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Justice in the miniatures of Brunetto Latini's art of rhetoric: Columbia Library, Plimpton MS 281

Tina Montenegro

Résumés

Cet article présente les miniatures de l’art rhétorique d’un manuscrit français du xve siècle, Plimpton MS 281 (Rare Book and Manuscript Library de Columbia University). Il s’agit du texte du Tresor de Brunetto Latini, une compilation du xiiie siècle écrite en ancien français sur l’art de gouvernement. L’iconographie de Plimpton MS 281 semble être nouvelle en ce qui concerne l’art rhétorique, et semble viser le milieu juridique. En étudiant les images à partir de l’histoire du texte, le but est de comprendre ce qui a pu causer le changement dans l’iconographie de l’art rhétorique.

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Texte intégral

I would like to thank Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library for help both in accessing the manuscript and obtaining images. In particular, I thank Consuelo W. Dutschke and Emily C. Runde for their kindness and encouragement. My thanks also to Kathryn A. Smith for advice and assistance in the early stages of this development.

  • 1 S. L’Engle, R. Gibbs, Illuminating the law: legal manuscripts in Cambridge collections, London, Ha (...)

1In her pioneering study of legal iconography, Susan L’Engle writes that « […] laymen and legal professionals alike find it hard to conceive of a body of illustrations in text books for the study of law. « What could be pictured? » And, furthermore, if one could conjure up a series of images to represent laws, their enactment and their infringement, what would be the point? What would they contribute to the practice of law? »1 The same can be said of the art of rhetoric: how can a text that teaches the precepts for making legal (judicial), political (deliberative) and demonstrative (epideictic) speeches be pictured? What type of image would be appropriate for a text that teaches how to combine words and ideas into persuasive speech?

  • 2 B. Latini, Tresor, trad. et éd., P. Beltrami, P. Squillacioti, P. Torri, S. Vatteroni, Torino, Ein (...)
  • 3 B. Roux, Mondes en miniatures: l’iconographie du Livre du Trésor de Brunetto Latini, Paris, Droz, (...)
  • 4 Ibidem. Roux's study is very complete, but she does not carry out a detailed analysis of the manus (...)
  • 5 A. H. van Buren, Illuminating Fashion, New York, The Morgan Library and Museum, 2011. I use this c (...)

2This article will examine the case of Columbia Library's Plimpton MS 281, a fifteenth-century French manuscript containing only one text: Brunetto Latini's thirteenth-century Tresor, a political compilation with a first book on theoretical philosophy, a second on ethics and a third on the art of government (composed of one art of rhetoric and one handbook for the magistrate appointed to hold executive office in Italian communes roughly from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries, the podestà)2. Unlike any other Tresor manuscript, Plimpton MS 281 displays a great number of miniatures in its art of rhetoric3. Moreover, the miniatures are not personifications of rhetoric or diagrams, nor are they only author portraits or teaching scenes, as is customary in arts of rhetoric. Instead, they display a great variation of instances of speech: masters teaching other people (or facing the reader), one person explaining something to others, groups debating among themselves, messengers delivering or receiving messages and even scenes that correspond to the content of the arguments. These miniatures have never been studied in detail. Some seem to be general images of debate, dispute or conversation between people, others, as mentioned by Brigitte Roux in her foregrounding study of the illuminated manuscripts of the Tresor, seem to correspond literally to the precepts they illuminate4. There are few indications of setting other than a couple of thrones and blades of grass. There are no distinctive marks that could link the manuscript to a particular patron. In Book II and in the second part of Book III (the art of government), we find a few horses and a couple of church towers, but in general there is little to locate the scenes. The people are dressed in varied clothes and headdresses worn by townspeople and nobles at the beginning of the fifteenth century5.

  • 6 Ibid. In the catalogue, there are many examples of groups of people talking in very different sour (...)

3Because this manuscript clearly departs in both content and numbers from the usual iconography of the Tresor’s art of rhetoric, as well as of other arts of rhetoric, this article will focus on what this change might say about the manuscript and about the use of the art of rhetoric in the second decade of the fifteenth century in France. Although similar images of people conversing can be found in a wide range of texts (history, books of hours, customaries, novellas, legal texts, etc.), their number and content as well as the near absence of images of royalty, along with the relatively humble manner of the ornamentation, may point to a middle-class patron from the legal milieu and to a forensic or administrative use of the art of rhetoric6. I will first present both the Tresor and Plimpton MS 281, then explain why I consider it to be a clear departure from the previous iconography of rhetoric. Finally, I will analyze certain miniatures to argue that the annotations and the wealth of generic images of debate and scrolls, as well as the reduced visual reference to monarchic forms of government and the slight bias with which they are shown underscore the utility of the art of speaking and writing for the legal praxis of the time, signaling an iconographic program possibly dedicated to that profession.

I. The Rhetorical Foundation of Government in Italian Communes

  • 7 The classic book on the subject is E. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, Prin (...)
  • 8 A. H. vanBuren, op. cit., p. 158-159 (Fig. B.43).
  • 9 Ibid., p. 160 (Fig. B.46).

4The Tresor was written between 1260 and 1266 by a notary and politician from the city of Florence. This was the time of Latini's exile in France, brought about by the defeat of his party of the Guelfs, allied with the Pope, against the Ghibellines, allied with the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. That is one of the reasons why the Tresor was written in Old French rather than in his native Tuscan. It is a book of knowledge, a compilation of philosophy, nowadays called an encyclopedic text. The use and readership of this kind of text often present a puzzle to the modern reader because of the paratactic and abbreviated nature of the writing, as well as the range of the subject matters. Older Latin texts such as Isidore of Seville's Etymologiae and Cassiodorus' Institutiones were studied in schools and universities, as were thirteenth-century Latin texts, such as Vincent of Beauvais' Speculum maius, more or less contemporary to the Tresor. They contained the sum of knowledge of their time and were used to teach theological as well as philosophical matters through the auctoritates, the antique and medieval authors who were copied, circulated and learned as the basis of knowledge7. Latini's text, because of its political aim, can be more fruitfully compared to texts such as Giles of Rome's thirteenth-century De regimine principum, written in Latin (but vulgarized) for the French royal family8. From the time of Plimpton MS 281, there were texts such as Laurent du Bois' Somme le roy, and Jacques Legrand's Livre de bonnes mœurs9. These were mirrors of princes, concerned with the education of the nobility. They combined moral teachings and other matters useful for the ruling elite. None of these texts, however, was specifically concerned with the system of government described in the Tresor, that is, the communal system.

  • 10 Tresor III.75.1: « Et por ce que li sires est autresi come le chief des citiens, et que toz homes (...)
  • 11 J. Najemi, A history of Florence, 1200-1575, Oxford, Blackwell, 2006, p. 64-71.
  • 12 Tresor III.76.1: « Et por ce doivent il nommeement mander le jor que il doit estre corporelment de (...)
  • 13 For the sake of clarity, I am using the verb « to vulgarize » for the transformation from Latin to (...)

5Indeed, the Tresor contains in Book III a manual for a foreign magistrate (« li sires ») elected to carry out judiciary and military functions in a city for a year10. In Florence, this magistrate was called the podestà from the late eleventh century until 1250, when the podestà was replaced by the Capitano del Popolo11. The Primo Popolo ended in 1260, and although the podestà and the Capitano del Popolo continued to exist in different regimes, the Tresor is concerned with the first version of these functions. The manual explains the procedure for the election, the invitation, the acceptance and a certain number of other key moments of office, including speeches to give and documents to write. The magistrate travels to the city with his own judges and notaries, who will help him in his function12. That is to say that the Tresor is also useful to these officials, who will effectively carry out many of the functions of the magistrate, such as writing letters, acts and speeches, judging and counseling. The Tresor concerns that type of government established in Italy and was immediately translated into Tuscan as the Tesoro13. In this light, the first part of Book III, the art of rhetoric, is also extremely useful, for it teaches how to write speeches and letters concerning civic matters in order to persuade.

  • 14 B. Latini, La Rettorica, éd. Maggini, Firenze, Galletti e Cocci, 1915 ; Cicero, De inventione, tra (...)
  • 15 B. Latini, La Rettorica, op. cit., p. 79-80 (57.2).
  • 16 For example, Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale MS II IV 127, which brings together La Rettor (...)
  • 17 E. Artifoni, op. cit., p. 687-719.
  • 18 J. O. Ward, « Rhetorical Theory and the Rise and Decline of Dictamen in the Middle Ages and Early (...)

