Detail map of Amiens, Hauts-de-France, France,Corbie, Hauts-de-France, France Overview map of Amiens, Hauts-de-France, France,Corbie, Hauts-de-France, France

A: Amiens, Hauts-de-France, France, B: Corbie, Hauts-de-France, France

Relative Costs in Corbie of the Components of a Medieval Manuscript

1374 to 1375
Corbie Abbey in 1677

Bird's eye view of Corbie Abbey in 1677; undoubtedly expanded to some extent after 1374-1375. The view would have required imagination from the artist as there was no way for him to see the property from the air, especially as the Abbey tower would have been the tallest building by far in the town.

Comparing the value of money in the Middle Ages with the money of our time is difficult and problematic; what we can more easily recognize are the relative costs of the different components that made up a manuscript.

For example we have record of the costs incurred in 1374-1375 when Etienne de Conty, abbot of Corbie, commissioned a copy of an extensive work on canon law entitled In quinque decretalium libros commentaria by Henri Bohic  from the scribe Guillaume du Breuil. This is a work in two large folio volumes, one with 370 leaves and the other with 388. 

"A note on the inside of each volume tells us that the work cost 62 livres and 11 sous in Parisian money. This sum was made up of the following:

- The copyist's salary: 31 livres 5 sous
- The purchase and preparation of the parchment, including the mending of holes: 18 livres 18 sous
- Six initial letters with gold: 1 livre 10 sous
- Other illuminations, in red and blue: 3 livres 6 sous
- The hiring of an exemplar for the copyist provided by Martin, Carmelite clerk: 4 livres
- Repairs to holes in the margins, and stretching: 2 livres
- Binding: 1 livre 12 sous

These manuscripts are preserved in the Bibliothèque municipale d’Amiens, shelfmark 365 (blog.Pecia: Le manuscrit medieval, 5 novembre 2007).

Timeline Themes