Italy, Gradual, 27

tto F. Ege (1888-1951), Dean of the Cleveland Institute of Art and Lecturer on the History of the Book at the School of Library Science, Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, selected fifty manuscripts to illustrate the art of the manuscript during the period of its greatest development and influence. They were taken from books written in various European scriptoria by Benedictine, Franciscan, Carthusian, Dominican and other orders of monks. Many are enriched with handsome borders, initial letters, and line-endings rendered in colour, and twenty-five are illuminated with burnished gold or silver. The texts include the Bible, various church service books, the writings of the Church Fathers, and some of the classics.

Changes in book hands from the revived Carolingian to the angular and round Gothic, the bâtarde, or bastard, and humanistic style of writing are illustrated. Tools, materials, and their use and preparation are described, and some methods of dating and allocating the provenance of the book from which the leaf was taken are pointed out.

The leaves were accumulated and selected and all of the accompanying information was prepared over a period of forty years by the late Otto F. Ege.

Lisa Fagin Davis and Melissa Conway, Uncatalogued Manuscript Control Center, http://members.aol.com/dericci/umcc/umcc.html, note the following 23 Portfolios of the original 40 as extant:

'Fifty [Fifty-one] original leaves from medieval manuscripts, Western Europe, XII-XVI Century' [50 or
51 leaves; 40 sets]

32  CO      Boulder, University of Colorado, Special Collections Department
      IN       Bloomington, Indiana University, Lilly Library
      MA     Amherst, University of Massachusetts, Special Collections and Archives   Set 6
      MA     Northampton, Smith College, Mortimer Rare Book Room
13  MN     Minneapolis, University of Minnesota, James Ford Bell Library (10 leaves only)
38  NC      Greensboro, University of North Carolina ­ Greensboro, Special Collections and Rare Books
      NY      Albany  State Library of New York, Manuscripts and Special Collections
      NY      Buffalo, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Rare Books and Special Collections
28  NY      New York City, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.1021
[Use Pierpont Morgan Library Corsair Search Engine, http://corsair.morganlibrary.org/ then 'Ege, Otto', to find descriptions of leaves but no images. My sincere thanks to Sylvie Merian, Reference Librarian, Pierpont Morgan Library, for correcting the accession number. She asks the following: 'Also, I was wondering if you were also trying to track down the leaves from his Oriental collection? The Morgan Library's Oriental set ( "Fifteen original Oriental manuscript leaves of six centuries, twelve of the Middle East, two of Russia and one of Tibet from the collection of, and with notes prepared by, Otto F. Ege, late dean of the Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio") is set number 29. I would be interested in finding out the location of other Oriental sets.' ]
     NY       Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Cary Library
19  NY      Stony Brook, SUNY Stony Brook, Special Collections Department
5   OH      Athens, Ohio University, Special Collections Department
9   OH      Cincinnati, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Rare Books and Special
     OH      Cleveland, Cleveland Public Library, Special Collections Department
     OH      Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art
     OH      Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University Special Collections
2   OH      Columbus, Ohio State University, Rare Books and Manuscripts
30 OH      Granville, Denison University, Denison University Library
15 OH      Kent, Kent State University, Kent State University Libraries
     OH      Lima,    Lima Public Library
     ON      Toronto Art Gallery of Ontario  Prints and Drawings
27  SC      Columbia, University of South Carolina, Dept. of Rare Books & Special Collections
     SK      Saskatoon, University of Saskatchewan, Special Collections

Some additional information about these sets is available on OCLC, searching under Author = Ege, Otto.

Lisa Fagin Davis and Melissa Conway, Uncatalogued Manuscript Control Center

To which Donna D. Wilson, Cataloging Consultant, Olin/Chalmers Libraries, Kenyon College, adds:

23 OH      Kenyon College Library, Gambier.

On the Web, until now, only five of the original fifty Otto F. Ege Portfolios were noted as still in existence at the following universities and institutes:

Casewestern Reserve University, Special Collections:
http://www.cwru.edu/UL/SpecColl/manuscripts.htm and

University of Colorado at Boulder, Special Collections:

also a pdf on line with more information. Use Google with 'Colorado Otto Ege' to retrieve following:
http://www-libraries.colorado.edu/ps/spc/collections/Medieval%20MSS/Ege%20Mss%202-03.pdf ,
lacking images, and
http://www.umilta.net/ege.html/ with images, supplied from slides, of one side of each leaf only, not scanned directly from the manuscript leaves themselves.

Denison University, Doane Library, Archives and Special Collections:
http://www.denison.edu/library/archives/ege/main.html, project proposal, lacking images

Indiana University, Lilly Library, Manuscript Collection:
http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/lilly/mss/html/ege.html, list, lacking images

Rochester Institute of Technology, Cary Graphic Arts Collection, http://wally.rit.edu/cary/cc_db/manuscripts/with images

Further leaves are noted at Boston University as from an Otto F. Ege dismembered manuscript: http://www.bu.edu/sth/archives/sth/medieval.htm: Leaves from a Book of Hours, School of Theology, STH MSS Leaves 72-80, Italy, fifteenth century. Parchment 117 x 80 mm. One column of 12 lines 67 x 45 mm. Psalms and litany (on leaves 79-80). The litany includes St. Bernardino canonized in 1450. Old penciled foliations 17, 39, rest blank. Humanistic italic hand, one-line initials blue or gold. Offsets of two-line initials on leaf 73 verso and leaf 77. Dealer's identification: "1450 Service Book Missal." Identified in 1998 by Dr. Albinia de la Mare, Professor of Paleography, King's College London, as being from the Book of Hours by Paduan scribe Bartolomeo Sanvito, probably copied in Rome in the 1480s and broken up by dealer Otto F. Ege. Catalogued, Dr. Judith Oliver, Manuscripts Sacred and Secular (Boston: Endowment for Biblical Research, 1985) as JHO 77. See also Leaf 7, Petrus de Riga, Aurora.

Lisa Fagin Davis: Beauvais Missal leaves (originally from Brölman collection, sold Sotheby's 5 May 1926, lot 161) are also at Wellesley College, MS 33; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library MS 804; Rutgers University; Boston Public Library MS 110; Sotheby’s London, 26 November 1985, lot 61 (calendar leaf).

Consuelo W. Dutschke: Columbia University has one, perhaps more, leaves shown on the Scriptorium site. All we have, with any level of certainty, is a single leaf from Otto F. Ege's cut-up Terence, copied according to Dr. A. C. de la Mare by Giuliano d'Antonio da Prato.  You can view this leaf and the four other leaves held by Columbia with possible Ege affiliation on the Digital Scriptorium website: 1. Go to:  http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/scriptorium/form.html; 2. Choose:  Manuscript Search Terms; 3.  On the resulting screen, type "Otto F. Ege" into the slot for Provenance.
Lisa Fagin Davis: There are Terence leaves also at Sweet Briar College, Virginia, and Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York. Originally Sotheby's London 28 May 1934, lot 100.

