Jacques Maritain Center : Greatest of Centuries


As the Thirteenth Century begins some 250 years before the art of printing was introduced, it would seem idle to talk of libraries and especially of circulating libraries during this period and quite as futile to talk of bookmen and book collectors. Any such false impression, however, is founded entirely upon a lack of knowledge of the true state of affairs during this wonderful period. A diocesan council held in Paris in the year 1212, with other words of advice to religious, recalled to them the duty that they had to lend such books as they might possess, with proper guarantee for their return, of course, to those who might make good use of them. The council, indeed, formally declared that the lending of books was one of the works of mercy. The Cathedral chapter of Notre Dame at Paris was one of the leaders in this matter and there are records of their having lent many books during the Thirteenth Century. At most of the abbeys around Paris there were considerable libraries and in them also the lending custom obtained. This is especially true of the Abbey of St. Victor of which the rule and records are extant.

Of course it will be realized that the number of books was not large, but on the other hand it must not be forgotten that many of them were works of art in every particular, and some of them that have come down to us continue to be even to the present day among the most precious bibliophilic treasures of great state and city libraries. Their value depends not alone on their antiquity but on their perfection as works of art. In general it may be said that the missals and office books, and the prayer books made for royal personages and the nobility at the time, are yet counted among the best examples of bookmaking the world has ever seen. It is not surprising that such should be the case since these books were mainly meant for use in the Cathedrals and the chapels, and these edifices were so beautiful in every detail that the generations that erected them could not think of making books for use in them, that would be unworthy of the artistic environment for which they were intended. With the candlesticks, the vessels, and implements used in the ceremonial surpassing works of art, with every form of decoration so nearly perfect as to be a source of unending admiration, with the vestments and altar linens specimens of the most exquisite handiwork of their kind that had ever been made, the books associated with them had to be excellent in execution, expressive of the most refined taste and finished with an attention utterly careless of the time and labor that might be required, since the sole object was to make everything as absolutely beautiful as possible. Hence there is no dearth of wonderful examples of the beautiful bookmaking of this century in all the great libraries of the world.

The libraries themselves, moreover, are of surpassing interest because of their rules and management, for little as it might be expected this wonderful century anticipated in these matters most of our very modern library regulations. The bookmen of the time not only made beautiful books, but they made every provision to secure their free circulation and to make them available to as many people as was consonant with proper care of the books and the true purposes of libraries. This is a chapter of Thirteenth Century history more ignored perhaps than any other, but which deserves to be known and will appeal to our century more perhaps than to any intervening period.

The constitutions of the Abbey St. Victor of Paris give us an excellent idea at once of the solicitude with which the books were guarded, yet also of the careful effort that was made to render them useful to as many persons as possible. One of the most important rules at St. Victor was that the librarian should know the contents of every volume in the library, in order to be able to direct those who might wish to consult the books in their selection, and while thus sparing the books unnecessary handling also save the readers precious time. We are apt to think that it is only in very modern times that this training of librarians to know their books so as to be of help to the readers was insisted on. Here, however, we find it in full force seven centuries ago. It would be much more difficult in the present day to know all the books confided to his care, but some of the librarians at St. Victor were noted for the perfection of their knowledge in this regard and were often consulted by those who were interested in various subjects.

In his book on the Thirteenth Century{1} M. A. Lecoy de la Marche says that in France, at least, circulating libraries were quite common. As might be expected of the people of so practical a century, it was they who first established the rule that a book might be taken out provided its value were deposited by the borrower. Such lending libraries were to be found at the Sorbonne, at St. Germain des Prés, as well as at Notre Dame. There was also a famous library at this time at Corbie but practically every one of the large abbeys had a library from which books could be obtained. Certain of the castles of the nobility, as for instance that of La Ferte en Ponthieu, had libraries, with regard to which there is a record, that the librarian had the custom of lending certain volumes, provided the person was known to him and assumed responsibility for the book.

