background img

Codex of the month (V): Paris, BN, NAL 2170

3 years ago written by
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, nouv. acq. lat. 2170


Dated c. 928 + 11th century

Cassianus’ Collationes Patrum were not as popular throughout the Iberian Peninsula as the Beatos or the Moralia in Iob, medieval best-sellers of the last Codex of the month posts. However, codices with this work were also well-known and spread. The Collationes are a compilation of 24 texts, dialogs or conferences, in which several characters introduce the reader to the teachings and precepts of Oriental monasticism. Iohannes Cassianus (c. 365-c. 435) summarized on this work the principles of Eastern monasticism, as he lived them on his pilgrimage to the Egyptian hermits with his master and friend abbot Germanus of Bethlehem, introducing thus them into Europe.

(More about Cassianus’ life and work)


© Paris, BN, NAL 2170, fol. 120v

Detail of explicit, incipit and index © Paris, BN, NAL 2170, fol. 120v

A) Fols. 1r-236v: Cassianus, Collationes Patrum. The first two quires are missing; it starts with the end of cap. IX, collatio secunda (abbatis Moysis). (read Migne’s PL 49, 477 – 1328C,  online)

Each collatio has its own incipit, index with number and title of each cap., and explicit –for example, collatio tertia ‘conlatio abbatis Pafnuntii’ = 22 cap. = incipit + index in fol. 7r and explicit in fol. 16r.

(fol. 236v) “Explicit conlatio abbatis Abrahe de mortificatione. Finit liber conlationum editum a beato Cassiano. Deo gratias”.

B) Fol. 236v: Prayer in honor of Sancti Martialis Episcopi (with musical notation). “O princips egregie, o Martialis…”

© Paris, BN, NAL 2170, fol. 236v

Prayer in honor of Sancti Martialis © Paris, BN, NAL 2170, fol. 236v

C) Fols. 237r-255r: Vita Sancti Martialis Episcopi (Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina 5552)

(fol. 236v; Gothic script) “Incipit uita sancti ac gloriosissimi Marcialis episcopi Equitaniorum primi patroni Lemouicensium ciuitas, qui obiit pridie kalendas Iulii” (fol. 237v with the same version written in Visigothic script).

* The codex has a large collection of glosses, emendations, and some other notes (synonyms), from the 11th century mostly.

© Paris, BN, NAL 2170, fol. 6r

Detail of notes © Paris, BN, NAL 2170, fol. 6r

* Order of copy: Collationes -> Vita -> Prayer (on a verso left blank).


Support: well-preserved text, although many leaves have been damaged by humidity lacking of almost all external margins. Only half of the inner column is extant for fol. 165. Modern binding of brown leather.

No. of leaves & layout: 259 fols. (370 x 270 mm); two columns-35 lines for the first part and two columns-31 lines for the second one; quaternions; ruled in dry point (two vertical lines defining the outer margin of the writing box and a vertical line in each column in the inner area; 2-1-1-2; the pricking for those vertical lines easily found).

© Paris, BN, NAL 2170, fol. 53r

Detail of pricking and ruling of the page © Paris, BN, NAL 2170, fol. 53r

The chapter of each collatio is sometimes referred to in the upper margin of the folio. There are some subtle differences in the layout used by each scribe. Thus, for example, in collatio nona (second scribe), the numerals for each chapter go in the intercolumn space and not within each column.

Copyist/s: At least six copyist. Working in the second decade of the 10th century: fols. 1r-38r, fols. 38r-96v (identified as Alburanus, fol. 87r), fols. 97r-146v, fols. 146v-233v (identified as Iulianus). Working in the 11th century: fols. 234r-236v and fols. 237r-255r. In the first part of the codex, there are also some 11th-century additions on fols. 128v (editing faded ink) and 148v.

(fol. 87r) “Explicit conlatio abbatis Isaac secunda de oratione. Deo gratias. Expliciunt conlationes X sanctorum Adelladio et Leontio episcopis. Incipiunt alie VII ad Honoratum aepiscopum et Eucerio famulo Christi. Amen. Deo gratias. Hec sunt in hoc codice conlationes numero VII, abbatis Ceremonis conlationes III, abbatis Nestoris conlationes II, abbatis Iosep conlationes II. Incipit prefatio. O pie lector Albunari scribtoris memento“.