The University of Utah has a Missal leaf they believe came from an Ege Portfolio but which does not clearly correspond with those given here,
http://www2.art.utah.edu/Paging_Through/29/index.html: Missal leaf, ca. 1400, Italy [Rare Books, MS lat. frag. 5]:

recto                          verso                         recto, detail

Compare with #27 Gradual leaves, Italy, at:

Colorado                                 Rochester

See also the pdf file available on the web with a Google search, Barbara A. Shailor, 'Otto Ege: His Manuscript Frag ment Colletion and the Opportunities Presented by Electronic Technology'. The Journal of the Rutgers University Library 60 (2003), 1-22.

Particularly recommended are Case Western Reserve's and Rochester Institute of Technology's websites with images, though the latter's Website on the Ege Portfolio could be redone with our now improved technologies for digitalizing. We invite readers interactively to correct and update this list. Contact Julia Bolton Holloway at holloway.julia@tiscali.it with additional information. The University of Colorado leaves are scanned from slides, and only the one side was so photographed, there needing to be a new digitalising of them, including the opposite side of each of their folios.

This essay illustrates those leaves formerly owned by John Feldman and now in the University of Colorado, Boulder, Norlin Library, Special Collections. This particular Portfolio is numbered 32 of a total of 40. It lacks several of the leaves that were originally part of its collection, those lacking in this Portfolio indicated by an X. Those which are illuminated are indicated by an *. Material following images is information supplied by Nancy Thaller, Jean Preston, Oliver Ellsworth, Amy Vandersall, and others in addition to the original comments made by Otto F. Ege.

Julia Bolton Holloway
Professor Emerita, formerly
Director, Medieval Studies
University of Colorado, Boulder

1. Switzerland: New Testament ( Testamentum Novum, cum Glossis Bedae, Hieronymi, et Gregorii).

Early XIIth Century. Latin Text; Revised Carolingian Script.

The chief interest of this text is the interlinear glosses and commentaries from the writings of Bede, Jerome, Gregory and other Church Fathers. These were inserted at various times during the following century around a central panel of the original text. All hands based on revival of early Carolingian minuscule. the beginning of the trend to compactness and angularity is seen in many of these later additions. This manuscript shows through its marks of ownership that it was in Geneva for centuries. It is therefore probably, though not certain, that it was written in Switzerland.

The colour and texture of the vellum is frequently an aid in allocating a manuscript to a certain district and time. The XIIIth century skins are often yellower than those of later dates as the result of the fact that a weaker lime-water solution was used in the bleaching process.

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Nancy Thaller: John 19.7-12, recto; John 19:12-19, verso.
Jean Preston: Main text spaciously written, to accommodate some interlinear and lots of marginal glossing. Different colored inks. Bottom gloss is later.

2. Spain (or southern France): Missal (Missale Plenarium)

Middle XIIth Century. Latin Text; Revised Carolingian Script

Many Missals, Bibles and Psalters of the XIIth century were written in this fine, bold script. In the absence of miniatures and decoration, it is difficult to assign a manuscript in this hand to a particular country. Some of the letters of this book however, have been carefully compared with those in a manuscript known to have been ordered in Spain in 1189 A.D. by a certain Abbot Gutterius, and it was found that the resemblance is striking. It is possible, therefore, that the leaf was written in the same monastery. However, because of the uniformity of all scripts in the early period, many English and French manuscripts could present close similarities in the style of writing.

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Nancy Thaller: fol. 142, Ephesians; Romans; Wisdom; John
Jean Preston: Compare the two quite different red capital Fs. Rubrication tells us it is Ephesians and Romans.
Amy Vandersall: Austrian or German

3. Italy: Lectionary (Lectionarium; Secundam Lucam)

Middle XIIth Century, Latin Text; Revised Carolingian Script

A Lectionary contains selected readings from the Epistles and Gospels as well as the Acts of the Saint and the Lives of the Martyrs. These were read by the sub-deacon from a side pulpit. This practice necessitated that they be written in a separate volume, apart from the complete Missal. This fine large bookhand shown here, suited to easier reading in a dark cathedral, is a revival of the script developed nearly four centuries earlier in scriptoria founded by Charlemagne. Maunde Thomson calls this Lombardic revival the finest of all European bookhands. Even the XVth century humanistic scribes could not surpass it for beauty and eligibility.

The tone or hue of ink frequently helps allocate a manuscript to a particular district or century. Ink of brown tone is generally found in early manuscripts, less frequently after 1200 A.D.

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Jean Preston: Roundness characteristic of Italy

4. France: Psalter (Psalterium )

Late XIIth Century. Latin Text; Carolingian Minuscule

The text is from a special arrangement of the Psalms. Several Church Fathers made their own groupings for the Scriptures. Of these so-called "chains" the most famous is that of Thomas Aquinas. The author of the arrangement represented by this leaf is unknown.

The scribe of the XIIth century often came close to achieving perfection. The symmetry of his letters, the unerring accuracy of his practised hand, and his ideals for letter forms have rarely been equalled and have never been surpassed. The words which were inserted in the margin are not corrections but were added as guides to the content of the page.

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Jean Preston: Is it a Psalter? Not characteristic of one. What are marginal single-word notes?
Amy Vandersall: Provenance traced to a collector in Leyden (Netherlands), 1930s.

5. France: Bible (Biblia Sacra Latina, Versio Vulgata)

Early XIIIth Century. Latin Text; Early Angular Gothic Script

This translation of the Bible was made by Jerome at the request of Pope Damasus. It was begun in the year 382 A.D. and finished 16 years later. For his great scholarship more than for his eminent sanctity, Jerome was later made a saint. This version of the Bible was his most important work.

The angular book hand, executed with amazing skill and precision, reflects the spirit of the contemporary architecture of the early XIIIth century. Closely spaced perpendicular strokes and angular terminals have supplanted the open and round character of the preceding century. It is a beautiful book hand but exceedingly difficult to read.

The quills used in writing were obtained from the wings of crows, wild geese, and eagles. To keep them sharp and their strokes of uniform width required skill and great sensitivity in hand pressure. It would be difficult to imitate or approximate the fine details even with the special steel lettering pens of today.

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Nancy Thaller: Genesis 37.5-38.23, recto; 38.24-41.8, verso
Jean Preston: It is the tiny size of script which makes it hard to read. Characteristic of thirteenth-century pocket Bibles. Note chapter numbers in margin.

6. England: Cambridge Bible ( Biblia Sacra Latina, Versio Vulgata)

The only Bible known to Western Europe for the thousand years from 400 to 1400 was this version by St Jerome. In the early part of the XIIIth century it is almost impossible to distinguish the book hands of France from those of England. The decorative initials, colour of ink, and texture of vellum are the clues which aid in assigning provenance, as in this instance. Not many fragments of this age and size are known to have survived the destruction and disappearance of English monastic libraries which was ordered by Henry VIII in the year 1539.

This small size lettering, seven lines to the inch, is formed with the skill and precision that made the XIIIth century noted for the finest calligraphy of all time. To write seven lines to an inch, maintain evenness throughout, and have each letter clear and precise is a great achievement for any scribe, yet in the XIIIth century this was not an exceptional achievement.