Some of the regulations of the libraries of the century have an interest all their own from the exact care that was required with regard to the books. The Sorbonne for instance by rule inflicted a fine upon anyone who neglected to close large volumes after he had been making use of them. Many a librarian of the modern times would be glad to put into effect such a regulation as this. A severe fine was inflicted upon any library assistant who allowed a stranger to go into the library alone, and another for anyone who did not take care to close the doors. It seems not unlikely that these regulations, as M. Lecoy de la Marche says, were in vigor in many of the ecclesiastical and secular libraries of the time.

Some of the regulations of St. Victor are quite as interesting and show the liberal spirit of the time as well as indicate how completely what is most modern in library management was anticipated. The librarian had the charge of all the books of the community, was required to have a detailed list of them and each year to have them in his possession at least three times. On him was placed the obligation to see that the books were not destroyed in any way, either by parasites of any kind or by dampness. The librarian was required to arrange the books in such a manner as to make the finding of them prompt and easy. No book was allowed to be borrowed unless some pledge for its safe return were left with the librarian. This was emphasized particularly for strangers who must give a pledge equal to the value of the book. In all cases, however, the name of the borrower had to be taken, also the title of the book borrowed, and the kind of pledge left. The larger and more precious books could not be borrowed without the special permission of the superior.

The origin of the various libraries in Paris is very interesting as proof that the mode of accumulating books was nearly the same as that which enriches university and other such libraries at the present time. The library of La St. Chapelle was founded by Louis IX, and being continuously enriched by the deposit therein of the archives of the kingdom soon became of first importance. Many precious volumes that were given as presents to St. Louis found their way into this library and made it during his lifetime the most valuable collection of books in Paris. Louis, moreover, devoted much time and money to adding to the library. He made it a point whenever on his journeys he stopped at abbeys or other ecclesiastical institutions, to find out what books were in their library that were not at La Saint Chaielle and had copies of these made. His intimate friendship with Robert of Sorbonne, with St. Thomas of Aquin, with Saint Bonaventure, and above all with Vincent of Beauvais, the famous encyclopedist of the century, widened his interest in books and must have made him an excellent judge of what he ought to procure to complete the library. It was, as we shall see, Louis' munificent patronage that enabled Vincent to accumulate that precious store of medieval knowledge, which was to prove a mine of information for so many subsequent generations.

From the earliest times certain books, mainly on medicine, were collected at the Hotel Dieu, the great hospital of Paris, and this collection was added to from time to time by the bequests of physicians in attendance there. This was doubtless the first regular hospital library, though probably medical books had also been collected at Salernum. The principal colleges of the universities also made collections of books, some of them very valuable, though as a rule, it would seem as if no attempt was made to procure any other books than those which were absolutely needed for consultation by the students. The best working library at Paris was undoubtedly that of the Sorbonne, of which indeed its books were for a long time its only treasures. For at first the Sorbonne was nothing but a teaching institution which only required rooms for its lectures, and usually obtained these either from the university authorities or from the Canons of the Cathedral and possessed no property except its library. From the very beginning the professors bequeathed whatever books they had collected to its library and this became a custom. It is easy to understand that within a very short time the library became one of the very best in Europe. While most of the other libraries were devoted mainly to sacred literature, the Sorbonne came to possess a large number of works of profane literature. Interesting details with regard to this library of the Sorbonne and its precious treasures have been given by M. Leopold Delisle, in the second volume of Le Cabinet des Manuscrits, describing the MSS. of the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris. According to M. Lecoy de la Marche, this gives an excellent idea of the persevering efforts which must have been required, to bring together so many bibliographic treasures at a time when books were such a rarity, and consequently enables us better almost than anything else, to appreciate the enthusiasm of the scholars of these early times and their wonderful efforts to make the acquisition of knowledge easier, not only for their own but for succeeding generations. When we recall that the library of the Sorbonne was, during the Thirteenth Century, open not only to the professors and students of the Sorbonne itself, but also to those interested in tooks and in literature who might come from elsewhere, provided they were properly accredited, we can realize to the full the thorough liberality of spirit of these early scholars. Usually we are prone to consider that this liberality of spirit, even in educational matters, came much later into the world.

