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Level Title
Collection Individual Manuscripts - Main Introduction
Ref No See this record in context
Call Number ms38988
Title Book of Hours for standard use
Date c.1475
Description Book of hours for standard use, illuminated manuscript in Latin and Dutch on vellum.

This 15th century Book of Hours was probably produced in Flanders for a lay person. With the calendar and the second half of the text in Dutch it suggests a first owner who was in touch with both the traditional Latin Office of the Virgin and at the same time the more recent religious movement of the Devotio Moderna (modern devotion), where vernacular texts for prayer books increasingly replaced the Latin. Geert Grote, one of the founders of this movement which later became known as The Windesheim Congregation or The Brethren of the Common Life, had translated the Latin book of hours into Dutch in the late 14th century. While the Dutch Calendar is not very specific and does not allow precise localization of the manuscript, it contains the names of a number of saints who were venerated in north-western Flanders and France, such as St Aldegundis (January), SS Gertrud and Eustache (March), St Omer (May), St Beatrijs (July), St Denis (October) and others, none of which are marked in red as feastdays. The rubricated feastdays are usually standard feastdays, among the more noticeable ones are St George (April), St Catherine (November) and St Barbara (December), who are commonly venerated in many places across the Low Countries and Western Germany including the Rhineland. It is suggested that it was made in the final quarter of the 15th century, probably in the Thérouanne region of France for sale to a Dutch-speaking patron.

As the text version of the Office of the Virgin (fols. 39-75) is also of standard use (which differs from the more common use of Rome), it is impossible to point to a certain diocese for which this book could have been made. Interestingly though, the litany occurs twice in two different versions, in Latin and in Dutch. In addition to a different sequence of the saints, also the number and a few names of saints do not match, so that we may conclude that the scriptorium where this manuscript was made copied the two litanies from their textmodel regardless of a specifically required or local liturgical use. The differences are particularly noticeable with the female martyr saints: the Dutch version lists many more female saints than the Latin, and among these we find names that were indeed popular within the Devotio Moderna and the Beguines, like Clara, Brigitta, Gertrud, Amelberga (Ghent), Walburga (Utrecht), Elizabeth, Aldegonde (Maubeuge), Anna and Ursula.

The delicate decoration and illumination of the manuscript also suggests an artistic milieu that was influenced by French, Dutch and Flemish traditions. The decorative style is the same throughout the manuscript, although the Dutch part is enhanced slightly less lavishly as the Latin part, which is also due to the fact that the Latin part contains the liturgically more important texts. However, the identical style implies that the manuscript was made entirely in one and the same workshop. The characteristic golden trifoil leaves in many borders connected by hairlines would be typical for Utrecht, but other decorative elements differ from that northern Netherlandish style too much to locate the manuscript there. The border decoration however is very accomplished and points to a workshop in one of the Flemish centres of book illumination.

Next to the skilful marginal illumination it is the unusual choice of texts that lends this manuscript its uniqueness: it is not a classical book of hours as it does not contain the Office of the Dead. However, it features many hymns and prayers in the vernacular, which have been part of the Dutch liturgy for a long time before the reformation. The choice of prayers and hymns in this manuscript seems to be very individual and tailored to the needs of a devout lay person, such as a beguine or a member of the Brethren and Sisters of the Common Life. Especially the arrangement of meditations on the Passion of Christ, as we find it between fols. 152v-154v, according to the monastic hours of prayer in a loose sense suggests a first owner who was a member of a semi-monastic congregation. As such, this prayerbook would be a fairly early example of an anthology of devout prayers and songs.

