But there is little, at first sight, in the earlier teamwork of Agustin and Matal to prepare us for the abrupt change of direction which occured in 1546 and which was to monopolize Matal's activity for the next six years: his papers in the Vatican reveal that between 1546 and 1551 he virtually abandoned the search for legal manuscripts and dedicated himself heart and soul to the collecting of inscriptions.

By contrast with their Italien counterparts, French-speaking humanists had done little research into epigraphy in the first half of the sixteenth century. That untrustworthy compilation of 1534 attributed to Petrus Appianus claims that scarcely any French inscriptions had been copied or studied, but it observes that things may be changing: 'habet enim nunc Gallia miros, ut audio, antiquarios et quibus nullae impensae nimis magnae videantur monumentis vetustatis restituendis'. [27]


Matal is one of this new generation of French-speaking humanists who collected epigraphical material, and his material in the Vatican library of inscriptions from all over Europe constitutes one of the most important and – although unpublished – influential contributions to this subject of the middle years of the century. [29]

Two preliminary observations may be made about this corpus. …


]27[ P. Apianus and B. Amantius, Inscriptiones sacrosancte vetustatis, Ingolstadt, 1534, CCCIIIv.

[28] …

[29] See Appendix II below.