MSVATICAN. Cataloging of French and Occitan manuscripts from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (BAV)

  • Section: Middle Ages
  • Director: Marie-Laure Savoye, research engineer, CNRS-IRHT; Anne-Françoise Leurquin, research engineer, CNRS - IRHT; Maria Careri, Professor, University of Chieti.  


The Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana is, by volume, the 4th Global Fund for manuscripts containing medieval French and Occitan. This exceptional deposit for Romance studies has been the subject of detailed cataloging since 2012 under the joint responsibility of the BAV, the EFR and the IRHT (CNRS).

The corpus has around 400 manuscripts (and several thousand texts). This is not its only interest.

  1. The collection is an exceptional documentary mine for historical research. Its composition is atypical, with an overwhelming predominance of historical, legal, scientific and practical texts. Several hundred unknown texts will ultimately be unearthed. More details can be found in the présentation initiale of the project.
  2. These manuscripts have come to the BAV following the paths European scholars and humanists of 16th and 17th century. They represent a precious testimony of the reception and uses of written medieval vernacular in the first modern centuries. For this reason, the catalogue pays close attention to the identification of annotators.

Calendar of events

En 2017-2018

  • End of November 2017, study day at the EFR, where we will question the philological interest of the passing of medieval music into the hands of humanists
  • Over the year, completion of 120 records (mainly the Barberini, Chigi, Ottoboni, Palatine collections)

In 2019

  • Completion of all 300 records of mostly vernacular manuscripts.
  • Final analysis of the old BAV manuscripts inventories.
  • Preparation of 3 lectures on some medieval French literary works present in the BAV collection, lectures do be decided with the French Institute - Center Saint-Louis.

Promotion and expected results

The results will be published in three forms : 

  1. Publication of a printed catalogue.
  2. Integration of textual content and codicological data into the Jonas database, allowing cross-examination on a very large scale corpus (nearly 19,000 medieval manuscripts in French or Occitan):
  3. Integration of the descriptions in the computer catalogue of the BAV, in connection with the numérisations des manuscrits (digitisation of manuscripts).


On December 12, 2017, the Grand Prix Prince Louis de Polignac-Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres was awarded, on recommendation of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, to the Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes (IRHT-CNRS). This prize will allow the continuation of the JONAS programme developed by its Romanesque section with a view to providing a complete repertoire of medieval texts and manuscripts of oc and oïl, whose online publication started in 2005. Now the starting point of all research on medieval French or Occitan literature, JONAS is currently the most complete available resource in the world for the first centuries of literature.


Page translated from French, 2020/12/11

Laboratoire International Associé (LIA)