Aldebald the Scribe of Cluny and the Bible of Abbot William of Dijon

  • Bernard de Vregille
Part of the Readings in European History book series (SEURH)


These few pages, offered as a filial tribute to Father Henri de Lubac, are an attempt to extend the charters and documents of St Bénigne at Dijon by the addition of a short metrical text, which shows how devoted to Holy Scripture the monks of Cluny were around the year 1000.2 They may also serve to draw attention to the remarkable Bible in which these nine couplets are inscribed.


Ninth Century Twelfth Century Traditional Verse Royal Museum Royal Library 


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  1. 1.
    The article Bernard De Vregille here contains considerable modifications of the original article published under the same title, ‘Le copiste Audebaud de Cluny et la Bible l’Abbé Guillaume de Dijon’, in L’Homme devant Dieu, Mélanges offerts au Père Henri de Lubac, 11 (‘Théologie’, 57, Paris, 1964) pp. 7–15. The writer had not actually seen MS. Hamilton 82 and was misled, as were others, as to the character and date of this manuscript. Thanks to the excellent description given in the new catalogue of the Hamilton Collection, published in 1996 (see below, p. 87, n. 2), it has been possible to rectify a serious error. What was originally said about Aldebald, author of the colophon, a later addition to MS. Hamilton 82, remained valid, however, and that was the main point of the article. It is not possible to indicate all the corrections of the original article, but the most important insertions are in italic type.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    G. Chevrier and M. Chaume, Chartes et Documents de Saint-Bénigne de Dijon, 11 (Dijon, 1943).Google Scholar
  3. 1.
    Hans Walther, Carmina medii nevi posterioris latina, 1 (Göttingen, 1959).Google Scholar
  4. 2.
    See, for example, Mgr Bougaud’s preface in his edition of the Chronique de Saint-Bénigne (‘Analecta Divionensia’, Dijon, 1875) p. vi. Sackur followed him: Die Cluniacenser, 11 (Halle, 1894 ) p. 352.Google Scholar
  5. Similarly Bernard Prost, Le trésor de l’Abbaye Sainte-Bénigne de Dijon (Dijon, 1894), p. 301, based on Dom Lanthenas’ reference. The oldest reference known to me concerning this Bible occurs at the beginning of Père Chiffiet’s list of MSS Codices Benigniani, MS. Phillip, 1866, Staatsbibliothek, Berlin, fol. 37v: ‘Biblia descripta tempore Guillelmi Abbatis, adeoque ab annis fere septingentis’.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Catalogue of the Hamilton Collection of Manuscripts (privately printed, London, 1882) pp. 13–14: ‘82. Biblia latina cum Prologis Sancti Hieronimi. Venerable Manuscript on Vellum (191/2 by 14 inches), oak boards covered in russia. Royal folio. saec. x. — This important Manuscript appears to have been written by Aldibaldus the Monk, by command of Guilielmus the Abbot. To the New Testament is prefixed the Canon of Eusebius, written between 5 painted columns, and filling 8 pages. After the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles follow the seven Canonical Epistles, then the Apocalypse, and lastly the Epistles of St Paul. The reading of this venerable codex merits attention, as the conclusion of the Epistle to the Romans differs from the Vulgate.’ This conclusion, of little significance, is as follows: ‘solo sapienti Deo per Dominum nostrum cui...’. A cursory examination shows that the manuscript belongs to the Alcuin group classified by Dom H. Quentin. MS. Hamilton 82 is mentioned by E. Lesne, Histoire de la propriété ecclésiastique, IV 121, n. 4, following Wattenbach. It was also from Wattenbach that the Benedictines of Bouveret reproduced the colophon from Hamilton 82 in Colophons de manuscrits occidentaux des origines au XVIe siècle, 1 (Freiburg, Sw. 1965) no. 36.Google Scholar
  7. 2.
    Die lateinischen Handschriften der Sammlung Hamilton zu Berlin, beschrieben von Helmut Boese (Wiesbaden, 1966) pp. 40–2. On p. xi the author indicates that MS. Hamilton 82, still at Dijon in the eighteenth century, appeared before 1819 in the Alexander Douglas collection (no. 10 in the catalogue of this collection by W. Clarke, Repertorium bibliographicum (London, 1819)). Here I must acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Professor Dr Hans Liilfing, director of the manuscript section in the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek, Berlin, for information he gave me in 1963. I would also like to acknowledge the assistance of Dr Ingeborg Stolzenberg, keeper of manuscripts at the Marburg/Lahn Staatsbibliothek: it was at Marburg (in the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Staatsbibliothek, formerly the Westdeutsche Bibliothek) that MS. Hamilton 82 was found in 1963.Google Scholar
  8. 1.
    Boese, loc. cit. p. 40, dealing with no. 97 in E. K. Rand, Studies in the Script of Tours, 1 (1929) p. 147; 11 (1934) pp. 112–13 and pl. LV. The microfilm of MS. Hamilton 82 made at my request by the library at Marburg has been deposited in the Bibliothèque Municipale, Dijon.Google Scholar
  9. 2.
    ‘Plus omnibus laboravit’. Odilo, Vita beati Maioli (BHL 5180): PL 142, 954. On the activity of William, see especially the Regeste of the Chartes et Documents de Saint-Bénigne, II 243–8. On the relations between Cluny and Dijon at the time of William, see Annales de Bourgogne, XXXI (1959) 6–9.Google Scholar
  10. 1.
    Vita sancti Maioli, preceded by the Epistola domni Syri ad domnum Odilonem: PL 137, 745–78. On the successive stages of this biography, see BHL 5177–8 and the different conclusions of Sackur, op. cit. II 338–40. Sackur’s conclusions are followed by the present writer as the main source. Manitius, geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters, 11 (Munich, 1923) pp. 137–8, has studied the question well and supports Sackur. He recognises the poetic interpolations of the prologues but does not refer to the dedicatory epistle.Google Scholar
  11. 4.
    This detail led Sackur to suppose Aldebald was a monk of Lérins. The reference by Syrus to the ravages of the Saracens explains such a conclusion. Dom J. Hourlier, Saint Odilon de Cluny (Louvain, 1964) pp. 156–7, refers simply to ‘Aldebald of Lérins’.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1971

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  • Bernard de Vregille

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