which also appears in the inventory of the royal library at the end of the sixteenth century.
PlacePlace object (146)
OwnershipPerson object (82)