The Biblical Art of Memory

Petrus of Rosenhaym (1380-1432).

Roseum memoriale divinorum eloquiorum. [Southern Germany, probably Cologne, Ludwig von Renchen (?), ca. 1480-1490].

Petrus of Rosenhaym (1380-1432) Roseum memoriale divinorum eloquiorum. [Southern Germany, probably Cologne, Ludwig von Renchen (?), ca. 1480-1490].

4° (210x142 mm). Collation: [1-68]. [48] leaves. Text in one column, 32 lines. Type: 80G. Initials painted in red, rubricated in red ink throughout. Late eighteenth-century quarter-vellum, covers backed with marbled paper. Smooth spine with title inked on paper label. A very good copy, old repair to the first blank leaf, a few spots, pale stain at the lower blank corner of the first quires. A contemporary hand has inked the title on the recto of the first leaf, 'Rosaeum sup[er] bibliam'; two blind impressions on the same leaf. Leather leaf-tabs on the outer margins of the first and last leaves, suggesting the copy was originally bound in a composite volume.

Provenance: Wigan Free Public Library, United Kingdom (bookplate on the front pastedown, and embossed stamps on fols. a2 and f8; small label on the upper cover, with shelfmark 'Case 13:2'; the note on the recto of the front flyleaf 'Bought January 1908', and a signature now barely legible, probably in the hand of the librarian Henry Tennyson Folkhard (1850-1916); deaccessioned by 2002 at the latest.

One of the earliest printed books on the ars memorativa or mnemotechnic: the rare first edition of the Roseum memoriale composed by the German Benedictine monk Petrus of Rosenhaym (Upper Bavaria), written between 1423 and 1426 for Cardinal Giulio Branda di Castiglione. Petrus of Rosenhaym composed numerous treatises, sermons, and verses: the Roseum memoriale is surely his most famous work, enjoying wide popularity during the fifteenth century and first half of the sixteenth century. It is a poem composed of 1, 194 verses followed by an epilogue of seventy-three hexameters, in which every chapter of the Bible (excluding the Psalms) is summed up in a distich. The mnemotechnic method here employed is extremely complex: the hexameters of each section of the summary form an acrostic of the letters of the alphabet.

After studying at the University of Vienna, Petrus de Rosenhaym, along with his friend Nikolaus Seyringer, moved to Subiaco, where he entered the Benedectine order. In 1413, he was appointed prior to the cloister of Rocca di Mondragone near Capua. In 1416, he took part in the Council of Konstanz, and later he was prior in Melk (Lower Austria). After 1423, he was appointed 'cursor biblicus' and 'magister studentium'.

The edition is assigned by Proctor to the printer Ludwig von Renchen, active in Cologne from 1483 to ca. 1495, while ISTC gives Southern Germany between 1480-1490 and GW tentatively suggests Oberrhein, 1483.

HC(+Add) 13988*; GW M32724; BMC I, 312; IGI 7668; Goff R-336; Young 278; S. Tiedje, “The Roseum Memoriale divinorum Eloquiorum Petri de Rosenheim: A Bible Summary from the Fifteenth Century”, L. Dolezalová – T. Visi, Retelling the Bible. Literary, Historical, and Social Contexts, Frankfurt a.M.-Berlin et al. 2011, pp. 335-353; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 24.

$ 14.000