Penflourish initial M at the beginning of Book I
Corpus Christi Coll. MS 39, f. 3r
Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum naturale Books I–XV
France or England, ca 1275
Image reproduced by kind permission of the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College
The Speculum naturale contains thirty-two books so this must be the first volume of a two-volume set of which the second has not been identified and may no longer exist. There is confusion between manuscripts in the numbering of chapters and in some of them the contents of this manuscript are numbered Books II–XVII. The Speculum naturale begins with six chapters based on the acts of God’s creation as described in Genesis, and here at the beginning of Book I discusses the creation of the world. The remaining chapters discuss metals, minerals, precious stones, plants, fruits, the sun, moon and stars, birds, fish and animals, the human anatomy, the soul, cognition, sleep and dreams, the senses, intellect, will and moral of human beings, and finally the ages of man. It is therefore essentially about the world of nature with some philosophical and theological interpretations. This copy has simple penflourish initials in blue and red and could have been made in either France or England in the latter part of the thirteenth century.