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Nancy Thaller: Fol. 89 recto, 3 Kings (1 Chronicles) 2.4-42; verso, 2.42-4.12
Jean Preston: Both 5 & 6 have running titles.

7. England: Aurora

[Fol. 109 recto, Novum Testamentum Evangelium, lines 1928-1969, verso, lines 1970-2013]

Early XIIIth Century. Latin Text; Early Gothic Script

This famous paraphrase of the Bible in Latin verse was one of the most popular Latin books of poetry of the late XIIth and XIIIth century. Petrus de Riga, who died in 1209, began it. Aegidius of Paris finished it. This version did not appear in printed form until a very late date, despite its popularity. The format of this page, twice as long as it is wide, demonstrates the English custom of folding the skins lengthwise. The practice of setting off by a space the initial letter of each line also helps to give the page an unusual appearance. It is written in a very small script, six lines to an inch, in a hand characteristic of Northern France and England at this period.

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See also Boston University, School of Theology: Leaf from Petrus de Riga, Aurora in Latin  STH MSS Leaf 17. Catalogued, Judith Oliver: England, later twelfth to early thirteenth century. Parchment 230 x 108 mm. One narrow text column of 50-51 lines 198 x 73 mm. Peter Riga (c.1140-1209) wrote his paraphrase of the Bible, the Aurora, in the late twelfth century. This leaf comes from an early copy. The strikingly tall, narrow format is typical of English university texts. (JHO 19)

Nancy Thaller: Fol. 109 recto, Novum Testamentum Evangelium, lines 1928-1969, verso, lines 1970-2013.
Jean Preston: Is this English, not French? So often English initials are all blue (with red penwork), rather than alternating red and blue likes this. Strange shape of leaf. Is it cut? Oxford books were somewhat higher than most, but not as roll-like as this.

8. England: Leaf from Gradual

Early XIIIth Century. Latin Text; Early Angular Gothic Script, Square Gregorian Notation

Graduals are the books containing the chants for the celebration of the Mass. English manuscripts of this early date and small size are rare. This volume, with the uncertain strokes in the script, seems to indicate that the transcriber was unaccustomed to writing in this small scale. There are four and five line staves, and the 'F' and 'C' lines are indicated. Most of the various forms of written notes can by found on each leaf of this book. Those occurring more frequently are punctum (Latin. Punctum, prick), a single note; virga (L. virga , rod), a square note with a thin line attached; podatus (L. pes , foot), two square notes, one above the other; climacus (L. climax , ladder), a virga note with two or more diamond shaped notes. There are other forms for particular nuances of expression.

There are more than 2,300 chants which have dome to us from the Middle Ages. The majority of these however, can be reduced to a relatively few melodic types - probably not exceeding fifty in all.

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Jean Preston: Hard to tell size in a slide - unusually small?
Oliver Ellsworth: Conjectures that this manuscript was created in an English convent for nuns, rather than a monastery for monks, due to the pitches. Standard square notation, with common red ink four-line staff. Clef identifies F below middle C, like the modern bass clef. Because it is incomplete it has not been possible to locate it in indices, although the Bryden and Hughes Index of Gregorian Chant should identify the incipits. Also not found in the Sarum rite. End of thirteenth century.

9. France (Paris): Bible (Biblia Sacra Latina, Versio Vulgata)

These miniature or portable manuscript copies of the Jerome version of the Bible were neatly written by the young wandering friars of the newly founded order of Dominicans, the Friar Preachers. With an almost superhuman skill and patience, and without the aid of eyeglasses, an amazing number of these small Bibles were produced by writing with quills on uterine vellum or rabbit skins. No plausible reason has yet been advanced for such large scale production. They were used sparingly, as is evidenced by their still fine codition. Few people could afford to buy these volumes, which took the equivalent of two years' time to transcribe. Still fewer laymen could read or would dare to risk excommunication by the Church. Pope Innocent III, some years earlier, had issued an edict forbidding the reading or even the touching of a Bible by persons not belonging to the clergy. The precision and beauty of the text letters and initials executed in so small a scale, twelve lines to an inch, with letters less than one-sixteenth of an inch high, are among the wonders in book history.

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Nancy Thaller: 2 Kings 8.17-11.2, recto (initial F marks last phrase of 8.18, not first word of 9.1); 11.2-12.13, verso.
Jean Preston: Characteristic French pen decoration.

*10. Germany: Psalter (Psalterium ) Illuminated

Middle XIIIth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

[Fol. 3 recto, Psalm 112.7-113.8; verso, 113.8-9 (of the second division)]

The line endings of a fish, elongated or shortened as the space required, and the grinning expression of the fish emblem have in some book circles given these German Psalters the nickname 'Laughing Carp' Psalters. The fish, as is well known, was one of the earliest and most common symbols for Christ. An early acrostic, IESOUS CHRISTOS THEOU HUOIOS SOTER (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour), is based on the letters in the Greek word for fish, ICTHUS. The lozange heads on top of many of the vertical pen strokes are characteristic of German manuscripts.

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Nancy Thaller: Fol. 3 recto, Psalm 112.7-113.8; verso, 113.8-9 (of the second division)

11. Italy: Bible (Biblia Sacra Latina, Versio Vulgata)

Middle XIIIth Century. Latin Text; Rotunda Gothic Script

In 1217, St Dominic, the Spanish founder of the order which bears his name, withdrew from France and settled in Italy. Here, in the next four and last years of his life, he founded sixty more chapters of the Dominican Order. Many of the younger members of the order studied at the University of Bologna, and while there produced a great number of these small portable Bibles, just as did their brothers at the Unviersity of Paris in France and the University of Oxford in England. There was a difference in the art of the scriptoria in the various countries. In England and France the ideal of craftsmanship was very high, while at this time, in Italy, a rather casual attitude prevailed. In the XIIIth century Italy was torn apart by the long struggle between the papal and anti-imperialist Guelphs and the autocratic and imperialistic Ghibellines. Little encouragement was given by either party to the arts, save in Florence. This leaf reveals, however, the skill and keen eyesight which were necessary for the writing of ten of these lines to the inch.

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Nancy Thaller: Judith 7.11-8.20, recto; 8.20-10.2, verso
Jean Preston: IV at top is for JUdith, not 4.

12. France: Psalter (Psalterium ) Illuminated

[Psalm 65.10-19, recto; 65.20-67.3, verso]

Middle XIIIth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

This small Psalter leaf illustrates the fact that, although skilled scribes were available in many monasteries in the XIIIth century, some of the monks who attempted to apply and burnish gold leaf were still struggling with many problems of illumination. The famous treatise De Arte Illuminandi and Cennino Cennini's Trattato were both of later date. These works gave directions on how to prepare and use the glair of egg, Armenian bole, stag-horn glue, and hare's foot, and on how to burnish the gold with a suitable wolf's tooth. These books might not have been helpful, however, for the author of the De Arte Illuminandi adds, 'Since experience is worth more in all this than written documents, I am not taking any special pains to explain what I mean'.

