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MS 75: Summa contra Gentiles by Thomas Aquinas, 1 September 1466

Identifier: MS 75


15th century Italian manuscript of Thomas Aquinas's Summa contra Gentiles, also known as Liber de Veritate Catholicae Fidei contra Errores infidelium, among other names, originally written during circa 1259-1265. A theological treatise devoted to explaining core beliefs of the Catholic faith to infidels, and to providing a philosophical defense for arguments against the doctrine. This copy was done in Vigevano, Italy, by the scribe Philippus de Homodeis in 1644.
Book I: starts with Prov. 8:7 as an epitaph on f. 1v, and the following opening words on f. 2r: Multitudinis usus quem in rebus nominandis.
Book II: starts with Ps. 142:5 as an epitaph on f. 38v, and the following opening words on f. 39r: Res cuilibet perfecta cognitio haberi non potest.
Book III: starts with Ps. 94:3 as an epitaph on f. 89v, and the following opening words on f. 90r: Unum esse primum entium totius esse perfectionem.
Book IV: starts with Job 26:14 as an epitaph on f. 169v, and the following opening words on f. 170r: Job xxvi. Intellectus humanus a rebus sensibilibus connaturaliter.
The main text ends with the folowing words on f. 225r: exultabitis usque in sempiternum. Amen. Deo gratias amen.
Colophon: on f. 225r reads: Hoc opus perfectum fuit per me Philippum de Homodeis in loco viglevani die primo mensis septembris mcccclxvi. (This work was finished by me, Philippus de Homodeis, the first day of the month of September of 1466).
Capitula: start on f. 228r with the following words: Quod sit officium sapientis. And end on f. 231v with the following words: De statu mundi post judicium. 96.
Writing A beautifully written manuscript with blue and red or red and purple filigree initials to chapters.
Illumination The manuscript contains four magnificent illuminated title-pages to the books.

List of illuminations:

  1. Fol. 1v. Book I. A rectangular panel, enclosed by a plain band of gold, flanked on either side by a conventional floriated border of blue, lake, green, vermilion, and much burnished gold relieved by gold rayed discs. The panel is divided into five sections, a central panel with three divisions, and on either side of this a narrow panel with the following figures within elongated gold quatrefoils-L., S. Matthew, S. Mark, S. Jerome (as Cardinal), S. Ambrose (mitred, with scourge), S. Bonus [Bonaventura?] (monk with rosary); R., S. John, S. Luke, S. Gregory (as Pope), S. Augustine (with mitre and book), S. Theodora. In the top division of the central panel is a small medallion of the Virgin and Child set in conventional foliage. Below this on a gold ground the initial V in lake, blue, and green, containing the figure of S. Thomas Aquinas in Dominican habit seated at wooden desk with book and inkhorn, the figures of SS. Peter and Paul on either side. Below again, on a rectangular panel of burnished gold, a white scroll with the first words of Book I in gold letters. In the lowest section of all, within a medallion encircled by a laurel wreath, is a lady in red and black robe with black coif, reading (possibly the owner).
  2. Fol. 38v. Book II. Within a rectangular frame, surrounded by rayed discs of burnished gold with touches of conventional foliage, a large historiated initial M, and the first sentence of Book II in gold capitals on square coloured grounds. The initial, which occupies almost half the page, is of blue, lake, and green on a background of plain burnished gold. In the centre of it, against a background of shaded blue sky with gold clouds, the author, again in Dominican habit, sits meditating at square wooden desk, a scroll before him, quill in right hand, ruler in left, a small white dove on his left shoulder. The remainder of the page is filled with the first words of the book in Roman capitals on square grounds of green and lake alternately.
  3. Fol. 89v. Book III. Similar in style. Within the initial D, against a background of blue sky touched with gold clouds, the author kneels, and in the sky above Christ on the Cross appears to him. Across the picture in small white letters is a sentence which, if read in a mirror, would read Bene scripsisti de me Thoma. In the lower half of the page is written in two columns of gold capitals, with blue and purple penwork between the lines, the first words of Book III.
  4. Fol. 169v. Book IV. The initial E is in this case much smaller, occupying only a third of one column. Within it, S. Thomas sits in profile at a combined desk and book cupboard, with book, inkhorn, ruler and quill; a flying angel with scroll inspires him. The book cupboard at the back of the desk is open showing two shelves with red books upon them. The opening sentence of the book is written in two columns: the first in gold capitals on alternate grounds of green and lake, the second in smaller letters on the plain vellum with red and purple filigree ornament.


  • 1 September 1466


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to all. The manuscripts can be consulted in the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Main Library.


1 bound MS volume

Custodial History

The exact provenance of this manuscript is given in the colophon (see Contents), which states that it was finished at Viglevanum on 1 September 1466 by Philippus de Homodeis. Viglevanum, or Viglebanum, is the modern Vigevano in the province of Vercelli, duchy of Milan. There are no later marks.

Previous title

Title given to the manuscript in Catherine Borland’s catalogue: S. Thomae Aquinatis de veritate

Previous reference

Laing 42.


This manuscript is described in page ix of vol. 15 of Thomas Aquinas. Sancti Thomae Aquinatis ... : Opera Omnia, Iussu Impensaque Leonis XIII. Ex Typographia Polyglotta, 1882.

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum.

Binding: Bronze fake morocco (actually sheep skin), lined watered silk, brown silk ties and markers, modern, rebound circa 1826 (date of the paper watermark). The title 'S. THOMAE AQUINATIS DE VERITATE &c. 1466.' is stamped in gold on the outer cover spine upright. This volume has goffered and gilded edges to the text block.

Collation: a8-m8, n4, o8-F8, G8=231.


18.41 cm x 12.38 cm


Secundo folio: multitudinis ususque
Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 231, double columns, 48 lines to a page.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
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