In spite of the regulations demanding the greatest care, it is easy to understand that after a time even books written on vellum or parchment would become disfigured and worn under the ardent fingers of enthusiastic students, when comparatively so few copies were available for general use. In order to replace these worn-out copies every abbey had its own scriptorium or writing room, where especially the younger monks who were gifted with plain handwriting were required to devote certain hours every day to the copying of manuscripts. Manuscripts were borrowed from neighboring libraries and copied, or as in our modern day exchanges of duplicate copies were made, so as to avoid the risk that precious manuscripts might be subject to on the journeys from one abbey to another. How much tha duty of transcription was valued may be appreciated from the fact, that in some abbeys every novice was expected to bring on the day of his profession as a religious, a volume of considerable size which had been carefully copied by his own hands.

Besides these methods of increasing the number of books in the library, a special sum of money was set aside in most of the abbeys for the procuring of additional volumes for the library by purchase. Usually this took the form of an ecclesiastical regulation requiring that a certain percentage of the revenues should be spent on the libraries. Scholars closely associated with monasteries frequently bequeathed their books and besides jeft money or incomes to be especially devoted to the improvement of the library. It is easy to understand that with all these sources of enrichment many abbeys possessed noteworthy libraries. To quote only those of France, important collections of books were to be found at Cluny, Luxeuil, Fleury, Saint-Martial, Moissac, Mortemer, Savigny, Fourcarmont, Saint P~re de Chartres, Saint Denis, Saint-Maur-des-Foss~s, Saint Corneille de Compi~gne, Corbie. Saint-Amand, Saint-Martin de Tournai, where Vincent de Beauvais said that he founi the greatest collections of manuscripts that existed in his time, and then especially the great Parisian abbeys already referred to, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Saint Victor, Saint-Martin-des-Champs, the precious treasures of which are well known to all those who are familiar with the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris, of whose manuscript department their relics constitute the most valuable nucleus.

Some of the bequests of books that were made to libraries at this time are interesting, because they show the spirit of the testators and at the same time furnish valuable hints as to the consideration in which books were held and the reverent care of their possessors for them. Peter of Nemours, the Bishop of Paris, when setting out on the crusades with Louis IX. bequeathed to the famous Abbey of St. Victor, his Bible in 22 volumes, which was considered one of the finest copies of the scriptures at that time in existence. To the Abbey of Olivet he gave his Psalter with Glosses, besides the Epistles of St. Paul and his Book of Sentences, by which is evidently intended the well-known work with that title by the famous Peter Lombard. Finally he gave to the Cathedral of Paris all the rest of his books. Besides these he had very little to leave. It is typical of the reputation of Paris in that century and the devotion of her churchmen to learning and culture, that practically all of the revenues that he considered due him for his personal services had been invested in books, which he then disposed of in such a way as would secure their doing the greatest possible good to the largest number of people. His Bible was evidently given to the abbey of St. Victor because it was the sort of work that should be kept for the occasional reference of the learned rather than the frequent consultation of students, who might very well find all that they desired in other and less valuable copies. His practical intention with regard to his books can be best judged from his gift to Notre Dame, which, as we have noted already possessed a very valuable library that was allowed to circulate among properly accredited scholars in Paris.

According to the will of Peter Ameil, Archbishop of Narbonne, which is dated 1238, he gave his books for the use of the scholars whom he had supported at the University of Paris and they were to be deposited in the Library at Notre Dame, but on condition that they were not to be scattered for any reason nor any of them sold or abused. The effort of the booklover to keep his books together is characteristic of all the centuries since, only most people will be surprised to find it manifesting itself so early in bibliophilic history. The Archbishop reserved from his books, however, his Bible for his own church. Before his death he had given the Dominicans in his diocese many books from his library. This churchman of the first half of the Thirteenth Century seems evidently to deserve a prominent place among the bookmen of all times.