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Nancy Thaller: Psalm 65.10-19, recto; 65.20-67.3, verso

13. England: Oxford Bible (Biblia Sacra Latina, Versio Vulgata)

Middle XIIIth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

It is usually difficult to distinguish the miniatures or portable Bibles made by the young Dominican friars in England from those written in France. At times the colophon tells us that a book was executed in the Sorbonne, the newly founded school of theology in Paris, or in the University Center at Oxford. The Dominican order was founded in 1216 A.D., and soon spread all over Europe. About 1219 A.D.. King Alexander of Scotland met St Dominic in Paris and persuaded him to send some members of his brotherhood to Scotland. From here they spread to England. The original master text was carelessly transcribed again and again. It may even have been incorrectly copied from the Alcuinian text written for Charlemagne. In the latter part of the XIIIth century, Roger Bacon condemned unsparingly manuscripts which, although they were skilfully and beautifully written, transmitted inaccuracies of text.

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Nancy Thaller: Ecclesiasticus 31.19-33, recto; 33.16-35.17, verso
Jean Preston: Lovely penwork.

*14. France: Bible Illuminated ( Biblia Sacra, Versio Vulgata)

Late XIIIth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

This copy of the Latin version by St Jerome was made during the period when France stood at the height of her medieval glory. A decade or two before, Louis IX (St Louis), the strongest monarch of his age, had made France the mightiest power in Europe. This favourable political situation rendered possible the 'golden age' of the manuscript, and Paris became the centre in which the finest manuscripts were written and sold.

In the quarter century from 1275 to 1300, marked advances were effected in the art. The bar borders came to be executed in rich opaque gouache pigments, with ultramarine made of powdered lapis lazuli predominating. The foliage scroll work inside the initial frame created a style that persisted with little or no change for nearly two hundred years. The script was well executed and was without rigidity or tension. All these elements, together with the sparkle which was created by the casual distribution of the burnished gold accents, give to this leaf a striking atmosphere of joyous freedom.

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Nancy Thaller: Ezechiel 33.1-31, recto; 33.31-35.3, verso
Jean Preston: Illuminated here meaning use of gold leaf in intiials, no miniature, 3 line high initials and painted marginal decoations with beginning of ivy leaf.

*15. France: Missal (Missale Bellovacense ) [Gradual] Illuminated

Beauvais; Late XIIIth Century. Latin Text; Transitional Gothic Script

This manuscript, a special gift to a church in the city of Beauvais, was written for Robert de Hangest, a canon, about 1285 A.D. At that time, Beauvais was one of the most important art centres in all Europe. The ornament in this leaf shows the first flowering of Gothic interest in nature. The formal hieratic treatment is here giving way to graceful naturalism. The ivy branch has put forth its first leaves in the history of ornament. The writing, likewise, is departing from its previous rigid character and displays an ornamental pliancy which harmonizes with the decorative initials.

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Jean Preston: Fourteenth century. Textus precissus. M's have straight bottoms, not pointed square as in quadrata or curved as in semi-quadrata. How do we know it was written for Robert de Hangest about 1285? It looks to me later.
Amy Vandersall: Amiens? Given to Beauvais Cathedral. Or English? Possibly fifteenth century?
Lisa Fagin Davis: No. 15, the 'Beauvais Missal', was purchased by Ege at Sotheby’s, 5 May 1926, lot 161, from the Brölman collection. Its date and place of writing are known because it originally had a colophon page that has since been lost.
On Wellesley leaf: Wellesley College MS 33 France (Beauvais?), s. XIII4/4 [Gradual]
f. 1: …sanctum benignus…/…Alleluya; f. 2: …baiulat crucem suam…/…in leticia. Ps. Exur[ge]….
f. 1: Pentecost (?); f. 2: Common of Martyrs.
Parchment, 2 ff., 287 x 197 (201 x 140) mm. 2 columns (60 mm each), 10 staves or 21 lines. Writing lines in red plummet, top and bottom of each line ruled.
Catchword on f. 1v in small hurried brown cursive.
Written in a Gothic bookhand in black ink. Red rubrics. F. 2r: 6-line historiated [I] as a flowering tree on blue background supported by a grotesque with leafy mauve and blue bar extensions into margins; 2-line initials throughout alternating mauve on blue or blue on mauve, white highlighting and infill in gold and colors, with leafy blue and mauve bar extensions into margins.
Binding: Each leaf housed in a typical Otto Ege matte with a window and red fillets, with title in pencil, “1285 A. D. France Beauvais Missal Leaf.”
Written in France in the late thirteenth century. According to Otto Ege, the manuscript was written for a canon in Beauvais by the name of Robert de Hangest around the year 1285. At one point, these leaves were part of an Otto Ege fragment collection (f. 1 is numbered “25a” on matte). Additional leaves from this same manuscript can be found in the Ege collections titled “50 [or 51 or 52] Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts, XII – XVI Century”, where leaves from this manuscript, the “Missale Bellicense”, are usually no. 15 (other examples are found at Case Western Reserve University, the Lily Library at the University of Indiana, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Colorado, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, among others). Acquired by Wellesley College after 1965.

*16. France: Breviary (Breviarum ) Illuminated [fol. 235]

Late XIIIth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

Breviaries were seldom owned by laymen. They were service books and contained the Psalter with the versicles, responses, collects and lections for Sundays, weekdays, and saints' days. Other texts could be included. A Breviary, therefore, was lengthy and usually bulky in format. Miniature copies like the one represented by this leaf are rare.

The angular Gothic script required a skilled calligrapher. It would be difficult for a modern engrosser to match, even with steel pens, the exactness and sharpness of these letters formed with a quill by a XIIIth century scribe. Green was a decorative colour added to the palette in the late XIIIth century in many scriptoria. The medieval formulae for making it from earth, flowers, berries, and metals are often elaborate and strange. This manuscript was written on fine uterine vellum, i.e., the skin of an unborn calf. It evidently had hard use, or may have been buried with its owner.

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*17. England: Psalter [?] (Psalterium ) Illuminated

Illuminated Psalters occur as early as the VIIIth century, and from the XIth to the beginning of the XIVth century they predominate among illuminated manuscripts. About 1220 A.D., portable manuscript volumes supplanted the huge tomes favored in the preceding century. This change in size caused the creation of more angular and compact script. In general, smaller initial letters were used, and writing was done in double columns.

At this time the pendant tails of the initial letters are rigid or only slightly wavy, with a few leaves springing from the ends. Later, they became free scrolls, with luxurious foliage, and were extended into all the margins. The blue and lake (orange-red) colour scheme with accents of white is a carry-over from the Westminster tradition which prevailed in the previous century. The solid line-filling ornaments at the ends of the verses were a new feature added in the second half of the XIIIth century. Silver and alloy of gold are used on this leaf.

