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les Enluminures

Processional-Ritual (Use of the Dominicans)

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
France, likely Paris for nearby Poissy, c. 1330-1340, with some additions in the early 15th c. and late 16th c.
1 miniature attributed to the circle of Jean Pucelle or his workshop

TM 524


82 ff. (parchment) + 14 ff. (paper, added later, here foliated 83-95), all leaves both parchment and paper preceded and followed by paper flyleaves, lacking an undetermined number of leaves, probably also misbound with proper order likely ff. 59-82 / ff. 6-58 / ff. 1-5 (collation impracticable, missing leaves between ff. 34-35; 41-42 and after f. 82), written in very regular Gothic liturgical hand (textura formata), additions on paper leaves copied in a late 16th-century cursive hand, 14th-century. portion on manuscript with text in two columns, parchment ruled in pale brown ink, with some portions with ruling in red (probably for liturgical emphasis), square musical notation throughout on 4-line red staves, rubrics in red, line-fillers in blue and burnished gold, some text capitals touched in yellow wash, initials with calligraphic cadels, some incorporating grotesque faces, initials in blue or burnished gold, with pen-flourishing in red or dark blue, larger initials in pale pink or blue with white tracery with colored vine infill on burnished gold grounds, one miniature, column-wide miniature framed in color and burnished gold, with sprouting sprays of trefoils. Bound in an early 17th-century binding of polished tanned calf over pasteboard, smooth spine with double gilt fillets and single gilt stamp of the Symbols of the Passion, boards decorated with same frame of double gilt fillets and at center single gilt stamp of the Symbols of the Passion, gilt edges (Manuscript cropped, affecting some ornamentation once extending in the margins; binding fragile, with loose and cracked hinges, covers a bit worn, but nonetheless preserving an early 17th c. binding). Dimensions 118 x 96 mm.

Made for the Dominicans of Poissy, this Processional constitutes an elegant and entirely unrecorded witness to Processionals from this royal abbey, as well as the only illustrated example surviving from the fourteenth-century (it joins a group of seven others that pre-date 1400). Although fragmentary, this Processional contains a fine miniature attributable to the circle of the famous Parisian illuminator Jean Pucelle, illuminator of the Belleville Breviary and head of an important Parisian workshop.


1. Copied and illuminated in France, stylistically related to manuscripts made in Paris datable to the second quarter of the fourteenth-century. It was most likely made for use in the Dominican monastery and church at Poissy, on the Seine, approximately thirty kilometers from Paris, sometimes referred to as “la priorale Saint-Louis de Poissy” (Cottineau, II, p. 2307). This monastery for Dominican nuns was founded in 1298 by Philip IV le Bel, and the nuns settled there in 1304. The Church was consecrated in 1331 and dedicated to Saint-Louis (King Louis IX). In 1350, the convent was inhabited by 150 nuns, four of whom were of royal blood (Manion and Vines, 1984, p. 178).

The original portion of the text perpetuates the tradition of fine script and decoration typified particularly in 14th-century manuscripts produced for use at the convent in Poissy. Also, the Poissy origin of this manuscript is indicated by the inclusion of the chants for the Offices of Saint Dominic and Saint Louis (patron saint of Poissy) in the original portion of the text (ff. 7v-10v), as well as the chants for the Feast of Corpus Christi, and added later in the 15th c. the Nativity of the Virgin (also related to Poissy). It also contains the special chants and ceremonies associated with the cleansing of the 21 altars in the church of Poissy (ff. 34v-41v).

The inclusion of a Prayer for the Feast of Corpus Christi (f. 26) would tend to place this Processional-Ritual necessarily after 1311-1312, date when the adoption of the Feast (founded in 1264) was ordered in all Christianity at the Council of Vienna by Pope Clement V. Apparently composed c. 1300 in Rome, the Office for the Feast of Corpus Christi was imposed to the entire Dominican Order in 1323-1324 (see Delaissé, 1950; see also W.R. Bonniwell, 1945, pp. 239-242; J. Naughton, 1998, p. 84, note 59).

