A Seventeenth-Century Treasure Hunter

in the Rubble of a Ninth-Century Library

Gathering Fragments and the History of Libraries

Pierre Chambert-Protat,* École française de Rome


Fragmentology I (2018), 65–81, DOI: 10.24446/41yi

With some 150 preserved codices, the Carolingian library of the cathedral chapter of Lyon counts among the best preserved ninth-century libraries.1 While more famous examples either remain in their original location, such as is the case with the libraries of Saint Gall and Verona, or were transferred in their entire-ty, as with Corbie and Lorsch, Lyon’s situation falls between the two extremes. About 50 of its Carolingian and codices antiquiores remained in Lyon to this day (making the Bibliothèque Municipale of Lyon the richest in provincial France),

* This paper represents the first results of a research project for Fragmentarium funded by the Zeno-Karl-Schindler Foundation over the year 2016–2017.

1 In his seminal study, C. Charlier inventoried exactly 100 codices that “were in Lyon in Florus’s times”. Some items may have to be removed from the list, but many more have to be added to it. C. Charlier, “Les manuscrits personnels de Florus de Lyon et son activité littéraire”, Mélanges Emmanuel Podechard, Lyon 1945, 71–84. Reprint in Revue bénédictine 119/2(2009), 252–269. DOI 10.1484/J.RB.5.100492

Abstract: Among the few major Carolingian libraries that are rather well preserved, Lyon’s Cathedral Chapter Library presents a specific challenge: its fragmentation and dispersion have long hindered studies on its constituent manuscripts, because they were scattered across distant libraries. Nowadays, digitization lifts the greater part of the material obstacles, and virtual recon-structions make it possible to study damaged manuscripts almost as if their scattered fragments were still preserved together. While accompanying a few such reconstructions on display on Fragmentarium, this paper intends to high-light the importance of an individual XVIIth century collector, Étienne Baluze, in the salvaging of fragments from the Lyon library. Through this example is shown how the very preservation status of fragments within larger ensembles can reveal information on the librarians, collectors, collections, and libraries to whom they belonged, and their own history.

Keywords: Lyon, Cathedral; Lyon, Bibliothèque municipale; Étienne Baluze; library history; Carolingian era; Codices Latini Antiquiores