This paper is a contribution to an ongoing debate about the nature and extent of the writings of Baldwin of Forde, the often-mentioned, but rather less often-studied, abbot of Forde (c. 1175–80), bishop of Worcester (1180–4) and second archbishop of Canterbury (1185–90) after Thomas Becket. The discussion has been conducted almost exclusively in the introductions to scholarly editions of Baldwin's works or occasional journal articles, which serve to amplify them. My somewhat belated intervention in the discussion was prompted by the appearance in 2008 of an edition by José Louis Narvaja of what is purported to be Baldwin of Forde's lost work, the Liber de sectis hereticorum et orthodoxe fidei dogmata, but which I will argue is more likely to have been written by his friend Bartholomew of Exeter (d. 1184).
In short, my paper represents a response to Narvaja's comments in 2008 on Bell's 1984 dismissal of Dom Jean Leclercq's claim in 1963 that the works of Baldwin are ‘assez vaste’ (quite extensive) and many await publication. From this sequence of events it might be thought that scholarship on Baldwin cannot itself be described as ‘assez vaste’ and tends to be prosecuted at long intervals and in far flung places: from Luxemburg to Newfoundland to Argentina and Australia. Two of the three scholars in question, Dom Jean Leclercq and Professor David Bell, of Memorial University, Newfoundland, hardly need an introduction. Not so familiar, however, is the third, Professor José Louis Narvaja. He was the first to identify the text in a Latin manuscript from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, which had already been discussed as an anonymous work in studies of the conciliar movement, as that of a lost work by Baldwin. He then published a critical edition of the text in the series ‘Rarissima Mediaeualia’, under the auspices of the Theological Faculty of the St George Institute at Frankfurt. Narvaja is an Argentinian Jesuit and, as it happens, nephew of the present pope.
Let us begin with the statement of Leclercq, found in his introduction to the 1963 edition of Baldwin's De sacramento altaris. When discussing the author and his works Leclercq made the following claim: ‘Baldwin's work is quite extensive.
ALTHOUGH Arras MS 649 contains the fullest version of Herbert of Bosham's Vita S. Thomae, several abbreviated or otherwise incomplete versions being extant, it was not a particular interest in the archbishop's life and death which sent me to the text. Rather, I was in search of Herbert's own autobiographical interpolations, especially the one where he discusses doubts about the timing of the Incarnation. It was in the course of this enquiry that I became aware of the tangled tale of the missing leaves of Arras 649.
The fact that MS 649 had been mutilated is well known to scholars in the field, but the actual history of the excised leaves and such basic questions as their number and whereabouts at different times are the subject of conflicting accounts. Indeed there is a good deal of what might be thought of as mythology surrounding the story. The aim of this paper is to correct some widespread misapprehensions and to point up some bibliographical lessons along the way.
The preferred edition of Herbert's text of the Vita S. Thomae and its appendage the Liber Melorum is still that of James Craigie Robertson in volume three of Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. His edition supersedes that of John Allen Giles, published in Herberti de Boseham opera quae extant omnia, which text formed part of his ambitious series, the Patres Ecclesiae Anglicanae. It was the Giles edition that J.-P. Migne later appropriated, for the even less reliable version printed in volume 190 of the Patrologia Latina.
However, when I had ordered up Volume III of the Materials from the University of Adelaide Library I was disconcerted to find a line of asterisks at a crucial juncture of the text. They occur at the transition from Herbert's account of Thomas's decidedly brisk manner in getting through the mass to his own doubts about the Incarnation. It was at this point that I consulted Robertson's Introduction to the Materials in Volume I for an explanation of what had happened, and so began my search for the missing leaves of the Arras manuscript.
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