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Nancy Thaller: 1 Samuel (1 Kings) 2.8-10; Exodus 15.1-6, recto, 15.6-13, verso

18. France: Breviary (Breviarum ) Illuminated

Late XIIIth Century. Latin Text. Angular Gothic Script

The Breviary is one of the six official books used by the Catholic Church in its liturgy. It is a book of prayers, giving the directions for all the various services of the Divine Hours throughout the year. The other five official books are the Pontifical, the Missal, the Ritual, the Martyrology, and the Ceremonial of the Bishops.

The angular script in this leaf is executed with great skill and precision. The small and vigorous black initials and the hair line details found in many of the ascenders and terminal letters indicate the work of a superior calligrapher, skilled not only in writing but also in sharpening his quill. The initials and the dorsal decorations also represent the same high standard of craftsmanship. Strangely, the rubrications do not show as great a calligraphic skill. Usually it was the task of a superior scribe to insert the rubrics or directions for conducting the service.

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*19. Italy. Vulgate Bible (Biblia Sacra, Versio Vulgata) Illuminated

Early XIVth Century. Latin Text; Transitional Rotunda Script

At this period, the St Jerome Bible was not transcribed as often as one would expect in the country of its origin and the very land which held the seat of the Church. During the greater part of the XIIIth century, while the popes were greatly concerned with gaining political power, art was at a low ebb in Italy, and religious manuscripts were comparatively few and far inferior to the work of monastic scribes in Germany, France and England. But with the great wealth accumulating in Italy during the XIVth century through commerce and the Crusades, this country soon surpassed in richness as well as in numbers the manuscript output of all other nationalities.

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Nancy Thaller: Joel 3.1-21; Prologue of Hugh of St Cher and Jerome, Prologue to Amos (from Epistola ad Paulinum, recto; Amos, last line of Jerome Prologue and Amos 1.1-3-3.5, verso, Steegmuller, I.274.5
Jean Preston: Initial V for Verba with colours and touches of gold.

*20. The Netherlands: Psalter ( Psalterium) Illuminated

[Psalms 40.7-12, recto; 40.13-41.4, verso (Vulgate numbering)]

Small Psalters of this period are comparatively rare, since Psalters were used primarily in the church services and not by the layman. Here, the letters and ornament still retain all the rigidity of the previous century and give no indication of the rounder type of letter or any beginning of the interest in nature that characterized the work of the scribes in France. The filigree decoration, as well as the line-finishing elements, show, however, more creative freedom than either the initial or the text letters. The small burnished gold letters display considerable skill on the part of the illuminator, for it is difficult to control small designs in the gesso used as a base for the raised gold leaf.

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Nancy Thaller: Psalms 40.7-12, recto; 40.13-41.4, verso (Vulgate numbering)

*21. France. Hymnal (Hymanarium ) Illuminated

Early XIVth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script, Gregorian Notation (All Saints' Day)

At important festival services such as Christmas and Easter these small hymnals were generally used by laymen as they walked in procession to the various altars. Much of the material incorporated in the hymnals was based on folk melodies. Hymns, like the other chants of the Church, varied according to their place in the liturgy. Their melodies are frequently distinguished by a refrain which was sung at the beginning and at the end of each stanza.

The initial letter design of this leaf persisted with little or no change for a long period, but the simple pendant spear was used as a distinctive motif for not more than twenty-five years.

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Oliver Ellsworth: Not really a hymnal, but sequences from the Mass. More highly illuminated as was typical of Continental material.

22. Germany (Würzburg): Missal (Missale Herbipolense)

Early XIVth Century. Latin Text; Gothic Script; Transitional Early Gothic Notation

The Missal has been for many centuries one of the most important liturgical books of the Church. It contains all the directions, in rubrics and texts, necessary for the performance of the Mass throughout the year. The text frequently varied considerably according to locality. This particular manuscript was written by Benedictine monks for the parocchial school of St John Baptist in Würzburg shortly after 1300 A.D.

The musical notation is the rare type which is a transition between the early neumes and the later Gothic or horseshoe nail notation. The 'C' line of the staffs is indicated by that letter, and the 'F' simply by a diamond, an unusual method. The bold initial letters in red and blue are 'built up' letters; first the outlines were made with a quill and then afterward the areas were coloured with a brush.

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Jean Preston: Alternate blue initial with red penwork, and gold initial with blue penwork, with decorations in the margins.
Oliver Ellsworth: Wurzburg? Missals do not normally have notation, but might be possible. Verso is actually uppermost, containing Proper material, Communion chant and Postcommunion prayer and so on; recto underneath contains Offertory chant and Secret prayer from previous service. Typical Gothic notation: the C clef is indicated by the letter and the F clef below the diamond. 'Feria quinta'=Thursday.

*23. France: Breviary (Breviarum ) Illuminated

Middle XIVth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

In the middle of the XIVth century many of the manuscripts show influences from other countries. Illuminators, scribes and other craftsmen traveled from city to city and even from country to country. While the script of this leaf is almost certainly French, the initial letters and filigree decoration might easily be of Italian workmanship, and the greenish tone of the ink suggests English manufacture. The dorsal motif in the bar ornament is again decidedly French, and the lemon tone of the gold is a third indication of French origin. In England, the burnished gold elements are generally of an orange tint, due to the presence of an alloy; in Italy, they are a rosy colour because the underlying gesso or plaster base was mixed with a red pigment.

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Jean Preston: Looks French. I don't think it 'might easily be of Italian workmanship'.

*24. England (?): Book of Hours ( Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis) Illuminated

Middle XIVth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

This particular Book of Hours, a devotional prayer book for the layman, was made for the use of Sarum, the early name for Salisbury, England. This text was accepted throughout the province of Canterbury. The manuscript was written about the time Chaucer completed his Canterbury Tales, but evidently by a French monk, who might have been attached, as was often the case, to an English monastery. Again, the book could have been specially ordered and imported from abroad. The initial letter and the colouring and the treatment of the ivy are unmistakeably French.

The lettering is an excellent example of the then current book hand. There are seven lines of writing to an inch. The words written in red, a heavy colour made from mercury and sulphur, show almost the same degree of delicacy as those written with the more fluid ink.

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*X25. Psalter (Psalterum) Illuminated

Late XIVth Century. Latin Text; Gothic Script

The Psalter with its one hundred and fifty psalms is the best collection of religious lyrics the world possesses. It is no wonder, therefore, that it forms an important part of so many medieval manuscripts. The Psalms are found not only in manuscripts of the Bible, but also in Missals, Breviaries, and Books of Hours; and, as they had to be memorised by the priests, they were also transcribed separately. In the earlier periods there was generally a harmonious unity between the spirit of the ornament and the character of the writing. This unity is exemplified in this leaf. The three-lobed, gracefully drawn, symmetrical fronds of leaves in the ornament are usually accepted without question as representing the ivy plant. In the Middle Ages many magical and medicinal qualities were attributed to this plant.

Unfortunately, fire and water, mice and men have in the course of the centuries often left their damaging marks on manuscript leaves. Some pages of this manuscript book show the effect of having been exposed to dampness.


