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Courcelle, Pierre, Les Confessions de Saint Augustin dans la tradition littéraire: Antécédents et postérité, Collection des Études Augustiniennes, série Antiquité, 15, Paris, Institut d’Études Augustiniennes, 1963, 746 p.
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Gorman, Michael M., « The Maurists’ Manuscripts of Four Major Works of Saint Augustine », Revue Bénédictine, xci, 1981, p. 238-279.
Gorman, Michael M., « The Early Manuscript Tradition of St. Augustine’s Confessiones », Journal of Theological Studies, NS, xxxiv, 1983, p. 114-145.
Grammont, Paul, « Jumièges et Le Bec », in Jumièges: Congrès scientifique du XIIIe centenaire, t. II, Rouen, Lecerf, 1954, p. 209-222.
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Hurlbut, Stephen A., The Picture of the Heavenly Jerusalem in the Writings of Johannes of Fécamp’s De contemplativa vita and in the Elizabethan Hymns, Washington D.C., St. Alban’s Press, 1943, 184 p.
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Leclercq, Jean, Un maître de la vie spirituelle au XIe siècle, Études de théologie et d’histoire de la spiritualité, 9, Paris, J. Vrin, 1946, 236 p.
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Webber, Teresa, « The Diffusion of Augustine’s Confessions in England During the 11th and 12th Centuries », in The Cloister and the World: Essays in Medieval History in Honor of Barbara Harvey, John Blair and Brian Golding (ed.), Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1996, p. 29-45.
Webber, Teresa, « The Patristic Content of English Book Collections in the 11th Century: Towards a Continental Perspective », in Of the Making of Books: Medieval Manuscripts, Their Scribes and Readers, P.R. Robinson and Rivkah Zim (eds.), Aldershot, Scholar, 1997, p. 191-205.
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Wilmart, André, Auteurs spirituels et textes dévôts du Moyen Âge Latin, Paris, Librarie Bloud et Gay, 1932, 626 p.
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I would like to thank Monique Peyrafort, J.J.G. Alexander and Paul Freedman. I am also grateful to Marcus Elder, Stéphane Lecouteux, Véronique Gazeau, Cédric Giraud, François Dolbeau, Teresa Webber, Marie-Thérèse Gousset, Brandon Woolf, Azélina Jaboulet-Verchere, the members of the Round Table Working Group at Yale, and the anonymous readers for Tabularia, for their helpful comments on certain of its parts. I am also indebted to the librarians in the manuscript reading rooms of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque municipale de Rouen, and the Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana, and in the library at the Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes. Aspects of this study were completed with the help of funding from an Etienne Gilson Dissertation Grant of the Medieval Academy of America and a Fulbright Grant to France. This essay represents a part of a larger forthcoming inquiry into the influence of John of Fécamp’s Confessio Theologica on the devotional culture of Fécamp and the Norman monastic world.
See Webber, 1996, p. 29-45; where she explains, on p. 40-43, that this was due in part to an increased interest in the writings of the Latin fathers in general, which she later corroborates in Webber, 1997, p. 191-205. See also Courcelle, 1963, p. 254-256; Dekkers, 1987, p. 458.
Nortier, 1971, p. 201; this will be discussed in more detail later on in the article.
Courcelle, 1963, p. 235-261. Courcelle’s observation is corroborated by extant manuscript evidence of Confessions. In a study of extant early manuscripts of Confessions, Gorman demonstrates the numerical and geographical limits of the circulation of Confessions during the 10th century (Gorman, 1983, p. 114-145). Judging from lists compiled by Wilmart, 1932, p. 259-268, Skutella, 1939, p. 70, Verheijen, 1979, p. 87-96, Gorman, 1981, p. 238-279, and Gorman, 1983, p. 114-145, there are at least 22 extant manuscripts of Confessions from the 11th century, and at least 48 from the 12th.
Courcelle, 1963, p. 254.
Courcelle, 1963, p. 255, 262; Kaczynski, 2006, p. 118-119 also notes that Augustine was primarily read as an exegete in ninth-century St. Gall.
Courcelle, 1963, p. 263-264. Note that, after John, one of the authors who drew extensively from Augustine’s Confessions was himself connected to a Norman abbey: Guibert of Nogent (d. 1124), once a monk at the Norman abbey of Saint-Germer-de-Fly, modeled his autobiography famously on Confessions (special thanks are due to Stéphane Lecouteux for pointing out the connection between Guibert and Normandy).
Wilmart, 1932, p. 350 posits the date of John’s Confessio to be between 1016-1028, when John was still prior at Fécamp, because John refers to his need to be obedient his own abbot in his text (see edition by Leclercq, 1946, p. 134). Wilmart thus reasons that John could not yet have been abbot when he wrote his text. For more on the three recensions of the Confessio, see Leclercq, 1946, p. 37-44. Leclercq here notes that John likely wrote his first edition of the Confessio, called the Confessio Theologica, between 1016-1028, when prior; then his second, revised edition, the so-called Libellus de scripturis et verbis patrum collectus ad eorum presertim utilitaem qui contemplative vite sunt amatores, between 1030-1050, for the purposes of sharing it with monks and nuns elsewhere; and then his third, final edition, the so-called Confessio Fidei, around 1050, in response to the Berengar of Tours Eucharistic controversy. For the purposes of this article, I have only considered John’s use of Confessions in the first recension of the Confessio, edited by Jean Leclercq (1946). More work needs to be done on these three recensions and the purposes of each of John’s revisions; some of this will be considered in my forthcoming study. Note that John did not title his own work « Confessio ». The title, « Confessio Theologica » comes from the rubric in a 12th-century manuscript of John’s Confessio (Paris, BnF, ms lat. 1919), where the book is called « liber confessionum » (see fol. 1); this title was appropriated by Jean Leclercq for his edition. The title of the third recension of the Confessio, « Confessio Fidei », listed above, is also taken from the titular rubric of an 11th-century manuscript of John’s work (Montpellier, Bibliothèque interuniversitaire, section de médecine, ms H309), added by a later medieval scribe (see fol. 1). There is no indication in the text of the Confessio, nor in the letters that John sent to the nun or to Empress Agnes along with his manuscript, that John assigned a title to the work; within his text, he merely refers to it as his « libellus », (the title given by Leclercq to the second recension of John’s work).