* Each chapter header highlighted in red ink mostly, sometimes in green, and copied by the same hand that its text.


Collationes Patrum: This part of the manuscript contains a number of small decorative initials or litterae notabiliores in green, yellow and red as part of incipit and explicit. Seem that their style slightly changes between hands, especially between the first two and the third one, less elaborated. In some of these initials, small figures were added within; especially in those corresponding to the third hand.

© Paris, BN, NAL 2170, fol. 66r

Detail of initial © Paris, BN, NAL 2170, fol. 66r

Vita Sancti Martialis: On this second part, initials were also highlighted in red, green, yellow and blue but in a continental style.

Script: For the first part, Collationes, minuscule Visigothic script; for the second part, Vita Sancti Martialis Episcopi, minuscule Visigothic script with some slight graphic influence from Caroline minuscule.

Detail scribe 1 vs. 2 © Paris, BN, NAL 2170, fol. 38r

Detail scribe 1 vs. 2 of the Collationes © Paris, BN, NAL 2170, fol. 38r


Origin: All seems to indicate that the codex was copied at the monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos (Burgos), at least its second part and the glosses–without a thorough graphic analysis, the scripts of the 10th and of the 11th seem to differ enough as to possibly belong to two different production centers of the same cultural level.

Provenance: Santo Domingo de Silos?; this codex was in the monastery’s archive in the 18th century.

Context: Cassianus’ works were fundamental readings about monasticism in medieval Europe. How institutions should be managed and how the ascetic experience must be understood as useful for a better comprehension of God and the nature of His word. During the 9th and 10th centuries, both Cassianus’s Collationes as well as his Institutiones were read and copied in the Iberian Peninsula: we have 10 extant codices, four Institutiones and six Collationes all dating from that period ((you can find them on the Excel list of manuscripts here). And the interest on these works was not geographically focused on one place, but rather widely spread throughout all the Visigothic ancient kingdom: from Córdoba to Barcelona, including Burgos, Zaragoza, and La Rioja, monasteries from very different backgrounds read, and annotated, Cassianus.

IV. Personal comments:

Detail 11th-century additions © Paris, BN, NAL 2170, fol. 148v

Detail 11th-century additions © Paris, BN, NAL 2170, fol. 148v

As far as I know, although the content of this codex has been extensively studied, the several hands who collaborate on its copy have not. Therefore, a further study of each of these scribes would be interesting, especially bearing in mind their collaboration dividing up quires and content. If both parts of the manuscript were written and annotated in the same production center, Silos, their graphical study would also bring light about the evolution of the script in there from the early-mid-10th to the late 11th century.

V. References:

Clark, C. U. 1920. Collectanea Hispanica. Paris, p. 54, nº 669. (online)

Delisle, L. 1880. Mélanges de Paléographie et de Bibliographie. Paris, p. 78-79. (online)

Díaz y Díaz, M. C. 1983. Códices visigóticos de la monarquía leonesa. León: Centro de Estudios e Investigación San Isidoro – CSIC, p. 454, nº 188.

Lowe, E. A. 1910. Studia Paleographica. Munich, p. 63, nº 31 (Palaeographical Papers. I. Oxford, 1972). (online)

Millares Carlo, A. 1999. Corpus de códices visigóticos (ed. by M. C. Díaz y Díaz, A. M. Mundo Marcet, J. M. Ruiz Asencio, B. Casado Quintanilla, and E. Lecuona Ribot). Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: UNED, nº 262.

Millares Carlo, A. 1932. Tratado de Paleografía Española. Madrid, p. 568, nº 215.

More on Cassian -> Tzamaliko, P. 2012. The real Cassian revisited: monastic Life, Greek paideia, and Origenism in the sixth century. Leiden.

 Digitized (BnF Gallica).

Littera Visigothica gallery.

– by Ainoa Castro


Suggested Citation: Castro Correa, A. “Codex of the month (V): Paris, BN, NAL 2170″. Littera Visigothica (February 2015), (ISSN 2386-6330).

Article Categories:
Catalog · Codex of the month · Codices

Comments to Codex of the month (V): Paris, BN, NAL 2170

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Menu Title