*26. France (Rouen): Missal ( Missale) Illuminated [fol. 108]

Late XIVth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

The fact that this Missal honours particular saints by its calendar and litany indicates that it was made by friars of the Franciscan order. This was established in 1209 by St Francis. These wandering friars with their humility, love of nature and humanity, and their joyous religious fervour, soon became one of the largest orders in Europe.

This leaf, with its well-written, pointed characters and decorative initial letters, has lost some of its pristine beauty, doubtless through occasional exposure to dampness over a period of 600 years. The green tone of the ink is more frequently found in English manuscripts than in French. However, the ornament and miniatures on the opening page of the manuscript definitely indicate that it is of French origin.

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Jean Preston: Note use of red underlining instead of rubrication.

27. Italy: Antiphonal (Antiphonarium)[Gradual]

Early XVth Century. Latin Text; Rotunda Gothic Script, Gregorian Notation

The chanting of hymns during ecclesiastical rites goes back to the beginning of Christian services. Antiphons or responsive singing is said to have been introduced in the second century by St Ignatius of Antioch. According to legend, he had a vision of a heavenly choir singing in honour of the Blessed Trinity in the responsive manner. Many of the more than four hundred antiphons which have survived the centuries are elaborate in their musical structure. They were sung in the medieval church by the first cantor and his assistants. Candle grease stains reveal that this small-sized antiphonal was doubtless carried in processions in dimly lighted cathedrals. In this example the notation is written on the four-line red staff which was in general use by the end of the XIIth century. The script is the usual form of Italian rotunda with bold Lombardic letters.

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Oliver Ellsworth: Actually a Gradual. Notation is standard square. Material includes the end of a Credo, the Sanctus, and on the reverse side, the Agnus Dei, all in a G mode. See notes in Medieval Manuscripts-Ege Collection File for more musical details.

Note on Web from Utah, http://www2.art.utah.edu/Paging_Through/29/index.html: 'Missal leaf, ca. 1400, Italy [Rare Books, MS lat. frag. 5]

recto                          verso                        recto, detail

Leaves from Gradual, Italy

Colorado                                 Rochester

Another leaf has surfaced, purchased in Siena:


*28. Northern France: Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis) Illuminated

Middle XVth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

This Book of Hours shows definite characteristics of the manuscript art of France and the Netherlands of about 1450 A.D. It was probably one of many copies prepared for sale at a shrine to which devout pilgrims came to worship or to seek a cure. The spiked letters and the detached ornamental bar are unmitakeably Flemish in spirit, while the free ivy sprays are distinctively French. The burnished metal in the decorations shows the use of alloyed gold (oro di meta`) as well as silver.

Various metals were added at different localities to the fine gold. English illuminations frequently had a decided orange hue, while the French had a lemon cast. The quality of the gold was best enhanced by the use of burnishing tools equipped with an emerald, a topaz, or a ruby. Less successful burnishers contained an agate or the tooth of a wolf, a horse, or a dog.

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*29. France: Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis) Illuminated

Middle XVth Century. Latin Text: Angular Gothic Script

It is generally no great task to assign these illuminated Books of Hours to a particular country or period. The treatment of the ivy spray with the single line stem and rather sparse foliage is characteristic of the work of the French monastic scribes about the year 1450. The occasional appearance of the strawberry indicates that the illuminating was done by a Benedictine monk. Fifty years earlier the stem would have been wider and coloured, and the foliage rich, fifty years later the ivy and holly leaves would be entangled with flowers and acanthus foliage.

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*X30. France: Book of Hours ( Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis) Illuminated

Middle XVth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

The text of a Book of Hours consists of Gospels of the Nativity, prayers for the Canonical Hours, the Penitential Psalms, the Litany, and other prayers. The beauty of the rich borders found in some of these books frequently claims our attention more than the text. In these borders, it is easy to recognize the ivy leaf and the holly, but it is usually more difficult to identify the daisy, thistle, cornbottle, and wild stock. The monks had no hesitancy in letting these flowers grow from a common stem. Because of the translucency of vellum, the flowers, stems and leaves of the border were carefully superimposed on the reverse side in order to avoid a blurred effect.


*31. France. Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis) Illuminated

Middle XVth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

In the second half of the XVth century, the devout and wealthy laymen and women had a wide selection of Books of Hours from which to choose, both manuscript volumes and printed texts. These were often sold, in large cities, in book stalls erected directly in front of the main entrance to the cathedral.

The first printed and illustrated Book of Hours appeared in 1486. It was a crude work, but later noted printers such as Verard, Du Pre, Pigouchet and Kerver issued in great numbers Books of Hours with numerous illustrations and rich borders. The decorations were frequently hand coloured and further embellished with touches of gold. These Books of Hours created a strong competition for the more costly manuscript copies.

Customers who still preferred the manuscript format and could afford it also had a choice of many different types of decoration and could stipulate what quantity and quality of miniatures they desired. By this time the ivy spray had a variety of forms. It might be seen springing from an initial letter, from the end of a detached bar, in a separate panel in company with realistic flowers, or forming a three- or four-sided border intermixed with acanthus leaves and even birds, animals, and hybrid monsters which are neither man nor beast.

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*32. Italy (Florence): Gradual Illuminated [Antiphonal]

Middle XVth Century. Latin Text; Rotunda Gothic Script, Square Notations

A Gradual contains the appropriate antiphons of a Mass sung by the choir of the Latin Church on Sundays and special holidays. The text was furnished largely by the 150 Psalms and the Canticles of the Old and New Testaments. The superb example of calligraphy in this leaf illustrates the supremacy of the Italian scribes of the time over those of the rest of Europe. It is frequently assumed that this late revival of fine writing may have been caused by the concern of scribes over the impending competition with the newly invented art of printing. The music staff still retains here the XIIth century form with the C-line coloured yellow and the F-line red. The four-line red staff had been in use for over two centuries before this manuscript was written.

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Oliver Ellsworth: Actually an Antiphonal, since this is a hymn for Lauds. Notation is standard square with a red line and F clef for the F pitch. The hymn is for the Feast of St John the Evangelist (Magnus Iohannes emicat), but is not in modern use. The recto is undermost. Other hymns with the same text (Sollumnis dies advenit) but in different modes appear in Bruno Stablen's work, so have difference melodies.

33. Germany: Missal (Missale )

Middle XVth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

The Missal, written for the convenience of the priests, combined the separate books formerly used in different parts of the service; namely, the Oratorium, Lectionarium, Evangeliarum, Canon and others. Gutenberg, who printed his famous First Bible about the time this manuscript was written, based his type designs on a contemporary book hand similar to this example. The craftsman who created this manuscript had the difficult problem of evolving a harmonious page with two sizes of writing, inserted rubrics, and large and small coloured initials. The smaller writing is used for the Orationes, the Psalms, the Secreta, and other parts of the service; the larger script for the Sequentia .

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Jean Preston: Gutenburg produced imitation manuscripts - a faster way to get the same results! (For example, Gutenburg Bible in Pierpont Morgan Library has red lines for writing added by hand.