Sometime between 1030-1050, John sent a copy of his Confessio to an anonymous nun (possibly from the abbey of Notre-Dame-aux-Nonnains, a Benedictine abbey in Troyes and the only abbey for female religious with a mention of John of Fécamp in its necrology; see Bulst, 1973, p. 160). Around 1063-1064, he sent a copy to the Holy Roman Empress Agnes. For more on these actions, including editions of the letters that John sent to these women with his writings, see Leclercq, 1946, p. 205-218; for more on John’s relationship with female religious, see McNamer, 2009, p. 59-77. John’s writings were also present in male monastic houses: there were, for example, an 11th-century copy of John’s Confessio at the monastery of St. Arnulf in Metz (currently Metz, Bibl. mun., 245) and an 11th-century copy of extracts of the Confessio at Bec in Normandy (currently Paris, BnF, ms lat. 13593; note that, while this text is sometimes called the « Reclinatiorium anime », it corresponds with the first part of John of Fécamp’s Confessio); both houses were well-connected to Fécamp’s monastic network. No copy of John’s writing survives from Fécamp (nor is an exemplar mentioned in the inventories of the manuscripts of the abbey), but the influence of his ideas is very present in the liturgical, intellectual, and devotional culture of that monastery. For more on the dissemination and influence of John’s writings in his own house of Fécamp, and in the surrounding male monastic houses, see my forthcoming study.
Metz, Bibl. mun., 245, for instance, is long and narrow, measuring 17.39 cm x 31.75 cm (6.85 in x 12.5 in); Paris, BnF, ms lat. 13593, is as small as a book of hours, measuring 15.24 cm x 20.32 cm (6 in x 8 in).
For a list of manuscripts of John’s work, see Hurlbut, 1943, p. V, 13 and p. V, 17. None of these manuscripts sets apart quotations from Augustine’s Confessions from the rest of John’s text.
In Courcelle, 1963, p. 262-263, Pierre Courcelle lists several additional citations of Confessions from John’s Confessio in his footnotes.
Cary, 2000; Brown, 1967; Courcelle, 1974-1975.
Mathon, 1967; Feiss, 2000.
Leclercq, 1946, p. 64.
Webber, 1996 & 1997.
« Dicta mea dicta sunt patrum. Sic ista quae dicimus, lege ut putes te patrum verba relegere, et toto mentis adnisu quas vales actiones gratiarum tuo redemptori alacriter sinceriterque persolve. » Taken from Part I of John’s Confessio Theologica, Leclercq, 1946, p. 121. All Latin quotes from Confessio Theologica hereafter will be from the Leclercq edition, and will simply be listed as CT, p. 121. All translations are my own unless otherwise noted.
As Courcelle says, John’s approach to God is certainly obsessive, direct, pleading, panting, pathetic, repetitive, circular, and desperate in tone – and is therefore, in all these ways, Augustinian. Passages such as this one show just how much John adopts Augustine’s tone: « Oh how immense is your goodness! O how it is admirable the richness of your charity! Sweet infinity, when will I see you? When will I appear in front of your face? When will I be satisfied by your beauty? When will you tear me away from this obscure prison so that I can bless your name, and when, henceforth, will I not be pierced by pain? When, when will I pass in this admirable house of joy that never ends, where there are echoes of cries of joy under the tents of the just? » [« O quam magna multitudo dulcedinis tuae. O quam mira beatitudo charitatis tuae. Dulcissime, quando te videbo? Quand apparebo ante faciem tuam? Quando satiabor de pulchritudine tua? Quando educes me de hoc carcere tenebroso ut confitear nomini tuo, ita ut deinceps non compungar? Quando, quando transibo in illam admirabilem sempiterni gaudii domum, ubi personat vox laetitiae in tabernaculis iustorum? » (CT, p. 148)].
These sub-sections are not noted with chapter divisions or the like in John’s Confessio; rather, they are sub-sections that I have identified by paying attention to John’s use of Augustine’s Confessions.
Leclercq’s critical apparatus has been invaluable for noting the range of works that John excerpts and incorporates into his Confessio. This citation is identified in a note on Leclercq, 1946, p. 170.
