At least seven surviving manuscripts of the Dyalogue du pere et du filz have an Italian connection. Two of these were made in northern France and later travelled to Italy (by the 16th c. for Florence BR 2756; in the 17th c. for Vatican BAV Reg.lat. 1668). A third (Paris BnF fr. 12581) was made in France and annotated by an Italian (even if the volume itself may never have reached Italy). And a further three manuscripts were produced in Italy and later taken to what is now France (in the 15th c. for Paris BnF fr. 726; by the 18th c. for Lyon BDL Mss&R 43 and Paris AN AB/XIX/1730 Haute-Garonne 14).

Italian note on f. 177v of Paris BnF fr. 12581 (Source: gallica.bnf.fr / BnF). The note reads, ‘Io amo mellio huomo chabia difalta di denari che denari che abbiano difalta duomo’ (‘I prefer a man who lacks money than money that lacks a man’).

French was an international language of learning in the later Middle Ages, so it’s hardly surprising the Dyalogue circulated in Italy. But these volumes also remind us that French manuscripts continued to cross the Alps long after the medieval period.

Paris BSG 1654 is unique among this corpus in that it seems to have made two transalpine journeys. This extensively illustrated volume was made in Paris in the 1320s. Its contents – didactic and devotional material including the abridged Bible en françois, but also treatises on the crusades – suggest that whoever commissioned it had access to hot-off-the-press translations made for Charles IV’s court (Rouse & Rouse 2013). But at an early date it was in Genoa, where material was added at the beginning and end of the volume.

By the end of the 17th c., however, Paris BSG 1654 was back in France, and more specifically in the library of Senlis Cathedral. The back paste-down provides clues concerning this second international voyage. There we find the names of several members of Franco-Italian banking family the Sanguins. Guillaume Sanguin had moved from Italy to Paris before the end of the 14th c., and two of the names are those of his son and grandson. As for how the volume arrived in Senlis, in the 17th c. two members of the Sanguin family were bishops of that very city (Rouse & Rouse 2013). The Sanguins must have had something to do with it.

 

Bibliography

Rouse, Richard, and Mary Rouse (2013). Bound Fast with Letters: Medieval Readers, Writers, and Texts (Notre Dame: U Notre Dame P)