There are records of many others who bequeathed libraries and gave books during their lifetime to various institutions, as may be found in the Literary History of France,{2} already mentioned, as well as in the various histories of the University of Paris. Many of these gifts were made on condition that they should not be sold and the constantly recurring condition made by these booklovers is that their collections should be kept together. The libraries of Paris were also in the market for books, however, and there is proof that the Sorbonne purchased a number of volumes because the cost price of them was noted inside the cover quite as libraries do in our own days. When we realize the forbidding cost of them, it is surprising that there should be so much to say about them and so many of them constantly changing hands. An ordinary folio volume probably cost from 400 to 500 francs in our values, that is between $80 and $100.

While the older abbeys of the Benedictines and other earlier religious orders possessed magnificent collections of books, the newer orders of the Thirteenth Century, the Mendicants, though as their name indicates they were bound to live by alms given them by the faithful, within a short time after their foundation began to take a prominent part in the library movement. It was in the southern part of France that the Dominicans were strongest and so there is record of regulations for libraries made at Toulouse in the early part of the Thirteenth Century. In Paris, in 1239, considerable time and discussion was devoted in one of the chapters of the order to the question of how books should be kept, and how the library should be increased. With regard to the Franciscans, though their poverty was, if possible, stricter, the same thing is known before the end of the century. In both orders arrangements were made for the copying of important works and it is, of course, to the zeal and enthusiasm of the younger members of these orders for this copying work, that we owe the preservation by means of a large number of manuscript copies, of the voluminous writings of such men as Albertus Magnus, St. Thomas, Duns Scotus and others.

While the existence of libraries of various kinds, and even circulating libraries, in the Thirteenth Century may seem definitely settled, it will appear to most people that to speak of book collecting at this time must be out of place. That fad is usually presumed to be of much later origin and indeed to be comparatively recent in its manifestations. We have said enough already, however, of the various collections of books in ]ibraries especially in France to show that the book collector was abroad, but there is much more direct evidence of this available from an English writer. Richard de Bury's Philobiblon is very well known to all who are interested in books for their own sake, but few people realize that this book practically had its origin in the Thirteenth Century. The writer was born about the beginning of the last quarter of that century, had completed his education before its close, and it is only reasonable to attribute to the formative influences at work in his intellectual development as a young man, the germs of thought from which were to come in later life the interesting book on bibliophily, the first of its kind, which was to be a treasure for book-lovers ever afterwards.

Philobiblon tells us, among other things, of Richard's visits to the continent on an Embassy to the Holy See and on subsequent occasions to the Court of France, and the delight which he experienced in handling many books which he had never seen before, in buying such of them as his purse would allow, or his enthusiasm could tempt from their owners and in conversing with those who could tell him about books and their contents. Such men were the chosen comrades of his journeys, sat with him at table, as Mr. Henry Morley tells us in his English Writers (volume IV, page 51), and were in almost constant fellowship with him. It was at Paris particularly that Richard's heart was satisfied for a time because of the great treasures he found in the magnificent libraries of that city. He was interested, of course, in the University and the opportunity for intellectual employment afforded by Academic proceedings, but above all he found delight in books, which monks and monarchs and professors and churchmen of all kinds and scholars and students had gathered into this great intellectual capital of Europe at that time. Anyone who thinks the books were not valued quite as highly in the Thirteenth Century as at the present time should read the Philobiblon. He is apt to rise from the reading of it with the thought that it is the modern generations who do not properly appreciate books.

One of the early chapters of Philobiblon argues that books ought always to be bought whatever they cost, provided there are means to pay for them, except in two cases, "when they are knavishly overcharged, or when a better time for buying is expected." "That sun of men, Solomon," Richard says, "bids us buy books readily and sell them unwillingly, for one of his proverbs runs, 'Buy the truth and sell it not, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.'" Richard in his own quaint way thought that most other interests in life were only temptations to draw men away from books. In one famous paragraph he has naively personified books as complaining with regard to the lack of attention men now display for them and the unworthy objects, in Richard's eyes at least, upon which they fasten their affections instead, and which take them away from the only great life interest that is really worth while -- books.

