De Proprietatibus Rerum (On the Order of Things) is an encyclopedia dating from the 13th century.   Although it is often described as a bestiary, its focus encompasses theology and astrology as well as the natural sciences (as understood in 1240). The manuscript is structured on astrological principles and is divided into 19 books which according to M.C. Seymour, is a number arising from "the sum of the twelve signs of the zodiac and the seven planets, signif[ying] universality."   De Proprietatibus Rerum demonstrates an obvious schism between science as interpreted by Christian scripture and science as interpreted through Aristotelian concepts; there are also reflections of the ideas gradually permeating European intellectual culture from Arabic and middle-Eastern scholarship.

If something is known about the De Proprietatibus Rerum in general, far less is known about its author Bartholomeus Anglicus, or the particular copy of the manuscript that comprises this web site.  Although there is speculation that Bartholomeus possibly studied at Oxford; that he had been born into the nobility; that he possibly had the surname "Glanville," his identity remains a mere fragment.   What is known conclusively is that Bartholomeus was sent to a newly created studium for student friars in Saxony in 1231.   It is here that he taught theology and wrote the De Proprietatibus Rerum.

As for the copy of the manuscript that follows, its lineage prior to the 19th century is uncertain (see Provenance for more information).   Although De Proprietatibus Rerum was written between 1240 and 1250 A.D., this particular copy cannot be dated with any certainty. It appears to have been copied somewhere between the 13th and 14th centuries as evidenced by particular stylistic embellishments.

The purpose of this web site is make this compelling document available online to scholars of all related disciplines. It is an ongoing project and will be updated.

It is a profound realization to think of Bartholomeus' manuscript continuing its legacy into the 21st century.   Yet again the manuscript is being copied out for the benefit of scholars-- but with technology that was inconceivable 30 years ago let alone 800.

Kerry Mogg
July, 2004