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Jordanus of Saxony's Vita S. Augustini the Source for John Capgrave's Life of St Augustine

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 July 2017

Rudolph Arbesmann*
Fordham University


“Habent sua fata libelli.” This often-quoted line from the work of the North African grammarian Terentianus Maurus can safely be applied to two biographies of St. Augustine written by two men outstanding in the literary world of their age. They are Jordanus of Saxony (1300–1380 ca.) and John Capgrave (1393–1464).

Copyright © 1943 by Cosmopolitan Science & Art Service Co., Inc. 

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1 De syllabis 1286, in Grammatici Latini (ed. Keil, H., 7 vols., Leipzig, 1855–80), VI, 363.

2 For more complete data see Hümpfner's, W Introduction to Jordani de Saxonia Ord. Er. S. Aug. Liber Vitasfratrum , ed. Arbesmann, R. and Hümpfner, W, New York, Cosmopolitan Science and Art Service Co., 1943.

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3 Cf. Jordanus's autograph MS, Paris, Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Cod. 251, fol. 1v: “ hinc est quod ego frater Jordanus de Saxonia, dictus de Quedelingburg. ”

4 Cf. Torelli, L., Secoli Agostiniani overo Historia Generale del Sagro Ordine Eremitico del Gran Dottore di Santa Chiesa S. Aurelio Agostino Vescovo d'Hippona, divisa in tredeci secoli (8 vols., Bologna, 1659–86), V, 209f.

5 Cf. Analecta Augustiniana, III (1909–10), 57

6 Jordanus himself narrates a number of personal experiences with his teacher Prosper de Reggio (Liber Vitasfratrum II, 6) and his Prior Johannes de Lana (ibid., II, 8) at the Studium Generale in Bologna.

7 In the Arsenal MS 251, fol. 1v, Jordanus calls himself “inter scolares parisienses minimus.” The definitiones of the Chapter General held at Bologna in 1306 (cf. Anal. August., III, 57) prescribed two years in aliquo Studio Generali and three more years in Paris as requirements for the title of lector .

8 Opus Postillarum et Sermonum de Tempore, Part III, Section 2, Prologus .

9 The Explicit of the Berlin MS th. lat. qu. 175 (saec. XIV), fol. 89b, which formerly belonged to the Monastery of St. Peter in Erfurt, reads: “Explicit exposicio oracionis dominice, edita et lecta in scolis Erford. per fratrem Jordanum de quetenlingburg ordinis heremitarum sancti Augustini anno domini M0CCC0XXVII0 cum Matheum ordinarie lectitaret; qui etiam ad maiorem utilitatem hanc lecturam secundum numerum decalogi decem lectionibus contentam compendiose conscribere et communicare curavit pulsatus instanciis auditorum.”

10 Cf. Chron. Magdeburg., ed. Meibom, H., Rerum Germ. Tomi III (Helmstedt, 1688), Pars II, p. 340; Torelli, L., op. cit., V, 477f., according to Th. de Herrera, Alphabetum Augustinianum, I (Madrid, 1643), p. 375, who in turn refers to Henricus Wolterus of Strevesdorf's Primas Magdeburgensis in Burchardo.

11 Cf. Cruel, R., Geschichte der deutschen Predigt im Mittelalter, Detmold, 1879, p. 421; Stammler, W., Die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters, Verfasserlexikon, II (Berlin-Leipzig, 1936), col. 658.

12 Cf. Meibom, , op. cit. , p. 340.

13 Cf. Kopialbuch of the Augustinian Monastery of Erfurt in the State Archives in Magdeburg, n. 227; Geschichtsquellen der Provinz Sachsen, vol. XXVI, n. 402, 404.

14 Cf. Anal. August., IV (1910–11), 177; Codex Diplomaticus Ordinis Eremitarum Sancti Augustini Papiae (ed. Maiocchi, R. and Casacca, N., 5 vols., Pavia, 1905–15), I, 74.

15 Cf. Anal. August., IV, 232.

16 Liber Vitasfratrum, II, 14.

17 Cf. ibid., II, 18; 20.

18 The editio princeps by Fivizzani, A. appeared at Rome in 1587–88. Later historians of the Order are constantly obliged to recur to the Liber Vitasfratrum for the early part of the Order's history; they even quote some chapters in their entirety Historians, not members of the Order, do the same thing, for instance, Hartmann Schedel in his Historia Universi ab initio mundi seu Chronica Nuerenbergensis (Nuremberg, 1493), and Antoninus archbishop of Florence (1446–59) in his Summa historialis s. chronicon bipartitum, tit. 24, cap. 14 (published also under the titles Chronicorum opus and Historiarum opus, for the first time in Venice, 1474–79). Walker, J. B., The Chronicles of Saint Antoninus—A Study in Historiography (Diss., The Cath. Univ of America, Washington, D. C., 1933), p. 97 makes the following remark concerning the above-quoted chapter 14: “Our investigation of the source of this brief history or apology has not as yet reached a point where a conclusion would be warranted.” The source is Jordanus's Liber Vitasfratrum (I, 14) from which it is taken almost literally.

19 Fratris Gerardi de Fracheto O. P Vitae Fratrum, ed. Reichert, B. M., Monumenta Ordinis Fratrum Praedicatorum Historica, I (Louvain, 1896).