6The usefulness of the art of rhetoric in northern Italy at this time is well attested. Latini himself wrote, around the same time, La Rettorica, a Tuscan commentary on the first seventeen chapters of Cicero’s De inventione14. It included parts of the De inventione that did not feature in the Tresor as well as specific indications and examples of its use in the legal affairs of the city. When commenting on the part of De inventione that explains the qualitative issue and the possible defenses based on removal of guilt, Latini gave the example of ambassadors who were elected by Florence to talk to the Pope in order to stop a Sicilian attack that was being planned on the city of Florence15. The ambassadors were supposed to ask for money from an ecclesiastical officer in order to carry out the mission, but the money was denied and the attack took place. The ambassadors were then accused of being responsible for the attack. While admitting that the mission did not take place, they attributed responsibility to the officer who should have given them the money, thereby removing their own guilt. There are many other examples concerning commerce and politics of the time, as well as examples from antiquity. The usefulness of La Rettorica can also be verified in the simple quality of certain manuscripts that subsist and the annotations in their margins. The Rettorica is sometimes completed with teachings of grammar, rhetoric and ethics, which provided precepts as well as examples and ethical commonplaces (quotations and teachings) for the compositions of letters and speeches16. The history of the art of rhetoric and its practical use in the communal systems of northern Italy has been thoroughly described, for example by Enrico Artifoni, who traces the formation of the podestà17. This new function was structured on the basis of a fundamentally rhetorical culture and on the new civic experience, leading to a rhetorically based political theory where speech and action were regulated together. As shown by John O. Ward, by the twelfth century, the art of rhetoric was a part of the studies of ars dictaminis, an epistolary art and in thirteenth-century Bologna it was taught within legal and notarial studies. The Tresor brings classical rhetorical theory directly to the civic literature of the time18.

  • 19 See the introduction to B. Latini, Tresor.
  • 20 P. Beltrami, « Tre schede sul Tresor », Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Classe di l (...)
  • 21 Roux notes the particularity of the political system in the Tresor and speaks of a disconnect betw (...)
  • 22 M. Michael, « A manuscript wedding gift from Philipppa of Hainaut to Edward III », The Burlington (...)

7However, the Tresor was written in Old French and in France, which brings me back to the previously mentioned puzzle concerning its use. The Tresor was widely copied, and there are today around 200 manuscripts of it, not counting the translations to other vernaculars19. We know that it was sometimes copied only in parts, for example Book I, which contained a history of the world and a bestiary. We also know that it has been complemented, for example, with Giles of Rome's De regimine principe, in order to adapt it to monarchic governments20. Despite the political specificity, it has been considered useful for monarchic governments too, with or without additions21. For example, the French manuscript Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS français 571 (first half of the fourteenth century) contains the Tresor and three other texts. It was a wedding gift in honor of the union of Philippa of Hainaut and Edward III of England, which signifies that it was considered a book fit for a king and not at all specific to the communal type of government that it describes in its third part. It is difficult to say if the king would have had someone read to him the art of rhetoric, or the ethics or any part of the Tresor, but it was a gift containing elevated political matters22. I suggest that Plimpton MS 281 was probably not intended for a kingly recipient.

II. Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281

  • 23 Colophon of Plimpton MS 281, fo 173v (information from Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library (...)
  • 24 As mentioned, I use A. H. van Buren, op. cit., to identify the clothing and headdresses. I will la (...)

8Our manuscript was copied and manufactured in France. It was completed in 1424 by the scribe Jehan, whose last name is not legible23. The folios are in paper, but the outside of every quire is in parchment. The text is in two columns of 35 to 42 lines, and the script is a running bastard, with rubrics and chapter titles often in a gothic display. There are more than 200 miniatures, with space reserved for them in the text starting only on fo 59. Before that, the miniatures were placed in the margins [Fig. 1] (After, there are still some miniatures in margins). The miniatures were probably carried out after the manuscript was bound, because they sometimes go over the gutter. They are loosely placed andare executed in a loose manner; there is no frame, but the drawing is good and well proportioned. Human figures appear in Books II and III. The manner in which they are outlined and colored could be described as naturalistic as opposed to iconic or hieratic. There is little indication of setting, very occasionally they stand on blades of grass, sit on thrones, ride horses or are located in front of a church. They wear clothes without many details but which are varied and represent the fashion of the time24. We see scholars and clerics, rulers, officials of justice and men without identified functions, either nobles or townspeople. There are not many women. The colors are not saturated and their range is limited. There is no gold: the manuscript is not luxurious, but it is also not poor because it is profusely ornamented with miniatures. There are no historiated initials, only rubricated initials at the beginning of each chapter and initials decorated in red within the text.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 51v-52r (Book I, bestiary)

  • 25 It is difficult to explain the abandonment of the miniatures at the end, considering that the text (...)

9The art of rhetoric is contained in first part of Book III of the Tresor, the book with the fewest images: there are 49 completed images (34 in the art of rhetoric). For comparison, there are 60 images in the second book, and more than 90 in the first one. However, Book I is twice as long as Book II, and Book III is shorter still, which can account for the difference in numbers. In Books I and II there are more miniatures than reserved space in the text, with images located in the margin, whereas in Book III all images are located in their reserved spaces. It would appear thus that, although both the text and the scribe placed the arts of rhetoric and of government at the summit of philosophy, the illuminator (about whom we have no information for the moment) seems to have disagreed, or to have been instructed differently by the patron, which still does not change the fact that the art of rhetoric is profusely ornamented. It should be noted that the last miniatures in the art of government, at the end of Book III, are incomplete (there are two unfinished drawings in different stages of incompletion in those spaces)25 [Fig. 2].

Figure 2

Figure 2

Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 172v-173r (Book III, end of the art of government, unfinished image)

  • 26 B. Roux, op. cit., p. 265. I base most of my observations on Roux's excellent study. I will refere (...)
  • 27 Ibid., p. 266.
  • 28 Ibid.
  • 29 Ibid., p. 267. Roux mentions two miniatures (Karlsruhe MS 391, f201v and British Library Add. 30 (...)
  • 30 B. Roux, op. cit., p. 269-270. The mentioned manuscripts are partially available online.
  • 31 This idea is to be related to the war between factions that dominated north-Italian politics at th (...)
  • 32 B. Roux, op. cit., p. 268.
  • 33 Tresor III.I.2: «“Tulles dit que la plus haute science de cité gouverner si est rethorique, ce est (...)
  • 34 Tresor III.I.7: « Tulles dit que au comencement que les homes vivoient a la loi de bestes sans pro (...)
  • 35 Tresor I.4.9: « [(..) c’est la science qui adreça le monde premierement a bien fere, et qui encor (...)

10As pointed out by Roux, this is one of two manuscripts with numerous images in the art of rhetoric from a pool of 51 illuminated manuscripts of the Tresor26. Most manuscripts display one opening miniature only, which is often an author portrait or a teaching scene27. In terms of people speaking outside a classroom setting, Roux identifies five examples of the ruler either alone, or talking to laymen, clerics, or a bishop and his suite28. The rulers in question wear crowns, which we will see are rare in Plimpton MS 281. Other images include personifications of rhetoric: for example, in Plut. MS 72.19 (fo 72v), a manuscript of the Tesoro, a female personification of Rhetoric is teaching one pupil29. Roux then points out five manuscripts that each contain an image more closely related to the content of the Tresor: Bibliothèque de Genève, MS français 160, fo 150r (ca. 1450-1480) contains a very luxurious image of a full court, complete with court clerks and judges; British Library Add. MS 30025, fo 148r (ca. 1260-1299) displays an unfinished historiated initial of Justice as a man with a balance and weights; Bibliothèque de Rennes MS 593, fo 274v (fourteenth century) shows a king and a cleric pointing to a city tower; and Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS français 191, fo 239r (fifteenth century) shows two cities facing each other, one in war and the other in peace30. For Roux, the first two allude to the best form of government in the judicial aspect, and the last two to the ideal city, which she relates to Ambrogio Lorenzetti's frescoes in the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena. The latter date from the beginning of the fourteenth century and ornament the room where the executive body of the city held office. They show both virtues and vices of government and their effects on the city. I agree with Roux's interpretation, which is in agreement with the judicial orientation of Latini’s art of rhetoric, including its overarching idea that rhetoric is the most noble science because it is able to achieve the common good of the city and avoid the wars that destroy it31. When I say judicial, I am loosely referring to the types of professions concerned by the Tresor in its time: for example, the podestà, the judge and the notary. In the fifth miniature, identified as more closely related to the text, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS français 571, fo 92r (ca. 1326) [Fig. 4], Roux suggests that we see the different kinds of orators: a cleric, a layman, a jester (or peasant), a married woman (or widow) and a couple of young people32. Considering that rhetoric was not taught to women, peasants or jesters, the miniature might be better interpreted as related to the idea that without rhetoric there would be no city or society, therefore it would be showing different members of civil society33. It could also be considered as displaying the myth of the origin of civil society, described in the beginning of the book on rhetoric. According to the myth, men first lived like animals, until along came a wise and eloquent man who convinced them to live together and respect reason and law34. The cleric would be the eloquent man speaking to the people, for, as Latini writes, the art of rhetoric was the first to orient men towards good, and it still does, through predication, the Scriptures and the law35. The miniature would thus be stressing the importance of rhetoric, and in this sense, it would be in agreement with the emphasis in Plimpton MS 281. In any case, this image of dialog does not correspond to the traditional iconography of the art of rhetoric.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS français 571, fo 92r (The beginning of Book III, on the art of rhetoric)

