The Lorsch MSS


Lorsch was founded by Count Chancor, a Frankish noble, around 740AD and became a Royal monastery in 772, acquiring considerable wealth and a magnificent library.3  We have 4 ninth century catalogues of the library, all dated between 830 and 860.  They have been analysed by Bischoff.5 Lorsch was destroyed during the 30 Years War, and most of the loot of Lorsch ended up in the Palatine collection in the Bibliotheca Apostolica in the Vatican as part of the settlement.

Folios 1-34.  Catalogue III.
Folios 35-44. A 9th century catalogue of Fulda.
Folios 45-65. Catalogue II.
Folios 67-79. Catalogue I.

Folios 1-7 (the first quire): Catalogue III*.
The remainder contains some letters of St.Paul and some sermons.

Note that 'prbi' = presbyteri.

Monasterium S.Nazarii Laureshamense (= Lorsch)

Catalogue I

This is the oldest.  It is written in a regular and attractive caroline minuscule with the title and headings in rustic capitals.   Additions were made by at least 5 different hands, and with the exception of a few headings, is dated to c. 830. AD.  Spaces were left between author sections, clearly to give space for additions of works by the same author.  This catalogue provided the model for the later ones.  It appears to have been the librarians copy, and was used for some time3.

Fol 76r4.

3201. Liber tertulliani prbi idest de patientia lib I de carnis resurrectione lib I adversus praxean lib I adversus valentinianos lib I adversus marcionem lib V de carne xpi lib I in uno codice

below an addition by a slightly later hand:

321. item libri tertulliani prbi in alio codice.

Catalogue II

This catalogue is incomplete.  It was written by two scribes in hands not of the Lorsch type in the second quarter of the ninth century, not many years after catalogue I.  There are few corrections and no additions.   Bischoff felt that this was a 'neat' copy of catalogue I, which had in fact not been much used, and perhaps was made to be sent to someone else, perhaps at St. Vaast as Abbot Adalung(804-37) was Abbot of St.Vaast from 808 onwards.  There is a very close relationship, but II lists about 70 volumes not listed in I, which may have been overlooked when catalogue I was compiled3.

Fol. 65r I4:

Lib tertuliani prbi idest de patientia lib I, carnis resurrectione lib. I adversus praxean lib I adversus valentinianos lib I adversus marcionem lib V de carne xpi lib I in uno codice.

Catalogue III

The most comprehensive of all the catalogues.   There were two hands responsible for this, and Bischoff dated it to the third quarter of the ninth century.  It ends with books by Gerward who had been librarian for Louis the Pious and retired to Lorsch, which must have been added about 860AD .3

Fol. 29v4.

40. Liber tertulliani pbi.

and on the same line

41. Item alius lib.tertulliani.

Catalogue III*

Apparently a copy of an older version of III, and was made in the mid-ninth century.  Bischoff has argued that this was the 'short-title' catalogue, containing most of III in a single quire due to drastic abbreviation.3

I do not know if Tertullian is mentioned in this catalogue.


In view of the doubts raised about 'Corpus Cluniacense', perhaps we had better not say that Lorsch possessed an exemplar of that two volume collection. The evidence is that it possessed a volume containing the same contents as the Montepessulanus, plus another volume with 'libri' in it - i.e. a collection - and did so in the middle of the 9th century.

However it has been suggested that this does amount to an example of the Cluny Collection, and of the Montpellier branch, to judge from the order of the treatises -- Pat, Carn, Res, Prax, Val, Marc.1-5 --, except that from the catalogue above, De Carne Christi has slipped from second place to last.7


1. J-C. Fredouille, Sources-Chretiennes 280 (1980), Contre les Valentiniens, p.49. (Checked)

2. G.Becker, Catalogi bibliothecarum antiqui, Bonnae 1885, pp.106, 121.   (Checked) Becker tells us that his work is derived entirely from other printed sources, and not from the original catalogues. 

3. R.McKitterick, The Carolingians and the written word, Cambridge 1989, pp.185-191.  (Checked)

This gives detailed information about the catalogues, and tells us (p.188  and n.67) that Becker has simply reprinted badly a jumbled list by Angelo Mai, Spicilegii Romani V, Rome 1841, pp.161-200.   From this I got the references for Bischoff, and most of the detail I have attributed to him.

4. Text of the entry and folio numbers kindly emailed to me by Dr. Veronika von Büren from her inspection of the catalogues.

5. Bernhard Bischoff, Lorsch im Spiegel seiner Handschriften, Münchener Beiträge zur Mediävistik und Renaissance Forschung Beiheft, Munich, 1974. (Not checked).  From McKitterick, p.186 n.65.

6. Elmar Mittler, ed., Bibliotheca Palatina.  Katalog der Austellung vom 8. juli bis 2. Novermber 1986 Heiliggeistkirche Heidelberg, Heidelberg 1986. (Not checked).  From McKitterick, p.186 n.65.

7. A. Häse, Mittelalterliche Bücherverzeichnisse aus Kloster Lorsch.  Einleitung, Edition und Kommentar, Wiesbaden (2002), pp. 96 (A 45) and 132 (B 136). Not checked. From Petitmengin, Tertullien entre la fin (2004) p.69 n.25.

This page has been online since 11th December 1999.

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