A curious inscription on f. 1v of Paris BnF fr. 1136 reads as follows: ‘Celui qui a composé quel livre est sorti de la maison et race des Aigneaux de la ville de Dizon, dont son frere estoit mayre et viconte de la ville de Dizon, l’an de grace mil [cinc] cent dix, bien assurement’ (‘The man who composed (?) the which book was born into the house and lineage of the Aigneaul family of the city of Dijon, his brother having been mayor and viscount of the city of Dijon, in the year of our lord 1[5]10, without a doubt’).

Inscription by brother of Jehan Aigneaul, Paris BnF fr. 1136 f. 1v (Source: gallica.bnf.fr / BnF)

The man who penned this note may not have had any doubts, but he leaves us with plenty. He wrote the date 1110, but surely he missed out a five. Did he really mean ‘composed’ in the sense of ‘authored’, the most obvious meaning at the time when the verb composer is paired with livre? Surely this would have been a blatant lie, given this book was over 150 years old at the time. Or might he have been a binder who ‘put it (back) together’?

At least we know a bit more about brother Jehan. Jehan was a dyer, like his father Pierre. He was elected mayor of Dijon eleven times between 1493 and 1504. Some years earlier, in 1473, he was involved in a kerfuffle during his watch duty. He accosted a butcher breaking curfew, only to be attacked by Estienne, the offender’s neighbour, who shouted, ‘Jehan Aigneaul, Jehan Mouton, Jehan Berbis. Fault il que nous soyons gouvernez par un tel tainturier?’ (‘Jehan Aigneaul [Lamb], Jehan Sheep, Jehan Ewe. Do we have to be ruled by a dyer like you?’) Yes, Estienne, you do. For eleven years…

 

Bibliography

Becchia, Cécile (2013). ‘Filius cum patre. Parenté, alliance et transmission de la charge de vicomte-mayeur à Dijon au XVe siècle’, Le Moyen Age 119, 339-74

Voisin, André (1937). ‘Notes sur la vie urbaine au XVe siècle. Dijon la nuit’, Annales de Bourgogne 9, 265-79