III. The Iconography of The Art of Rhetoric

  • 36 L. Cleaver, Éducation in Twelfth-Century Art and Architecture, Images of Learning in Europe, c. 11 (...)
  • 37 M. Evans, op. cit., p. 307-308; L. Cleaver, op. cit., p. 7-8.
  • 38 L. Cleaver, op. cit., p. 7-8.
  • 39 Ibid., p. 106.
  • 40 M. Evans, op. cit., p. 309-310; K.-A. Wirth, « Eine illustrierte Martianus Capella Handschrift aus (...)
  • 41 L. Cleaver, op. cit., p. 85-89; M. Evans, op. cit., p. 309-310.

11Arts of rhetoric do not usually contain many miniatures. The reasons for this are the didactic genre and the material. The citation about law with which this article started is confirmed, for example, by Laura Cleaver with regard to rhetoric: « The processes of producing eloquent speech and reasoned argument were difficult to portray in art […]»36. The iconography of rhetoric appeared rather late, at the same time as gothic cathedrals, their schools and the universities. The boom in education led to more copies of texts on the liberal arts (arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy – the quadrivium – and grammar, rhetoric and dialectic – the trivium)37. The iconography was initially dependent on literary sources, Martianus Capella's De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, a fifth-century allegorical dream, and Boethius' De Consolatione Philosophiae, a sixth-century consolation, which both set precedents for the personifications that would be associated with the seven liberal arts, including the art of rhetoric38. These personifications would thereafter be found in other allegorical texts concerning the arts, in arts themselves and in encyclopedic texts. These images can be said to derive from ancient images of muses and authors or philosophers39. M. Evans points out that the establishment of recognizable types was slow40. In Capella's text, Rhetoric is described as a warrior, with a sword, shield and armor, but the images did not always follow the text. Miniatures also drew from elsewhere, and, importantly, from the portals of gothic cathedrals, where personification could be less identifiable41.

  • 42 Ibid., p. 74-84. Concerning reading, Michael Camille has shown that in the Middle Ages it was far (...)
  • 43 L. Cleaver, op. cit., p. 63 ss.
  • 44 Ibid., p. 96. For gestures, see F. Garnier, Le langage de l’image au Moyen Âge: signification et s (...)
  • 45 M. Evans, op. cit., p. 312. Evans is interested in male personifications of the arts, which are le (...)
  • 46 M.-A. Bossy éd., Medieval Debate Poetry, Vernacular Works, New York, London, Garland, 1987, p. xii (...)

12Personifications of all liberal arts – particularly Rhetoric – were often shown making gestures suggestive of speech, that is, holding an open book, pointing at a book or with open arms.42. They were also often teaching students, or a student, in which case the personification would be bigger and/or higher than the student(s) and might be holding an open book whereas the student(s) might have a closed book or no book, to indicate the disparity in the knowledge held by each of them43. Teaching scenes could be very similar to debate scenes, and the letter were more often associated with dialectic, but also with rhetoric. These debate scenes, however, are different from the ones in Plimpton MS 281. Debates in these cases often show two seated figures gesturing at one another, while holding books (although not necessarily); they could appear in manuscripts on different subjects, for example physics or music44. These figures, if they were not personifications, could also represent authorities on the subjects, for example Aristotle and/or contemporary masters of dialectic45. This type of image of a debate between two people or between a teacher and a pupil became common when monastic schools were overtaken by cathedral schools and universities, because public disputations became a foundation of education, specially but not only in dialectic with the quaestiones and the disputationes46. The miniatures of Plimpton MS 281 are not classroom images, and although some images show two clerics in dialog, many more show laypeople, as we will see.

  • 47 I. O'Daly, « Diagrams of Knowledge and Rhetoric in Manuscripts of Cicero's De inventione”», Studie (...)
  • 48 Ibid., p. 82.

13Diagrams were also common in rhetorical texts. They too developed with the rise of studies in rhetoric in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. As shown by Irene O'Daly, diagrams often figured in manuscripts of the most studied rhetorical texts, that is, Cicero's De inventione in the twelfth century and, previously, texts such as Cassiodorus' Institutiones and Alcuin's De disputatio rhetorica et de virtutibus47. O'Daly shows that the tradition of diagrams could be found together with that of personifications and did not always invovle a direct relation to the text (for example, a personification of rhetoric could be followed by a diagram of the quadrivium). Diagrams, like personifications, were found in many different types of texts (De Consolatione philosophiae and Plato's Timaeus, for example), always connected to learning48. Latini's Rettorica, for example, is accompanied by diagrams in Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale MS II.IV 124 (thirteenth century), Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale MS II.IV 127 (fourteenth century, second quarter) and Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana XLIII 19 (fifteenth century). However, diagrams of arts or of the art of rhetoric are not common in the Tresor.

  • 49 F. Saxl, « Illustrated Mediaeval Encyclopedias », Lectures, London, Warburg Institute, University (...)
  • 50 B. Roux, op. cit., p. 265.
  • 51 S. L’Engle, The Illumination of Legal Manuscripts in Bologna, 1250-1350, Production and Iconograph (...)

14There is one other genre of iconography worth mentioning: the iconographical cycles of the aforementioned books of knowledge, or encyclopedias49. Fritz Saxl studies the case of the first fully illustrated encyclopedia, dated from the eleventh century: it is a manuscript of Rabanus Maurus' De Universo from Montecassino. Saxl suggests that encyclopedias, because of the range of their subject matters, followed particular iconographic cycles and that, in his case, the miniatures would not have been assembled according to the subject matter but copied from a previously illustrated encyclopedia. The idea is interesting when thinking about Latini's Tresor. Roux's study tracks this iconography and shows that there is no equivalent of a full iconographic cycle for the Tresor, nor for the miniatures of the art of rhetoric in Plimpton MS 281. We have not found a source in another encyclopedic text or in any other text that would fully account for the images of rhetoric. Instead, it would seem, as suggested by Roux, that these images were responding literally to the text, unlike what occurred in other manuscripts50. Although not all of the miniatures responded literally, or at least directly, to the text, they all seem to respond to the text in some way. The change in iconography represented by the closer relation to the text and the less hieratic scenes can be said to follow a movement described in legal iconography, as well as in the iconography of certain arts. Indeed, in the fourteenth century, legal compositions responded more closely to the text and became more narrative, the human figures less hieratic and more naturally located in the picture plane51. I propose to consider the specific ways in which the illuminator of Plimpton MS 281 (or the author of the iconographic program) responded to the art of rhetoric as indication that it was directed to the practice of law. I will discuss annotations, miniatures that signify the importance of the art of rhetoric and the scarcity and slightly pejorative images of monarchs.

