Skip to main content

MS 195: Composite manuscript containing four texts (Virgil), c 1449

 Item
Identifier: MS 195
Composite manuscript (Virgil) (MS 195)
Composite manuscript (Virgil) (MS 195)

Contents

Contains four texts, in the same hand.
Ff. 1r-18r: The Bucolics by Virgil
Ff. 19r-63v: The Georgics by Virgil
Ff. 65r-267r: The Aeneid by Virgil
Ff. 267v-280r: Aeneidos Liber XIII (or Supplementum), the continuation to Virgil's 'Aeneid' by Maffeo Vegio
These texts are described separately under the folios and titles listed above.
Writing The hand is a very beautiful one, showing Italian influence.
Illumination The ornament consists of small initials, for the most part of burnished gold on blue and lake backgrounds; six-line book initials on gold grounds, floriated in blue, lake, vermilion, and green, with partial or complete floral borders in which acanthus foliage, wild flowers, fruit, birds, and animals are combined with ivy-leaf branch work ; one historiated initial (Aeneid, Book VI), and three large miniatures at the beginning of each of the three poems.

Miniatures to poems

  1. Fol. 1r: The 'Bucolics'. Work of the Flemish artist Willem Vrelant. Half-page miniature enclosed by lines of lake and gold and surrounded by an elaborate floral border, woven into which is a hunting scene. In the foreground of the picture Tityrus plays his pipe under a tree, while Meliboeus, leaning on his staff, his goats following him, converses with him. Behind, across a blue river to the left is Rome, a mediaeval city with towers, and a river flowing through and round it. From its gates come forth Augustus in imperial robes, and his train. Virgil can be seen on the road from Mantua to Rome with a scroll containing 'Eclogue IX' line 28: ‘Mantua vae miserae nimium vicina Cremonae’. Below, Virgil is being introduced to Augustus, probably by Pollio, who is kneeling. To the right is a ruined city, and in the distance Mantua can be seen. In the floriated initial below are two heads, probably those of Tityrus and Meliboeus.
  2. Fols. 18v and 19r: The 'Georgics'. Two three-quarter-page frontispiece. Enclosed within gold lines and surrounded by floral borders: (a) In the foreground a man is tending bees. There are three hives, and the bees are sucking honey from the flowers with which the grass is carpeted. In the centre of the picture Maecenas reclines, and is approached by a dryad. Further back, across a stream, a man and woman with dogs are tending cattle. On a hill in the distance is Pan with his pipes, and in the far distance a city or castle in a lake. (b) In the foreground one man is filling a wine cask, another treads the wine press, others are harvesting the grapes. Behind, one can see ploughing and sowing. Ceres, half-length in cloud, scatters seed; Minerva, also half-length, crowned with olive wreath, presides over a grove of olives. City in the distance.
  3. Fol. 65r: The 'Aeneid'. Work of the Flemish artist Willem Vrelant. Three-quarter-page miniature, with floral border in which is a variant of the Royal Arms of Scotland, and the initials 'P. L.' united by a lover's knot. The miniature depicts the reception of Aeneas by Dido at Carthage. Eight or nine boatloads of soldiers are arriving. Aeneas, having disembarked, is seen kneeling to Dido, who, with her court, is at the gate of the city. Workmen are engaged in building walls of brick by the gateway, and within the city servants are preparing a feast in an open loggia. Musicians are also seen. The first line of the 'Aeneid' is in gold capitals on a blue ground.
  4. Fol. 144r: The 'Aeneid' Book VI: Historiated initial. Aeneas in full armour with the sibyl and a faun with spear.

Dates

  • c 1449

Creator

Language of Materials

Latin

Conditions Governing Access

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

Extent

1 bound MS volume

Custodial History

A colophon on f. 280r reads: Florius unfortunatus calamo parisuis hunc librum exarauit. Deo gratias. Amen.' (Florius Unfortunate noted down this book with reed pen(?) in Paris) reveals the scribal author of this manuscript. 'Florius unfortunatus' appears to be Franciscus Florius of Florence, a skilled scribe who worked in Paris, c. 1447-1480.
The occurrence of the Royal Arms of Scotland in the border of a full illumination on f . 65r shows that MS 195 must have been executed for a Scottish owner, presumably with the initials 'P. L.', which occur frequently in the same border, united by a lover's knot. The Royal Arms have details (unchained supporters) only known from reign of James III (1460-1488). The arms are surrounded by a Brown Pod Collar, a livery collar of Charles VI of France (died 1422) and not known to have been distributed by his heirs.
It is very possible, given the details of the Royal Arms and initials noted above, that this book was commissioned for Eleanor of Scotland ('Principissa Leonora), daughter of King James I and Joan Beaufort, and wife of Sigismund, Archduke of Austria. Eleanor lived from 1433 to 1480, and married Sigismund in 1449. She was both an active literary patron and also a skilled translator/writer herself. The 'P. L.' initials indicate Eleanor, but as the Royal Arms of Scotland are not impaled with the arms of her husband, Sigismund, MS 195 was likely made for the Scottish princess before 1449.
An inscription on a beginning fly-leaf of MS 195 indicates that the volume was presented to the Edinburgh University Library by John Colville in the year of his graduation, 1654: Ego Donatus sum Academia Edinburgena ab Joanne Coluillio Magistery Candidato A.D. 1654.
There are two erased inscriptions on the first flyleaf. The top one is partly decipherable by UV light: Liber Jacobi [F or G?]ordonei

Previous title

Title given to the manuscript in Catherine Borland’s catalogue: Virgil.

Previous reference

D. b. VI. 8.

Bibliography

Finlayson, Charles P. 'Florius Infortunatus'. Scriptorium, XVI2 (1962): pp. 378-380.
Finlayson, C. P. 'Florius Infortunatus, Scribe and Author'. Scriptorium, XIX1 (1965): pp. 108-109.
Hindman, S. 'The case of Simon Mamion: Attributions and Documents’. Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte40 (1977): p. 197.
Coombs, Bryony, ‘Material Diplomacy: A Continental Manuscript Produced for James III, Edinburgh University Library’ The Scottish Historical Review, 98: 2 (October 2019).

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum

Binding: Modern, brown calf, tooled, lettered 'Virgilius Donum Mre. Jo. Colville.'

Collation: a12, b12, c10, d12, e10, f8, g12-s12, t10, v12-z12, B1=282.

Dimensions

22.86 cm X 13.65 cm

General

Secundo folio: Nec spes
Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 282, 25 lines to a page.

Repository Details

Part of the Edinburgh University Library Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379