Home > Digitized Walters Manuscripts

This document is a tranformation of a TEI P5 XML manuscript description incorporating images. If you have trouble reading special or non-Latin characters on this page, please make sure you have appropriate Unicode fonts installed and an up-to-date web browser.

Walters Ms. W.312, Cicero's De amicitia (French translation)

Browse images (Browse images in a new window) | TEI in XML format

Shelf mark



Cicero's De amicitia (French translation)

Text title
De la vraye amistie


Authority name: Cicero, Marcus Tullius, 106-43 B.C.

Known as: Cicero


Authority name: Laurent, de Premierfait, d. 1418

As-written name: Laurens de Premierfait

Note: Translator


This Flemish manuscript, written ca. 1470, contains Laurent de Premierfait's French translation of Cicero's Latin work De amicitia. Begun in 1406 for Louis II, duke of Bourbon, but completed between 1414 and 1416, Premierfait's translation was dedicated to John, duke of Berry, and this later copy retains its original dedication. A miniature, created in the style of Flemish artist Loyset Liédet, accompanies the text, and depicts Premierfait presenting his translation to the duke. Given that this manuscript was made sixty-five years after the duke's death, and the fact that there is a spot for an armorial to be placed in the image, it is likely the image also functioned as an homage to the patron of the 1470 copy of the manuscript as well as to the duke. That no armorial is present suggests that this might have been made for the open market rather than on commission from a specific patron, and the arms would have been filled in when it was purchased. No early provenance is known, so the identity of its purchaser is uncertain, as is the question why the armorial was never finished.


Ca. 1470


Bruges, Flanders


Authority name: Liédet, Loyset, ca. 1420-1479

Note: Artist of manuscript working in circle of Liédet






The primary language in this manuscript is French, Middle (ca.1400-1600).

Support material


Medium- to very heavy weight, fairly clean cream-colored parchment; some leaves much more smoothly finished than others; flyleaves are nineteenth-century paper, some with watermark "HOHORNE"


Foliation: vi+97+vi

First and last four flyleaves are nineteenth-century paper; two parchment flyleaves on either end of written text, created as bifolios and appear to have served as original flyleaves before rebinding; very small modern pencil foliation, lower right corners, rectos


Formula: Quires 1-11: 8 (fols. 1-88); Quire 12: 8, with ninth folio hooked after eighth folio (fols. 89-97)

Catchwords: Written vertically beginning on fol. 8v, lower right corners

Signatures: Some extant in ink, lower right corners rectos, with uppercase letters and lower case Roman numerals, ie. "Aii" on fol. 2



18.6 cm wide by 27.9 cm high

Written surface

11.4 cm wide by 16.8 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 24
  3. Ruled in light red ink

fols. 1r - 97r:
  1. Title: De la vraye amistie
  2. Contents: Laurent de Premierfait's French translation of Cicero's Latin text
  3. Hand note: Littera batarda
  4. Decoration note: One full-page presentation miniature, with foliate border and unfinished armorial; decorated initials in gold on blue and rose grounds with white accents (1-4 lines); rubrics in red; text in black ink
fols. 1r - 23v:
  1. Title: Dedication and prologues
  2. Author: Laurent, de Premierfait, d. 1418
  3. Artist: Liédet, Loyset, ca. 1420-1479
  4. Rubric: Cy commence le premier prologue de laurens de premierfait translateur du livre de tulle de la vraye amistie.
  5. Incipit: A tres excellent puissant et noble prince.
  6. Contents: Fols. 1-20v: dedication to John, duke of Berry; fols. 20v-23v: two prologues
  7. Decoration note: Full-page dedication miniature fol. 1r
fols. 23v - 97r:
  1. Title: Translation of Cicero's text
  2. Authors: Cicero, Marcus Tullius, 106-43 B.C.; Laurent, de Premierfait, d. 1418
  3. Rubric: Cy commence le prologue de Tulle en son livre de la vraye amistie.
  4. Incipit: Ung homme rommain prenomme quintus
  5. Hand note: Fol. 97r contains a later ownership inscription in a nineteenth-century hand


fol. 1r:

  1. W.312, fol. 1r
  2. Title: Presentation of the book to its patron
  3. Form: Full-page miniature
  4. Text: Dedication to John, duke of Berry


The binding is not original.

Bound in Paris, Masson-Debonnelle, nineteenth century; red morocco, gilt foliate decoration on inside edge of boards; marbleized pastedowns with matching endpaper; gilt edges; green and red silk endbands


Made in Bruges, ca. 1470, in the circle of Loyset Liédet

Collection of M. Louis Jean Gaignat, France, before 1768; his catalog vol. 1, no. 840, p. 219 (see inscription fol. 97r)

Marquis Louis Arborio Gattinare de Brême, his gift to his relative Comte Hercule Silva in 1818 (see inscription fol. 97r)

Comte Hercule Silva, owned 1818-1869; his sale, Paris, Feb. 15 1869, no. 209

Tandeau de Marsac, purchased from Silva sale, owned 1869-1897; his sale, Paris, Apr. 26, 1897, vol. 1, no. 13

London, Sotheby's sale, July 30, 1897, no. 430, sold to Rogers

Henry Walters, Baltimore, purchased presumably from Rogers between 1897 and 1931


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


Gathercole, P.M. "Manuscripts of Laurent de Premierfait's Works," Modern Language Quarterly 19 (1958): 265.

De Ricci, Seymour. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935; p. 846, no. 505.

Randall, Lilian M. C. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery. Vol. 3, Belgium, 1250-1530. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the Walters Art Gallery, 1997; pp. 340-342, cat. no. 268.

Legaré, Anne-Marie. “Loyset Liédet: un nouveau manuscrit enluminé.” Revue de l'art 126 (1999): 36-49; p. 46 (n. 3).


Principal cataloger: Randall, Lilian M.C.

Catalogers: Herbert, Lynley; Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Conservator: Owen, Linda

Contributors: Emery, Doug; Herbold, Rebekah; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.; Wiegand, Kimber


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.