34. Italy: Psalter (Psalterium ) [Antiphonary]

Middle XVth Century. Latin Text. Rotunda Book Hand, Square Notations

[Psalm 20:13-30:11, recto; 30:11-20, verso]

This Psalter was written by Carthusian monks. Of all the orders the Carthusian was the smallest and the most austere. The membership never exceeded one per cent of those enrolled in the combined monastic orders. The Carthusians were frequently hermits, and manuscripts written by them are rare.

The rotunda book hand used in this leaf is representative of the general excellence maintained by Italian scribes at the time when printing was being introduced into their country. The simple melody for the Psalms apparently was added at a somewhat later date. Close observation of the initial letters will frequently reveal a small black letter inserted as a guide for the monk who later added the coloured initial. The use of two guide lines for the lettering is unusual. Ordinarily one line, below the writing, was deemed sufficient. These lines were drawn with a stylus composed of two parts lead and one part tin.

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Nancy Thaller: Psalm 20:13-30:11, recto; 30:11-20, verso
Oliver Ellsworth: Actually Antiphonary, office chants. Ege identified as Psalter because of Psalm texts. The Psalms appear without mucis but would have been sung to the appropriate psalm tone for the mode of the framing antiphon.

*35. France: Writings of St Jerome [Fol. 82, Contra Jovinianum]

Middle XVth Century. Latin Text; Lettre de Somme

Jerome, the Father of the Latin Church and translator of the Bible, shows in his writings his active participation in the controversies of his day (c. 332 to 420 A.D.). With the frequent use of vehement invective, he is often as biting as Juvenal or Martial.

This fine book hand, lettre de somme, obtained its name from the fact that Fust and Schoeffer used a type based on it for the printing of their Summa Theologica of St Thomas Aquinas in 1467. It was a favourite manuscript book hand in the second half of the XVth century for the transcribing of French chronicles and romances. Simplicity and dignity are maintained by omitting all enrichment around the burnished gold letters. The first printed books followed the practice seen here of marking off by hand and with a stroke of red the capitals at the beginning of each sentence. Fifteenth century ink frequently had a tendency to fade to a grey tone as in this example.

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Amy Vandersall: Writings of St Jerome, illuminated, fol. 82v- Ad Eustochium, 22.11. See text reference sheet in portfolio.

*36. France: Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis) Illuminated

Middle XVth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

Book of Hours, beautifully written, enriched with burnished gold initials, and adorned with miniature paintings, were frequently the most treasured possessions of the devout and wealthy laity. There were not only carried to chapel but were often kept at the bedside at night. Oaths were sworn on them. Books of this small size, two and one-half by three and one-half inches, are comparatively rare. The craftsmanship in this example imitates and equals that in a volume of ordinary size, about five by seven inches. Recently these small 'pocket' editions have been given the nickname 'baby manuscripts'. In general, the miniature Books of Hours contain only that section of the complete volume which deals with prayers to be read or recited at the canonical hours; namely, Matins, Vespers, Nocturns, and those for Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones and Compline. Indulgences were often granted for the faithful reading or recitation of these prayers.

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37. Italy: Epistolary [Epistolarium ]

Middle XVth Century. Latin Text: Rotunda or Round Gothic Script

[Ephesians 19,20,21]

Epistolaries are among the rarest of liturgical manuscripts. Their text consists of the Epistles and Gospels with lessons from the Old Testament for particular occasions. Sometimes, as in this leaf, they had interlinear neumes in red to assist the deacon or sub-deacon in chanting parts of this section of the church service while he was standing on the second step in front of the altar.

This text is written in well executed rotunda Gothic script with bold Lombardic initials. Some of the filigree decoration which surrounds the initial letters has faded because it was executed in some of the fugitive colours which were then prepared from the juices of such flowers and plants as tumeric, saffron, lilies and prugnameroli (buckthorn berries).

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38. France, Limoges: Missal ( Missale Lemovicense Castrense) [fol. 160]

Middle XVth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

The provenance of this manuscript is clearly designated as Limoges because of the inclusion of certain parts of Masses proper to this diocese, and because of the presence of the coat of arms and obituary records of the noted de Rupe family of that city. Frequently, without such data, it would be impossible to determine whether a fragment written in this period and country was from Amiens, Dijon or Limoges. The national book hand has become amazingly uniform. In this manuscript as in many manuscripts of the XVth century there is an increasing tendency to speed and slackness. France was no longer setting the standard for manuscripts. This example shows that they were greatly influenced by contemporary Italian manuscripts.

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39. Italy: Livy's History of Rome (T. Livii ab Urbe Condita Libri)

Middle XVth Century. Latin Text; Humanist Script

[Book XXVII, Chapter X. 1.4-1.12, recto; 1.12-Chapter XI, 1.6, verso]

The known part of Livy's great life work, the History of Rome, was completed about the year 9 A.D. The finished work consisted of one hundred and forty-two books, of which only thirty-five are extant. These books are regarded as one of the most precious remains of Latin literature.

One of the outstanding characteristics of the scholars and scribes of the Italian Renaissance was their great interest in Latin literature. Through their influence, many copies of the classics were made from the few IXth and Xth century manuscripts available. These earlier manuscripts had been written in a Carolingian or pre-Gothic script to which the XVth century humanistic calligraphers assigned the name antiqua littera . The letters were not really of antiquity, since minuscule letters were not known before the time of Charlemagne. In the XVth century, this Carolingian script became the inspiration not only for manuscripts like this leaf, but also, shortly thereafter, for the fine roman types designed by the printers in Italy.

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Nancy Thaller: Book XXVII, Chapter X. 1.4-1.12, recto; 1.12-Chapter XI, 1.6, verso

40. Italy: Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Sentences of Peter Lombard (Super Primo Libro Sententiarum)

Late XVth Century. Latin Text; Humanist Book Hand

This text on the Sententiae of Peter Lombard by St Thomas Aquinas, the 'Angelic Doctor', was the forerunner of the latter's great work, Summa Theologica. It is most unusual to find the writings of a Church Father presented in a humanistic book hand. Some of the humanists called this form of writing antiqua littera, with reference to the Carolingian script, which they mistook for that of antiquity. In this humanistic script, fusion disappeared, letters became more simple, and shading decreased. The first more or less humanistic type of writing appeared in Florence about 1400 A.D.

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Nancy Thaller: Fol. 14, recto and verso, First Book of Sentences 1.4.2 ex/68-2.1.pr/4.

41. France:Dialogues of Gregory the Great (S. Gregorius Magnus, Dialogi)

Late XVth Century. Latin Text; Lettre Bâtarde

This composite text includes the dialogues of Pope Gregory I (St Gregory the Great, 540-604 A.D.), which are largely autobiographical, and his writings on the lives and miracles of the early Italian Church Fathers. The book hand used is known as lettre bâtarde , a semi-cursive hand closely related to the everyday writing used by the people. Many French and Flemish printing types were based on similar bâtarde hands. The writing was done with comparative speed; the even tone and the exact alignment of the right hand margin, as well as the beauty of the individual letters, are admirable. The long ascenders in the upper line were borrowed from the legal documents of that day. Many printers followed the practice shown here of emphasizing the tone of the first word or two in the beginning of a paragraph. It was usually done without varying the style of the letters, while here we see angular Gothic used in the first third of the line, followed by the bâtarde script.