20 The editio princeps appeared in Strassburg 1483.

21 This work of Jordanus was never printed and exists only in MSS.

22 It was first printed with the title, Sermones Dan de Sanctis, with no mention of a publisher, who was probably Heinrich Knoblochtzer of Strassburg. Cf. Louis Polain, M., Catalogue des Livres imprimés au XV e siècle des Bibliothèques de Belgique , 1932, II, No. 2329.

23 E.g., under an extended title, Meditationes de Vita et Passione Jesu Christi, by Gerhard Leeu of Antwerp in 1485. By 1491 he had issued four more editions. Cf. Campbell, M.F.A.G., Annales de la Typographie Néerlandaise au XV e siècle , La Haye, , 1874, Nos. 1046–1050.

24 E.g., in German by M(agister) P A(ntoninus) H(öhn) in Würzburg in 1758 under the title: Fünf und sechtzig andächtige und heylsame Articul von dem Leyden Jesu Christi .

25 Cf. Catalogue des Manuscrits de la Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal par Martin, H., Paris, 1896, pp. 140142: Jourdain de Quedlinbourg. Extraits de S. Augustin et documents sur S. Augustin, manuscrit autographe, n. 251 (s. XIV). The Codex was partly published by Hommey, J. in his Supplementum Patrum, Paris, 1686. The Maurists used it for the pseudo-augustinian Sermones ad fratres in eremo in their edition of St. Augustine's works: cf. Sancti Aurelii Augustini Hipponensis Episcopi Operum Tom. VI (Paris, 1685), Append., col. 303–306. There can hardly be a doubt that the Collectanea of Cod. 251 represent preliminary studies for the Liber Vitasfratrum.

26 The text of the translationes is taken from the Vita beati Augustini Hipponensis Episcopi of Philip d'Harvengt (died 1182), second abbot of the Premonstratensian abbey, Bonne Espérance, in the diocese of Cambrai: Migne, P L. 203, 1206–1234; cf. Bibl. Hagiograph. Lat., I (Bruxelles, 1898–99), p. 127 Jordanus made some new additions.

27 The Commendatio is taken from the Milleloquium S. Augustini of Bartholomew of Urbino and enriched with new additions.

28 The Vita sanctae Monicae is a compilation of excerpts from the Confessions of St. Augustine. Its author is the Prior and later Abbot Walterus of Arrouaise, an abbey of Canons of St. Augustine, lying between Bapaume and Péronne: Acta SS, I Maii, pp. 478–85; cf. Bibl. Hagiograph. Lat., II, 875.

29 Acta SS, I Maii, pp. 486–93; cf. Bibl. Hagiograph. Lat., II, 875.

30 The Legenda de S. Augustino is but a shorter version of the Vita S. Augustini and the Translationes.

Est sciendum quod legenda famosa appellatur hic legenda quedam sollempnis et antiqua, stilo venusto more veterum compilata a quodam qui Philippum se nominat, circa finem eiusdem legende sic dicens: ‘Eligant alii quod sua cuique suggerit ambicio, sed si Philippo daretur opcio, mallet sanctam paupertatem qua deus pontificem ditauit Augustinum. quam regnum et diuicias quibus regem extulit Allexandrum.’ Et habetur illa legenda in multis antiquis monasteriis canonicorum regularium et premonstratensium.

31 Cf. Manitius, M., Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters, III (München, 1931), p. 509f.

32 Cf. Catalogue Général des Manuscripts des Bibliothèques des Départements, VII: Toulouse-Nîmes, Paris, 1885: Bibl. de Toulouse, n. 169, saec. XIV

33 Cf. Catal. Codd. Hagiograph. Bibl. Privat. Caesaris Austriaci: Cod. 9375 A n. 22, fol. 81–96, saec. XV; Anal. Bolland., XV (1895), 251; Bibl. Hagiograph. Lat., I, 127

34 Gwynn, A., Gwynn, S.J., The English Austin Friars in the Time of Wyclif, Oxford, 1940, p. 16.

35 Introduction to The Chronicle of England, by Capgrave, John, ed. by Hingeston, F C., Rolls Series, No. 1, London, 1858.

36 Introduction to The Life of St. Katherine of Alexandria, by Capgrave, John, ed. by Horstmann, C., with Forewords by Furnivall, F J., in Early English Text Society Publications, No. 100, London, 1893. See also DNB III, 929–31.

37 Early English Text Society Publications, No. 140, London, 1910.

38 ‘Hermes’ is Capgrave's misreading of the original ‘Hierius.’

39 Cf. Jordanus's own Table of Contents on fol. 2v.

40 The lines were also printed by Hommey (op. cit., p. 638), though he found the MS in its present state. Cf. ibid., p. 652: “alterius denique vitae eiusdem S. Patris, quam doleo capite fuisse praecisam.” Hommey refers to the Legenda de S. Augustino .

41 Historiarum Liber, I, 2.

42 Etymologiae, XIV, 2ff.

43 Ravennatis Anonymi Cosmographia, ed. Pinder, M. et Parthey, G., Berolini, 1860.

44 Kimble, George H. T., Geography in the Middle Ages, London, 1938, p. 42.

45 Cf. ibid., p. 212f.

46 Cf. the list of Capgrave's lost Latin works in The Life of St. Katherine of Alexandria, Introd., p. XV

47 Life of St. Augustine, Introd., p. VIII.

48 Edited by Mills, C. A., Oxford, 1911.

49 Ye Solace of Pilgrims, Preface, p. VII f.

50 Life of St. Augustine, Introd., p. VII.

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