fols. 1-12v: calendar;
fols. 13-17v: Introibo ad altare .... confiteor deo celi (gradual);
fols. 17v-20v: gospel sequence (Luke, John, Mark, John);
fols. 21-38: Short Hours of the Holy Spirit;
fol. 38v: blank;
fols. 39-75: Hours of the Virgin Mary (standard use);
fols. 75v-76v: blank (ruled);
fols. 77-85v: Penitential Psalms in Latin;
fols. 85v-88v: Litany in Latin;
fols. 89-90v: blank (ruled);
fols. 91-100v: Penitential Psalms in Dutch (rubrics in Latin);
fols. 100v-103v: Litany in Dutch;
fols. 104-107: Prayer to Mary in Dutch (Ave tempel der triniteyt Ansiet dor v(an) genadicheit);
fols. 107v-110: Prayer to Infant Jesus in Dutch (Owee mi eengeboren kint troost dijn enige moeder) and more Prayers to Mary in Dutch;
fols. 110v-112: Song/Hymns for Easter: Van minnen ben ic dus gewont, ghef mi dijn herte ic worde gesont;
fols. 112v-113v: Ic wil den heere alleyne te mak ghetrouwe sijn;
fols. 114-115: blank;
fols. 116-123v: Obsecro te in Dutch with a Latin rubric;
fols. 124-128v: Van onser vrouwen: O edel coninghinne des hemels ende reyne maghet maria, moeder gods. Doer alle ontfermicheit ende mildicheit om den bittren rouwe ende grote droefheit dijns herten ...;
fol. 128v-129: Prayer to Mary, rubric: Ave Maria. Hier ynnichlic biddende sijt marien. Omme de dinc die ghi begheert tgesciet. O Maria want ic des vor waer seker ben sonder twifel ...;
fols. 129v: blank;
fols. 130-131v: The twentyfive pater noster: Onse here ihc xpc leerde dese xv [sic!] Pater noster: Eenre Nonnen van der grauwen ordenen wiese seget alle dage een Jaer lanc hoe groten sondere hi ware ... Dat eerste pater noster vanden xxv diemen seggen sal ....;
fols. 132-136: Prayer on the Lord's Passion, rhymed in Dutch (song or hymn);
fols. 136-136v: Prayers for the days of the week in Dutch;
fols. 137-142: Prayer to say before consecration, a prayer to say during consecration and a prayer for the mass, all rhymed;
fols. 142-143: Prayer before communion: O here heden begheric tontfane uwen gebenediden lichame ...;
fols. 143-144: Prayer to say during communion and after; fol. 145: Psalm 12,1-7 plus collectio in Dutch;
fols. 146-147v: Salve Regina, prayer to Mary in Dutch: God groete u coninginne der ontfermicheit, leven soetheit end onse hope .... interspersed with Ave Maria in Latin, and various other prayers: Verlent here ons dinen creaturen ...; Ic groete u here ihu xpe woort des vader ...;
fols. 148-150: Prayer: O heere ghi die den vigeboem vermalediet omme dat hi gheene vrucht en droech ...;
fols. 150-152: Oh here ghi seit tote uwen iongeren Ic scal van u sceiden mar ic sal u ...;
fols. 152v-154v: Various prayers or meditations contemplating the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ in Dutch (it is interesting to note that these prayers are headed by rubrics indicating that each section is to be read at a certain time of the day, following halfway the monastic hours of prayer, but not in the strict sense);
fols. 154-158: On Christ's Ascension, in Dutch: Doen onse here opvoer na sijnre verrisenisse end hi quam int rike sijns vaders and other prayers; explicit on fol. 158: ende de goedertierne heilige gheest. Drie persone ende een warachtich god. Amen; fol. 158v by a younger hand, possibly 16th century: O tresoir voorwaer costelich veruust met vrucht die ... (illegible and unfinished)
Extent 1 volume
Admin History During the late Middle Ages, the book of hours developed as a popular devotional text for the laity, who would recite the particular prayer for the hour of the day and time of year according to the ecclesiastical calendar. It evolved out of the monastic cycle of prayer which divided the day into eight segments, or ' hours' : Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones, Compline, and Vespers. The demand for a suitable book for private rather than communal devotion produced a smaller portable version with a less complicated liturgy to follow. It would begin with a calendar listing feast days, followed by the seven Penitential Psalms and other prayers, often included at the request of the owner. These books were usually owned by wealthy people and would often be richly illuminated, including miniatures of the Virgin Mary, Christ and saints at the start of each segment, to be used as an aid to prayer and spiritual contemplation. Such books were treasured by the families which owned them and so more books of hours are extant today than any other manuscript book, preserving some of the finest examples of medieval art to survive. A thriving business using professional scribes and artists developed to produce them, purchasers being able to choose from a range of texts and illustrations to create their own books of hours to satisfy their particular requirements.
Archival History Front and back of the 18th-century binding has an armorial panel of William Latton of Wadham College, Oxford. His signature also on the upper right of
the last parchment leaf. The Lattons had their seat at Kingston Bagpuize near Abington. William was born c. 1653 and was admitted to Wadham in 1670,
aged 17. He went on to a distinguished academic career in the college, holding several important posts, including that of Librarian in 1682. He died
unmarried in 1732.
Language Latin, Dutch
Physical Description 126 x 93 mm, 158 leaves + 4 front- and 5 backflyleaves, two of which on each side of original parchment, complete, I-II6, III-IV8, V10, VI-IX8, X6 (quire misbound but complete), XI8, XII8-2 (lacks blanks 5+6, no loss of text), XIII8 (text in Dutch begins with this gathering), XIV-XX8, XXI4;
written space 88 x 55 mm in the calendar (17-18 lines), 85 x 60 mm in Latin part, 85 x 55-60 mm in the Dutch part, both ruled in red for 16 lines;
written by various hands in a Textualis Formata, particularly distinguishable between the Latin and Dutch parts, catchwords;
5 pages with full decorative borders including 5-14-line decorated initials on burnished golden grounds, numerous pages with four-, three-, double- and single-sided bars in blue and red with white penwork, mostly also including one or more 2-5-line golden initials on blue and red grounds with white penwork;
beginnings of verses in alternating blue and gold 1-line initials, versals touched in red, rubrics in red in Latin and Dutch, upper margins slightly trimmed, some of the decorated borders darkened and smudged, some thumbing;
otherwise well preserved, bound in an early 18th-century full morocco binding on cardboard, profusely tooled and central armorial panels bearing the coat of arms of a former owner, William Latton of Wadham College, Oxford (Per pale argent and sable a saltire engtailed counterchanged Ermines and Ermin; "de Latton", motto illegible).

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