"Yet," complain books, "in these evil times we are cast out of our place in the inner chamber, turned out of doors, and our place taken by dogs, birds, and the two-legged beast called woman. But that beast has always been our rival, and when she spies us in a corner, with no better protection than the web of a dead spider, she drags us out with a frown and violent speech, laughing us to scorn as useless, and soon counsels us to be changed into costly head-gear, fine linen, silk and scarlet double dyed, dresses and divers trimmings, linens and woolens. And so," complain the books still, "we are turned out of our homes, our coats are torn from our backs, our backs and sides ache, we lie about disabled, our natural whiteness turns to yellow -- without doubt we have the jaundice. Some of us are gouty, witness our twisted extremities. Our bellies are griped and wrenched and are consumed by worms; on each side the dirt cleaves to us, nobody binds up our wounds, we lie ragged and weep in dark corners, or meet with Job upon a dunghill, or, as seems hardly fit to be said, we are hidden in abysses of the sewers. We are sold also like slaves, and lie as unredeemed pledges in taverns. We are thrust into cruel butteries, to be cut up like sheep and cattle; committed to Jews, Saracens, heretics and Pagans, whom we always. dread as the plague, and by whom some of our forefathers are known to have been poisoned."

Richard De Bury must not be thought to have been some mere wandering scholar of the beginning of the Fourteenth Century, however, for he was, perhaps, the most important historical personage, not even excepting royalty or nobility, of this era and one of the striking examples of how high a mere scholar might rise in this period quite apart from any achievement in arms, though this is usually supposed to be almost the only basis of distinguished reputation and the reason for advancement at this time. While he was only the son of a Norman knight, Aungervyle by name, born at Bury St. Edmund's, he became the steward of the palace and treasurer ot the royal wardrobe, then Lord Treasurer of England and finally Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal. While on a mission to the Pope he so commended himself to the Holy See that it was resolved to make him the next English bishop. Accordingly he was made Bishop of Durham shortly after and on the occasion of his installation there was a great banquet at which the young King and Queen, the Queen Mother Isabelle, the King of Scotland, two Archbishops, five bishops, and most of the great English lords were present. At this time the Scots and the English were actually engaged in war with one another and a special truce was declared, in order to allow them to join in the celebration of the consecration of so distinguished an individual to the See of Durham near the frontier.

Before he was consecrated Bishop, Richard De Bury had been for some time the treasurer of the kingdom. Before the end of the year in which he was consecrated he became Lord Chancellor, at a time when the affairs of the kingdom needed a master hand and when the French and the Scots were seriously disturbing English peace and prosperity. He resigned his office of Chancellor, as Henry Morley states, only to go abroad in the royal service as ambassador that he might exercise his own trusted sagacity in carrying out the peaceful policy he had advised. During this diplomatic mission to the continent he visited the courts of Paris, of Flanders, of Hainault and of Germany. He succeeded in making terms of peace between the English king and the Counts of Hainault and Namur, the Marquis of Juliers and the Dukes of Brabant and Guelders. This would seem to indicate that he must be considered as one of the most prominent men of Europe at this time.

His attitude toward books is then all the more noteworthy. Many people were surprised that a great statesman like Gladstone in the Nineteenth Century, should have been interested in so many phases of thought and of literature and should himself have been able to find the time to contribute important works to English letters. Richard De Bury was at least as important a man in his time as Gladstone in ours, and occupied himself as much with books as the great English commoner. This is what will be the greatest source of surprise to those who in our time have been accustomed to think, that the great scholars deeply interested in books who were yet men of practical worth in helping their generation in its great problems, are limited to modern times and are least of all likely to be found in the heart of the Middle Ages. In spite of his occupations as a politician and a bookman, Richard De Bury was noted for his faithfulness in the fulfilment of his duties as a churchman and a bishop. It is worthy of note that many of the important clergymen of England, who were to find the highest church preferment afterwards, were among the members of his household at various times and that the post of secretary to the bishop, particularly, was filled at various times by some of the best scholars of the period, men who were devoted friends to the bishop, who dedicated their works to him and generally added to the reputation that stamped him as the greatest scholar of England and one of the leading lights of European culture of his time.

