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Text Divisions

Fol. 1, dedication of the translator: "A tres souverain et tres excellent prince Charles le quint de ce nom, par la grace de Dieu roy de France, Nicolas Oresme, doien de vostre eglise de Rouen, vostre humble chappelain, honeur, obedience et subjeccion." Fol. IV, first instruction to the reader: "L'en peut veoir clerement les matieres tractiées en cest livre." Fol. 2, second instruction to the reader: "Aristote traicte en cest livre appellé Politiques, principalment de policies."[1] Fol. 4, incipit, Book I: "Ci commence le livre de politiques ou quel Aristote traite et determine des manieres de ordener et gouverner les cités et les grans communités et contient .viii. livres particuliers ."[2] explicit, Book VIII, fol. 352. Fol. 352, index of noteworthy subjects of Book VIII: "Notables choses du Livre VIII. En cest VIIIe livre sont aucunes choses assez notables, et ou texte et en la glose, desquelles aucunes sont ici designées." Fol. 352v, glossary of difficult words of Book VIII: "Ci apres s'ensuivent les exposicions d'aucuns moz qui sont en cest VIIIe livre de Politiques." Fol. 353, index of noteworthy subjects of the whole work: "Par les intitulacions des livres et des chapitres l'en peut veior les matieres de tout le livre, et en quelz lieux elles sont traittées; mais avecques ce sont pluseurs choses notables, tant ou texte comme es gloses, desquelles aucunes sont ci apres designées en table selon l'a.b.c." Fol. 367, glossary of difficult words of the whole work: "Ci après commence la table des exposicions des fors moz contenuz en cest livre de Politiques, et s'en va selon l'ordre de l'a.b.c." Fol. 373, incipit, Book I of the Yconomique : "Ci commence le livre appellé Yconomique lequel composa Aristote et ou quel il determine de gouvernement de maison et contient .ii. petiz livre partialz." Fol. 384, explicit, "Ci finist yconomique et ne convient ie faire table des notables de si petit livre."

The text comprises the eight books of the Politica and two books of the pseudo-Aristotelian Oeconomica. B is the second volume of the official library copy of Oresme's translations of these texts commissioned by Charles V and is the counterpart of A described in Appendix I. A unique feature of B is the second instruction to the reader and the glossary of difficult words of Book VIII. These last two elements are characteristic of the first family of manuscripts of Oresme's translations of the texts.[3]


Structure and Layout

Parchment, 396 fols. ii + 394 + 2?: I (1) 3; II (4) 8; III (12) 8; IV (20) 6; V (26) 8; VI (34) 8; VII (42) 8; VIII (50) 8; IX (58) 8; X (66) 8; XI (74) 4; XII (78) 8; XIII (86) 8; XIV (94) 8; XV (102) 8; XVI (110) 8; XVII (118) 8; XVIII (126) 8; XIX (134) 8; XX (142) 8; XXI (150) 8; XXII (158) 8; XXIII (166) 8; XXIV (174) 8; XXV (182) 8; XXVI (190) 8; XXVII (206) 8[4]

315 × 210 (justification, 210 × 145) mm. Text written in 2 columns, 34 lines, ruled in red ink. Glosses in smaller script in separate columns of differing sizes surrounding text on 4 sides. Prefatory matter, chapter headings, glossaries of difficult words, and indexes of noteworthy subjects written in 2 columns, 34 lines. Gothic bookhand, unidentified scribe (close to Raoulet d'Orléans), brown ink. Catchwords, lower right verso; correction marks (Cor .), lower left corner of last folio of gatherings. Except for titles of Book I of the Politiques (fol. 4) and the Yconomique (fol. 370), which are written out, book numbers appear in Roman numerals, upper margin, in red-and-blue filigrees; chapter numbers in blue and red Roman numerals in margin. Alternating blue and red line endings and paraphs. Rubricated introductory summary paragraph, incipit and explicit lines, chapter numbers corresponding to those in margins, chapter titles, and key words in glosses in rubrics. Below miniatures at beginning of each book, 5–8-line gold initial, dentellated and foliated. Alternating red and blue 3–5-line initials for first words of chapters of text; 2 lines for chapter headings. Diagrams, fols. 175, 227, and 278.

