Thursday, July 23, 2009

A missing manuscript

The pool of original sources on Antioch is shallow to say the least. By a very roundabout hunt (for something else) I stumbled upon an 1866 article in a French journal (Bibliothèque de l’École des chartes) in which Leopold Delisle discusses a collection of manuscripts that Lord Ashburnham bought from a Mr Barrois. More sleuthing revealed that this collection was auctioned of in 1897 in a spectacular series of auctions. Amongst the documents that the author mentioned is one that caught my eye, seemingly a manuscript copied by the Benedictines. This document (numbered 6755) had the following subject matter in Delisle's words:
1. Une partie du manuscrit a ete copie en 1267
2. Il y a des extraits de saint Bernard et de saint Augustin
3. Il y a un traite de musique commencant par los mots Quoniam circa artem, et occupant neuf feuillets.
4. Un feuillet renferme au recto la description des environs de Jerusalem (Si quis ab occidentalibus), et au verso une court description d'Antioche (Haec urbs). Le feuillet suivants contient une liste des villes conquises en Espagne par Charlemagne.
5. Le traite de Methodius commence au verso d'un feuillet et occupe les quatre feuillets suivants.
The catalogue of Mr Barrois has an entry relating to the manuscript that says: 11. Descriptio nobilissime urbis Antiochie. Fol 61 verso. - " Haec urbs Antiochia valde et pulcra et honorabilis". So the description is short but might appear to be a pre-12th century description of the city.

Some sleuthing revealed a book called "Catalogue des manuscrits des fonds Libri et Barrois" in Google Books. This is in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. The catalogue describes 180 manuscripts. Concordances on . [264]-273 indicate the correspondence of their numbers in the Bibliothèque Nationale with those in the Fonds Libri and fonds Barrois at Ashburnham Place.
Fol. 61 v°. » Descriptio nobilissime urbis Antiochie "Нес urbs Antiochia valde est pulcra et honorabilis, quia intra muros ejus sunt quatuor montanee maxime et nimis alte... "

Its location would be an interesting addition to the pool of reports on the city. Now to find out where the manuscript went in the library auction so long ago...

2 comments:

Roger Pearse said...

A very interesting post, but I'm not sure I quite understand. If there is a BNF catalogue of the Barrois mss, then presumably the books were bought from the Ashburnham sale by the BNF?

Libanius_Redux said...

I think they were bought by the BNF.. in which case I should be able to find them in the BNF catalogue.. that part of the catalogue has proven impenetrable to me.. I guess I must return periodically to see if improvement has happened..