Rubrics and liturgical elements reveal this service-book was destined for use within a feminine Dominican Congregation (surely Poissy), with liturgical instructions in the Liturgy for Death and Burial which contain multiple references to the sisters (“sorores,” for instance De transitu sorores, f. 30v) and the “priorissa” (for ex. ff. 27v, 30v), the Prioress of a Dominican Congregation. The Office of the Dead is specifically for the use of the Dominicans.

2. A seventeenth-century hand notes on the upper pastedown: “A l’office de chantre.” Another hand in pencil on first flyleaf reads: “La procession des morts.”

3. European Private Collection


Lacking an undetermined number of leaves, the present small Processional-Ritual was probably also misbound in the early seventeenth-century. We suggest the following corrected sequence: ff. 59-82 / ff. 6-58 / ff. 1-5. It might also have been once part of a larger Ferial Psalter, preceded by a Calendar (as in Waddesdon Manor, Rothschild Collection, The National Trust, MS 2), or a combined codex with Hours-Processional and Office of the Dead (as in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson liturgical f.35).

ff. 1-5v, Responsaries and versicles for the Office for the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin [begins incomplete?], responsorium, “Nativitas tua dei genitrix virgo...” [a different hand and style of calligraphic cadels; added in early fifteenth-century];

ff. 6-10v, Antiphons, responsaries and versicles for the Office for the Feast of Corpus Christi, “Panis oblatus celitus...” (Office composed by Hervé de Nédellec); followed by responsaries and versicles for the Office and procession for the Feast of Saint Dominic, rubric, In festo beati dominici ad processionem responsorium (f. 7), incipit, Panis oblatus / Signo crucis; followed by responsaries and versicles for the Office for the Feast of Saint Louis, rubric, De sancto ludovico responsorium (fol. 9), incipit, Felis (sic) regnum / Rex erigit [proper to Poissy];

ff. 10v-31, Liturgy for Death and Burial, including Office of the Dead, use of the Dominicans and Ritual for the last rites, rubric, Ad vesperas defunctorum antiphona (f. 10v); rubric, Pro uno defuncto presenti oratio (fol. 11v); Pro femina oratio (fol. 11v) (prayer for a female supplicant); ff. 12v-20v, Office of the Dead, with nine lessons, and noted responses, versicles and prayers [see Knud Ottosen, The Responsaries and Versicles of the Latin Office of the Dead, Aarhus, 1993, 108-109 and 238-242]; Oratio ad corpus christi (f. 26); Officium extreme unctionis (f. 26v); long underlined passages provide liturgical instructions for Death and Burial, on ff. 26v-30, with f. 27v: “Hac oracione finita et responso amen ad insinuacionem illius qui facit officium infirma peta veniam a priorissa et conventu et illo qui facit officium respondente sororum...”; De transitu sororum [On the occasion of the Death of Sisters] (f. 30v);

ff. 31-33, Litany and Kyrie, including Sancte maurici cum sociis tuis (f. 31v); Sancte martine (fol. 31v) Sancte dominice (twice) (fol. 31v); Sancte ludovice (f. 31v); Sancte yvo (fol. 31v); Sancta agnes (f. 32); passage underlined, “Finita letania si adhuc vixerit dicant sorores septem psalmos penitenciales...Si autem expletis hiis omnibus nondum obierit discedant relinquintes ibi crucem et aquam benedictam et priorissa de aliquibus sororibus provideat que remaneat ibidem...”;

ff. 33-34v, Commendation of the souls, rubric, Commendacio anime responsorium;

