Tractatus de armis.
- Additional Title(s):
Tractatus de armis. Latin and French
- Worcester, England, circa 1450.
- Physical Description:
- 1 v. (72 p.) : ill. ; 23 cm.
- Rare Books and ManuscriptsSK25 .T85 1450Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon CollectionAccessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
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- Copyright Status:
- Copyright Information
- Related Content:
- View the catalog record for the John Porter manuscript
- Archives & Manuscripts
- The Tractatus de armis, by Johannes de Bado Aureo, is considered the earliest treatise on heraldry to have been composed in Great Britain. The introduction to the work notes that it was written "at the instance of Anne, formerly Queen of England," which suggests a date of composition not long after Anne's death in 1394. Evan Jones (in his Medieval heraldry) argues that Bado Aureo was a pseudonym (incorporating a punning rebus) used by John Trevor (II), Bishop of St. Asaph, in Wales, who died in 1410. The text of the original treatise is known in two versions, one in Welsh (of which seven manuscripts are known) and one in Latin (of which two manuscripts are known, both in the British Library). In the Latin version of the original work, the author says that he is following the traditions of his master, Franciscus de Foveis, whose identity and writings remain unidentified. He also quotes frequently from the earliest of all European works on heraldry, Bartolo of Sassoferrato's De insigniis et armis, and once from Honoré Bonet's Arbre des batailles.
The Tractatus de armis is the first text in a volume of manuscripts copied by John Porter, of Worcester, England (fl. 1445-1485). For more information on John Porter and the manuscript volume as a whole, click on the link to the John Porter manuscript provided herewith. The contents of the volume are as follows: Tractatus de armis, a treatise on heraldry, in Latin, by Johannes de Bado Aureo (p. 1r-36v) -- The craft of venery, a treatise on hunting, in English (p. 37r-40r) -- Annotations by Sir William Dethick, in Latin and English (p. 41r) -- Blank (41v-43v) -- Miscellaneous items in several 15th century hands, including tables for assessing quantities of wine, menus, recipes, and historical and Biblical treatises (p. 44r-55v) -- Forty chess problems, in English and Latin (p. 56r-60v) -- A chronicle of English history from 1066 to 1477, in Latin (p. 61r-68r) -- Miscellaneous texts (p. 68r-70v) -- A treatise on the plague, in English, ascribed to John of Bordeaux (p.71r-72r).
Provenance: John Porter; Thomas Mellynton; Anthony Reston; Thomas Hodgett; Sir William Dethick; Sir Edward Coke; Thomas Percy (Bishop of Dromore); George Baker; Sir Thomas Phillipps (MS 12086); Lionel and Philip Robinson (booksellers); Sotheby's, 28 Nov. 1967 (no. 107); Paul Mellon.
Binding: Bound in brown half russia and purple cloth, by Bretherton, 1848.
Photo-reproductions of pages 6a, 11a, and 12a, along with transcriptions of the same, are given in Bror Danielson's "A note on Johannes de Bado Aureo's Tractatus de Armis: An unknown version in the Porter MS (Phillips MS. 12086)". Studia neophilologica, v. 43, no. 1 (1971), p. 263-265.
Studia neophilologica, v. 43, no. 1 (1971), p. 263-265
Jones, E. Medieval heraldry (1943)
Sotheby's (Firm). Bibliotheca Phillippica, Medieval manuscripts: new series: third part. 1967 Nov. 28, 107
Manuscript treatise on heraldry, in Latin and French, derived largely from the Tractatus de armis by Johannes de Bado Aureo (i.e. John Trevor?), with blazons in French and nearly 200 colored shields. The text was copied circa 1450 by John Porter, M.P. of Worcester, England. The manuscript is written in pen and dark brown ink, in Porter's hand throughout, without rubrication. The shields are also drawn in pen and brown ink and painted with tints of blue, red, yellow, and brown.
The manuscript begins with 10 pages of text, followed by 39 pages of illustrated shields and blazons (i.e. formal descriptions of the coats of arms). On most pages there are five colored shields at the left of the page, each accompanied by a blazon, sometimes in French as well as in Latin, and sometimes with an explanatory comment or a few verses. The names of the bearers of the arms are rarely given. Leaves 25b-28 bear the images of 20 shields without descriptive texts; at a later date, the names of English families have been added to some of these. Most of these shields are uncolored, in brown ink alone.
The recto of leaf 29 offers a short text about the rules for the assumption of arms. The remaining leaves (30-34) comprise a history of the arms of the kings of England from Brutus to Edward III, along with additions about the assumption of the arms of France by the kings of England; Avalon and the evangelization of Britain by Joseph of Arimathea; the arms of King Arthur; and King Caedwalla of Wessex.
The present manuscript closely resembles the text of one other known manuscript, British Library Additional MS 28791, which was compiled in 1449. The two manuscripts bear close resemblance in the theoretical and historical portions of the work, but the shields used as illustrations are only in part the same. Both are imperfect. The Porter version lacks about four leaves of text at the beginning (including the introduction) and a leaf with shields after leaf 6; Add. MS 28791 lacks the additional material at the end of Porter (34b-36) and has a shorter series of illustrative shields. Both texts have a number of scribal errors and neither seems to be directly derived from the other. Jones's Medieval heraldry provides a transcription of Add. MS 28791; the Porter manuscript was unknown to him.
- Subject Terms:
- Bado Aureo, Johannes de.Baker, George, 1781-1851 -- Ownership.Bartolo, of Sassoferrato, 1313-1357. De insigniis et armis.Bonet, Honoré, fl. 1378-1398. Arbre des batailles.British Library. Manuscript. Additional 28791.Coke, Edward, Sir, 1552-1634 -- Ownership.Dethick, William, 1543-1612 -- Ownership.Devices (Heraldry)Great Britain -- Kings and rulers.Heraldry -- Great Britain.Heraldry -- History.Hodgett, Thomas -- Ownership.Insignia.Joseph, of Arimathea, Saint.Mellynton, Thomas -- Ownership.Percy, Thomas, 1729-1811 -- Ownership.Phillipps, Thomas, Sir, 1792-1872 -- Ownership.Porter, John, fl. 1445-1485.Reston, Anthony -- Ownership.Trevor, John, d. 1410, attributed name.Trevor, John, d. 1410.
- Coats of arms.
- IIIF Manifest:
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