Mishneh Torah

Manuscript. Parchment. Between the years 1300-1350, Spain. Sefardi square script. 463 fols. 450x295mm

The margins feature many notations that correspond to those found in the Oxford manuscript, proofread by Maimonides himself. )Bodleian Library, Huntington 80).

With illuminations (until fol. 40), this may be the most splendid of Mishneh Torah manuscripts. The copyist in Spain intended for an artist to complete the book and left space in the margins for drawings, plates and illuminations. These were done later in Italy, possibly by craftsman Matteo di ser Cambio at Perugia, ca. 1400. A few ornamental headings and early chapters were decorated while the book was still in Spain.

At the end of the manuscript, three handwritten deeds of sale shed light on its history:

1) Written in Avignon on: "Friday the 9th of Iyar in the year 5111" (1351). The seller: Don Luz [Louis] Samuel de La Guardia, northern Spain. The buyer: Don Menasse Jacob Navarri of Avignon. Through an emissary: Eliyahu ben Yosef, called Eliot de la Haya.

2) Written in Arles on "Rosh Chodesh Adar II in the year 5133" (1373). The seller: Don Abraham Vidal of Bourriane. The buyer: Judah ben Daniel.

3) Written in Ferrara on "Friday, the 6th of Kislev, the 18th of November in the year 5308" (1547). The seller: Abraham ben Menahem Finzi of Rovigo. The buyers: The brothers Don Jacob and Don Judah, sons of Don Samuel Abrabanel.
This manuscript had various Jewish owners in Frankfurt am Main from 1880. It was purchased by the National Library in 1966.