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30 Prinsessegracht
Den Haag, ZH, 2514 AP

Museum Meermanno | Huis van het boek (vroeger Meermanno-Westreenianum) is het oudste boekenmuseum ter wereld. Het is gevestigd in het voormalige woonhuis van de stichter van het museum Willem Hendrik Jacob baron van Westreenen van Tiellandt (1783-1848) aan de Prinsessegracht in Den Haag en richt zich op het geschreven en gedrukte boek in al zijn vormen, in heden en verleden. De ontwikkeling van de vormgeving van zowel oude als moderne boeken staat daarbij centraal.

Petrus Comestor, Historia scholastica


One of the most widely read books of the late Middle Ages was the Historia scholastica by Petrus Comestor. Petrus Comestor was born in Troyes and became a lecturer at the cathedral school of Nôtre Dame in Paris in 1168. A year later he began to work on the book that would make him famous: the Historia scholastica. In this monumental work, on which he laboured for four years, he mixed Biblical stories with explanatory texts which expanded on their meaning.

Petrus Comestor collected his material from all kinds of sources, which according to experts were sometimes surprisingly unorthodox. Moreover, he consulted so many works that his admirers called him Manducator, which means ‘devourer’. Petrus Comestor, in French ‘Pierre le Mangeur’, is also a nickname that can be translated as ‘Peter the (Book) Eater’.

Comestor wrote this book for his students, but soon it became an authoritative source of knowledge for both the clergy and the laity.

The section of the Historia scholastica comprising the New Testament was printed in 1473 in Utrecht by Nicolaas Ketelaer and Gerard van Leempt. This is the first printed book from the Northern Netherlands bearing a date (the first dated printed book from the Southern Netherlands appeared in the same year in Alost). The Museum Meermanno owns one of the thirteen copies of the Utrecht edition that have been preserved. The remarkable thing is that in two copies from this edition the text at the beginning and end differs from the other copies. At the last moment, when the printing was all but completed, these texts were altered. The Meermanno owns one of these two altered copies; the other one is preserved in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.

Petrus Comestor, Historia scholastica [1 C 52 [2], colophon]

Petrus Comestor, Historia scholastica [1 C 52 [2], colophon]

Petrus Comestor, Historia scholastica [1 C 52 [2], colophon]

Petrus Comestor, Historia scholastica [1 C 52 [2], colophon]