Legendier A with Additional Lives from Le Legende Doree

Copied in Italy in the early part of the fourteenth century, this collection of saints lives contains thirteen stories of the apostles followed by four martyrs’ stories. It was originally composed in northern France, perhaps Picardy, in the middle of the thirteenth century. The lives often include a narrative of each saint’s martyrdom, as well as extensive descriptions of the miracles performed by each saint. This collection of saint’s lives seem to follow Latin hagiographic models generally.

In both manuscripts listed here, Legendier A has been supplemented by material from the Golden Legend (Le Legende Doree). The Golden Legend was written in Latin around 1260 by Jacobus de Voragine, the Dominican archbishop of Genoa. The text was quickly translated into many vernacular languages, including French. It is not clear where the translation found in these manuscripts was made; however, manuscript T (Tours Bibliotheque Municipale 1008) was copied in Genoa a mere thirty years after the text was originally composed. Because Jacobus continued to add to the work throughout his life, further research on the version contained in these manuscripts may suggest whether the translations were made in northern Italy, or whether the text had circulated to another region to be translated there and return to Genoa.

“Manuscript T” includes fifty lives in French from the Golden Legend, but also four in Italian. “Manuscript M” (Modena Biblioteca Estense Universitaria Alfa.T.4.14) is entirely in French. In this manuscript the material from the Golden Legend is inserted after the fourteenth Life from Legendier A, and has been reorganized and altered from Jacobus de Voragine’s original.

The text also exists in another northern Italian manuscript, where it stands alone.

Scholars believe the works were copied (and perhaps translated) somewhere in northern Italy, in either Genoa or Pisa.


Tours, Bibliotheque Municipale,1008
Modena Biblioteca Estense Universitaria MS Alfa T.4.14

Secondary Literature

Cigni, Fabrizio. “Manuscrits en Francais, Italien, et Latin entre la Toscane et la Ligurie a la fin du XIIIe siecle: Implications Codicologiques, Linguistiques, et Evolution des Genres Narratifs.” In Medieval Multilingualism: The Francophone World and its Neighbors, edited by C. Kleinhenz and K. Busby, 187-217. Tunhout: Brepols, 2011.

See also this summary of the contents of Tours, Bibliotheque Municipale 1008.