IV. A manuscript for legal use?

A. Annotations in the Margins

  • 52 At this point we do not know if the annotations are by the hand of the first owner, but there is n (...)
  • 53 Tresor III.52.
  • 54 For gestures and bibliography, see above notes 41 and 44.
  • 55 L. Cleaver, op. cit., p. 106: Cleaver points out that twelfth-century disputants saw themselves as (...)
  • 56 The form of his headdress almost seems like the hairstyle of a woman whose hair is bunched up over (...)
  • 57 I use orator here for lack of better definition of the destination of the manuscript. These are no (...)

15Plimpton MS 281 displays annotations in the margins throughout the three books, including alongside the text about the government of the podestà. I take some of the annotations in the margins of Book III as indication of the patron's interest52. In the first folios of the art of rhetoric, we read in the margins, as highlights, some of the points treated in the text: « loy » (fo 127v), « jugement » (fo 130r). A few folios are very annotated, such as fo 145v-146r [Fig. 4], which covers the chapter on commonplaces from which a speaker can draw his arguments concerning a person53. To prove that a person is likely or not likely do something, arguments can be drawn from their name, nature, masters and friends, fortune, habit, passions, study, counsel, works, sayings and actions. These commonplaces (loci or topoï) are the backbone of the invention of arguments to which Cicero's De inventione is dedicated. They are a fundamental part of Latini's teaching too. Words written in the margins serve as easy reference, as well as mnemonic cues for one who would want to memorize these precepts. The image that adorns fo 145v is linked to the chapter introducing arguments to confirm a case; it shows a man to the left dressed in the manner of a scholar, with a houce, and pointing with his right hand to his open left hand, affirming something54. The two men to his right wear long gowns and hold up their hands in approval. The man in the front has dark hair and a beard, which contrasts with most of the male figures in the manuscript, who have curly blond wing-style hair. Although the man is wearing contemporary dress and flaunts medium bombard sleeves, I suggest that, because of the hair and the beard, he could be considered to represent an orator or scholar from antiquity, reminding the reader of the antiquity and value of the precepts55. The man in the back is more difficult to identify but seems to be wearing a chaperon which does not give him any particular function56. It seems therefore to be a scene of argumentation, where an orator is making an argument or is enumerating the different loci from where one can take arguments57. The fact that the folio was annotated indicates an interest in the precepts for writing.

Figure 4

Figure 4

Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 145v-146r (Book III, the art of rhetoric, loci concerning a person)

  • 58 Tresor III.89.1: « Quant il avient aucune chose por quoi l’en doie envoier messaiges ou embesseor (...)
  • 59 Tresor III.90.2: «[…] Mes molt est belle chose et honeste au seingnor, come il siet a cort, que il (...)
  • 60 In the background there are drawings that do not seem to have been finished, and are not colored. (...)
  • 61 Tresor III.91.1: « Sur toutes choses doit la poesté faire que la ville qui est a son government so (...)

16Another interestingly annotated part can be found in fo 167v-168r, concerning the art of government [Fig. 5]. The first image illustrates the chapter on how to send messengers in embassy; the miniature shows a figure of authority to the right, seated cross-legged on a throne, holding a staff of authority and a sealed document. He is wearing either a papal tiara or, as found elsewhere in this manuscript, an emperor's crown (see below for Julius Caesar). To his left are a scholar and a layman, the first with his hands raised indicating approval, the second seems to be indicating the direction of the authority, as if showing the way the message was going. They are located in a landscape, with grass under their feet and a tree to their left. This image seems to be responding to the part of the text that advises the sires to elect messengers among the best men of the city if a message has to be sent to the pope, or to the emperor of Rome or to anyone else who requires solemnity58. The image therefore shows the messengers arriving for a solemn embassy in a foreign country, the landscape indicating travel. Instead of focusing on the choice of the messengers, the miniature brings out what is exceptional about the chapter: foreign lands and rulers, which should please and entice the readers. The next chapter is entitled « Comment li sires se doit contenir », that is, how the sires should behave, but it concerns the way in which he should receive complaints from townspeople. This column is commented three times, highlighting the part of the text that advises him to listen to the complaints, the part that compares lawyers to knights and, lastly, the part that establishes that a lawyer should be chosen to represent a poor person59. These seem to focus on the activity of lawyers. The next chapter concerns legal punishment, and the image shows a naked man tied horizontally, with his arms stretching over the gutter and chained to fo 167v, as if it were a wall, and his legs tied to what seems like a piece of wood on the second column of fo 168r. Behind him is a man holding a mace to punish him. To the right, there are two figures, one wearing a houpeland and a chaperon and the other bareheaded with a pourpoint, his left hand resting on what seems to be a sword in its sheath60. Both men are accusatively pointing (the first with his left hand and the second with his right hand, sticking out from behind the first). Although they are not pointing to the man being punished, we can assume that the image is responding to the first few lines of the text which exhorts the authority to rid the city of disturbance and crimes, which means that he should empty it of robbers, assassins and criminals. This is why he is given power over foreigners and townspeople who commit crimes under his jurisdiction61. The miniature emphasizes commutative justice, the punishment of wrongdoings in society, which is one of the functions of the podestà but also a condition for peace in civil society. The image matches that of Justice in Book II, which shows a judge on one side and a man being hanged on the other (fo 108r). Justice is not represented as a disembodied virtue, by a personification, but as the very practical function of punishment, one of the functions of the podestà. These two folios, through the annotations, seem to show that the manuscript is concerned with, among other things, judicial activity; they also show the ways in which the miniatures sometimes respond literally to the text.

Figure 5

Figure 5

Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 167v-168r (Book III, the art of government: messengers and legal punishment)

B. The Importance of the Art of Rhetoric

  • 62 W. H. Sherman, Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England, Philadelphia, University of Pen (...)
  • 63 See below for a more detailed discussion.
  • 64 See above note 42.
  • 65 See above note 43.
  • 66 Tresor II.64-69. The ethic rules for speaking are those belonging to what is known as the literatu (...)

17Sometimes, however, the images seem to be more generic (such as Fig. 4 above) and to be drawing attention to the text like manicules, the small pointing hands often drawn in the margins to highlight important passages62. In Book II, there are a few figures sitting or standing next to the text and pointing, as if the body pertaining to the manicule had been attached to the hand. These images draw attention, help to find and to memorize the precepts in question (for example, fo 89r). In the art of rhetoric, there are many pointing figures, mostly in dialog with others (the gesture indicates speech). In addition, we see figures holding scrolls63. These are also generic images of people talking, for we know that the boundary between reading and speaking in the Middle Ages was blurred and, as explained by Michael Camille, reading and lecturing were very close64. We also saw, with relation to the iconography of the liberal arts, that teaching and debating were similar65. In the other profusely illustrated Tresor manuscript, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS français 19090, we can see diverse generic figures drawing attention to the teachings of the text and using these gestures. This fourteenth-century manuscript displays in its margins many drawings. Unfortunately, the many drawings in the top margins have been cut in half by another binding. The ornamentation that remains in the bottom margins contains many religious images, teaching scenes and other compositions. This manuscript only carries a fragment of the book on government (second part of Book III), and, from the number of images, seems to be more interested in Book II, on ethics. In this book we see the figures that I compare to manicules with bodies (fo 41r) [Fig. 6], as well as two fascinating images in the bottom margins of fo 43v and 44r [Fig. 7], which show two groups of men pointing to the text, to each other and to books and scrolls. These images accompany the chapters on the ethical rules for speaking, on knowledge and on teaching66. In the images, there are three crowned figures. The group on fo 43v is sitting behind a long table and pointing in many different directions, including to each other and to many open books set out on the table taht contain the first words of sententiae, that is, sentences attributed to the auctoritates. The « treasure » of the Tresor, its value, is due to the fact that it is a compilation of auctoritates. Interestingly, this group is sitting at a table below the ethics of speech, as if reminding the reader to control speech in the company of others. The facing fo shows standing figures holding scrolls containing the same auctoritates. It is located below the chapter on teaching, which could explain that they are not interacting with each other, but probably with the reader. These two images are a marvel of composition, if not of execution: each figure is in a different pose, looking at a different place, with hands positioned differently, drawing attention in some way to the teachings and their immense value. It is fitting that there are crowned figures among them: the manuscript could be intended for the court, or could simply be referring to the current system of government. In the former case, this could explain the lack of interest in the second part of Book III, the government of the podestà and the fact that the most ornamented book is the ethics.

