Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection


Vincentius Bellovacensis [Vincent de Beauvais], Speculum doctrinale ([Strassburg]: [The R-Printer (Adolf Rusch)], [between 1477 and 11 Feb. 1478])

Speculum doctrinale

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Vincent de Beauvais (Vincentius Bellovacensis) (c. 1190-1264) was a Dominican friar known for having compiled the Speculum maius, the greatest encyclopaedia of the Middle Ages. He was born in Beauvais, France, and studied at the University of Paris. He joined the Dominicans in Paris around 1220, and was probably sent to the newly established priory in Beauvais about ten years later. There he became acquainted with Louis IX (1214-70; reigned 1226-70), who had founded the Cistercian abbey nearby. In addition to the Speculum maius, Vincent wrote other educational and religious works (Guzman, pp. 453-55).

Citing more than 400 sources, the Speculum maius is said to have been the most comprehensive encyclopaedia before the Encyclopédie of Diderot (1713-84) and d'Alembert (1717-83) appeared, and it influenced the Italian Humanists (Ullman, pp. 313, 324). It is a systematic compilation of citations and excerpts from all the classical and ecclesiastical authors available in the 13th century; some texts are now extant only in the Speculum maius. Receiving the support of Louis IX, who was eager to read it, Vincent compiled the Speculum maius in order to make earlier authors more readily accessible, and to help the Dominicans as they preached and studied the Bible. Vincent tried not to alter the original wording of his source materials as he collected and arranged them, but occasionally he inserted his own sentences using the name such as 'Actor' [sic] (Ullman, p. 313). Around 1244-45 the Speculum maius contained only the Speculum naturale and the Speculum historiale. By 1256-57, a revised and augmented Naturale had been divided into the Speculum naturale and the Speculum doctrinale, and the Speculum historiale had also been revised (Voorbij, p. 261). Vincent himself went no further, but a fourth part, the Speculum morale, was added after his death (cf. IKUL 008). The Speculum maius was translated, in whole or in part, into French, German, Spanish, Dutch, and Catalan. The four parts were printed together four times during the 15th century, once during the 16th, and once during the 17th.

The Speculum doctrinale is founded on the idea that men can be saved by pedagogic instruction, and deals with various arts and sciences such as logic, rhetoric, poetics, ethics, economics, education, politics, law, mechanics, medicine, mathematics, and physics (Ullman, p. 321). Adolf Rusch (cf. IKUL 007) also printed a different edition of the Doctrinale, from which the edition in the possession of Keio UL can be distinguished by the appearance of the word 'ambulet' in the last line (ISTC, iv00278000). The text of the Keio copy is generally in two columns, but a section of Greek and Roman 'breve vocabularium' in fols 25r-36r is in four columns. At certain points in fols 30v-32v, initials have been supplied by hand (see fol. 31r). Furthermore, there are some Latin marginalia in fols 1r, 23r, 27r, 31r, 85v, and 401v. There are also two different bookplates of Eric Sexton, FSA, attached to the front paste-down endpaper (cf. IKUL007). There is no rubrication, and guide letters are rare, one example being in fol. 20r. As can be seen between fols 400v and 401r, a strip of Latin manuscript is often inserted and bound together with the original leaf to serve as reinforcement.

  Guzman, Gregory G., 'Vincent of Beauvais', in Dictionary of the Middle Ages , ed. by Joseph R. Strayer and others (New York: Scribner, 1982- ), XII (1989), 453-55
  Ullman, B. L., 'A Project for a New Edition of Vincent of Beauvais', Speculum, 8 (1933), 312-26
  Voorbij, J. B., 'Bower's Use of Vincent of Beauvais', in 'Scotichronicon' by Walter Bower in Latin and English, ed. by D. E. R. Watt and others, 9 vols (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1987-98), IX, 260-80



Vincentius Bellovacensis [Vincent de Beauvais]
Place of Publication
[The R-Printer (Adolf Rusch)]


Date of Publication
[betw. 1477 and 1478-02-11]

Old blind-tooled brown morocc, rebacked, preserving original spine, brass clasps and catches.

Bibliographical Notes

404 leaves, including preliminary and terminal blanks; spaces for initials, unrubricated throughout; some contemporary marginalia.

Goff V278, C 6242, IJL 291, IJL2 375
Acquisition Year
1981 (from Sexton Sale at Christie's New York in 1981)

1. Herschel V. Jones. 2. Eric Sexton (bookplate), Christie's 1981, lot 166.