St Albertus Magnus (2)

Penflourish initial D at beginning of Book I
Pembroke Coll. MS 204, f. 1r
Albertus Magnus, De celo et mundo
England, ca 1425–1450

Image reproduced by kind permission of the Master and Fellows of Pembroke College

St Albert, called the Great (ca 1200–1280), ranks beside St Thomas Aquinas (ca 1225–1274) as the greatest of Dominican philosophers and theologians, but he also wrote in other fields, notably astronomy, alchemy, botany, meteorology, mineralogy and zoology. He probably first studied at the universities of Padua and Bologna, and entered the Dominican order at some time around 1223–1229. In the middle years of the century he taught at the university of Paris but most of his life was spent in Germany, much of it at the Dominican convent in Cologne. He wrote commentaries on many of Aristotle’s works and his authorship is recorded in the rubric at the head of the first page. Only the first text in the book is by him with the remainder containing several very short treatises by several authors. The book is ornamented with penflourish initials in red and blue at the main sections of the text. Its ownership is not known before it entered the library of Pembroke College, and its ornamental decoration and script is not specific enough to suggest any more than it was likely to have been made in England in the second quarter of the fifteenth century.

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