ff. 34v-41v, Notated Office for Feria V in coena domini (Feria V of the Last Super), Ordo altarium abluendorum [Ordo for cleansing of the altars], rubric, Ordo altarium abluendorum in cena domini [in ecclesia beati Ludovici de Pissiaco (here missing because a lleaf wanting between ff. 34-35)] (rubric only, text wanting, but here followed by antiphons, versicles and prayers for the 21 altars of the Church of Poissy, listed in S. Moreau-Rendu, Le prieuré royal de St-Louis de Poissy, Colmar, 1968, p. 56), first antiphon, De beato ludivico antyphona (proper to Poissy); following noteworthy antiphons for the altars of Poissyj, De beato martino antyphona [Saint Martin revered in Paris] (f. 36v); De beato dyonisio antyphona [Saint Denis also revered in Paris] (f. 37); De sancto lupo et eligio antyphona (f. 38); De sancto dominico et petro martire antyphona [Saint Dominic and Peter Martyr] (f. 38v); De sancto iohanne baptista antyphona (f. 39); Sancte agnetis (f. 41); Ad dicendam in cena domini ad locionem altarium (fol. 41v); last rubric, De sancto iohanne baptista sequencia (leaves wanting);

ff. 42-58v, and Passion according to Saint John (ff. 46-50); noteworthy, rubric, Oratio beati thome de aquino (fol. 50) [observance of the feast and office of Saint Thomas Aquinas was ordered by the General Chapter in 1326] ; rubric, Hanc dicebat tendo corpus christi (f. 51);

ff. 59-82v, Chants for the Processions [notated offices] from Palm Sunday (In ramis palmarum) to the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin, as well as Chants for the reception of legates and prelates (incomplete), first rubric, Dominica in ramis psalmarum antyphona; incipit, “Puer hebreorum...”; f. 68, underlined, “Hic ponantur antiphone et versiculi et oraciones de sanctis secundum dispositionem altarium in quolibet conventus”; last rubric, In recepcione legatorum et prelatorum responsorium;

f. 83, blank;

ff. 83v-84, Added later hymns (late 16th c. hand), with noted music, incipit, “Immolabit dum multitudo filiorum israel ad vesperam...”;

ff. 84v-95, blank staves traced in light red ink.

This manuscript is a Processional which is a small portable service-book destined for the Chantor or Cantrix (liber processione or processionarium) – or here the Chantress – but also the other participants in the processions (here nuns). There is also a section containing elements from a Ritual (Office of the Dead and Funerary rites). The major part of the text consists of processional offices for chosen feast days (the ritual largely conducted as a peripatetic and enclosed ceremony within the cloister) and the special chants and ceremonies associated with Eastertide, in particular the cleansing of the altars in the church and the mandatum (the washing of the feet, administered by the prioress in the chapter house) on Maundy Thursday. Each nun had her own Processional, usually of small format. It was common for Dominican Processionals to be followed by the liturgy for Death and Burial (see other fourteenth-century Dominican Processionals compiled in Huglo, 1999 and 2004). On the components of Dominican Processionals, see the complete table compiled by M. Huglo (Huglo, 1999, “Tableau VII. Le Processional Dominicain,” pp. 53*-54*).

There are a number of reasons to place this little manuscript in the Dominican milieu of the nuns of Saint-Louis de Poissy (founded 1298, Church consecrated in 1331). It presents many affinities with a group of books made for the Nun’s choir and liturgy at Poissy. These have been amply studied by J. Naughton (J. Naughton, 1993, 1998, 1999/2000). In 1998, Naughton identified a group of three unnoted breviaries and one antiphonal-hymnal for the Divine Office and a Missal and a Gradual-Prosar for the Mass of Poissy provenance. Naughton extended her study and provided a census of the known Poissy Processionals in which she studied closely the evolution of the Poissy Processional from the fourteenth century to c. 1540s, with the progressive inclusion of illustrations within the processional text (Naughton, 1999/2000). These Processionals were also included in the very complete census dedicated to manuscripts of Processionals (see Huglo, 1999 and 2004).