Figure 6

Figure 6

Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms français 19090, fo 40v-41r (Book II, ethics: rules for speaking)

Figure 7

Figure 7

Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms français 19090, fo 43v-44r (Book II, ethics: rules for speaking, knowledge and teaching)

18In Plimpton MS 281, the book on rhetoric contains images that could be linked to these: images of men with scrolls and letters and of men in discussion, such as in fo 134v-135r [Fig. 8 and 9] and 133r [Fig. 10]. The two men with scrolls are ornamenting two chapters that either specifically concern the writing of letters or explicitly mention both speaking and writing. An important feature of the Tresor is that it extends Ciceronian rhetoric to the art of letter writing as it was taught in Latini’s time. It compares the different parts of a letter and a speech and deals with other questions related to writing. These two men, possibly scholars, with gowns and coats, one sitting and looking down at a scroll, the other standing and holding an open scroll, present subtle variations and are cleverly connected to the text by showing the reader that the precepts also concerns writing. Without illustrating the precepts, they highlight the importance of the teaching.

  • 67 For the gestures of argumentation and discussion, see Garnier, op. cit., p. 209-212. The related g (...)

19The same can be said of the images of people in discussion: this is represented in the Middle Ages by the positions of the figures in relation to one another and the positions of their hands and arms. Two figures facing each other with one pointed hand and one open hand are in discussion. When one figure points with one hand and one or more people react with open hands or hands in pronation, the figure can be making an argument or exposing a doctrine whereas the others are accepting or rejecting it67. See, for example, two figures in the second column of fo 134v and two others in the second column of 135r. Both groups are talking, with pointing and raised hands. They both present marvelous variation in clothing: on the left, a man in a gown with a high collar and an opening showing white lining and a man in a houpeland and a chaperon covered by a high barret; on the right, a cleric with his houce and skullcap and a man with a houpeland with short sleeves and a chaperon. The second image could be of teaching, with the cleric’s interlocutor accepting his ideas, or doctrine, or even the present precepts. On the same folios there is an image of a man holding a scroll, who could be explaining or considering the precepts, and an image of a messenger delivering a letter to an authority sitting on a throne with a large cloak and a high flowerpot hat. The art of rhetoric of the Tresor is full of generic images of discussions or teaching (in the sense of exposing a doctrine) that nonetheless display much thoughtful variation between them, such that the book seems like an extended version of the two folios of MS français 19090: the figures are both generic and cleverly related to the text, attesting its value and urging the reader to learn its teachings. As the only part of the manuscript that contains the copious variation of speech that I describe (the subtle variation in numerous images that are similar), the art of rhetoric presents itself as a small marvel, and I suggest that this feature is indication of its importance in the iconographical program.

Figure 8

Figure 8

Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 134v (Book III, art of rhetoric: the parts of letters and speeches and the six parts of speech)

Figure 9

Figure 9

Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 135r (Book III, the art of rhetoric: the parts of a letter)

Figure 10

Figure 10

Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, f133r (Book III, the art of rhetoric: things that the speaker should consider before writing his speech and ways to ornament the speech)

C. Images of Princes

  • 68 The corresponding chapter in the edited edition of the Tresor does not have the same title, it is (...)
  • 69 Tresor II.119.2: « Selonc le comandement de moralité et de vertu, l’en doit atemprer les desirrers (...)
  • 70 Tresor II.49.1: « Le noble gouverneres de la cité fait les citiens nobles, et les fait bien euvrer (...)

20Having argued the importance of the art of rhetoric within the manuscript, I would further like to show that Plimpton MS 281 presents very few, and sometimes pejorative, images of royalty. There are only three images of kings in Books II and III. One is in chapter 74 of Book III, on rulers and princes [Fig. 11], which contains a richly dressed crowned figure to the left, holding a staff. To his right there are two figures with imposing hats: a bag hat such as can be seen elsewhere in the manuscript and a high and stiffened chaperon that is used throughout the art of government to picture the sires or podestà68. They seem to be examples of the different types of “lordship” in the title: that of the sires and that of the prince. The second image of a king can be found in chapter 119 of Book II, concerning lordship obtained by fortune [Fig. 12]. It shows a crowned man apparently falling from a horse, with his arms stretched out above him and his head upside-down. He is richly dressed and we can see his purse hanging from his girdle, worn on top of (what seems to be) a dagged pourpoint. The horse is going to the left and, to the right, there is a less richly dressed man indicating the opposite direction with outstretched hands. The image is puzzling but can be connected to the teachings that follow the first sentences of the chapter. They concentrate on the need for the powerful to mitigate their desires, and on how short-lived great fortune is69. Many of the sententiae concentrate on the fall from fortune. The image would therefore represent the fall from greatness and would suggest that kings have immoderate desires (another example of miniature which responds literally to the precept). In contrast, the chapter on the government of the city, still in Book II, is illustrated by a man seating on a throne, with an upright sword in his hand [Fig. 13]70. He wears a large cloak and a chaperon covered by a large bag hat, his other hand discretely turned towards a group of men who are looking up to him; one has his hand raised in approval. He seems to represent Justice and he resembles (but for the different hat) the figure of the podestà which is seen throughout Book III. When princes are explicitly mentioned or when immoderate power is alluded to, a crowned figure appears, when government is mentioned, the images show magistrates.

Figure 11

Figure 11

Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 159v (Book III, on rulers and princes)

Figure 12

Figure 12

Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 121v (Book II, ethics: lordship by fortune)

Figure 13

Figure 13

Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, f47r (Book II, the government of a city)

  • 71 Tresor III.36.
  • 72 Tresor I.37-38. In Book I, Latini briefly tells the story of the conspiracy and the history of the (...)
  • 73 The chapter on deference is Tresor II.107, but the miniature is found in front of chapter II.78, w (...)
  • 74 Tresor, III.73.4: «[…] li maires, les prevos et la poesté et li eschevins des citez et des villes; (...)

21There are also three images of figures with the triple crown, either popes or emperors. We have seen this in the miniature of messengers sent on a foreign mission [Fig. 5], but there is also a remarkable miniature in the chapter transposing the oration of Julius Caesar in the Catilinarian conspiracy [Fig. 14]. The oration is not in Cicero's De inventione but was added by Latini to his art of rhetoric as an example of prologue by insinuation. This is used when speaking to people about something that is repulsive to them71. In this particular case, Julius Caesar defends that the participants in the conspiracy should not be killed but sent to prisons outside of Rome. The point that Latini makes is that Caesar was defending something repulsive when he said that it would be better to send the conspirators to prison rather than to kill them. Caesar was seen at the time with deep mistrust because he overturned the Roman Republic and became emperor. The political writing of the Italian communal governments seeks precisely to avoid tyranny as well as conspiracies72. Caesar-like figures were feared because they wanted power for themselves. In the miniature, Caesar wears a three-tiered crown and is richly dressed. He is speaking to a group of men composed of one antique-looking figure and others dressed in fine clothing of the fourteenth to fifteenth centuries. The association between the crown of the emperor and Caesar is in itself pejorative. In contrast, Cato's speech, which follows Caesar's, is ornamented by the image of a cleric, thus a wise man, speaking to the crowd. There is one last figure wearing such a crown, and it illustrates a heading found in the wrong place: deference (« révérence »)73. I suppose it is the pope because he is sitting on the richest throne featured in the manuscript, adorned with two lions; in front of him a man is kneeling, in deference [Fig. 15]. Although it is not a pejorative image of a crowned figure, it is a very specific one. On the basis of these few miniatures of kings, emperors and popes, it does not seem that the patron of Plimpton MS 281 was eager to praise the government of princes. This keeps in line with the Tresor's original text, which clearly states that the best form of government is that of the podestà. Of course, this has not prevented illuminators from ornamenting the Tresor with images of princes, as we saw in MS français 19090, nor has it meant that kings could not receive the text of the Tresor as gifts, as we saw with MS français 571. Moreover, as I mentioned when considering diagrams, the images sometimes bear no relation to the text. However, I suggest that the representation of crowned figures in Plimpton MS 281, taken together with other characteristics, points to a patron outside of a courtly or royal circle, to a member of the legal profession, such as magistrates, provosts, aldermen, legates, delegates, judges and officials, all mentioned in the Tresor74.