« Dulcissime, benignissime, amantissime, carissime, suavissime, praeciosissime, desiderantissime, amabillime, pulcherrime, iucundissime, clarissime, splendissime, omni melle dulcior, omni lacte et nive candidior, omni nectare suavior, omni margarito et auro preciosior, omnibus mundi divitiis cunctisque regnorum opibus mihi carior: et quid dico?… Quid dico cum talia dico? Dico quod valeo, sed non dico quod debeo. Utinam possem talia, qualia illi hymnidici angelorum chori. O quam libentissime me in tuis laudibus nocte et die totum effunderem… Sed quia talia non possum, nunquid tacebo?… Quis digne te, Christe, laudare potest? Loquaces etiam muti sunt, cum tuas laudes dicunt. Sed quid faciam ego exiguus homo, qui te et valde laudare, et nimium diligere volo? Dicam interim quod valeo, donec iubeas me venire ad te, et mirabilem domum magnificentiae tuae inhabitare, ubi possim dicere quod et te decet et me oportet. Et ideo rogo pie, ne respicias tantum ad id quod modo dico, quantum ad id quod dicere volo. Volo enim de te dicere sicut oportet, sicut decet, quia te decet laus, te decet hymnus, tibi debetur omnis honor » (CT, p. 170).
One might even say that these sections appear to indicate that John read Confessions and then recorded his thoughts stemming from his contemplation of Augustine’s text, as in the style of lectio divina. For more on how John’s Confessio reflects a style of reading, see my forthcoming study.
All quotations in English from the standard edition of Augustine’s Confessions (i.e. not John’s quotations of Confessions in his Confessio) are taken from the Chadwick translation listed in the bibliography. The Latin of this passage from Augustine is: « …quod sanabis omnes languores meos per eum qui sedet ad dexteram tuam et te interpellat pro nobis; alioquin desperarem. Multi enim et magni sunt idem languores, multi sunt et magni, sed amplior est medicina tua. Potuimus putare verbum tuum remotum esse a coniunctione hominis et desperare de nobis, nisi caro fieret et habitaret in nobis. » All Latin quotes from the standard edition of Augustine’s Confessions are taken from the O’Donnell edition listed in the bibliography.
« Languores quippe mei, Domine, multi sunt et magni, magni sunt et multi. Scio et fateor quia multa in me habet princeps huius mundi. Sed rogo te, piissime Domine, libera me per sedentem ad dexteram tuam Redemptorem nostrum, in quo nihil suum potuit invenire… Libera quaeso, a peccatis et vitiis, culpis et negligentiis meis, et reple me tuis sanctis virtutibus, et fac me bonis pollere moribus, et fac me in sanctis perseverare operibus usque in finem secundum tuam voluntatem » (CT, p. 121-122).
Note that these sections are not rigid schema, but instead represent the general structure and argument of the work. The page ranges included, therefore, represent the general sections of John’s Confessio Theologica.
The corresponding Latin text reads: « Sed quomodo invocabo Deum, et Dominum meum quoniam utique in me ipsum voco eum, cum invoco eum? Et quis locus in me est, quo veniat in me Deus meus?… » (CT, p. 110-111). As for all parts of the Confessio quoted in this article, the English translations here are usually mine, but I have sometimes drawn upon Chadwick’s translation of the standard edition to modify my translation of John’s quotations from Confessions.
« Te quidem invoco in animam meam. Intra, rogo, in eam et, coapta eam tibi, ut possideas illam sine macula et sine ruga. Tu es deus meum vivus et verus, Dominus meus pius, rex meus magnus. Te labiis et corde et omni qua valeo virtute laudo, benedico atque adoro. Te invoco, ad te clamo clamore magno in tota corde me » (CT, p. 110).
« Quomodo nos amasti, pastor bone!...Languores quippe mei, Domine, multi sunt et magni, magni sunt et multi. Scio et fateor quia multa in me habet princeps huius mundi… » (CT, p. 121-122). The words in bold here are from Augustine’s Confessions, to which John has added a further sentence.
« Unum deum a quo sumus, per quem sumus, in quo sumus. A quo discessimus, cui dissimiles facti sumus. » (CT, p. 117). This is very reminiscent of the famous quotation of Augustine’s Confessions in 10.27.38 (not quoted by John, but perhaps paraphrased here): « You were within me, and I was not with you. These lovely things kept me far from you. » (« Mecum eras, et tecum non eram. Ea me tenebant longe a te… »).
« Sed rogo te, piissime Domine, libera me per sedentem ad dexteram tuam Redemptorem nostrum, in quo nihil suum potuit invenire… Libera quaeso, a peccatis et vitiis, culpis et negligentiis meis, et reple me tuis sanctis virtutibus, et fac me bonis pollere moribus, et fac me in sanctis perseverare operibus usque in finem secundum tuam voluntatem » (CT, p. 122).
3A & 3B (see Table 4b) are not two separate sections because they do not succeed each other (in the way that one, two, and three do), but rather co-exist within the same section of John’s text (section three) before being followed by section four. This is also the case with section six (see below). I have here split them into 3A and 3B because their emphases are different, albeit related and intertwined.
« Rogo, in cor meum et sobria ebrietate, voluptatis tuae inebria illud, ut obliviscar ea quae facta sunt quae enim videntur temporalia sunt et unum bonum meum amplectar te » (CT, p. 144).
« Spiritus Dei, bonus doctor et illuminator matris ecclesiae, qui ex duro corde producit lacrimas, et date paenitentibus dignos paenitentiae fructus, descendat in cor meum, ut cudat ex eo saxeo et ferreo irriguum superius, et irriguum inferius… Aut si deest tibi gratia lacrimarum, saltem geme sine cessatione » (CT, p. 152).