The liturgy in this book is of course Dominican, as confirmed by the Office of the Dead (see Text above) and there are numerous Dominican saints honored in the antiphons and prayers, including saints Dominic, Louis (patron saint of Poissy), Peter Martyr, Thomas Aquinas, John the Baptist (there is sequence included in honor of St. John the Baptist (f. 41v), which was chanted only during solemn Masses for the highest ranked feasts (totum duplex, see W.R. Bonniwell, 1944, p. 92)). This Processional includes in the original text the chants for the claustral processions for the Feast of Saint Dominic and of Saint Louis (ff. 7v-10v); also noteworthy is the inclusion of the notated Office for Feria V in coena domini (Feria V of the Last Super), Ordo altarium abluendorum [Ordo for cleansing of the altars], followed by antiphons, versicles and prayers for the 21 altars of the Church of Poissy, as listed in S. Moreau-Rendu, Le prieuré royal de St-Louis de Poissy, Colmar, 1968, p. 56). These elements all suggest this manuscript was destined for use in Poissy, although probably copied and illuminated in nearby Paris. There is a later fifteenth-century addition which provides the chants for the claustral procession for the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin, also frequently found in Poissy Processionals. The relatively “new” importance given to the Feast of the Corpus Christi is also a notably Dominican feature found in all Poissy processionals (see Naughton, 1998, p. 75; on the introduction of the Feast, largely supported by the Dominicans, see M. Rubin, Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture, Cambridge, 1991).

There are 31 Processionals recorded for use in Poissy (see listings in Huglo, 1999 and 2004 [RISM, B XIV (1-2)]; see also Naughton, 1999/2000, p. 161 and pp. 179-182 which is a list of the known Processionals in 1999/2000), of which only seven date from the fourteenth century. These are Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, MS W. 107 (Huglo, 2004, US 4, 88 ff., 150 x 98 mm., mid 14th c.); Brussels, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, MS S II 262 (Huglo, 1999, B 17, 117 ff., 150 x 95 mm., 1320s); London, British Library, Add. MS 14845 (Huglo, 2004, GB 20, 70 ff., 131 x 100 mm., mid 14th c.); Sotheby’s, London, sale 3 December 2002, lot 5 [bought by Harvard, Houghton Library (On Deposit 2002-MH-4, according to Huglo, 2004, GB 42], Psalter and Processional, 330 ff., 137 x 88 mm, c. 1320-1325); Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson liturgical MS f.35, Hours, Processional and Office of the Dead (Huglo, 2004, GB 77; Naughton, 1999/2000, no. 5, p. 179, 181 ff., 153 x 109 mm, second third of the 14th c.); Waddesdon Manor, Rothschild Collection,The National Trust, MS 2, Ferial Psalter, Processional and Liturgy for Death and Burial, 382 ff., 125 x 85 mm.,1330s). The present manuscript compares most closely with the codex in Oxford, which contains Hours-Processional and Office of the Dead. Now fragmentary (and misbound), it is quite possible the present manuscript was initially a combined manuscript of the type Psalter-Processional or Hours-Processional (on these combined codices, see Naughton, 1999/2000, p. 162). Comparison of the present Processional-Ritual with the other fourteenth-century extant Processionals for use in Poissy would certainly be of interest. Noteworthy is that fourteenth-century examples of Poissy processionals are rarely illustrated (see Naughton, 1999/2000, pp. 179-180). The present example would thus constitute the only known manuscript containing illustration within the original processional text, since Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery MS W 107 does contain 3 (of 4) miniatures that were added contemporaneously by the patron or first owner; but are not actually part of the original planned text and lay-out (see Randall, 1989, pp. 176-177; see also Naughton, 1999/2000, p. 164 and p; 167: “Thus, despite this attempt to enrich the volume [Walters, MS W 107] pictorially, the imagery shows little connection to the processional texts. As in all the Poissy manuscripts treated so far, these texts were not illustrated. The first pictorial representation corresponding to the processional liturgy occurs in a late fifteenth-century manuscript now privately owned in Paris”). The resurfacing of the present Processional with integrated and planned illustration forces us to revise Naughton’s affirmation as quoted above.

