Dns .I. de Marignac, Or, Meotodes meahte

A research project has snuck up on me, as they often do, from where it was lurking in another project. While working at the Smith College Mortimer Rare Books Room, in my character as measurer of manuscripts, I came upon a thirteenth-century Bible, possibly from the Rhine provinces. A lovely big book, 33.5 x 22.6cm, with a pretty illuminated initial at the front. What caught my eye, though, was the inscription on the flyleaf, dated 1312.

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The hand is difficult for me, and apparently for others as well; a mid-20th century interlinear pencil notation transcribes some of the words, but not all, and even some of those transcribed seem to be wrong. I pieced together some of it the first day, but I still didn’t have enough to figure out all of the place names. The next time I was in, after I finished all the measuring, I came back to it, this time with some help from an emeritus classics professor, with whom I pieced together more of it. By the end of that session (we were still working when the librarian needed to go to a meeting, so she locked us in at 5), we’d figured out almost everything.

Apparently I needed a project like this- a bit fussy, out of my sphere, and exciting. Really needed it, or maybe even needed a few, since I was already working on the Istoria della Fine del Mondo manuscript, which shares many of those characteristics. It’s become a minor obsession. I have half a dozen books out of the library, call numbers for half a dozen more, and a few ordered from interlibrary loan.

It refers to Dns .I. de Marignac, who was not Enguerrand de Marigny (chamberlain to Philip IV of France, and sometimes spelled Inguerrand), but more likely his half-brother Jean de Marigny.

So really, the power of the measurer (meotodes meahte, stolen from Cædmon, but taken here without divine implications) is apparently the power to come back to the library later and do more research. At least, that’s the power of this particular measurer.

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