Figure 14

Figure 14

Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 139r (Book III, how Caesar spoke according to the art of rhetoric)

Figure 15

Figure 15

Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 101v (Book II, deference)

22I began this article with questions about the representation of law. What would be the point, « of conjuring images to represent the infringement of the law? » What is the point, for example, of showing a man receiving punishment for a misdeed? Similarly, what would be the point of conceiving of images that represent the « processes of producing eloquent speech and reasoned arguments »? What is the point of displaying a scholar enumerating loci to a group of men, or of a scholar sitting down while looking at a scroll, « considering » his subject matter before he writes a letter? I would like to suggest that the art of rhetoric might give some indication on how to consider these images.

  • 75 I take my precepts from an already mentioned art of rhetoric: Rhetorica ad Herennium. [Cícero], re (...)
  • 76 I mention only a few authors: Michael Baxandall, Renssealer W. Lee, Otto Pächt and Michael Camille (...)

23Ornaments, in the art of rhetoric, confer dignity to the speech, distinguishing it by the variation and appropriateness of the ornaments75. The miniatures are not to be considered illustrations of the precepts, in the same way that elocutio (the precepts for ornamentation) is not an add-on to the ideas that form a speech: take away the ornaments, there is no speech; take away the miniatures, the text is something else. That images and text should be read together has been pointed out by numerous authors who have described and explored the complex relation between them76. It seems that the variation and appropriateness of the images in Plimpton MS 281 have been demonstrated even with only a few examples. The images, in this sense, are like visual ornaments.

  • 77 Ad Herennium, III.29.
  • 78 Ad Herennium, III.30.
  • 79 F. A. Yates, The Art of Memory, London, Ark Edition, 1984; M. Carruthers, The Book of Memory : a s (...)
  • 80 Carruthers, op. cit., p. 9, quotes a fifteenth-century ars memorativa : « Wherefore one best learn (...)
  • 81 Ad Herennium, III.33.

24But they should also be considered textual visions, for they help to memorize and learn the precepts. (I mentioned how annotations in the margins have mnemonic functions.) Memoria is one of the parts of rhetoric, and it teaches how to fix ideas in memory, so that an orator can remember his speech. The earliest account of an art of memory is to be found in the Rhetorica ad Herennium, a much-used art of rhetoric during the Middle Ages. It describes artificial memory, used for memorizing, as composed of places and images. The places are prepared by the orator or the student and in them he puts images that will help him remember the things that he wishes to remember77. The places can be compared to wax tablets, the images to letters, the order and placement of the images to writing and pronunciation to reading78. This simile has often been reminded and explored in scholarship and very noticeably by Mary Carruthers, in The Book of Memory, and by Frances Yates, in The Art of Memory79. Carruthers shows that the function of memory is not only what we would understand today by memorization but also by composition and thought. The analogy between artificial memory and an illuminated manuscript is obvious: the images occupy places that were left for them in the book, and the different placements on the folios serve structuring and mnemonic functions80. The criteria for choosing the images of artificial memory are important for both the person who writes (not forgetting that he who writes is also a reader of his own memory), and for the reader (who will read, store and then write from his own storehouse of memory). The images should be similar (similes) to a thing or to a word81.

  • 82 Ad Herennium, III.35-37.

25But what is the « similitude » that makes an image apt to serve artificial memory? The image should be uncommon, it should present some action or be an acting image (agens imago), it should have particular characteristics: either very beautiful, with particular marks (such as crowns, royal vests, etc.), or very disfigured, or even ridiculous, with something exceptional about it82. Of the images in this manuscript, many are acting images: debating, delivering messages, and even falling from a horse. Many too can be considered very noticeable, such as an antique-looking bearded figure, a foreign king and a landscape, and a judge with a very large hat. The variations between them, moreover, are marks, which is why I have tried to highlight the subtle but fascinating differences in clothing. Given their relation to the text, they can be considered to show another form of action, which puts the precepts into movement: from the appropriate choice of precept to the choice of the depicted image. These images are signs for ideas, they stand in the memory of the reader for the precepts, and when he « reads » them, he will translate them into words, just like an orator who reads his memory delivers his speech.

26The images in this manuscript seem to act in all of these different ways, but only further research will show if there is a particular iconography of rhetoric to be found in manuscripts intended for a certain type of reader from a legal, but not courtly, milieu.

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Notes

1 S. L’Engle, R. Gibbs, Illuminating the law: legal manuscripts in Cambridge collections, London, Harvey Miller Publishers, 2001, p. 75.

2 B. Latini, Tresor, trad. et éd., P. Beltrami, P. Squillacioti, P. Torri, S. Vatteroni, Torino, Einaudi, 2007. This is the edition from which I quote the Tresor. The first book of the Tresor is identified by Brunetto as teaching the beginning of the world, history, and the nature of all things (« ele trate dou comencement dou siecle, et de l’ancieneté des vieilles estoires et de l’establissement dou monde et de la nature de toutes choses en soume. Et ce apartient a la premier partie de philosophie, c’est a theorique », Tresor I.1.1-2). This does not correspond exactly to the definition that Brunetto then gives of theoretical philosophy as being composed of theology, physics (natural science) and mathematics (arithmetics, music, geometry, and astronomy) (Tresor I.3). Book I covers the Genesis and history, hagiographies, geography, astronomy, a bestiary and teachings on cultivation and building.

3 B. Roux, Mondes en miniatures: l’iconographie du Livre du Trésor de Brunetto Latini, Paris, Droz, 2009, p. 265. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS français 19090 also contains miniatures in the art of rhetoric, but they are less numerous and more often teaching scenes. I will come back to these.

4 Ibidem. Roux's study is very complete, but she does not carry out a detailed analysis of the manuscripts that do not follow the patterns of the others. These miniatures in Plimpton MS 281 are not studied in detail by her.

5 A. H. van Buren, Illuminating Fashion, New York, The Morgan Library and Museum, 2011. I use this catalogue for the identification of clothing and headgear. My thanks to Joseph S. Ackley for the precious bibliographical advice.

6 Ibid. In the catalogue, there are many examples of groups of people talking in very different sources. Although the compositions themselves are varied, we can see that people and groups of people talking are common in general, if not in the iconography of arts of rhetoric.

7 The classic book on the subject is E. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2013.

8 A. H. vanBuren, op. cit., p. 158-159 (Fig. B.43).

9 Ibid., p. 160 (Fig. B.46).

10 Tresor III.75.1: « Et por ce que li sires est autresi come le chief des citiens, et que toz homes desirrent avoir sane teste […] ». I didn't have a good translation for « sires », because « lord » gives the impression of feudal property, and « ruler » of monarchy. I propose to leave it in the original, occasionally using podestà, and/or magistrate to emphasize the fact that it referred to an official elected to exercise functions of justice and war.

11 J. Najemi, A history of Florence, 1200-1575, Oxford, Blackwell, 2006, p. 64-71.

12 Tresor III.76.1: « Et por ce doivent il nommeement mander le jor que il doit estre corporelment dedenz la ville et faire son soirement as constitucions des choses, et que il doit amener avec soi juges et notaires et aures officiaus por faire ces choses et ces autres […]». E. Artifoni, « I podestà professionali e la fondazione retorica della politica comunale », Quaderni Storici, 63, 3/XXI, 1986, p. 700: both the podestà and the judge should be eloquent; the notary is responsible for the written word.

13 For the sake of clarity, I am using the verb « to vulgarize » for the transformation from Latin to a vernacular and « to translate » for the transformation between vernaculars. A translation at this time is not a modern translation; it contains all sorts of interventions, such as commentaries and other additions or omissions. For the Tesoro tradition, see C. Mascheroni, « I codici del volgarizzamento italien del « Trésor » di Brunetto Latini », Aevum, XLIII, 1969, p. 485-510 apud B. Latini, op. cit., p. xxxix.

14 B. Latini, La Rettorica, éd. Maggini, Firenze, Galletti e Cocci, 1915 ; Cicero, De inventione, trad. H. Hubbell, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, Harvard University Press, 2000.

15 B. Latini, La Rettorica, op. cit., p. 79-80 (57.2).

16 For example, Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale MS II IV 127, which brings together La Rettorica and parts of the Tesoro, joining the rhetorical, epistolary and ethical teachings relevant to the civic professions.