This is not so surprising when we realize that to be a member of Richard's household was to have access to the best library in England, and that many scholars were naturally ambitious to have such an opportunity, and as the results showed many took advantage of it. Among Richard of Durham's chaplains were Thomas Bradwardine who afterwards became Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Fitzraufe, subsequently Archbishop of Armagh, Walter Seagrave, afterwards Bishop of Chichester, and Richard Bentworth, who afterwards became Bishop of London Among the distinguished scholars who occupied the post were Robert Holcot, John Manduit, the astronomer of the Fourteenth Century, Richard Kilmington, a distinguished English theologian, and Walter Burley, a great commentator on Aristotle, who dedicated to the bishop, who had provided him with so many opportunities for study, his Commentaries upon the Politics and Ethics of the ancient Greek philosopher.

That Richard's love for books and the time he had necessarily devoted to politics did not dry up the fountains of charity in his heart, nor cause him to neglect his important duties as the pastor of the people and especially of the poor, we know very well from certain traditions with regard to his charitable donations. According to a standing rule in his household eight quarters of wheat were regularly every week made into bread and given to the poor. In his alms giving Richard was as careful and as discriminating as in his collection of books, and he used a number of the regularly organized channels in his diocese to make sure that his bounty should be really helpful and should not encourage lack of thrift. This is a feature of charitable work that is supposed to be modern, but the personal service of the charitably inclined in the Thirteenth Century, far surpassed in securing this even the elaborate organization of charity in modern times. Whenever the bishop traveled generous alms were distributed to the poor people along the way. Whenever he made the journey between Durham and New Castle eight pounds sterling were set aside for this purpose; five pounds for each journey between Durham and Stockton or Middleham, and five marks between Durham and Auckland. Money had at that time at least ten times the purchasing power which it has at present, so that it will be easy to appreciate the good bishop's eminent liberality.

That Richard was justified in his admiration of the books of the time we know from those that remain, for it must not be thought for a moment that because the making of books was such a time-taking task in the Thirteenth Century. they were not therefore made beautiful. On the contrary, as we shall see shortly, no more beautiful books have ever been made than at this time. This of itself would show how precious in the eyes of the collectors of the time their books were, since they wanted to have them so beautifully made and were satisfied to pay the high prices that had to be demanded for such works of art. Very few books of any size cost less than the equivalent of $100 in our time and illuminated books cost much higher than this, yet seem never to have been a drug on the market. Indeed, considering the number of them that are still in existence to this day, in spite of the accidents of fire, and water, and war, and neglect, and carelessness, and ignorance, there must have been an immense number of very handsome books made by the generations of the Thirteenth Century.

While illumination was not an invention of the Thirteenth Century, as indeed were very few of the great art features of the century, during this time book decoration was carried to great perfection and reached that development which artists of the next century were to improve on in certain extrinsic features, though the intrinsic qualities were to remain those which had been determined as the essential characteristics of this branch of art in the earlier time. The Thirteenth Century, for instance, saw the introduction of the miniature as a principal feature and also the drawing out of initials in such a way as to make an illuminated border for the whole side of the page. Alter the development thus given to the art in the Thirteenth Century further evolution could only come in certain less important details. In this the Thirteenth Century generations were accomplishing what they had done in practically everything else that they touched, laying foundations broad and deep and giving the superstructure the commanding form which future generations were only able to modify to slight degree and not always with absolute good grace.

Humphreys in his magnificent volume on The Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages, which according to its title contains an account of the development and progress of the art of illumination as a distinct branch of pictorial ornamentation from the Fourth to the Seventeenth centuries,{3} has some very striking words of praise for Thirteenth Century illuminations and the artists who made them. He says:

"Different epochs of the art of illumination present widely different and distinct styles; the most showy and the best known, though the least pure and inventive in design, being that of the middle and end of the Fifteenth Century; whilst the period perhaps the least generally known, that of the Thirteenth Century, may be considered as the most interesting and original, many of the best works of that period displaying an astonishing variety and profusion of invention. The manuscript, of which two pages form the opposite plate, may be ranked among the most elaborate and profusely ornamented of the fine books of that era; every page being sufficient to make the fortune of the modern decorator by the quaint and unexpected novelties of inventions which it displays at every turn of its intricate design."

