Or Ai Ge Trop Dormi: A Study of the Unfinished F-Pn fr. 12786

Frieda Van Der Heijden

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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F-Pn fr. 12786 was made in the early fourteenth century in Northern France. Codicological and palaeographic evidence suggests that the middle of the three codicological units may have been produced before the others, perhaps because the high demand for the texts in this unit made such an approach commercially interesting. The two codicological breaks are both obscured by the incomplete nature of the texts ending immediately before these moments, and it is unclear whether the texts were intended to be completed. Other aspects of the manuscript have likewise been left uncompleted: the scribe left spaces for miniatures, initials, and musical notation, but these have never been added. Although the absence of these features must have impoverished the reading experiences of the book’s readers, no-one added the illustrations, the initials, and the notation for both monophonic and polyphonic songs, suggesting that the users of fr. 12786 considered the manuscript finished enough for their purpose. Users’ traces show that the book remained in use for many centuries and in various ways.
The manuscript transmits a collection of diverse contents in which some anthological tendencies can be observed. Many manuscripts containing such collections survive, and in this respect, fr. 12786 is situated firmly in a tradition of compilation in which collections were assembled of a combination of usually devotional and moralising texts, often also scientific texts and romances, and in certain cases even music. Fr. 12786 stands out most because of its collection of relatively complex song. This song collection is unique and contains the largest surviving collection of polyphonic rondeaux. It appears to have been organised roughly by genre, and also in an order of increasing complexity or difficulty. The texts in this collection are part of a large network of song transmission, in which fr. 12786 finds itself, albeit on the periphery.
An ex libris which can clearly be seen under ultraviolet light shows that the book belonged to Jean Sala, a manuscript collector in Lyon in the early sixteenth century. It came to the Bibliothèque nationale between 1815 and 1830, and remains there until today.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Deeming, Helen, Supervisor
  • Harvey, Ruth, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Sept 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Manucripts
  • Codicology
  • Chansonnier
  • Palaeography
  • France
  • Music
  • F-Pn fr. 12786
  • fourteenth-century

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