Le Livre de Boece de Consolacion, a 15th century French manuscript
This 15th century manuscript (Massey University Library MS.1) contains the anonymous glossed version of Le Livre de Boece de Consolacion, a French translation of the Consolatio Philosophiae of Boethius († c. 525). It is one of sixty-five manuscripts of this text which are now held in libraries and collections between here and Saint Petersburg, with the majority in France.
Acquired by Massey University in 1983, to support the research of Professor Glynnis Cropp, it is a manuscript of very good quality, written on parchment. While not an "illuminated" manuscript is the proper sense, it features delightful and assured penwork in violet ink, and blue and red decorated capitals. Look for the occasional pointing hands in the margin (the medieval equivalent of a highlighter pen?) - these have a whimsical but very human character of their own.
While manuscripts in Europe were originally the products of monks working in the scriptoria of monasteries, by the 15th century production had largely passed into secular hands, and traditional parchment was increasingly being replaced by paper. Indeed, our manuscript was produced at the same time as the first printing presses were beginning to change forever the way that books - and knowledge - were produced and disseminated.
The translation is preceded by the Prologue of Jean de Meun, whose prose translation of the Consolatio Philosophiae, Li Livres de Confort, was completed in around 1300. Jean de Meun is mostly known nowadays for the medieval classic "The Romance of the Rose" (Roman de la Rose).
The remarkable binding of this manuscript is worth a comment. Believed to be later than the manuscript itself, it is of vellum which has evidently been traumatised at some time in its past by exposure to damp, and even perhaps to heat. The result is a volume that looks even more than its 500 or 600 years of age!
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Massey University Library (28th Nov 2016). Le Livre de Boece de Consolacion, a 15th century French manuscript. In Website Massey University Library. Retrieved 15th Dec 2017 19:59, from http://tamiro.massey.ac.nz/nodes/view/693