The illuminations of the century then are worthy of the time and also typical of the general work of the century. It is known by experts for its originality and for the wealth of invention displayed in the designs. Men did not fear that they might exhaust their inventive faculty, nor display their originality sparingly, in order that they might have enough to complete other work. As the workmen of the Cathedrals, the artist illuminators devoted their very best efforts to each piece of work that came to their hands, and the results are masterpieces of art in this as in every other department of the period. The details are beautifully wrought, showing the power of the artist to accomplish such a work and yet his designs are never overloaded, at least in the best examples of the century, with details of ornamentation that obscure and minimize the effect of the original design. This fault was to be the error of his most sophisticated successors two centuries later.

Nor must it be thought the high opinion of the century is derived from the fact that only a very few examples of its illumination and bookmaking are now extant, and that these being the chosen specimens give the illumination of the century a higher place than it might otherwise have. Many examples have been preserved and some of them are the most beautiful books that were made. Paris was particularly the home of this form of art in the Thirteenth Century, and indeed the school established there influenced all the modes of illumination everywhere, so much so that Dante speaks of the art with the epithet "Parisian," as if it were exclusively done there. The incentive to the development of this form of art came from St. Louis who, as we have said, was very much interested in books. His taste as exhibited in La Sainte Chapelle was such as to demand artistic excellence of high grade in this department of art, which has many more relations with the architecture of the period, and especially with the stained glass, than might possibly be thought at the present time, for most of the decoration of books partook of the character of the architectural types of the moment.

Among the most precious treasures from the century are three books which belonged to St. Louis himself. One of these is the Hours or Office Book; a second, is his Psalter, which contains some extremely beautiful initials; a third, which is in the Library of the Arsenal at Paris, is sometimes known as the Prayer Book of St. Louis himself, though a better name for it would be the Prayer Book of Queen Blanche, for it was made at Louis' orders for his mother, the famous Blanche of Castile, and is a worthy testimonial of the affectionate relations which existed between mother and son.

Outside of Paris there are preserved many books of great value that come from this century. One of them, a Bestiarum or Book of Beasts, is in the Ashmoleam Museum at Oxford. This is said to be a very beautiful example of the illumination of the Thirteenth Century, but it is even more interesting because it shows the efforts of the artists of the time to copy nature in the pictures of animals as they are presented. There is said to be an acuity of observation and a vigor of representation displayed in the book which is highly complimentary to the powers of the Thirteenth Century artists.

Even these brief notes of the books and libraries of the Thirteenth Century, will serve to make clear how enthusiastic was the interest of the generations of this time in beautiful books and in collections of them that were meant for show as well as for practical usefulness. There is perhaps nothing more amusing in the attitude of modern generations with regard to the Middle Ages, than the assumption that all the methods of education and of the distribution of knowledge worth while talking about, are the inventions of comparatively modern times. The fact that libraries were also a creation of that time and that most of the regulations which are supposed to be the first fruit of quite recent science in the circulation of books had been adopted by these earlier generations, is commonly ignored utterly, though it is a precious bit of knowledge that cannot help but increase our sympathy with those bookmen of the olden times, who thought so much of their books, yet wished to share the privilege of their use with all those who would employ them properly, and who, in their great practical way succeeded in working out the scheme by which many people could have the opportunity of consulting the treasures they thought so much of, without risk of their loss or destruction, even though use might bring some deterioration of their value.

{1} Le Treizieme Siecle Litteraire et Scientifique, Lille, 1857.

{2} Histoire Litteraire de la France, by the Benedictines of St. Maur.

{3} The Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages, by Henry Noel Humphreys Longman. Green, Brown and Longmans, London, 1848.

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