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Nancy Thaller: Book I, Chapter 3, 163i-chapter 4, 165c, recto; 4, 165c-168d, verso

42. Germany (Würzburg): Psalter (Psalterium) [Antiphonary]

Lat XVth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script, Gothic Notation

[Psalm 11.3-12-12.6, recto; 12.6-14.1, verso]

This leaf from the Book of Psalms was written in the Benedictine monastery of St Stephen in Würzburg and dated 1499 A.D. The book hand closely resembles the fine early Gothic types called lettre de forme and used by Fast and Schoeffer in their superb Psalter issued in 1457. It is known that these printers also used this typ to print the Canon of the Mass which was frequently sold as a replacement for the soiled and worn out manuscripts pages of that text.

A close examination indicates that the scribe apparently tried to imitate printing type characters in many instances. In just the same way, the first printers had copied in their designs the current local book hand. The line of music giving the 'free' melody of the psalm here retains the early XIIth century staff, with the C-line coloured yellow and the F-line red. These note forms are frequently called Hufnagelschrift or horse-shoe nail notation because of their resemblance to hobnails.

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Nancy Thaller: Psalm 1.3-12-6, recto; Psalm 12.6-14.1, verso.
Oliver Ellsworth: Actually an Antiphonary, using Psalm texts. Gothic notation, in which F is indicated by a red line as well as the customary diamon. The actual service is not designated, and the 'Exsurge Domine' antiphon is used in conjunction with different Psalms on different occasions. 'Feria quinta'=Thursday.

43. The Netherlands: Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis)

Late XVth Century. Latin Text; Bold Angular Gothic Script

In general, the Books of Hours produced for the devout laity in the Netherlands at the end of the XVth century were written in Dutch. This particular example, however, is in Latin. The heavy, angular, and closely spaced vertical strokes, with very short ascenders and descenders, give a much darker tone to the page than do similar scripts in such northern countries as Germany and England. This book hand resembles very closely the types known as lettre de forme which were used by certain anonymous contemporary printers in the Netherlands between 1470 and 1500 A.D.

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44. Germany: Bible (Biblia Sacra Latin, Versio Vulgata)

Late XVth Century. Latin Text; Semi-Gothic Script

The Vulgate Bible, a translation credited to St Jerome, was adopted by the Church as the authorized version. This leaf was written in Germany nearly sixty years after the invention of printing by movable type. Its semi-Gothic book hand is very similar to the type faces used by early printers. The numerous contractions and marks of abbreviation have been inserted boldly, but the little strokes which were added to help identify the letters i and u are barely visible.

The new art of printing concerned itself at once with the printing of Bibles of folio size, in Latin as well as the vernacular. In Germany, prior to the discovery of America, twelve printed editions of the Bible appeared in the German language and many others in Latin. An oversupply developed and more than one printer of the Bible was forced into bankruptcy.

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Nancy Thaller: Fol. 130 recto, Ezra 8:34-9.11; verso, 9.11-10.11

*45. France: Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis) Illuminated

Late XVth Century. Latin Text; Gothic Script

This manuscript leaf comes from a Book of Hours, sold probably at one of the famous shrines to which wealthy laymen made pilgrimages. To meet the demand for these books, the monastic as well as the secular scribes produced them in great numbers. The freely drawn, indefinite buds here entirely supplant the ivy, fruits, and realistic wayside flowers which characterized the borders of manuscripts of the preceding half century. The initial letters of burnished gold on a background of old rose and blue with delicate white line decorations maintain the tradition of the earlier period. The vellum is of silk-like quality that often distinguished the manuscripts of France and Italy.

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*46. Northern France: Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis) Illuminated

Late XVth Century. Latin Text; Gothic Script

The Book of Hours, the prayer book of the laity, usually contains 16 sections. The section on prayers to the Virgin is the most important and most used, and its manuscripts exceed in number all other XVth century religious texts. The laymen and women who ordered and purchased these books would at times stipulate the style of ornament and the amount of burnished gold to be used, and could even, to a certain extent, select the saints they esteemed most and wished to glorify. In this example, the border reveals by its wayside flowers entangled with the heavy acanthus motif of the North and by the use of 'wash' gold that it was executed in Northern France about 1476 A.D.

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*X47. The Netherlands: Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis) Illuminated

Late XVth Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

In assigning this leaf from a Book of Hours to the Netherlands it must be remembered that some sections of that country were once part of France, while others belonged to what is now Germany. In this leaf French characteristics predominate, but in not other country did the study of nature have a more direct influence on miniatures and ornamentation than in the Netherlands. Carnations, pansies, columbines, and many other flowers were faultlessly and realistically drawn. A few decades later, at the turn of the century, cast shadows as well as snails, butterflies, and birds were added, with the result that the borders became a distraction to the reader.

*X48. The Netherlands: Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis) Illuminated

Late XVth Century. Latin Text; Lettre de Forme

In the XVth Century Books of Hours were as much in demand in the Netherlands as they were in France and England. In many of these books it is difficult to distinguish the Dutch Hours from those of Northern France or the Rhineland. In the middle of the century this whole area was interested in naturalism and made its illustrations so vivid that sometimes they approached those of our seed catalogues. It is not difficult to recognize carnations, pansies, columbines, and strawberries. The style later became even more realistic when the naturalistic flowers were painted with cast shadows. When such flowery decorations were found on a rather heavy piece of vellum, entangled with the swirling acanthus leaf and accompanied by a heavy lettre de forme script, one can be fairly safe in assigning this leaf to the province of Brabant. It was a difficult technical achievement at this time to apply the gouache colours to gold leaf so that they would adhere without flaking.


49. Germany. Missal (Missale )

Early XVIth Century. Latin Text; Lettre Bâtarde

A Missal gives the service of the Mass and is used by the clergy. The text is lengthy and in this large script would occupy many hundred pages. One wonders why this particular manuscript copy on vellum was written some forty years after Antonius Zarotus had printed the first Missal in Milan (1471 A.D.), for, at this times, Missals were frequently reprinted on paper and sold at only a fraction of the cost of a manuscript copy. This bâtarde style of semi-Gothic script was the molding force of the fraktur and schwabacher typefaces which dominated German printing for several centuries.

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*X50. France: Book of Hours ( Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis) Illuminated

Early XVIth Century. Latin Text; Cursive Gothic Script

This beautiful manuscript leaf was written and illuminated about the year 1535 A.D. At this late date Books of Hours were also being printed in great numbers by such famous French pritners as Vostre, de Colines, and Tory. These were elaborately and frequently hand-coloured.

The cursive Gothic script used in this leaf, with its boldly accented letters and flourished initials, borrowed heavily from the decorative chancery or legal hands of the XIIIth and XIVth centuries. It influenced the type face known as civilité, designed by Granjon, and first used in 1559 A.D.