In my last post, I started searching online for a manuscript copy of BHL 6173, a miracle story about St Nicholas, which has never been printed. Two French manuscripts were supposed to contain a copy; neither did. But two Austrian manuscripts were also listed by the Bollandists in their BHLms database:
- Heiligenkreuz SB 14
- Melk SB C.12
Both of these abbeys are in Austria. This has a union site, which is a good idea. All the fully digitised manuscripts they have can be located here, and then you drill down. So far, so good.
There are 93 fully digitised mss of Melk online! That’s great news. I find that “C 12” is the old shelfmark – the site in fact lists a concordance of Melk shelfmarks here, but it is useless unless you know which catalogue your source was working from – unlikely with an old reference. But it’s a fine idea in principle.
In fact “Melk C 12” is now Melk 546, online here. It’s a 15th century manuscript, so very late. But we don’t care about that.
Unfortunately the manuscripta.at site has been changed since I last looked at it. It was frankly rather clunky, but it was entirely usable. It is now rather quicker to find the actual digitised manuscript. But otherwise the changes are a disaster. No researcher can work with this. Negative changes include:
- Disabled downloads – at least for the public – and instead tried to force you to use their online browser.
- Set up that browser menu so that Google Translate can’t translate their pop-up menus. Non-German speakers are not welcome.
- Made sure the menu options cannot even be copied, in case you tried to use Google Translate that way.
- Clicking on “fol. 40 r” instead displays f.36r.
- There’s no way to download the page that I want. Links point to the wrong pages.
Somebody has really set out to make the researcher’s job impossible. There are good, solid reasons why researchers hate librarians. Stuff like this, that makes your life harder, is the reason why. This has cost me an hour of pain, and in reality the manuscript will now be omitted from my list of witnesses.
The only part of all this that is actually an improvement is that the “Scroll” option in the browser – which, weirdly, is horizontal – is quick. You can skim through the pages. On fol. 40r I do find “Quidam praepotens vir“. Not that I can download the page, of course.
Luckily for me the amount of text that I want is small, and can be screen grabbed. Here’s the text of BHL 6173.
It’s not hugely readable, to a layman. I’ll try transcribing it another time.
Blessedly the manuscript also contains BHL 6175, which I am also looking for. This is only found in the Melk and Heiligenkreuz manuscripts, plus one in Belgium, KBR 07487-07491 (3182), somewhere between fol. 170v-185v, a 13th century manuscript. But that isn’t online.
What about the Heiligenkreuz 14 manuscript? Sadly not. Some of the Heiligenkreuz manuscripts are indeed online, but not this one. [Update, March 21: Heiligenkreuz 14 is indeed now online].
That’s our four manuscripts, and we have a single hit, which luckily contains both unpublished texts.
But although the Bollandists with their BHL, and BHLms database, are the essential reference, they are not the sole source of all truth. Google searches can reveal things unknown to the excellent fathers.
Doing so led me to a massive monograph online here at Persee.fr, by Sarah Staats, “Le catalogue médiéval de l’abbaye cistercienne de Clairmarais et les manuscrits conservés” (2016). And on page 64, we learn of a 12th manuscript, now Saint-Omer 701, which contains part of the Speculum Ecclesiae of Honorius Augustodunensis (who?). This contains on fol. 121v-122r a “Sermo de sancto Nicolao” (BHL 6173 and 6175). That manuscript is online and accessible through Mirador. Here is part of the opening in question!
Which is a nice bonus. I think we can get a text together using those two witnesses, don’t you?
Have a good weekend, everyone.