A Diligent Monk’s Tired Hand

Sporer, Patritius. Tractatus Principiorum. Theologiæ Moralis.

❧ [Dettelbach, Bavaria, Germany]: , [ca.1660–1685]. In Latin. 192 × 155 mm (7.75 × 6.24 in.). [500] leaves. Title from title leaf. Ink stamp on title leaf: Franziskaner-Kloster Dettelbach.” Marginal annotations, some which have been lost during a previous rebinding. Very Good. Bound in vellum manuscript waste. Evidence of old ties on covers, since lost. Manuscript spine title label at head, mostly faded and rubbed away. A later printed spine label at the foot (over the remnants of a second early manuscript spine label).

A collection of various texts on moral theology extracted from multiple sources, all the works of Franciscan moralist Patritius Sporer. Subjects covered include sin, the Ten Commandments, probabalism, usury, and homicide. The most common source appears to be Theologiæ Moralis Super Decalogum, first published in 1685. Tyrocinium Theologiae Moralis (1660) is also among the works represented. The works are not copied in order, but rather seem to be grouped by topic. As a result, multiple parts, sections, theses, and tracts share the same number.

The book was rebound at some point after it was written since some marginal annotations (of which there are relatively few) are cut off at the margins. Some leaves have a Roman numeral in the upper right corner of the verso, and these appear to be in sequence. However, they are cut-off and there is no index or table of contents that references them in this volume. The same scribe appears to have produced this entire moralist commonplace book—about 500 leaves, save for those few leaves left blank. Some leaves are only partially filled, but overall the pages are quite full and in a small hand. There is occasionally a variation in sentence structure between the manuscript version in this volume and what’s found in the printed edition. Though the letterforms are consistent, the proportions of the letters shift in a few places (especially the headings for the sections and subsections), suggesting a scribe’s tired hand. The letters are fairly regular, but there is a slight drift and differences in density of the ink. Some sections appear to be signed but only with a paraph or flourish; the symbol is undeciphered and could also represent the end of a section rather than an author or scribe.

Patritius Sporer was born in Passau, in the Electorate of Bavaria, in the early 17th century. He joined the Franciscans in 1637 and taught philosophy. He was a lecturer of theology at Dettelbach, in whose library this volume was once held. This book is from the abbey library where the author of the published work was a lecturer. This raises the question of whether this manuscript book was a draft written by or for Sporer. Although Sporer’s handwriting is preserved in European institutions, none of it appears to be digitized – thus leaving this fascinating possibility a puzzle for the next owner of the book.

A fine example of the study of moral theology in a convent setting and of manuscript waste as binding material.


Reusch, Heinrich, Sporer, Patritius.” Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. https://www.deutsche-biographie.de/pnd130575488.html

Documentation: This book underwent review and received approval for export to the United States in compliance with German cultural protection laws applicable to early manuscripts.

Mid-14th To Early 15th Century Waste Binding

[Germany, mid-14th c. to early 15th c.] Single leaf from Breviary or Missal, in situ, losses to column A, but margins intact; 36 lines in two columns; text from Column A celebrates the Feast of St. Acacius on June 22; text from Column B celebrates the June 24 Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist, with Biblical excerpts from Luke 1:13–14, Psalm 20:2, Jeremiah 1:5–10.

The bulges on the bowls of the red and blue illuminated initials, combined with the spiky aspect of the letter formation, make this well-formed Gothic script unmistakably German. Given that the leaf covers a tract of theology kept by the Franciscan monastery in Dettelbach, Germany, the long history of the book suggests that the manuscript did not travel far before it was repurposed by the monks. The leaf wraps around the cover board, and the handy-work of the binder can be seen as the text continues into the hollow of the spine.

The hairline embellishments—trailing pen flourishes dropping down from the bar of the t, or the bow of the h, for example—elevate the script into a more formal execution. The compression of the Gothic script has not rendered the minims indiscernible, yet we see the classic 2‑shaped r attached to a convex curve and the tendency to fuse D with e. Relatively unencumbered by abbreviations, with only a few common ones employed, this manuscript was intended to be read and understood.

Offset from early print (either incunable or early post-incunable) can be seen faintly within the bottom margin of the back cover.

Roughly 270 × 190 mm, with full width lost.


Binding Text

[Column B]

[Feast of Acacii and companions, Martyrs, June 22]
Hodiernae festum lucis
est Achacii laus ducis atque de-
‑cem milium Hermolao phallanx
ista archipraesule baptista colit dei fi-
‑lium Adrianus Christianos colere rex
deos vanos jubet sed despicitur Cruci-
‑fixus cum cohorte dux est conformi
morte Christi grex afficitur Christi penne
renovantur in hiis omnes iterantur sig-
‑na mortis domini Ararath mons Armenorum
mons insignis tot sanctorum conse-
‑cratur nomini Alexandriam decorat
mons vicinam quem per rorat marti-
‑rum cruoribus Orant Christum trium-
‑phantes ut defendant honorantes
[ipsos a doloribus Exauditos se laetantur ut ipsos qui
venerantur servant a nocentibus Quorum intercessione
sociis rex Jesu bone nos tibi placentibus?
… Et si-
… exultet Domine

… Achacii Ermolay
Alexandri et Marci et sociorum
eorundem passione gloriosa ut quorum uotiuo letatur officio


Binding Text

[Column A]

eorum relevetur auxilio
In Viligi Iohannis Baptiste. [Luke 1:13–14 ]
Né timeas, Zacharia, quoniam exaudita
est [oracio] tua et Elizabeth uxor tua
pariet tibi filium et vocabi[tur] nomen
eius Joannem. [hic] erit [magnus co-
‑ram domino et spiritu sancto replebitur adhuc
Ex utero virginis sue et] et multi in nativita-
‑te eius gaudebunt. [Ps. 20:2] Domine in virtute
tua laetabitur rex et super salutare
tuum exultabit vehemente. Collect
Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus ut
familia tua per viam sa-
‑lutis incedat et beati Ioannis
Praecursoris tui hortamenta
sectando ad eum quem praedixit,
[secura perveniat …]

[Jeremiah 1:5–10]
Priusquam te formarem in ute-
‑ro, novi te, et antequam exires de
vulva, sanctificavi te, et prophetam
in gentibus dedi te. Et dixi: A,
a, a, Domine Deus, ecce nescio loqui, quia
puer ego sum. Et dixit
Dominus ad me: Noli dicere: Puer
[ego] sum quoniam ad omnia quae mittam
te ibis, et universa quaecumque mandavero tibi loqueris. Né timeas
a facie eorum quia ego tecum sum ut
eruam te dicit Dominus. Et misit Do-
‑minus manum suam et tetigit
os meum et dixit Dominus ad me
Ecce dedi verba mea in ore tuo
ecce constitui te hodie super gentes et


In stock

Stock Code: 1457A17 Collection: Catalogue:


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