Book Series Instrumenta Patristica et Mediaevalia , vol. 91

Nicholas Trevet’s Commentary on the Psalms (1317 – c. 1321): A Publishing History

Jakub Kujawinski

  • Pages: 350 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:16 col., 2 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2023

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60210-3
  • Hardback
  • Forthcoming (Mar/23)
Open Access

Focusing on Nicholas Trevet’s commentary on the Psalter, this book explores how medieval friars, supported by their superiors, patrons, and readers, could publish their writings.


Jakub Kujawiński, Assistant Professor of Medieval History at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, has published widely on medieval historiography and the manuscript tradition, and the long-term reception of individual chronicles in the Mezzogiorno, and, more recently, authorial publication in the Middle Ages. This last forms the background to the present study, the principal outcome of his participation in the ERC project Medieval Publishing from c. 1000 to 1500 (2017–22).


Shortly after 1317, Nicholas Trevet, an English Dominican friar and Oxford master, was commissioned by his provincial prior to write a literal commentary on the Psalter. He chose as his reference version the less commonly used Latin translation by Jerome from the Hebrew, and delivered his work before 1321/22. This study will be the first book-length examination of Trevet’s commentary. The focus is on publication, the ways in which the work was circulated by the author and his proxies. Through a combined analysis of codicological, textual, and historical features of the nine fourteenth-century manuscripts, the book seeks to capture and appreciate contemporary efforts to make Trevet’s work available to readers within and without the Dominican Order, in England and on the Continent. Already in the author’s lifetime the commentary was being copied in Paris and reached readerships in Avignon and probably in Naples. It is argued that the joint publishing endeavours of Trevet and his contemporaries laid solid foundations for a wide reception, and that other factors must have prevented the work from achieving any durable success.


Chapter 1. From commission to presentation: the dedicatory letter of the Expositio super Psalterium
Chapter 2. The publication of the Expositio in the light of the earliest manuscript tradition: codices MANCGHBR.
Chapter 3. The publication of the Expositio in the light of the earliest manuscript tradition: codex extravagans (O)
Chapter 4. The effects of publication: the earliest reception
Chapter 5. The effects of publication: fame.
A chronological account of the process of the commentary’s publication opens the discussion. The role played by Trevet, various individuals such as Prior Provincial John of Bristol, Pope John XXII, and the Dominican Order in general are explained. The question as to whether or not Dominican biblical schools were a target audience is discussed in more detail. It is proposed that the work’s apparently limited success in the long term was down to factors posterior to its authorial publication, which was by all accounts an effective operation.
A. Psalm numbering
B. Descriptions of the early manuscripts
C. Edition of the dedicatory letter
D. List of select variant readings from the collated portions of Expositio
E. Register of references to Trevet’s Expositio in the commentary on the Psalms by Henry Cossey in Cambridge, Christ’s College, MS 11.
F. Illustration of Ps. 150
G. What did Thomas Gascoigne see at a London stationer’s?
H. Entries in medieval and early-modern documents describing book collections other than those identified with the extant copies