« Vidensque se in portu securitatis et laetitiae, gaudet evasisse iam turbulentum pelagus huius vitae miserae et periculosae, quae potius mors dicenda est, quam vita » (CT, p. 149).
« Excita, domine, excita, quaeso, excita semper et ubique torporem meum tuis stimulis et fac me toto corde, tota anima, totis viribus exquirere faciem tuam cunctis diebus vitae meae » (CT, p. 132).
« Quibus tandem refocillatus deliciis, multarum miseriarum oblitus mearum, super altitudinem terrae in te vera pace quiesco. O aeterna veritas, et vera caritas, et cara aeternitas! Tu es deus meus: tibi suspiro die ac nocte. Qui novit te, novit veritatem, novit aeternitatem » (CT, p. 161).
« Ipse rex regum in medio tui, et pueri eius in circuitu eius. Sunt etenim ibi hymnidici sanctorum spirituum chori, providus prophetarum cuneus, iudex apostolorum numerus, innumerabilium martyrum victor exercitus, sanctorum confessorum sacer conventus, beatorum monachorum fortissima turba… » (CT, p. 157). Please note that the passage not in italics is a citation of Gregory the Great, Hom. Evang. I.14.5.
This about-face actually imitates the structure of Augustine’s own Confessions text. Books I-IX of Confessions detail Augustine’s path to conversion, which models a progressive ascent to « confessing » to the Christian God. Book X, however, begins with an about-face, reversing this progression: « And sometimes you cause me to enter into an extraordinary depth of feeling marked by a strange sweetness. If it were brought to perfection in me, it would be an experience quite beyond anything in this life. But I fall back into my usual ways under my miserable burdens. I am reabsorbed by my habitual practices. I am held in their grip. I weep profusely, but still I am held. Such is the strength of the burden of habit. Here I have the power to be, but do not wish to be. There I wish to be, but do not have the power » (10.40.65). [« Et aliquando intromittis me in affectum multum inusitatum introrsus, ad nescio quam dulcedinem, quae si perficiatur in me, nescio quid erit quod vita ista non erit. Sed recido in haec aerumnosis ponderibus et resorbeor solitis et teneor et multum fleo, sed multum teneor. Tantum consuetudinis sarcina digna est! Hic esse valeo nec volo, illic volo nec valeo, miser utrubique. »] This quality of Book X is noted by Brown, 1967, p. 150. The fact that John does a similar turn in his own work might indicate that, even though he quotes only excerpts of Confessions here, he had a deep familiarity with the structure of the whole text as it proceeds from beginning to end; perhaps this indicates that John had read the book sequentially at some point.
« En amo: et si parum est, amem validius. Non possum metiri ut sciam quantum desit mihi amoris ad id quod sat est ut currat vita mea in amplexus tuos, nec avertatur donec abscondatur in abscondito vultus tui » (CT, p. 162).
« Et adhuc tristis est, quia relabitur, et fit abyssus, quin potius sentit adhuc esse se abyssum… Quare tristis es anima mea, et quare conturbas me? » (CT, p. 161).
« Amor mundi nox est et caligo. Anxius est, et caecus: et miseros quos possidet, graviter torquet, et non patitur eos quietos esse. Amor tuus verus et sanctus animas quas tenet dulcedine simul et quiete replet, illuminans eas intimae visionis perspicua luce. Panis dulcissime sana palatum cordis mei, ut sentiat suavitatem amoris tui » (CT, p. 172). The quotation from Augustine’s Confessions is given in bold both here and in the chart above; I have excerpted John’s introduction in order to provide his context for this quotation.
« Rogo te per mysterium sanctae incarnationis et nativitatis tuae, infunde multitudinem dulcedinis et caritatis tuae pectori meo, ut nihil terrenum aut carnale desiderem vel cogitem, sed te solum amem, te solum cogitem, te solum desiderem, te solum habeam in corde et in ore. Tu solus sis studium et exultatio mea, iucunditas et meditatio mea. Te mediter per diem, te alloquar per soporem in nocte » (CT, p. 172).
« Te supplex deprecor, scribe digito tuo in pectore meo dulcem memoriam tui melliflui nominis nulla unquam oblivione delendam. Scribe in tabulis cordis mei mandata et voluntatem tuam, legem et iustificationes tuas: ut te immensae dulcedinis dominum, et praecepta tua semper et ubique habeam prae oculis meis. Quam dulcia faucibus meis eloquia tua. Da mihi tenacem memoriam, ut non obliviscar ea » (CT, p. 172).
« Palate » here might refer to both the appetite for the Eucharist and the « palate of the heart » (see above, « palatum cordis »).
« Caritas deus meus, mel dulce, lac niveum, cibus es grandium: fac me crescere in te, ut sano palato possis manducari a me » (CT, p. 175).
« Non adhuc in sacramento, quo in hoc tempore consociantur membra tua, quamdiu bibitur quod de latere tuo manavit… ut in illa perspicua contemplatione tuae incommutabilis veritatis nullis mysteriis egeamus. » (CT, p. 174).
« Pulcherrime, rogo te per illam sacratissimam effusionem praetiosi sanguinis tui, quo sumus redempti, da mihi cordis contritionem, et lacrimarum fontem » (CT, p. 173).