This little service-book pertains directly to the active part the sisters played in the celebration of the Divine Office and the Mass, but also in Processions. The nun’s choir was located in the central nave of the Church at Poissy and it was there that the nuns chanted daily the Office and sang certain sections of the Ordinary and Proper of the Mass. The present Processional would have contained the special chants on chosen feast days sung during the peripatetic ceremony throughout the cloister. The present manuscript deserves to be studied in the context of what we already know about Poissy Processionals – especially the early ones – and constitutes an elegant and entirely unrecorded supplementary witness, as well as the only illustrated one surviving from the fourteenth-century.


In its present state, likely incomplete and misbound, this manuscript contains only one column-wide miniature, illustrating the beginning of the antiphons, responsaries and versicles for the Office for Palm Sunday. Stylistically, its ornamentation (with calligraphic cadels, gold and red initials with fine filigree penwork, initials painted in blue and pale pink with characteristic vine leaf infills) and illumination can be related to manuscripts produced in the second quarter of the fourteenth-century, following common Parisian patterns and aesthetics.

From the outset, it is important to stress that this Processional appears to be one of only two processionals datable to the fourteenth-century that includes illustration directly in the processional text. The only other fourteenth-century processional that includes planned illustration is Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, MS W. 107 with a prefatory cycle of four full-page miniatures: the Crucifixion, Christ as Judge, and two pairs of saints—only one of which survives (see L. M. C. Randall, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery, 1989, vol. 1, pp. 176-178 and fig. 133; the style of these prefatory miniatures reflect stylistic traits of Parisian ateliers during the second quarter of the 14th century). Other fourteenth-century “combined” manuscripts from Poissy may comprise illustration, but none have their actual processional section illustrated (this is of course changes in the fifteenth and sixteenth century codices), and the illustrations usually grace the Psalter portion (see Waddesdon Manor, MS 2, for example).

In this Processional, the small but very delicate miniature painted with rich saturated colors reveals a Pucellian-derived style (Jean Pucelle, active Paris in the 1320s, died c. 1334; on Pucelle see entries by F; Avril, 239, 240, 241 in Paris, Les fastes du gothique, 1981). It compares well with the historiated initials and miniatures contained in a group of manuscripts made for use in Poissy, discussed by Naughton, all datable 1330s-1350s, painted by a number of Pucellian-influenced artists. This group of Poissy liturgical books was never the oeuvre of a single artist, but rather a variety of artists and artisans with common influences (see Naughton, 1993 and Naughton, 1998, pp. 85-89, who gives arguments and comparisons with Pucellian works). The present Entry of Christ into Jerusalem clearly imitates a Pucellian model, found also for instance in Paris, Bibl. Mazarine, MS 419, f. 70 [Paris, c. 1330-1335] (see Paris, Les fastes du gothique, 1981, no. 242, reproduced p. 297). It bears comparisons with imitators of Jean Pucelle’s style, even close collaborators such as, for instance, the Maître des Vies de Saint-Louis (Mahiet) or his prolific workshop (see Paris, Les fastes du gothique, 1981, no. 247).

Amongst the other fourteenth-century Poissy Processionals, the present one places itself between the Psalter-Processional sold at Sotheby’s (3 December, 2002, lot 5), datable c. 1320-1325, whose Psalter section contains historiated initials close to the style of Jean Pucelle (as suggested in Sotheby’s, 3 Dec. 2002, lot 5, p. 36) and the other Psalter-Processional in Waddesdon Manor, datable c. 1330-1334, whose historiated initials are also attributed to Jean Pucelle and his artistic heir Jean Lenoir (see Delaissé et al., 1977, pp. 37-58, fig. 12-23; see also J. Hamburger, “The Waddesdon Psalter and the Shop of Jean Pucelle,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, XLIV, 1981, pp. 343-357).

