De rectoribus christianis

Sedulius Scottus
  • Latin
  • prosimetrum, prose, verse

Long Latin treatise written by Sedulius Scottus (fl. 9th c.), which served as a ‘mirror for princes’ (speculum principum) instructing rulers on good governance and proper behaviour and using biblical and patristic examples to frame and buttress its message. Unlike most Carolingian representatives of the genre, it is written in a mix of prose and verse. The poems, some of which are also found in Sedulius’ Collectaneum, are composed in a variety of metrical forms. Both the prosimetric structure and the choice of metrical forms are thought to have been modelled after Boethius’ De consolatione philosophiae.

First words (prose)
  • Omne ministerium trifido quod praeminet orbe [Preface] ... Postquam regale sceptrum regnique gubernacula rector Christianus susceperit
Sedulius Scottus
Sedulius Scottus
(fl. 9th century)
Irish scriptural scholar, teacher, grammarian and poet who made a career in Francia and became a leading intellectual figure at the court of Charles the Bald.

See more
F =
The exemplar used by Marquard Freher (hence the sigla F) in his 1619 edition. It appears to have been either closely related to the Bremen MS or identical with it. Hellmann suggested that A is likely to have been either the same MS or the exemplar used for F.
[W] =
ff. 1r–116v
B =
ff. 77v–96v
Prose text, with metrical preface and invocations, bu without the other poems.
C =
For some of the poems in his edition, Hellman also made use of the Collectaneum in Bernkastel-Kues, St Nikolaus-Hospital, MS 52 K.
Later manuscripts include:
P =
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Pal. lat. 591
ff. 99r–130r
s.xv. A late MS, but a valuable one by virtue of containing a complete text.
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 10677
ff. 146r–186v
s. xv.
Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, MS H 65
ff. 26r–61v
s. xv.
F (Freher) = Print copies of the edition by Freher and Vögelin Marquard Freher produced an edition, probably on the basis of the Bremen MS. He did not live to see it through to print, but G. Vögelin was able to consult his papers and published an edition in 1619, with a dedication to Friedrich V, elector Palatine of the Rhine, king of Bohemia. See Schlechter (2009). Freher’s autograph manuscript is now lost. Copies of the printed edition prepared by Vögelin are rare and Mai seems to have been unaware of it when he came to work on his own edition based on Pal. lat. 591.
Hellmann mentions Jena, Thüringer Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek, MS Bud. Philos. o. 115 (if this signature still holds true today).(1)n. 1 “Ein Exemplar, vielleicht das einzige noch vorhandene überhaupt, besitzt die Universitätsbibliothek zu Jena, und zwar in dem Sammelbande Bud. Philos. o. 115.”
Gotha/Erfurt, Pol 8° 00798/03 (02) = VD17 7:708020V, available in digital form from the link below, where it is stated “Vermutlich in Heidelberg bei Vögelin erschienen”. It has not been possible as yet to verify whether this or the next item might be identical to the copy mentioned by Hellmann.
VD17 23:271512N. The online catalogue description for the previous item appears to mention a second copy when it states “Nicht identisch mit VD17 23:271512N (dort "Bohemiae Regem Fridericum" auf dem Titelbl.)”.
  • Latin
prosimetrum, prose, verse (primary)
Textual relationships
(Possible) sources: De consolatione philosophiaeDe consolatione philosophiae
Related: Collectaneum miscellaneumCollectaneum miscellaneum




“Ein Exemplar, vielleicht das einzige noch vorhandene überhaupt, besitzt die Universitätsbibliothek zu Jena, und zwar in dem Sammelbande Bud. Philos. o. 115.”

Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] [tr.] Dyson, R. W., Sedulius Scottus: De rectoribus christianis (On christian rulers), Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2010.
Facing-page edition and translation. The edition is mostly based on Hellmann but furnishes some new readings.
[ed.] Hellmann, Siegmund, Sedulius Scottus, Quellen und Untersuchungen zur lateinischen Philologie des Mittelalters, Munich, 1906.
Internet Archive: <link>, <link>
19–91 (text); 1–18 (introduction); xiv–xv (Nachtrage) Standard critical edition.
[ed.] Traube, Ludwig, Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, vol. 3, MGH Antiquitates, Berlin: Weidmann, 1896.
Dmgh.de: <link>
154–166 Poems only.
[ed.] Migne, Jacques-Paul (ed.), Saeculum IX. S. Benedicti abbatis Anianensis opera omnia ... accedunt Sedulii junioris natione Scotti scripta quae supersunt universa, Patrologia Latina, 103, Paris, 1851.
291–332 Reprinted from Mai (1842).
[ed.] Mai, Angelo, Spicilegium Romanum, 10 vols, vol. 8: Sedulii Scoti ... Sancti Augustini episcopi Hipponensis opuscula, Rome: Typis Collegii Urbani, 1842.
Internet Archive: <link>
1–69 Based on MS Pal. lat. 591.
[ed.] Freher, Marquard, Sedulius De rectoribus Christianis: et convenientib. Regulis, quibus est Respublica rite gubernanda, ed. Gotthard Vögelin, Heidelberg: Gotthard Vögelin, 1619.  
Editio princeps of Sedulius Scottus’ De rectoribus Christianis.
Dhb.thulb.uni-jena.de – VD17 7:708020V = Gotha/Erfurt, Pol 8° 00798/03 (02): <link> Dhb.thulb.uni-jena.de – VD17 7:708020V = Gotha/Erfurt, Pol 8° 00798/03 (02): View in Mirador – Wolfenbüttel: <link>
Editio princeps, based on the Bremen MS.
[ed.] [tr.] Anton, Hans Hubert, Fürstenspiegel des frühen und hohen Mittelalters, Ausgewählte Quellen zur deutschen Geschichte des Mittelalters. Freiherr vom Stein-Gedächtnisausgabe, 45, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buch-gesellschaft, 2006.
100–148 (cf. 261–281) Extracts.
[tr.] Doyle, Edward G., Sedulius Scottus: On Christian rulers, and the poems, Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 17, Binghamton, NY: Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, State University of New York at Binghamton, 1983.

Secondary sources (select)

Geschichtsquellen des deutschen Mittelalters, Online: Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2012–present. URL: <https://www.geschichtsquellen.de>. 
Das digitale Repertorium „Geschichtsquellen des deutschen Mittelalters“ ist ein quellenkundliches und bibliographisches Nachschlagewerk zu den erzählenden Geschichtsquellen des mittelalterlichen Deutschen Reiches für die Zeit von ca. 750 bis ca. 1500. Hervorgegangen ist es aus dem lateinisch verfassten „Repertorium Fontium Historiae Medii Aevi“ (11 Bände, 1962-2007). Die Deutschland betreffenden Geschichtsquellen dieses europäischen Gemeinschaftswerks wurden damals von der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften beigesteuert. In erweitertem Umfang werden sie seit 2012 im Web digital publiziert und fortgesetzt. Der Datenbestand wird dabei in kritischer Auswertung der Forschungsliteratur kontinuierlich aktualisiert und um neue Inhalte ergänzt.
MIRABILE, Online: Studio del Medioevo Latino, 2009–present. URL: <http://www.mirabileweb.it>. 
MIRABILE è un knowledge management system per lo studio e la ricerca sulla cultura medievale promosso dalla Società Internazionale per lo Studio del Medioevo Latino e dalla Fondazione Ezio Franceschini ONLUS di Firenze.
Anton, Hans Hubert, Fürstenspiegel des frühen und hohen Mittelalters, Ausgewählte Quellen zur deutschen Geschichte des Mittelalters. Freiherr vom Stein-Gedächtnisausgabe, 45, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buch-gesellschaft, 2006.
261–281 (cf. 100–148)
Lapidge, Michael, and Richard Sharpe, A bibliography of Celtic-Latin literature, 400-1200, Royal Irish Academy Dictionary of Medieval Latin from Celtic Sources, Ancillary Publications, 1, Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1985.
180 [id. 685.]
Kenney, James F., “Chapter VI: The expansion of Irish Christianity”, in: James F. Kenney, The sources for the early history of Ireland: an introduction and guide. Volume 1: ecclesiastical, Revised ed., 11, New York: Octagon, 1966. 486–621.
564–565 [id. 372.]
Manitius, Max, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters, 3 vols, vol. 1: Von Justinian bis zur Mitte des zehnten Jahrhunderts, Munich: Beck, 1911.
Digital.ub.uni-duesseldorf.de: <link> Digital.ub.uni-duesseldorf.de: View in Mirador
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
December 2019, last updated: June 2023