« Suavissime, da mihi gratiam lacrimarum, signum amoris tui, viaticum et solatium peregrinationis meae: ut quemadmodum desiderat cervus ad fontes aquarum, ita desideret et sitiat ad te deum fontem vivum peccatrix anima mea. Fons vitae, ex quo bibunt angelici spiritus, et iustorum animae, da mihi potum delectabilem, et satia sitim cordis mei ex te, ut de ventre meo fluant aquae vivae » (CT, p. 173).
« Ecce dum divinae theoriae mens mea suspirat, et tuam, domine, prone pro captu suo meditatur et loquitur gloriam, ipsa carnis sarcina minus gravat: cogitationum tumultus cessat: pondus mortalitatis et miseriarum more solito non hebetat; silent cuncta; tranquilla sunt omnia. Cor ardet; animus gaudet; memoria viget; intellectus lucet; et totus spiritus ex desiderio visionis pulchritudinis tuae accensus, in invisibilium amorem rapi se videt » (CT, p. 182).
« In hac quidem vita miseriis erroribusque plenissima haberi non potest contemplativae perfectio vitae » (CT, p. 174).
« Quoniam enim in medio laqueorum positi sumus, facile a caelesti desiderio frigescimus. Assiduo itaque indigemus munimento, ut expergefacti ad te nostrum verum et summum bonum, cum defluximus, recurramus. Sed ignosce, rogo, Domine, ignosce mihi indignissimo et infelici tecum de te diutius colloquenti servo. Ignosce, pie, mihi misero. Amore enim tui nominis nimio labia mea tibi aperui » (CT, p. 182).
Note that here again the quote from Augustine is in bold, to distinguish it from its surrounding context. « Rogo, sacrificium laudis de manu linguae meae, de cordis amore » (CT, p. 183).
« Respice sereno vultu ad hoc meae exiguitatis quod tibi offero munus, et dignabili propitiatione tantillam fidei meae confessionem accipe, benigne amator hominum… En tibi reddo ea quae sunt in me vota laudationis ex misericordiae tuae dono. Reddo itaque, reddo tibi creatori deo de donis tuis gratias, et suppliciter cum propheta dico: omnia opera nostra operatus es nobis » (CT, p. 183).
Coda: it is interesting to note John’s invention in his Confessio. In section 6B, for instance, John elaborates on the ways one can allow God to enter into one’s own heart. One way John prescribes is by literally ingesting God when receiving the Eucharist: taking the presence of God into one’s body during the sacrament is a powerful ritual that literalizes how John wants the sinner to keep God metaphorically in his own heart (see the first quote of section 6B). Even more memorably, John suggests that the sinner can keep God in his heart by meditating on the crucified Christ. In a series of affective passages, John conjures up the image of the crucifixion, and asks this gruesome, wounded Christ to wound the sinner’s own heart so that he will cry and repent perpetually (see the final two quotations in section 6B). In his text, John builds a parallel between Christ’s bleeding wounds and the sinner’s crying. John proposes a new way to follow Augustine’s prescriptions concerning the heart: to inscribe God on one’s heart by wounding one’s heart with the image of God suffering on the cross; to imbibe and ingest God in the sacrament of the Eucharist to literalize the adoption of God inside one’s heart; and to perpetuate tears in order to remain focused on the depravity of the earthly, sinful self. There is not time to go into the effect and purpose of this imagery here, but it will be a major focus of my forthcoming study.
Bulst, 1984, p. 317.
Nortier, 1971, p. 54, notes that, because of its 11th-century holdings, even by the 12th century, Fécamp likely had more books than any other house in Normandy. According to book lists alone, Fécamp had 176 volumes by the end of the 12th century, while Bec had 166, St. Évroult 153, and Lyre 137.
See, among other studies, Potts, 1997b.
See discussion of John’s Confessio Theologica in Part I above.
This information is taken from the medieval Norman monastic book lists discussed in Nortier, 1971. Fécamp’s 12th-century book list (contained in Paris, BnF, ms lat. 1928, fol. 180r) lists Confessions at entry number 17. St. Évroult’s 12th-century book list (contained in Paris, BnF, ms lat. 10062, fol. 80v) lists the work at entry number 57. Bec also possessed at least one copy by the later 12th century according to a 12th-century list (of the books given by Philip of Harcourt, the bishop of Bayeux, in 1163, Avranches, Bibl. mun., 159, fol. 2v), which lists Confessions at number 11 of that record. No medieval book lists survive from Jumièges, but an 11th-century manuscript of Confessions is extant from Jumièges (see discussion below).
Avril, 1964, p. 522-25. Avril confirms that the manuscript is from Fécamp (not Blangy) and from the mid-11th century based on script comparisons with several other 11th-century Fécamp manuscripts. Though the extant Confessions manuscript from Fécamp is from the 11th century, it is not listed in an 11th-century book list from Fécamp (in Rouen, Bibl. mun., 1417 [U45], fol. 55v), but only in the 12th-century list mentioned in the footnote above. Its omission from the early Fécamp book list could indicate that the list itself was made before the acquisition of the manuscript; but Betty Branch reasons the list was made sometime between 1050-1075 (Branch, 1979, p. 162), and it seems likely that the manuscript itself was actually made before 1051. Therefore, the exclusion of this manuscript from the list could indicate that the list is not a full representation of the holdings of the library, or could indicate that the manuscript was not in the library during the time the list was made. Perhaps, for instance, it was in the hands of the abbot John, or elsewhere outside of Fécamp, on loan as an exemplar, perhaps at Jumièges; see further, below.
