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Reviewed by:
  • Vie de sainte Katherine par Jean Miélot
  • Katherine A. Brown
Jean Miélot, Vie de sainte Katherine. Sous la direction de Maria Colombo Timelli. (Textes littéraires du Moyen Âge, 34.) Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2015. 276 pp., ill.

The acquisition of the D manuscript by the Bibliothèque nationale de France occasioned the publication of Maria Colombo Timelli’s critical edition of this fifteenth-century work. This excellently edited work presents the only two extant manuscripts of Jean Miélot’s version of the life, both currently held in Paris. BnF, MS fr. 6449 (M), which is the longer version and was possibly overseen by Miélot, was initially to have constituted the sole matter of this critical edition before BnF, n.a.f. 28650 BnF, MS, n.a.f. 28650 (D) became available in Paris. The latter, being a copy by David Aubert, was made for Margaret of York, daughter-in-law of Jean Miélot’s employer for this and other translations—Philip the Good. As it presents two manuscript witnesses, this long-awaited edition is divided into two parts, both edited with equal rigour and judicious intervention. The editor states in the Introduction that BnF, MS fr. 6449 is available online through Gallica, yet this edition reproduces a colour image of St Catherine’s genealogical tree from it after Annexe 3. Colombo Timelli’s meticulous if not flawless transcription makes this edition a valuable complement to the online manuscript images. Also useful are the unobtrusive [End Page 585] explanations and corrections found at the end of each chapter, where the editor often makes reference to Frater Petrus’s Latin model: this is another notable feature of Miélot’s text, which was not adapted directly from the Legenda aurea as were so many of the other fifteenth-century Vies. One finds in Annexe 1 a list of other fifteenth-century versions of St Catherine’s life, whether in verse or prose, with information about the date, the manuscript and folios, composer, and source(s) used, all available through the Jonas database of the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes. While the Introduction sketches the historical contexts of the production of each manuscript, no mention is made of this familial relationship between the commanditaires of the two manuscripts. The theme of genealogy is an important one in this work because the older manuscript bookends the life of St Catherine with several chapters about her lineage; much of this is missing from Aubert’s copy, which begins with Chapter 23. Colombo Timelli provides a comparative summary of the chapter titles for each manuscript in Annexe 2. Similarly, the editor’s detailed footnotes to the Introduction often provide historical and personal information about Philip the Good that would have been welcome in the main body of the text, for example a summary of Bertrand Schnerb’s research on Philip’s particular devotion to St Catherine (p. 10, n. 2). In addition to the two manuscripts and three annexes, this edition provides a useful glossary, a table of proper nouns, and an abridged bibliography that refers to sources cited in the Introduction and notes. If there is a flaw in this edition, it is that readers must also consult two articles by Colombo Timelli, one from 2010 and another from 2011, that explain her preparation of the edition of the M manuscript and give a more detailed bibliography on Jean Miélot’s work.

Katherine A. Brown
Williams College


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pp. 585-586
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