As Naughton rightly stresses though, one should note the absence of what she terms “expansive pictorial content” in Poissy manuscripts which notoriously contain few miniatures and historiated initials, unlike other famous Dominican codices of the day such as the richly illustrated Belleville Breviary (once owned by Marie de France, a nun at Poissy, largely attributed to Jean Pucelle, but not specifically made for Poissy). The emphasis in the Poissy group of manuscripts is placed on the liturgy, not on the images. These books were used for the “daily duties to be performed in the choir, namely to sing correctly, loudly and clearly the Dominican liturgy...” (J. Naughton, 1998, p. 89). The processionals of Poissy were “functional tools” rather than deluxe possessions, used every day or during claustral processions on special Feast days by nuns and female cantors (chantresses) in the choir. In a way, it is quite unusual to find a miniature in an early fourteenth-century Processional from Poissy, painted by Mahiet or his prolific workshop, with clear Pucellian influences.

f. 59, Miniature, Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, dimensions 42 x 32 mm.


Bonniwell, W. R. A History of the Dominican Liturgy, 1215-1945, New York, 1945.

Corbin, S. Répertoire des manuscrits mediévaux contenants des notations musicales..., 3 vols., Paris, 1965-1974.

Delaissé, L. “A la recherche des origines de l’Office du Corpus Christi dans les manuscrits liturgiques,” Scriptorium, 4 (1950), pp. 220-239.

Delaissé, L.M.J, James Marrow, John de Wit, ed. The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor . Illuminated manuscripts, Freiburg, 1977.

Delaporte, Y. “Manuscrits liturgiques [de Poissy]” in S. Moreau-Rendu, Le Prieuré royal de saint-Louis de Poissy, Colmar, 1968.

Gousset, M.T. “Libraires d’origine normande à Paris au XIVe siècle,” in Manuscrits et enluminures dans le monde normand (Xe-XVe siècles), Caen, Presses universitaires de Caen, 1999, pp. 169-180.

Huglo, M. Les livres de chant liturgique, Typologie des sources du moyen âge occidental, 52, Turnhout, Brepols, 1988.

Huglo, M. Les manuscrits du Processional, Volume I, Autriche à Espagne, Repertoire international des sources musicales B XIV (1), Munich, 1999.

Huglo, M. Les manuscrits du Processional, Volume II, France à Afrique du Sud, Repertoire international des sources musicales B XIV (2), Munich, 2004

Huglo, M. “Les processionaux de Poissy,” in Rituels: mélanges offerts à Pierre-Marie Gy, ed. P. De Clerck and E. Palazzo, Paris, 1990, pp. 339-446.

Manion, M. M. and V. F. Vines, Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts in Australian Collections, Melbourne, 1984.

Naughton, Joan. “Books for a Dominican Nun’s Choir: Illustrated Liturgical Manuscripts at Saint-Louis de Poissy, c. 1330-1350,” in The Art of the Book. Its Place in Medieval Worship, eds. Margaret Manion and Bernard Muir, Exeter, 1998, pp. 67-109.

Naughton, Joan. “From Unillustrated Book to Illustrated Book: Personalization and Change in the Poissy Processional,” Manuscripta, 43/44 (1999-2000), pp. 161-187.

Naughton, Joan. “The Poissy Antiphonary in its Royal Monastic Milieu,” La Trobe Library Journal 51 and 52 (1993), pp. 38-49.

Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais. Les fastes du gothique: le siècle de Charles V, exh. cat., Paris, 1981.

Randall, L. M. C. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery, 3 vols., Baltimore, 1989.

Rubin, M. Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in late Medieval Culture, Cambridge, 1991.

Online resources

Introduction to liturgical manuscripts: “Celebrating the Liturgy’s Books”

General Introduction to liturgical processions (New Catholic Encyclopedia, “Processions”)

Paris, Bibl. Mazarine, MS 419, Missel de Montier-en-Der (with same Pucellian model for Entry into Jerusalem)

Joan Naughton, “The Poissy Antiphonary in its Royal Monastic Milieu,” La Trobe Library Journal 51 and 52 (1993); with digitized images of the historiated initials