The earliest named French author, Philippe de Thaon, was active in the first half of the 12th century. In this volume are two scientific works by him: the Comput (Computation), a verse summary of how to calculate the medieval calendar, and the Bestiaire (Bestiary), a medieval book of beasts with Christian allegories, based on the Latin Physiologus. The latter was dedicated to Adeliza of Louvain (b. c. 1103, d. 1151), second wife of King Henry I of England. This copy is from Holme Cultram Abbey, a Cistercian house in Cumbria, and it is copied in Anglo-Norman, the French dialect of England. In the Bestiary, the scribe has left spaces for illustrations, some with labels, but they remain blank apart from a few very faint sketches.
This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.
- Article by:
- Hannah Morcos
- History and learning
Hannah Morcos looks at how the vernacular of northern France evolved from a regional spoken language to a cross-European written medium between the 8th and 12th centuries.