Anglo-Norman Bible

  • S. XII1; parchment; mm 320 × 215; ff. I, 329, I’
  • Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, lat. 11929

An Anglo-Norman bible that came to Friuli around the half of the fourteenth century and was given to the chapter of Udine by Giovanni Gubertini, patriarchal chancellor.

The non-common textual quality of this Bible had to make of it an appreciated and sought-after exemplar, constantly polished on the philological profile. Were there not an owner’s notice, the codex passage through Friuli would be devoid of documentary evidences and its whole history should have to be imagined as occurring only north of the Alps. As a matter of fact, after its production not later than in the first half of the twelfth century in a well-equipped Anglo-Norman scribal centre (likelier Norman than Insular on the basis of the graphical evidences), the volume got into the National Library of Paris within the collection of the noble Henri du Cambout, duke of Coilin, peer of France and archbishop of Metz, which was given to St. Germain de Près in 1732. Thanks to f. 328v (the fore-last folium) of the manuscript showing a crowd of scattered and extravagant notes, it is possible to attempt to trace back the remote provenance of the volume. The oldest note, datable around the half of the twelfth century, refers to the city of Ardea, in the current Pas de Calais, which validates the hypothesis that the monastery owning this codex to is to be sought in that area of northern France. A further chronological reference to the pontificate of the French Simon de Brion, elected pope at Viterbo in 1281 and died in Perugia (where he is buried) in 1285, apparently imprints an abrupt turning towards central Italy in the remote history of the codex. A thirteenth-century owner’s notice (on f. 328v, too) witnesses the codex presence in the Friulian area: «Liber hic est capituli Utinensis ex dono per ser olim Iohannem de Gumbertinis, patriarchalis aule notarium et scribam». The truthfulness of this notice, which states the Chapter of Udine’s ownership of the Bible following to the donation thereto by the patriarchal chancellor Giovanni Gubertini, is confirmed by the other contemporary note that can be read on f. 329v: «Liber hic biblie est Iohannis de Gumbertinis | patriarchalis aule notarii atque scribe». What ways brought the codex, in the Modern Age, back to northern France, it is impossible to assess in the current state of knowledge.

f. 325v, initial of the Ecclesiastes

f. 325v, initial of the Ecclesiastes

f. 329v, ownership’s notice of the Chapter of Udine

f. 329v, ownership’s notice of the Chapter of Udine

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