Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection


Bartholomaeus Anglicus, De proprietatibus rerum (Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 20 June 1492)

De proprietatibus rerum

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Bartholomaeus Anglicus (Bartholomew the Englishman) (b. before 1203, d. 1272) was a 13th-century English Franciscan. At one time he was identified with a 14th-century Franciscan, a man from the Glanville family of Suffolk, but this identification is no longer supported. Having studied in Paris, Bartholomaeus started to lecture on the Bible in the Convent of St Denis in 1224. He continued until 1231, when he was sent to Magdeburg in Germany to teach theology to the Franciscans. There he compiled De proprietatibus rerum in the 1240s. Afterwards he held various important posts including that of Superior for Austria and Bohemia (then including Poland). Bartholomaeus returned to Magdeburg in 1262, where he died in 1272 (Seymour, 'Bartholomaeus Anglicus', pp. 161-62).

De proprietatibus rerum was compiled from various texts – including ones newly translated from Greek (e.g. Aristotle), Arab and Jewish sources – and was designed to provide the Franciscans with explanations of what is mentioned in the Bible. It consists of nineteen volumes covering such fields as medicine, geography, theology, philosophy, astronomy, chronology, zoology, botany and mineralogy. It was widely read throughout Europe, and was translated from the original Latin into Spanish, Dutch, Italian and Provençal. A French translation was produced in 1372 at the command of the king, and an English version was produced by John Trevisa in 1398. The first printed edition appeared in Cologne in 1472, and De proprietatibus rerum was printed at least fourteen times before 1500. The last edition was printed in 1601 and reprinted in 1609 (Seymour, Bartholomaeus Anglicus, pp. 262-63). It was a source for the scientific knowledge of many Elizabethan writers, including Shakespeare (Se Boyar, p. 168).

Anton Koberger (1440-1513) was the most successful printer in Nuremberg at the time. He began printing around 1470, and owned as many as twenty-four presses by 1509 (by way of comparison, 15% of the twenty printers in Geneva had only four presses each in 1564, and 85% had only one or two). He also expanded his business into other locations in Europe (Glaister, p. 268; Yukishima). The colophon of the Keio copy (fol. 199v = I7v) is dated 20 June 1492.

Some of the editions omit the letter 'r' from the name of the author in the title (Walsh, p. 284), but the Keio copy reproduces the name correctly (see fol. 1r = π1r). Foliations are written in ink, by hand, and some inscriptions can be found on the front free endpaper, fols 5r, 67r, 68v, and 163r (a1r, l3r, l4v, and D3r respectively). Spaces of between three and five lines, with guide letters in most instances, have consistently been left for initials, but these were never supplied.

  Glaister, Geoffrey Ashall, Encyclopedia of the Book, 2nd edn (Newcastle, DE: Oak Knoll; London: British Library, 1996)
  Lenhart, John M., 'Bartholomaeus Anglicus', in The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church, ed. by Charles G. Herbermann and others, 16 vols (New York: Appleton, 1907-14), II (1907) [accessed 29 August 2007]
  Se Boyar, Gerald E., 'Bartholomaeus Anglicus and his Encyclopedia', Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 19 (1920), 168-89
  Seymour, M. C., Bartholomaeus Anglicus and his Encyclopedia (Aldershot: Variorum, 1992)
  ---, 'Bartholomaeus Anglicus', in DNB, IV, 161-62
  Walsh, James E., A Catalogue of the Fifteenth-Century Printed Books in the Harvard University Library, Medieval and Renaissance Texts & Studies, 84, 97, 119, 150, 171, 5 vols (Binghamton: State University of New York, 1991-97), I: Books Printed in Germany, German-  Speaking Switzerland, and Austria-Hungary
  Yukishima, Koichi, 'Seiyou kohanpon no tehodoki' [Introduction to Hand-Press Books], 8   (15 December 2006) [accessed 29 August 2007]



Bartholomaeus Anglicus
Place of Publication
Anton Koberger


Date of Publication

17th-century Spanish marbled calf over wood, spine with 5 raised bands and leather label.

Bibliographical Notes

199 leaves (of 200), wanting the final blank; spaces for initials with guide letters; running titles.

Goff B141, HC 2510*, BMC II 435, GW 3413, IJL 053, IJL2 062
Acquisition Year