Compendium theologicae veritatis.

Venice, Gabriel de Grassis, 14 June 1485.

4to, ff. 96 (of 98), lacking a1 (blank) and a2 (supplied in facsimile), 46 lines to a page, gothic letter, approximately 300 initials in red or blue, paragraph marks in red or blue, woodcut printer’s device at end; thoroughly and extensively annotated in a single contemporary hand; upper outer corner of last leaf repaired, some unobtrusive damp-staining to gutter and upper portion of leaves of the last few quires; mid nineteenth-century English blind-stamped calf, covers with a roll-tooled border of interlocked palmettes surrounding a central panel divided in six portions each including a central circular stamp with a star motif and fleur-de-lys at the corners, the upper cover bearing a superimposed monogram ‘AT’ in gilt surmounted by a crest of a lion holding a mill-rind (apparently for a member of a family named Turner); minor wear, rebacked preserving spine.


US $9924€8772

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An extensively annotated copy of the work that many believe to have been the most widely read theological work of the later Middle Ages. Comprehensive in scope, appealing in style, and practical in its arrangement, it was used as a textbook for four hundred years. Long attributed to Albert the Great, or to several other thinkers, it is now mostly believed (though other hypotheses are still plausible) to have been the work of his pupil Hugh Ripelin, a Dominican theologian from Strasbourg.

Its seven books provide a comprehensive treatment of the Creation, the Fall, the Incarnation, Grace, the Sacraments, and the Four Last Things (Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell), encompassing the entire Christian worldview with specific reference to the place and roles of mankind within it. This edition, the only one printed by the Venetian Gabriel de Grassis, reprints that of 1483 (also printed in Venice, by Gregorius Dalmatinus and Jacobus Britannicus).

The annotator’s reading of the text is extremely thorough. He highlights, paraphrases, or expands most statements of this medieval encyclopaedia; by using a range of footnote and marginal note symbols, thus easily relating each comment to a specific passage, he is able to organize his thoughts clearly on the page. He devotes many lines to contemplating the nature of human reason as not just a tool for thinking but also a repository of emotion and will; to the nature of conscience; to the issue of free will (chapter 56, and 66 in relation of our powers in the face of temptation); to the human body and physiology; to the nature of sins; to confession and penance; to the value of indulgences for the salvation of the dead; and to charitable work as penance. The annotations, unusually, persist in abundance and consistency of organization from the first to the last page.

Provenance: inscribed below the colophon, possibly in the same hand as the annotations, ‘Io. Chardalli Cantor eccl[es]ie Meten[sis]’. This is Jean Chardalle of Marville (Moselle), who had been elected Cantor (Precentor) of the chapter of Metz on 19 January 1475, a title which he uses in the inscription, and who died on 13 February 1502. The contemporary chronicler Philippe de Vigneulles described Chardalle as ‘noble seigneur d’Église, homme sage docte et scientifique personne’. See Pierre-Édouard Wagner, ‘La bibliothèque de Jehan Chardalle, chanoine de Metz (1475–1502): à propos du Ms. latin 9545 de la Bibliothèque nationale’, in Cahiers Elie Fleur 5 (1992), pp. 29–55; Wagner identifies around thirty-five incunables (most of them Italian) and fifteen manuscripts as having belonged to Chardalle.

Hain-Copinger 441; Goff A-238; GW 606; Pellechet 279; Polain 2015; ISTC ia00238000. ISTC finds two copies in the UK (BL and Wellcome) and ten in the US (of which two at Folger).