An extant 11th-century manuscript of Confessions from Jumièges contains an ownership note in it from the 12th century on fol. 214v, locating that book at Jumièges from at least that date. It is not listed in the list of books given by abbot Alexander (fl. 1198-1213) to Jumièges in 1171 (conserved in Vaticano [Città del], Reg. lat. 553, second part, fol. 8; see Nortier, 1971, p. 149), and may well have been in the monastery before the time of the abbot’s gift.
Dolbeau, 2004, p. 355-56.
It is possible that the manuscript from St. Ouen dated from the 11th- or 12th-century also, but, its manuscripts no longer being extant, we cannot be sure. All we know is that by the late 14th-century, St. Ouen had a copy of Confessions: our earliest book list from St. Ouen is from between 1372-1378, contained in Rouen, Arch. Dép. Seine-Maritime, 14H17, fol. 7v, a register of loans made between 1372-1378 from the library. On that list, Confessions is listed as article number 36 (according to Dubois, 2001, p. 12-14).
The manuscript was recorded at Lyre in a 17th-century list of manuscripts from that monastery, in Paris, BnF, Dupuy 651, fol. 252r-252v, listed as « D. August. Lib. Confess. » on fol. 252v.
The fragment itself forms a separate quire at fol. 100-105. It is bound with a collection of Carolingian fragments and only contains the last few pages of Confessions (from the middle of 13.33.48 to 13.35.50).
Paris, BnF, ms lat. 11645 is a 17th-century book list by the Maurists, made while they were compiling material for their editions of the works of Saint Augustine. Paris, BnF, ms lat. 11645 contains a library book list of the Augustinian holdings of St. Évroult starting at fol. 291, St. Ouen at fol. 368, and Bec at fol. 244-248 and fol. 373; Confessions is not listed among the 17th-century holdings of any of those monasteries. Note also that Paris, BnF, ms lat. 11647, the Maurists’ tome dedicated to editing manuscripts of Confessions, does not refer to any Norman manuscripts except for that from Lyre (see footnote below). Special thanks to Monique Peyrafort for pointing me towards this resource.
Lyre’s manuscript is listed as « B.3 » on fol. 380 of BnF, ms lat. 11645.
Paris, BnF, ms lat. 11645 does not mention a copy of Confessions at Fécamp (whose Augustinian manuscripts are listed on fol. 227-228 and fol. 351-352) nor at Jumièges (whose manuscripts are listed on fol. 367).
While Avril dates this manuscript to the mid-11th century, there is a possibility we may be able to narrow its date of production even further. At the end of the text of Confessions, in a second hand, a vita of St. Berthe of Blangy has been added (on fol. 101-105). Cassandra Potts observes that the feast of St. Berthe of Blangy was adopted at Fecamp between 1031-1051 (Potts, 1997a, p. 29), after John received the donation of the estate of Blangy from Roger, count of Pol. Therefore, this vita may have been added to the Confessions manuscript during the time of Berthe’s adoption in the Fécamp liturgy, before 1051.
Most of the manuscripts contain patristic works; for more on this, see: Webber, 1997, p. 197-199; Webber, 1996, p. 41; Branch, 1979, p. 166-167. I will, however, reexamine the collection of the Fécamp scriptorium – and discuss whether or not it is really typical – in my forthcoming study.
Courcelle, 1963, p. 235-261. See note 4 above.
There are two parts to today’s Rouen, Bibl. mun., 82: one from the 12th century (fol. 1-128v), and one from the 11th century (fol. 129-216), in which one finds the Jumièges Confessions manuscript (fol. 129-214v).
Confessions 13.35.50. Note that chapters 13.37.52 and 13.38.53 are therefore omitted.
Cross-checking this Fécamp-Jumièges recension with those noted by Wilmart, 1932, p. 259-268, Skutella, 1939, p. 70, Verheijen, 1979, p. 87-96, Gorman, 1981, p. 238-279, and Gorman, 1983, p. 114-145, it seems that the fragmentary ending in the Fécamp and Jumièges Confessions manuscripts does not appear in any other extant Confessions manuscript.
The scribe of fol. 214 of the Jumièges manuscript omits the lines that are not in italics. « Ita quidquid in spiritu dei vident quia bonum est, non ipsi sed deus videt, quia bonum est. Aliud ergo est ut putet quisque malum esse quod bonum est, quales supra dicti sunt; aliud ut quod bonum est videat homo quia bonum est, sicut multis tua creatura placet, quia bonum est, quibus tamen non tu places in ea, unde frui magis ipsa quam te volunt; aliud autem ut, cum aliquid videt homo quia bonum est, deus in illo videat quia bonum est, ut scilicet ille ametur in eo quod fecit… ».