17 E. Artifoni, op. cit., p. 687-719.

18 J. O. Ward, « Rhetorical Theory and the Rise and Decline of Dictamen in the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance », Rhetorica, XIX, 2001, p. 175-223. E. Artifoni, op. cit., p. 95: mentions, in the same case, the Fiore di rettorica, by Fra Guidotto da Bologna, written between 1254 and 1266, which paraphrases another famous classical art of rhetoric, the Rhetorica ad Herennium (which I will mention further down).

19 See the introduction to B. Latini, Tresor.

20 P. Beltrami, « Tre schede sul Tresor », Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Classe di lettere e filosofia, 23, 1993, p. 159-169, for the manuscript with De regimine principum. B. Latini, Tresor, p. xxii-xxiii, for the incomplete versions and the nature of the text that lends itself to being fragmented. Beltrami notes, however, that the Tresor was more often copied in its entirety than would have been expected.

21 Roux notes the particularity of the political system in the Tresor and speaks of a disconnect between text and image (Images are actualized to the time of the manuscript, often depicting monarchs, whereas the text describes the communal system of government). She suggests that the teachings were probably not useful in monarchic governments. B. Roux, op. cit., p. 271.

22 M. Michael, « A manuscript wedding gift from Philipppa of Hainaut to Edward III », The Burlington Magazine, CXXVII, 990, 1985, p. 585; F. Avril, P. D. Stirnemann, Manuscrits enluminés d’origine insulaire. viie-xxe siècle, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale (Centre de Recherche sur les Manuscrits Enluminés), 1987 ; A. Stones, « The Stylistic Context of the Roman de Fauvel with a note on Fauvain », Fauvel Studies: Allegory, Chronicle, Music, and Image in Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms. français 156, éd. M. Bent, A. Wathey, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1998, p. 529-567; L. F. Sandler, Gothic Manuscripts, 1285-1385, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles 5, 2 vol., London, Harvey Miller, 1986, vol. 2, p. 103-105, no 96. In this manuscript the art of rhetoric is ornamented with an opening miniature to which I will return later.

23 Colophon of Plimpton MS 281, fo 173v (information from Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library).

24 As mentioned, I use A. H. van Buren, op. cit., to identify the clothing and headdresses. I will later explain why this is important to my argument.

25 It is difficult to explain the abandonment of the miniatures at the end, considering that the text is complete and that other parts of the chapter are annotated. It could be that this part was less interesting, but it could also be many other things.

26 B. Roux, op. cit., p. 265. I base most of my observations on Roux's excellent study. I will reference some of the manuscripts she mentions as is useful for my argument.

27 Ibid., p. 266.

28 Ibid.

29 Ibid., p. 267. Roux mentions two miniatures (Karlsruhe MS 391, f201v and British Library Add. 30024, fo 1v) where Rhetoric is represented by two men cutting a disc. The latter is also mentioned in M. Evans, « Allegorical Women and Practical Men: The Iconography of the Artes Reconsidered », Medieval Women, éd. Derek Baker, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1978, p. 321, who however mistakes it for an image of two men holding a sword and a shield. I would like to suggest that this image pertains to the iconography of dialectic and can be related to a passage in Isidore of Seville's Etymologiae; it was probably misunderstood at some point. See Isidore of Seville, The Etymologies, trad. S. A. Barney, W. J. Lewis, J. A. Beach, O. Berghof, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006, II, xxii.1-2.

30 B. Roux, op. cit., p. 269-270. The mentioned manuscripts are partially available online.

31 This idea is to be related to the war between factions that dominated north-Italian politics at the time of the Tresor. In the opening part of Latini’s text, he emphasizes the power of rhetoric. Tresor I.4.10: « Et au voir dire de lui avons nos mestier en toutes beseignes tozjors, et maintes choses granz et petite povons nos fere par soulement bien dire ce que convient, que nos ne le porons fere par force d’armes ne par autre engin. »

32 B. Roux, op. cit., p. 268.

33 Tresor III.I.2: «“Tulles dit que la plus haute science de cité gouverner si est rethorique, ce est a dire la science dou parler; car se parleure ne fust, citez ne seroit, ne nul establissement de justise ne de humane compaingnie. »”

34 Tresor III.I.7: « Tulles dit que au comencement que les homes vivoient a la loi de bestes sans propre maison et sans conoissance de Dieu parmi les bois et parmi les repostailes champestres, si que nus n’esgardoit mariaige, nus ne conoissoit pere ne filz, si fu un saige home bien parlant, qui tant conseilla les autres et tant leur mostra la grandor de l’ome et la digneté de la raison et de la discrecion, que il les restraist de ces sauvagines et les combra a habiter en un leuc, et a garder raison et justise. »

35 Tresor I.4.9: « [(..) c’est la science qui adreça le monde premierement a bien fere, et qui encor l’adresce par la predicacion des sainz homes, per les divines Escritures et per la loy qui les genz governe a droit et a justise. »”

36 L. Cleaver, Éducation in Twelfth-Century Art and Architecture, Images of Learning in Europe, c. 1100-1220, Suffolk, The Boydell Press, 2016, p. 84.

37 M. Evans, op. cit., p. 307-308; L. Cleaver, op. cit., p. 7-8.

38 L. Cleaver, op. cit., p. 7-8.

39 Ibid., p. 106.

40 M. Evans, op. cit., p. 309-310; K.-A. Wirth, « Eine illustrierte Martianus Capella Handschrift aus dem 13. Jahrhundert », Städel-Jahrbuch, 2, 1969, p. 43-74; F. Mütherich, « De Rhetorica. Eine Illustration zu Martianus Capella », Festschrift Bernhard Bischoff, éd. J. Autenrieth, F. Brunhölzl, Stuttgart, 1971, p. 198-206. These last two references are cited in B. Roux, op. cit., and L. Cleaver, op. cit., as examples of personifications drawn from Capella's text.

41 L. Cleaver, op. cit., p. 85-89; M. Evans, op. cit., p. 309-310.

42 Ibid., p. 74-84. Concerning reading, Michael Camille has shown that in the Middle Ages it was far from meaning what we know as reading: reading was often out loud and it could also mean lecturing. See M. Camille, « Seeing and Lecturing: Disputation in a Twelfth-Century Tympanum from Reims », Reading the Medieval Image: The Art Historian and the Object, éd. E. Sears, K. Thomas, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 2002, p. 75-87.

43 L. Cleaver, op. cit., p. 63 ss.

44 Ibid., p. 96. For gestures, see F. Garnier, Le langage de l’image au Moyen Âge: signification et symbolique, Paris, Léopard d’or, 1982. See also O. Chomentovsakaja, « Le comput digital: Histoire d’un geste dans l’art de la Renaissance italienne »”, Gazaette des Beaux-Arts, 20, 1938, p. 157-172.

45 M. Evans, op. cit., p. 312. Evans is interested in male personifications of the arts, which are less common than female personifications. He traces these to images of the female personifications and their exponents, such as Rhetoric and Cicero, or images of scholars. The miniatures in Plimpton MS 281 do not seem to be personifications, despite being generic.

46 M.-A. Bossy éd., Medieval Debate Poetry, Vernacular Works, New York, London, Garland, 1987, p. xii-xiv.

47 I. O'Daly, « Diagrams of Knowledge and Rhetoric in Manuscripts of Cicero's De inventione”», Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Book Culture, Manuscripts of the Latin Classics 800-1200, éd. E. Kwakkel, Leiden, Leiden University Press, 2015, p. 91-93.

48 Ibid., p. 82.

49 F. Saxl, « Illustrated Mediaeval Encyclopedias », Lectures, London, Warburg Institute, University of London, 1957.

50 B. Roux, op. cit., p. 265.

51 S. L’Engle, The Illumination of Legal Manuscripts in Bologna, 1250-1350, Production and Iconography, dissertation, New York, New York University, 2000, p. 152-153; an interesting later example of narrative images and naturalistic human figures can be found in a manuscript on arithmetic from the late fifteenth century: M. L. Gengaro, « Le miniature del codice », Algorismus, Trattato di aritmetica pratica e mercantile del secolo XV, II, Banca Commerciale Italiana, 1972. I thank Eric Dillalogue from the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center of the University of Pennsylvania for kindly sending me information and bibliography about MS LJS 27, Algorismus.

52 At this point we do not know if the annotations are by the hand of the first owner, but there is nothing to indicate that they are not. There is at least one commentary written in Italian that seems to be by a later hand.

