Flavius Vegetius, Epitoma rei militaris; Giordano Ruffo di Calabria, Mascalcia equorum (vernacular French translations)

  • S. XIV in.; parchment; mm 320 × 225; three bifolia
  • Udine, State Archives, fragments 158 and 159
  • An unknown version of Vegetius’ work and a fragment of Mascalcia, one of the oldest of this treatise.

This is what is left of a miscellaneous codex on technical subjects in Old French that was dismembered in the sixteenth century: the middle bifolium for Vegetius, two middle bifolia of a same gathering of the marshalling (horse-breeding) treatise, reused as cover-boards of notarial protocols in Varmo in the years 1550-1555. Some sections of Vegetius’ fragment (book IV, chapters 25-41 beginning), are wholly deleted, but thanks to the still readable ones it can be inferred that the copyist was probably an Italian with a good knowledge of French. The fragment is interesting as a witness of another, so-far unknown, version of Vegetius’ text. The book by the noble marshal of the emperor Frederick II of Swabia on the art of horse breeding, written in Latin after the emperor’s death between 1250 and 1256, is one of the first text of a scientific value in medieval Italy, for it is free from any reference to magical practices and superstitions. The witness kept at Udine, nowadays a fragment, similar to Vegetius’ in its sizes, ‘mise en page’, text placement in two columns, but written by a different hand, turns out to be among the oldest manuscripts of this treatise and is a further confirmation of the cultural and linguistic impact French language had in Italy during the late Middle Ages for scientific knowledge, too.

Fragment 158 - f. 2v

Fragment 158 – f. 2v

XIII.8_Udine_ASU_Frammento_159_3v 4r

Leave a Comment