Renvois in brown ink stroked with yellow. Occasional fantastic pen initials (fish heads). Drollery, fol. 378 (woman spinning). Dragons as upper terminals of initials, fols. 128, 170, 220, and 254. Ivy-leaf borders: with birds and rabbits, fols. 2, 32, 75, and 327; with arms of France (3 fleur-de-lis), fol. 1 (1), 32v (2), 33 (1), and fol. 75 (2).

Binding, 18th century, brown calf, stamped with arms of owners. Remains of the original green silk binding described in 15th-century inventories still fixed to the parchment folio attached to the back board.[5]


Seventeen, 3-column illustrations, 13 frontispieces, width of text block, 1 full page and facing 3/4-page bifolio, 1–3 registers. Four artists: Perrin Remiet (fols. 1, 4v); Jean de Sy Master and workshop (fols. 3v, 4, 128, 170, 230); Master of the Coronation of Charles VI (fols. 32v, 33, 75, and 328); Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V and workshop (fols. 370 and 381). Politiques , dedication of the translator, fol. 1, Nicole Oresme Writing (8.6 × 6.8)/Book I, fol. 3v, Tyrannie, top; Olygarchie, center; and Democracie, bottom (24 × 15)/fol. 4, Royaume, top; Aristocracie, center; Tymocracie (Polity), bottom (17 × 15)/Book I, fol. 4v, Nicole Oresme Presents the Book to Charles V (7.3 × 6.8)/Book II, fol. 32v, Socrates


Dictates to Plato (7 × 15); Phaleas (7 × 15); and fol. 33, Hippodamus (10 × 6.7)/Book III, fol. 75, A King Banishes a Subject, above; A Peasant Cuts off the Tallest Ears of Grain, below left; A Painter Erases an Error, right (18 × 14.5)/Book IV, fol. 128, Povres gens, above left; Bonne policie—Moiens, center; Riches gens, right; Povres gens, below left; Mauvaise policie—Moiens, center; Riches gens, right (15.2 × 14.4)/Book V, fol. 170, Sedition ou Conspiracion occulte, above; Le Demagogue qui presche au peuple contre le prince, Sedition apperte, below (14.3 × 14.5)/Book VI, fol. 230, Bonne democracie (14.8 × 14.7)/Book VII, fol. 254, Genz d'armes, top left; Genz de conseil, center; Gent sacerdotal, right; Cultiveurs de terres, below left; Genz de mestier, center; Marcheans, right (17.5 × 14.7)/Book VIII, fol. 327, Trop dure discipline, above left; Bonne discipline pour les armes, right; Bonne discipline pour bonnes meurs (16.3 × 14.4). Yconomique : Book I, fol. 370, Household and Family (9 × 14.5)/Book II, fol. 381, A Marriage Ceremony (7.5 × 6.7)

A palette of red, blue, and white with contrasting geometric backgrounds, established in the cycle of A , is repeated in the illustrations executed by the Jean de Sy Master and the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V. The Master of the Coronation of Charles VI models the figures in grisaille in fols. 4v, 32v, 33, and 75, along with quadrilobe frames, which also occur on fols. 1, 4v, and 380. Gold arcades appear as the setting for fols. 3v, 128, and 254. Fleur-de-lis backgrounds occur only on fols. 1 and 32v.


For documents pertaining to Oresme's translation of the Ethics and the Politics , see Appendix II. For the history of the manuscript until the French Revolution, see Appendix I. About the time of the revolution, B entered the collection of the family of the present owner. B appears in the library of Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy, and is mentioned in two inventories of the Burgundian library: the earlier one compiled in Dijon in 1420 and a later one from Bruges dating from 1467.[6]

Principal References[en7]Principal References[7]

Avril, La librairie , no. 203, 118; idem, "Manuscrits," no. 282, 327; Delisle, Le cabinet des manuscrits , vol. 1, 41–42, and vol. 3, no. 484, 138; idem, Mélanges de paléographie , 260–63 and 275–78; idem, Recherches , vol. 1, no. 56, 255–56, and vol. 2, no. 485; Doutrepont, Inventaire de la librairie de Philippe le Bon , no. 90; idem, La littérature française à la cour des ducs de Bourgogne , 121–23; Grabmann, "Die mittelalterliche Kommentare," 47; Oresme, Politiques , 34; idem, Yconomique , 802; Sherman, "A Second Instruction," 468–69; idem, "Some Visual Definitions," 321; de Winter, La bibliothèque de Philippe le Hardi , 50, 87–88, 91, 141, 201, 222–25, and 263.


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