53 Tresor III.52.

54 For gestures and bibliography, see above notes 41 and 44.

55 L. Cleaver, op. cit., p. 106: Cleaver points out that twelfth-century disputants saw themselves as a part of an antique tradition. In the Tresor, the antique auctoritates are taught and are therefore present in the text and to the reader. The Tresor's art of rhetoric could be said to be taught in tandem by Latini and by Cicero. I wonder if this bearded figure, which appears elsewhere in the manuscript, could be Cicero.

56 The form of his headdress almost seems like the hairstyle of a woman whose hair is bunched up over the ears, but because of the color and because of the difference from other women in the manuscript, I do not think this is the case.

57 I use orator here for lack of better definition of the destination of the manuscript. These are not typical classroom scenes, and there is no reason to consider the speaker to be a prophet or a preacher. Further definition of the patron could help to identify a specific profession which involves making speeches or writing, but not necessarily.

58 Tresor III.89.1: « Quant il avient aucune chose por quoi l’en doie envoier messaiges ou embesseor fors de la ville, certes se la besseingne ne fust de grant pesantor il les doit eslire par briés entre les conseilleors de la ville, ou autrement selonc les us de la ville. Mes se il doivent estre envoiés a l’apostoille ou a l’empereor de Rome, ou en autre part qui requiere grant solempnité, je loe que li sires meesmes les eslise, trestouz les meillors de la ville, se ce est la volenté dou conseil. »

59 Tresor III.90.2: «[…] Mes molt est belle chose et honeste au seingnor, come il siet a cort, que il entende volentiers et coiement les unes et les autres, meesmement les avocas et li parron des causes, car il descoverront la force des pleis, et manifesteront la matire des questions; por quoi la loi dit que lor office est fierement bons et beseingnables a la vie des homes, autant ou plus come il se combatissent a l’espee et au coutel por ses parens et por son païs. Car nos ne cuidons pas, fait l’emperor, que solement cil soient chevaliers qui eussent l’escu et le hauberc, mes en chevalerie sont li avocas et li parron des causes. Et por ce doit li sires bien porveoir, por son office, que se aucuns povres ou autres est en pleit devant lui qui ne puisse avoir avocat, o par sa foibleté, ou par la force son aversaire, il doit constraindre aucun bon avocat qui soit en s’aide et qui le consoille et die son droit et sa parole. »

60 In the background there are drawings that do not seem to have been finished, and are not colored. I have not been able to identify what they are.

61 Tresor III.91.1: « Sur toutes choses doit la poesté faire que la ville qui est a son government soit en bon estat sans noise et sans forfais; et ce ne puet pas estre se il ne fait tant que li païs soit voides des larrons, des murtriers et des maufaitors; ça la loi comande bien que li sires expurge le païs de males genz, et por ce a il la seingnorie sur les estranges et sor le privez qui font la crime en sa justise. »

62 W. H. Sherman, Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009, p. 29-45; for the function of calling attention to something, p. 43-44; for bodies attached to manicules, p. 35. I take the term from Sherman, but maniculae could also be used.

63 See below for a more detailed discussion.

64 See above note 42.

65 See above note 43.

66 Tresor II.64-69. The ethic rules for speaking are those belonging to what is known as the literature of the « sins of the tongue », they were shared by monastic rules and civic literature. On the sins of the tongue, see C. Casagrande, S. Vecchio, Les péchés de la langue, discipline et éthique de la parole dans la culture médiévale, trad. Ph. Baillet, Paris, Cerf, 1991.

67 For the gestures of argumentation and discussion, see Garnier, op. cit., p. 209-212. The related gesture of counting on one’s fingers is posteriorly related to scholastic thought and survives well into the Renaissance. See Chomentovsakaja, op. cit. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to consider here that these gestures could be related to dialectic rather than rhetoric, both because of the men involved (mostly laypeople), the subject matter of the Book and the interaction between the figures.

68 The corresponding chapter in the edited edition of the Tresor does not have the same title, it is entitled « Ci dit de seingnorie et de ses piliers ». The miniature follows the title of the chapter in the manuscript.

69 Tresor II.119.2: « Selonc le comandement de moralité et de vertu, l’en doit atemprer les desirrers de seingnorie. Juvenaus dit: Puissance fait mainz homes chaoir. Lucans dit: L’ordre des destinees est ennuios, car il est deveé as hautes choses que ne dure longuement; et il est grief chaoir soz pesan faisse; les granz choses decheent par eles meismes; et ces est li termes jusques a cui li Dieu laissent croistre les liesces: et il donerent legierement les granz choses, mes a peines les guarantissent. » These are followed by other sententiae emphasizing the fall.

70 Tresor II.49.1: « Le noble gouverneres de la cité fait les citiens nobles, et les fait bien euvrer et garder la loi, et contrarier as autres qui ne la gardent, ja soit ce qu’il le facent bien. »

71 Tresor III.36.

72 Tresor I.37-38. In Book I, Latini briefly tells the story of the conspiracy and the history of the Roman Empire.

73 The chapter on deference is Tresor II.107, but the miniature is found in front of chapter II.78, which is about sobriety.

74 Tresor, III.73.4: «[…] li maires, les prevos et la poesté et li eschevins des citez et des villes; […] li legas et li deslegas et li vigueres et li officiaus. »

75 I take my precepts from an already mentioned art of rhetoric: Rhetorica ad Herennium. [Cícero], retórica a herênio, trad. A. P. Celestino Faria, A. Seabra, São Paulo, Hedra, 2005. Ad Herennium, IV.18.

76 I mention only a few authors: Michael Baxandall, Renssealer W. Lee, Otto Pächt and Michael Camille, in art history, and, in literary criticism, Mike Nichols, Mark Cruse, Rebecca Dixon and Sarah Kay.

77 Ad Herennium, III.29.

78 Ad Herennium, III.30.

79 F. A. Yates, The Art of Memory, London, Ark Edition, 1984; M. Carruthers, The Book of Memory : a study of memory in Medieval Culture, Cambridge, England, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1990.

80 Carruthers, op. cit., p. 9, quotes a fifteenth-century ars memorativa : « Wherefore one best learns by studying from illuminated books, for the different colors bestow remembrance of the different lines and consequently of that thing which one wants to get by heart. »

81 Ad Herennium, III.33.

82 Ad Herennium, III.35-37.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1
Crédits Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 51v-52r (Book I, bestiary)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 265k
Titre Figure 2
Crédits Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 172v-173r (Book III, end of the art of government, unfinished image)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 198k
Titre Figure 3
Crédits Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS français 571, fo 92r (The beginning of Book III, on the art of rhetoric)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 499k
Titre Figure 4
Crédits Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 145v-146r (Book III, the art of rhetoric, loci concerning a person)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 227k
Titre Figure 5
Crédits Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 167v-168r (Book III, the art of government: messengers and legal punishment)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 257k
Titre Figure 6
Crédits Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms français 19090, fo 40v-41r (Book II, ethics: rules for speaking)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 250k
Titre Figure 7
Crédits Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms français 19090, fo 43v-44r (Book II, ethics: rules for speaking, knowledge and teaching)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 273k
Titre Figure 8
Crédits Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 134v (Book III, art of rhetoric: the parts of letters and speeches and the six parts of speech)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 333k
Titre Figure 9
Crédits Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 135r (Book III, the art of rhetoric: the parts of a letter)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 350k
Titre Figure 10
Crédits Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, f133r (Book III, the art of rhetoric: things that the speaker should consider before writing his speech and ways to ornament the speech)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 316k
Titre Figure 11
Crédits Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 159v (Book III, on rulers and princes)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 284k
Titre Figure 12
Crédits Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 121v (Book II, ethics: lordship by fortune)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 323k
Titre Figure 13
Crédits Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, f47r (Book II, the government of a city)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 298k
Titre Figure 14
Crédits Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 139r (Book III, how Caesar spoke according to the art of rhetoric)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 278k
Titre Figure 15
Crédits Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 281, fo 101v (Book II, deference)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/docannexe/image/1899/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 328k
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Tina Montenegro, « Justice in the miniatures of Brunetto Latini's art of rhetoric: Columbia Library, Plimpton MS 281 »Clio@Themis [En ligne], 21 | 2021, mis en ligne le 09 novembre 2021, consulté le 18 août 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/cliothemis/1899 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.35562/cliothemis.1899

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Tina Montenegro

Visiting Assistant Professor of French

Wesleyan University

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