Lot 82
  • 82

Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job in French translation, decorated manuscript on vellum [Belgium (Chimay), January 1388]

10,000 - 15,000 GBP
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  • Vellum
184 leaves (including 2 original endleaves at back), 180mm. by 125mm., complete, collation: i-xxiii8, contemporary foliation in red, single column, 29-35 lines in brown or black ink in a gothic bookhand, capitals touched in red, 2-line initials in red (some with penwork to contrast, see fols.78v and 105v), crude early sketches of people on last endleaves, some small stains, trimmed at edges, else outstanding condition, red-tooled leather doublures within elaborately gilt-tooled frames, nineteenth-century French gilt-tooled blue calf



1. Finished in Chimay in January 1388: colophon on fol.182r, "fut escrit ou bos de Chimay l'an mccclxxxviii ou mois de ienvier".

2. Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872); his MS.3534; acquired from Jean Baptiste Castieux, a bookdealer in Lille; to the Robinsons along with the residue of the Phillipps collection in 1946.

3. Estelle Doheny (1875-1958); her MS.54 (De Ricci, Census, p.13, no.54); bought privately from the Robinsons in 1949; given by her to the Doheny Library, St. John's Seminary, Camarillo, California; their sale, Christie's, 2 December 1987, lot 153, to Bernard Rosenthal.

4. Bergendal MS.91; bought by Joseph Pope from Rosenthal in August 1988: Bergendal catalogue no.91; Stoneman, 'Guide', pp.200-01.

Catalogue Note


The text is apparently unique. It is a French translation of the prologue and first five books of Gregory the Great's Moralia in Job, a standard theological textbook of the Middle Ages. There does not seem to have been a monastic community at Chimay in the fourteenth century, and the scribe was probably a member of the secular canons there (as was the chronicler Jean Froissart in 1384). No other extant manuscript of the text in French has been traced, other than BnF ms.24764, a twelfth-century copy with a few small sections in French. One was, however, recorded in 1373 in the library of Charles V of France (1338-80) (Delisle, Recherches sur la Librairie de Charles V, 1907, II:53, no.301, "Les Morales saint Gregoire"), and now apparently lost. The present manuscript may be a copy of that one, perhaps made for a patron from one of the handful of ruling dynasties of Chimay who held power before Jean de Cröy bought the lordship in the early fifteenth century.