On the Consequences of Selling Arms to the Saracens

Pupilla oculi.

England, c. 1400.

Single leaf (262 x 190 mm (text area 183 x 135 mm)) written in double columns of 38 lines in a good English bookhand, paragraph marks alternately in red and blue, important words underlined in red, subsections of chapter written in margins, part number written centrally at head and outlined in red, chapter number written at upper outer corner and underlined in red; a natural vellum flaw at fore-edge, some light soiling and staining, remnants of adhesive tape at head of verso where once mounted, but in excellent condition.

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John de Burgh’s Pupilla oculi was a handbook of canon law and pastoral theology for parish priests. It was mainly derived from the Oculus sacerdotis by William of Paull (or Pagula), written in 1320–28, and was probably composed c. 1380–85, when for part of that time John de Burgh (or de Burgo, d. after 1398) was Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.

The text here concerns excommunication, being from that part of the Pupilla which catalogues the ways in which greater excommunication may be incurred. One way, as detailed on the present leaf, was by selling arms, iron and timber for galleys, or indeed whole galleys, to the Saracens, or by offering them aid or counsel.

Two leaves evidently from the same manuscript were Bloomsbury Auctions, ‘Western Manuscripts and Miniatures’, 8 July 2015, lot 22.

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