“the heart of a fool is like a broken vessel, no wisdom at all shall it hold.”


960G     Nicolaus de Byard (13th century)

Dictionarius pauperum omnibus pr[a]edicatoribus verbi diuini pernecessarius : in quo multu[m] succinte contine[n]tur materi[a]e singulis festiuitatibus totius anni tam de tempore q[uam] de sanctis accommodand[a]e, vt in tabula huius operis facile & lucide cognoscetur.

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Parisiis : ex officinaAmbrosijGirault: 1511                  $3,500

Octavo  6 1/4 X 4 inches. a-r8.(lacking r8 blank) This copy is bound in modern full vellum with ties, the text is clean throughout with a little light water stains, a nice copy.

DSC_0285 3.jpgA popular collection of distinctions, an alphabetical collection of topics used by preachers. It has only recently been attributed to the late thirteenth-century German Augustinian Nicolaus de Byard (fl. 1300?), theologian, was, according to Bale, a Dominican theologian at Oxford, where he obtained his doctor’s degree. Pits’s account tends in the same direction, and both biographers praise their author for his knowledge of pontifical law. Bale adds that he was very skilled for his age in Aristotelian studies, but accuses him of distorting the Scriptures by ‘allegorical inventions and leisurely quibbles.’ His principal work appears to have been entitled ‘Distinctiones Theologiæ,’ and, according to the last-mentioned authority, this book was largely calculated to corrupt the simplicity of the true faith, as it consisted, like Abelard’s ‘Sic et Non,’ of an assortment of theological opinions opposed to one another. A manuscript of this work is still preserved in Merton College library (cclii.), and Tanner gives a list of other writings of this author that are to be found in English libraries. Byard’s sermons constantly occurred in company with those of William of Auvergne, bishop of Paris (1228–48), and other great characters of Louis IX’s reign. More conclusive as to the date is Quétif’s assertion that in the ‘Liber Rectoris Universitatis Parisiensis’ Bayard’s great work is mentioned as being for sale in Paris before the year 1303; that several other discourses of Bayard were for sale in Paris at the same time; and that his ‘Sermones Dominicales’ formed part of a parchment folio in the Sorbonne library, containing Robert de Sorbonne’s ‘Liber de Conscientiâ’ (d. 1274). Lastly, as regards the order to which Bayard belonged, Quétif observes that there is no certain evidence whether he was a Franciscan or a Dominican. In all the manuscripts excepting one he appears to be called simply Frater Nicholas de Bayard, and in the only one which is more precise he is called a Minorite. Only one of Bayard’s works seems to have been printed, and that one of somewhat doubtful authenticity, the ‘Summa de Abstinentia,’ which was published under the title of ‘Dictionarius Pauperum’ by John Knoblouch at Cologne in 1518, and again at Paris in 1530. (DNB) In actuality it was first published in 1480, then every few years until 21610, yet still few survive.

Dictionarius pauperum is an encyclopedia of Christian philosophy,for the use of preachers, arranged alphabetically from “De abstinentia” to “De vita eterna.” The attribution to de Byart is tentative.   In the thirteenth century Dictionarius pauperum compiled by Nicolas de Byard, we find the admonition that just as robbers easily have the treasure after they have broken the chest, so the devil has the soul after he has confused a man and stolen his patience, because “the heart of a fool is like a broken vessel, no wisdom at all shall it hold.”

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