Book Series Bibliologia, vol. 55

Science in the Monastery

Texts, Manuscripts and Learning at Saint-Bertin

Steven J Livesey

  • Pages: 352 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:15 col., 6 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2020

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58563-5
  • Paperback
  • Available


“Livesey’s catalogue of the manuscripts at Boulogne and Saint-Omer is clearly laid out and amply documented, with five indexes (…) Indeed, the wealth of manuscripts newly available online makes the effort of collation, identification and description even more urgent. Professor Livesey is to be thanked for his service in this cause.” (Seb Falk, in Library & Information History, 2021, p. 86)

"Specialists of late medieval intellectual life and book culture will find many things of interest in these pages, including a number of methodological observations on how to reconstruct ownership of manuscripts via so-called second folio references. The same is true for those who work on late medieval monastic culture in general, for whom Livesey's book will contain a great deal of new insights. (...) his work will undoubtedly be used intensively for years to come." (Steven Vanderputten, in Sehepunkte, 21/6, 2021)

“Das vorliegende Buch ist eine sehr empfehlenswerte Lektüre für alle, die sich für Bibliotheksgeschichte sowie für spätmittelalterliche Kloster- und Bildungsgeschichte interessieren. Der Katalogteil, die Appendices und die Indices werden künftig wertvolle Arbeitsinstrumente für die Beschäftigung mit Handschriften aus Saint-Bertin darstellen. Es wäre zu wünschen, dass sich vergleichbare Studien anderen Klöstern und deren Bibliotheken widmen.” (Lukas J. Dorfbauer, in Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch, 57/1, 2022, p. 147)


Steven J. Livesey is Brian E. and Sandra O’Brien Presidential Professor of the History of Science at the University of Oklahoma. His research interests focus on medieval science, history of early scientific methodologies, science in medieval universities, and manuscript studies.


The traditional view of monastic orders in late-medieval scholastic culture has been relatively muted. Beyond the Franciscan and Dominican orders, and to a far lesser extent, the Augustinians and Cistercians, the older monastic orders (and especially the Benedictines) played a smaller role in the university during the thirteenth through the fifteenth centuries. Yet if the library collection of Saint-Bertin is examined more carefully, one finds that many of the books were added by alumni of the University of Paris and Louvain, and in one instance, Cologne, and that as a whole, the monastery’s collection reflected the changing currents within late medieval intellectual society. Science in the Monastery proposes to analyze Benedictine science using Saint-Bertin as a vehicle.



Three celebrated manuscripts

Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Voss.Lat.Q.94: Lucretius’ De rerum natura

Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Gud. lat. 105: Agrimensores veteres

Boulogne-sur-Mer, Bibliothèque des Annunciades 188: Aratea phaenomena

Saint-Bertin and Eleventh-Century Christian Humanism

Saint-Bertin at the University

Networks of Bookmen: Pierre d’Allouagne

Is there a Doctor in the House? Medical Books at Saint-Bertin

New Alternatives: The University of Louvain

Mathematics and Optics

Benedictine Science at Saint-Bertin



Boulogne-sur-Mer, Bibliothèque Municipale des Annonciades

Bibliothèque d’Agglomération du pays de Saint-Omer


Saint-Bertin Manuscripts with Fifteenth-Century Secundo Folio References

Concordance of Eighteenth-Century Inventory Numbers and Modern Shelflist Numbers

Select Bibliography


Index of Authors, Titles and Subjects


Index of Named Scribes and Artists

Index of Previous Owners, Donors and Users

Index of Watermarks

Manuscripts cited