While it is impossible to know for sure, one possibility might have been that Fécamp used an exemplar from St. Bénigne de Dijon. St. Bénigne was the house from which both John and his predecessor William of Volpiano came; the ties between these two houses were very strong (for more on this, see Stéphane Lecouteux’s article on the confraternities of Fécamp in this dossier of Tabularia). Moreover, there is a letter, from ca. 1001-1002/1004, between the priors of Fécamp and St. Bénigne, noting that there were manuscript exemplars from St. Bénigne at Fécamp (the letter is preserved in a 17th-century edition in Paris, BnF, coll. Bourgogne 11, fol. 745r-745v; many thanks to Stéphane Lecouteux for this reference). In addition, there was indeed an 11th-century manuscript of Confessions from St. Bénigne that the Maurists knew in the 17th century but that has since been lost. This manuscript’s existence is noted in Paris, BnF, ms lat. 11645 on fol. 379 and it is listed in the 1621 book list of St. Bénigne de Dijon compiled by Johannes Bouhier and found in Paris, BnF, ms lat. 17917 on fol. 162. It should be noted, however, that, in Paris, BnF, ms lat 11645, the Maurists record textual variations all the way through to the last lines of the St. Bénigne Confessions manuscript, and these demonstrate that the text was complete in this; therefore, if Fécamp did use it as an exemplar, the defective ending was introduced in the Fécamp copy. For more on this manuscript, see Gorman, 1981, p. 243-244. Unfortunately, no other significant common errors are present between the Fécamp Confessions and Maurists’ readings of the St. Bénigne Confessions that could help in connecting the two manuscripts.
The main period for the formation of the libraries of the other four monasteries in question post-dated that of Fécamp, which further supports this possibility. Nortier, 1971, p. 34, 99, 124, 183.
Bec is the only Norman house known to have a copy of excerpts of the Confessio Theologica, (Paris, BnF, ms lat. 13593), so Augustine’s Confessions might have had particular resonance there.
There has not been a systematic study of the circulation of copies and dissemination of texts around the Norman monastic world since Genevieve Nortier’s, but it is generally understood that the monasteries borrowed from each other’s libraries. For example, in the case of Jumièges, I have already identified four books in addition to Rouen, Bibl. mun., 82 that used Fécamp manuscripts as exemplars: Rouen, Bibl. mun., 474 (A225), 428 (A346), 1123 (U61), and 488 (U103). The abbeys of Jumièges and St. Évroult both adopted the customs of Fécamp, and it likely that exemplars were borowed from Fécamp (in the case of Jumièges) and from Jumièges (in the case of St. Évroult) (Gazeau, 2007, t. II, p. 238). Jumièges’ manuscripts have been studied as possible exemplars for the manuscripts of Bec (Grammont, 1954, t. II, p. 209-222); Nortier discusses how exemplars for Lyre’s manuscripts often came from Bec or St. Évroult (Nortier, 1971, p. 45, 125-126, 130, 148, 185); and Alexander remarks on how the Norman monks moved between different Norman monasteries during the courses of their lifetimes, sometimes carrying manuscripts along with them (Alexander, 1970, p. 83-84).
I compiled a list of unattributed 11th- and 12th-century manuscripts from the lists of medieval Confessions manuscripts published by Wilmart, 1932, p. 259-268, Skutella, 1939, p. 70, and Verheijen, 1979, p. 87-96. I then looked at the majority of these manuscripts (in person or in microfilm) to see if I could find evidence of a Norman manuscript being among them. I also took note of when and how these manuscripts contained nota marks, in order to provide a comparison for this study (see more on this below).
Catalogue général des manuscrits latins de la Bibliothèque nationale, t. II, nº 1916, p. 237, notes that the script of this manuscript is dated to the 12th century.
Bondéelle-Souchier, 1991, p. 228.
Lecouteux, 2007, p. 27-28. Mareste d’Alge’s coat of arms appears rubbed-out on the last folio of lat. 1916, fol. 109. In note 46 of that article, Stéphane Lecouteux is joined by Marie-Pierre Laffitte in saying that lat. 1916 is one of six manuscripts collected by Mareste d’Alge between 1640-1645 (likely before he acquired the Mortemer manuscripts) that should be considered as having an origin at Fécamp (Laffitte, 2005, p. 199). For more on the Norman manuscripts collected by Mareste d’Alge, see Dolbeau, 1988, p. 101-107 and Laffitte, 2014.
I would like to thank Marie-Thérèse Gousset for this attribution.
Namely, fol. 1-10v.
Branch, 1974, p. 159. Rouen, Bibl. mun., 492 is a manuscript of Cassiodorus’ Expositio in Psalmos.
They do quote John’s passages on occasion – see note 93 below.
Michael Gullick has recently called for more attention to be paid to nota marks in manuscripts, observing that « not much attention has been paid to nota marks in Romanesque manuscripts… However, there is a Christ Church [Cambridge] manuscript of the early 12th century [that has many nota marks which the scribe copied from his exemplar along with the main text]… [this] therefore demonstrates that such nota were sometimes (at least) regarded as important. », Gullick, 2008, p. 83.
There at least seven notating hands in this manuscript, ranging in date from the 12th through 17th centuries. Still, our 12th-century notator has marks whose character is easy to discern. They were all written with a narrow, sharp nib in a very controlled manner. Each forms an ‘N’ with an ‘a’ hanging off of the final, lengthened descender of the N. The ‘a’ is a slightly peaked, triangular, two-story miniscule ‘a,’ one which is comparable with the peaked ‘a’ found in the main 12th-century text of the manuscript. This similarity between a distinctive feature in both the main text and the notating hand allows us to date the notating hand as roughly contemporary with the main text.
Readings from Confessions were not prescribed in the Fécamp liturgy or the lectiones ad prandium, and the number and variety of hands in lat. 1916 indicate that the manuscript had many individual readers over time, who were interested in different aspects of the text.
