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Walters Ms. W.315, Giovanni Boccaccio's De Casibus Virorum Illustrium translated into French by Laurent de Premierfait

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Giovanni Boccaccio's De Casibus Virorum Illustrium translated into French by Laurent de Premierfait

Text title
De Casibus Virorum


Authority name: Premierfait, Laurent de, -1418.

Supplied name: Laurent de Premierfait


This manuscript represents one of six known copies of Laurent de Premierfait's original French translation of Giovanni Boccaccio's De Casibus Vivorum Illustrium. Premierfait's name can be found in the colophon (fol. 291v). This ca. 1400 translation has a more direct correlation with the Latin than seen in the 1406 version. A printed edition issued by Colard Mansion of Bruges in 1476 survives in over sixty copies. The Walters' manuscript W.315 represents an undecorated version of this text that left space for initials throughout which were never completed. It is additionally written on paper instead of parchment. Scribal features have been identified as South Netherlandish.


Ca. 1470 CE


West Flanders





Literary -- Prose


The primary language in this manuscript is French, Middle (ca.1400-1600).

fols. 291v to 291v:
  1. Transliteration: Cy fine le livre de Jehan Boccace de certald des cas des nobles hommes et femmes translate en francoiz selons le droit latin par moy laurent de premierfait Deo gracias
  2. Comment: Written in dark brown ink below the ruled lines, underlines in red with and finished with red pen-flourish

Support material


Fair quality paper of medium-weight; absorption of text ink has browned the paper; antique laid paper used for flyleaves


Foliation: i+293

Modern pencil foliation, upper right corners, rectos


Formula: 1(14), 2-8(12), 9(14), 10(16,-3), 11(12), 12(14), 13(12), 14(14), 15-23(12), 24(12, -7 through 12)

Catchwords: Sometimes visible on versos at the end of a quire, (eg. fol. 26v)

Comments: Quires begin on fols. 1(1), 15(2), 27(3), 39(4), 51(5), 63(6), 75(7), 87(8), 99(9), 113(10), 128(11), 140(12), 154(13), 166(14), 180(15), 192(16), 204(17), 216(18), 228(19), 240(20), 252(21), 264(22), 276(23), 288(24); in quire 10 the third leaf has been cancelled; in quire 24 the seventh through twelfth leaves have been cancelled


21.5 cm wide by 29.4 cm high

Written surface

13.0 cm wide by 20.0 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 31-35
  3. Ruled in pale brown ink, text extends beyond ruled lines

fols. 2r - 291v:
  1. Title: De Casibus Virorum
  2. Incipit: Cy commence le prologue du livre de Jehan Boccace de Certald des cas des nobles hommes et femmes
  3. Contents: Fol. 2r: Book 1 prologue; fols. 2v-3r: Book 1, 19-chapter list; fols. 3r-33r: Book 1, 19 chapters; fol. 32v: premature heading for Book 2 chapter list crossed out; fols. 33r-33v: Book 2, 23-chapter list; fol. 33v: premature heading for Book 2 prologue crossed out; fol. 33v: Book 2 prologue; fols. 34r-64v: Book 2, 23 chapters; fol. 64v: Book 3, 19-chapter list; fol. 65r: Book 3 prologue; fols. 65r-96v: Book 3, 19 chapters; fol. 96v: Book 4, 10-chapter list; fols. 97r-97v: Book 4 prologue; fols. 97v-127v: Book 4, 19 chapters; fol. 127v: Book 5, 20-chapter list; fol. 127v: heading to Book 5; fols. 128r-156v: Book 5, 20 chapters; fol. 156v-157r: Book 6, 15-chapter list; fols. 157r-190r: Book 6, 15 chapters; fols. 190r-190v: Book 7, 9-chapter list; fols. 190v-220v: Book 7, 9 chapters; fols. 220v-221r: Book 8, 23-chapter list; fols. 221r-252r: Book 8, 23 chapters; fols. 252r-252v: Book 9, 27-chapter list; fols. 252v-291v: Book 9, 27 chapters
  4. Text note: First words introducing each book enlarged (5 lines), chapter headings are in red
  5. Hand note: Written in littera batarda cursiva
  6. Decoration note: Spaces reserved for initial (4 lines) on fol. 2r and at subsequent text divisions (2 lines); rubrics in red; text in medium to dark brown ink


The binding is not original.

Possibly French, seventeenth-eighteenth century; green silk velvet, rounded spine with five bands on containing a torn paper label with title in brown ink that reads "Bocc[ac]e/ de cas [des]/ nobles Ho[mm]es/ et Fem[mes]


Completed in Flanders in 1470

Sixteenth-century collection number "N 415" written in black on fol. 1r

Engraved bookplate with heraldry labelled "Biblioteca Santangelo" on front pastedown, perhaps contemporaneous with seventeenth to eighteenth century binding

Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Barrois of Lille, ca. 1785-1855, his collection number "491" written at top-left of pastedown

Bertram, 4th Earl of Ashburnham, purchased in 1849

J. and J. Leighton, London booksellers, London, sold at the Earl of Ashburnham's sale at London, Sotheby's on June 10, 1901, no. 64

Henry Walters, Baltimore, by purchase between 1901 and 1931


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


De Ricci, Seymour, and W. J. Wilson. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935; p. 849, cat. no. 518.

Miner, D. The History of Bookbinding, 525-1950 A.D, exhibition catalogue. Baltimore: Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery, 1957; pp. 50-51, cat. no. 116.

Gathercole, P.M. Laurent de Premieirfait's Des cas des nobles hommes et femmes. Book I, Translated from Boccaccio, A Critical Edition Based on Six Manuscripts. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures 74, I968; p. 62

Bozzolo, C. Manuscrits des traducion françaises d'oeuvres de Boccace XV siècle. Padua: Medioevo e Umanismo, 1973; pp. 16, 174.

Randall, Lilian M. C. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery. Vol. 3, Belgium, 1250-1530. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the Walters Art Gallery, 1997; pp. 356-358, cat. no. 272.

Randall, Lilian M. C. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery. Vol. 3, Belgium, 1250-1530. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the Walters Art Gallery, 1997; pp. 356-358, cat. no. 272.

Branca, Vittorio. Boccaccio visualizzato: Opere d'arte d'origine francese, fiamminga, inglese, spagnola, tedesca. Turin: Giulio Einaudi Editore, 1999; pp. 67, 337.

Natale, Mauro. El Renacimiento mediterrńeo: Viajes de artistas e itinerarios de obras entre Italia, Francia y España en el siglo XV. Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, del 31 de enero al 6 de mayo de 2001. Valencia Museu de Belles Arts de València, del 18 de mayo al 2 de septiembre de 2001. Madrid: Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2001; p. 104.


Principal cataloger: Randall, Lilian M.C.

Cataloger: Shartrand, Emily

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Brown, Emily; Emery, Doug; Noel, William; Schuele, Allyson; Shartrand, Emily; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.; Valle, Chiara; Wiegand, Kimber


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.