In the Middle Ages a book was considered by the people an object of great value: not only for its cost, always very expensive though, but also because it was the key to enter the world of education and study which were perceived as an indispensable means of ascent of one’s social rank.
Quite a heterogeneous complex of sources is available when speaking about schools and school texts in the Medieval Friuli, these source being obviously not uniformly distributed along the centuries of the Middle Ages: very scarce for the high medieval period, as we have read in the chapter dedicated to Charlemagne’s age books, they exponentially increase from the thirteenth century on and, above all for the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, they allow to reconstruct quite a faithful historical picture of the school education degree, the curricula, the teachers’ activity, the cultivated cultural interests, the circulating books. It is here dealt with library inventories, contracts and testaments, accounting documentation, copyist subscriptions. But the most significant witnesses to be added to this complex of sources are books themselves. The files herein presented, all about fourteenth- or fifteenth century codices, are only a selection of study texts, for schools or universities, that are either kept, entirely or in fragments, in Friuli or elsewhere, or that however belonged to Friulian students and teachers, or were copied by Friulian who emigrated namely due to study. A speech about school texts cannot underestimate the wide circulation of books occurring in schools, above all from the fourteenth century on, which was a consequence of the commune school teachers’ mobility. That is surely due to the wage conditions offered by the different communes, but it is more generally due to matters of prestige, as well: the teacher’s prestige for the hiring communes, or the prestige of the school itself for teachers who did not hesitate over leaving a minor centre for a major one. Therefore, under such a mobility, Friulian teachers could be found outside their region, typically in Veneto or in Emilia, but also teaching in the university Studia, and ‘foreign’ teachers were to be found in Friuli. With regard to the book production and circulation in the late Middle Ages the other relevant side is the mobility of university students, mostly the ones who attended ars notariae. Even though the access to notary was not necessarily subdued to the completion of juridical studies at a university, since the ars notariae studied at a commune school and a period of apprenticeship by a notary were enough for that, between the thirteenth and fourteenth century, after the failed attempt to establish a Studium generale at Cividale, there still was a large number of Friulian students who preferred to have their education in more prestigious premises. In several cases non-resident students earned their livings carrying out a lucrative activity as copyists. Seven of the ten school texts hereafter described were copied by students.