The other annotators in Paris, BnF, ms lat. 1916 do not appear to have been nearly so consistent in the topics and themes to which they drew attention, highlighting at times random biographical facts from Augustine’s life (the names of Augustine’s friends, the names of works Augustine read, when Augustine was baptized, etc.) or various doctrinal aspects of Augustine’s text (Augustine on memory, Augustine on creation, etc.). Of the sample of the thirty-two French, English, German, and Italian 11th- and 12th-century manuscripts of Augustine’s Confessions that I viewed, very few of them are annotated, and none of them highlighted passages of Confessions with the kind of focus of our 12th-century annotator, preferring to note only to the kinds of biographical and doctrinal interests we see elsewhere in lat. 1916. A wider study of notations in all Confessions manuscripts would have to be done, of course, to be sure that the annotator in lat. 1916 was so unique in his choice of passages to annotate.
Quotations in bold in this column are direct quotations from Augustine’s Confessions as excerpted by John in the Confessio Theologica.
« In affectu ergo libidinoso, id enim est tenebroso, atque id est longe a vultu tuo » (notated on fol. 7v).
« Unum deum a quo sumus, per quem sumus, in quo sumus. A quo discessimus, cui dissimiles facti sumus » (CT, p. 117). Quotations on a similar theme are highlighted in Paris, BnF, ms lat. 1916 on fol. 5v, 7v, 65v, and 76v.
« Iactat tempestas navigantes minaturque naufragium; omnes futura morte pallescunt: tranquillatur caelum et mare, et exultant nimis, quoniam timuerunt nimis » (notated on fol. 49).
« Vidensque se in portu securitatis et laetitiae, gaudet evasisse iam turbulentum pelagus huius vitae miserae et periculosae, quae potius mors dicenda est, quam vita » (CT, p. 149).
« …ut vestris meritis vestrisque sanctis orationibus salva nave et integris mercibus securum perpetuae gloriae portum valeamus feliciter introire » (CT, p. 169).
« Exaudi me per medicinam vulnerum nostrorum, quae pependit in ligno, et sedens ad dexteram tuam te interpellat pro nobis » (fol. 64v).
« Per ipsam medicinam vulnerum nostrorum quae pependit in ligno, et sedet ad dexteram tuam atque interpellat pro nobis pietati bonitatique tuae supplico » (CT, p. 132). Quotes on a similar theme are highlighted in BnF, ms lat. 1916 on fol. 5v.
As above, quotations in bold in this column are direct quotes or paraphrases from Augustine’s Confessions as excerpted by John in the Confessio Theologica.
« Ego sub quadam fici arbore stravi me nescio quo modo et dimisi habenas lacrimis et pruperunt flumina oculorum meorum acceptabile sacrificium tuum » (fol. 55).
« …ut sacrificium spiritus contribulati et cordis contriti obortis lacrimis cotidie offeram tibi » (CT, p. 172-173).
This quotation was used also in the chart above: « Exaudi me per medicinam vulnerum nostrorum, quae pependit in ligno, et sedens ad dexteram tuam te interpellat pro nobis » (fol. 64v).
« Confortasti me dicens: ideo Christus pro omnibus mortuus est, ut et qui vivunt iam non sibi vivant, sed ei qui pro omnibus mortuus est… redemit me sanguine suo. Non calumnientur mihi superbi, quoniam cogito pretium meum, et manduco et bibo, et erogo et pauper cupio saturari ex eo inter illos, qui edunt et saturantur » (fol. 80v).
« Pulcherrime, rogo te per illam sacratissimam effusionem praetiosi sanguinis tui, quo sumus redempti, da mihi cordis contritionem, et lacrimarum fontem » (CT, p. 173).
« Non adhuc in sacramento, quo in hoc tempore consociantur membra tua, quamdiu bibitur quod de latere tuo manavit… ut in illa perspicua contemplatione tuae incommutabilis veritatis nullis mysteriis egeamus » (CT, p. 174).
These only highlighted doctrinal points or random biographical events in Augustine’s text. Cf. note 92 above.
This final idea would make Confessions one of only a handful of duplicate texts at the monastery, including the Vita of Mary of Egypt, the Sententiae of Isidore, and Augustine’s De symbolo and De duodecim abusivis saeculi (for more on the meaning of these duplicate texts, see my forthcoming study). If lat. 1916 was a second copy of Confessions, this further emphasizes just how much influence John might have had in putting together the intellectual and devotional culture of the monastery.
Lecouteux, 2007, p. 4. It is possible that the abbey of Mortemer owned lat. 1916, and that a monk at that abbey familiar with John’s work notated the manuscript.
For instance, while the scribe in Rouen, Bibl. mun., 492 creates g’s that are nearly-closed figure-8’s, like the scribe of lat. 1916, he also writes g’s that are open, with no consistent pattern based on letter-position. (For examples of these inconsistencies within the boundaries of a particular page, see fol. 56v of Paris, BnF, ms lat. 1916 and fol. 1 of Rouen, Bibl. mun., 492.) It is therefore difficult to characterize a scribal alphabet for each manuscript that would be definitive (and thereby most useful for comparison).
Copies of John’s writing from the 11th and 12th centuries survive from monasteries in Ripoll, St. Bénigne de Dijon, Metz, Troyes, and Zwettl, to name a few (see Hurlbut, 1943, p. V, 13 and p. V, 17 for the complete list). While the paleography of our book seems to indicate northern France, and not Ripoll or Zwettl, for instance, it is certainly possible the book be from a monastery in Troyes and not from Normandy, or that it was made in northern France and notated elsewhere.Haut de page