[Ledger for the Dyers].

Manuscript, German, c.1660-1690.


Half folio. ff. 57 (of which 29 blank), 2 initial stubs, 3 towards rear. Ms, in German, in black-brown ink, over a dozen secretary hands, typically 25 to 32 lines per page. Slightly yellowed, occasional thumb mark or minor ink spotting, worm trail to last couple of blanks, a few sections crossed out, three original tab ms. indexes, a little loss. In a very handsome C13 ms. leaf from Justinian’s Digestum, with text and commentary in double column, three of four ties, charming illuminated miniature with the jurist Ulpian depicted in blue and orange with white pen flourishes, titles supplied in red, two- or three-line initials and few paragraph headings rubricated in red and blue, text rubbed in places, few ancient light stains, miniature very slightly scratched, colours fresh.    

In a clean, handsomely illuminated C13 ms. leaf from Justinian’s ‘Digestum vetus’. A terminus post quem is c.1230, when Accursius’s famous ‘Glossa ordinaria’, the commentary on this leaf, began to circulate; it does not appear to date later than the third quarter of the C13. A working copy, delightfully decorated, this ms. was probably produced in Burgundy, then comprising parts of France, Germany and Switzerland. The miniature style resembles that of a contemporary ms. produced at Cîteaux, near Dijon (CUL Add. 6679). The drawing appears to have Germanic influences, like the script, which shares features of both the Northern Textualis and early Gothic. The lovely miniature, still fresh and clean, represents the Roman jurist Ulpian of Tyre (170-223AD), whose writings provided the basis for nearly a third of Justinian’s legal corpus. Ulpian’s name is indeed the first word of Book IX, entitled ‘Si quadrupes pauperiem fecisse dicatur’, which concerns the damage to private property caused by animals and begins with references to Ulpian’s theories. His portrait is similarly found at the beginning of sections in other mss of Justinian, e.g., BL Arundel 433. Such miniatures were frequent in medieval legal ms. also as instruments to assist the reader in remembering the material (Frońska, ‘Memory’).

The ledger belonged to the Brotherhood of St Martin in a German-speaking area we have not been able to identify from the text. The ms. focuses on the dyers—one of several groups of artisans attached to the Brotherhood—in the years 1660s-1690s. It features the names of master-dyers and apprentices, as well as those of women who worked for them or widows of late members. It also includes notes on individual members’ work and payments. An unusual, handsome and intriguing item.

Frońska, ‘The Memory of Roman Law in an Illuminated Manuscript of Justinian’s Digest’, in Memory and Commemoration in Medieval Culture, ed. E. Brenner et al. (London, 2013).


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