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les Enluminures

Breviary for Day Offices (Dominican Use)

In Latin (with some German), decorated manuscript on parchment
Southern Germany or Alsace (Upper Rhineland), dated 1370, with fifteenth-century additions

TM 829

iii (sixteenth-century paper) + 459 + ii (sixteenth-century paper) folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil, top outer recto, 1-459 (collation i8 [-8, +8 +9; stub follows f. 7 with singletons ff. 8 and 9 tipped in on either] ii-xv12 xvi8 xvii-xxxvi12 xxxvii12 [+7; a small leaf, f. 432, sewn into the center of the quire]  xxxviii8 xxxix8 [-7 following f. 152, cancelled with no loss of text, neat stub remains] xl8 [-6 -7, following f. 458, stub remains, cancelled with no apparent loss of text]), traces of quire signatures (partially cropped) in Arabic numerals, center lower recto, 2-38, horizontal catchwords, center lower verso,  quires iii-xv and xvii-xxxvii, ruled in pale brown ink with full-length horizontal and vertical bounding lines (justification,  calendar 113-114 x 67-68 mm., Breviary text 100-102 x 66-67 mm.), written chiefly in a well-formed, formal Gothic bookhand on thirty-one long lines, calendar, ff. 2-7v, and on fifteen long lines, Breviary text, ff. 10-442, 446v, rubrics written or underlined in red, capitals touched and sometimes underlined in red, three-line initials in red or blue in calendar, one-line red or blue paraphs, one-line versal initials in red or blue, one- to two-line initials in red or blue, with slight contrasting pen decoration on ff. 119, 142, 221v, 232, and 334, three- to four-line red and blue parted initials with red and blue pen decoration executed by two hands, the second drew very fine pen decoration extending vertically along the length of the page, sometimes incorporating human faces, two four-line blue initials with red pen decoration extending vertically along the length of the page (ff. 44, 280), five three- to six-line initials with canine or dragon-like hybrid figures framed in red and blue, decorated with very fine red and blue pen decorations extending vertically along the length of the page and sometimes incorporating human faces (ff. 10, 233v, 299, 307v, 399), followed on f. 10 with a line of one-line red and blue initials, with additional text added in eight hands: (1) ff. 1rv, 450v-459v, in a large Gothic bookhand of varying degrees of heaviness on twelve to fourteen long lines, with capitals highlighted in red, red rubrics, one-line red initials; (2) ff. 8-9v, in a Gothic bookhand in dark ink on fifteen long lines, guide letters for some initials, two-line spaces left for initials; (3) f. 442, in a Gothic hybrida script, two-line space left for initial; (4) ff. 442v-445, in a well-formed Gothic bookhand on fifteen long lines, rubrics in red, one- to two-line red initials; (5) f. 445, in a rapid Gothic cursive script in red and dark brown ink; (6) ff. 445v-446, in a Gothic cursive script; (7) f. 445v, in a compact Gothic bookhand in dark ink, with two-line initial set off from the text; (8) f. 447rv, in a large fractured Gothic bookhand in dark ink on fourteen long lines, one-line red initial, (9) ff. 447v-450, in a rapid Gothic hybrida script, corrections and additions in the margin and on added small leaf (f. 432) in the hand of the primary scribe, marginal corrections and annotations added in several other hands, most notably hands (6) and (9), and partially cropped, rubbing and soiling on ff. 1-2, 458-459v and in the lower parts of many of the most heavily handled pages (e.g. ff. 347-351v, 362-368v, 376-419v, 436-446v) with some fading of the text, which has been rewritten, apparently in hand (1), in some cases (see ff. 398v, 416v), slight tear in margin of f. 314, loss of parchment in the lower margin of f. 392, three small paper slips, following f. 161 (two) and f. 251 (fragmentary) with German writing in later cursive hands.  Bound in sixteenth-century brown calf, blind-tooled with triple-fillets along the edges of the boards, with two sets of triple fillets along the vertical edge closest to the spine, blind-stamped with floral stamps in the four corners of both boards, with a IHS monogram in the center of the upper board and the crowned Virgin and child in the center of the lower board, all over beveled wooden boards, spine with three raised bands and traces of a paper label, now mostly lost, brass attachments for two fore-edge clasps, now lost, edges tinted blue-green, ex libris pasted on inside front cover, traces of a purple stamp in German on recto of first rear flyleaf, some wear along the outer edges and hinges and very slight worming on lower board, but otherwise in very fine condition. Dimensions 140 x 110 mm.

This handsome Dominican Breviary was signed and dated by its scribe, Konrad Tronner (previously unrecorded), in the Upper Rhine.  Adapted early in its history for use by Dominican nuns, it may in fact have been copied for nuns.  Many of the fine penwork initials that occur throughout the manuscript are decorated with human faces.  Numerous additions document evidence of use over more than a century.  Manuscripts such as this are an important source for historians interested in the daily life of religious women in the late Middle Ages.


1. The core of this Breviary (ff. 2-7v, 10-442, 446v) was copied for Dominican use by a Dominican friar in 1370, who identified himself and dated his work on f. 446v: “Anno domini Mo ccco lxxo [1370].  Scripsit hunc librum frater Cunradus Tronner ordinis predicatorum.”   (He is not recorded in Bénédictins du Bouveret, 1976).  The prominence of Dominican saints like Thomas Aquinas, Peter Martyr, and Dominic himself in the calendar and Sanctorale, along with the Dominican form of the Hours of the Virgin, indicates that this Konrad Tronner  was copying this Breviary for Dominican use. 

Based on the evidence of text and decoration, it is likely that this book was made by Tronner at a house of Dominican friars in the Upper Rhine region, possibly in Alsace, either for use within his own house or for the use of a Dominican nun in a sister house.  The inclusion in the calendar of Saint Odilia (13 December), patron saint of Alsace, points to the possibility that this book originated in this region; the calendar in Colmar, Bibliothèque de la Ville, MS 494, a fifteenth-century Breviary belonging to the house of Dominican friars in Colmar is quite similar to the calendar in our manuscript.  Evidence of decoration also supports a localization of the book generally to this region.  Our manuscript’s handsome zoomorphic initials and pen decorations bear some resemblance to those found in Colmar, Bibliothèque de la Ville, MSS 308 and 309, two Antiphonals produced in the early fourteenth century (in 1320 and before 1323, respectively), probably by Dominican friars of Colmar (see Hamburger, 2000, p. 122 and p. 119, fig. 5).  However, the elegant patterning of the pen flourishing extending from many of the Breviary’s initials and the human faces incorporated into many of these decorations find no comparison in the Colmar manuscripts.  Further searches for comparable decoration may enable the identification of the particular Dominican house in which this manuscript originated. 

Though the presence of masculine forms in the main text of the Breviary (eg. “famulos tuos” on ff. 356 and 361v) might indicate that Tronner copied this present manuscript with a male user in mind, the book was customized early on for a female user, quite possibly before Tronner had finished working on it.  Several other hands (specifically, those identified above as 3-7) contributed to the final quire copied by Tronner and two of these hands, 4 and 6, copied material indicating a female audience:  hand 4 added a series of collects with German rubrics, including one “Vmb vnser swestern ... [for our sisters]” (f. 443), and feminine forms (eg. “miserere anime famule tue” on ff. 442v-443), and hand 6 added an extract from the 1259 Constitutions for Dominican Nuns (f. 445v).  Curiously, Tronner’s signing and dating of the manuscript may well have followed at least some of these contributions, which were made on earlier folios in the quire.

2. The final quire of this manuscript was a fifteenth-century addition to the volume, judging from evidence of script and internal contents, and its contents suggest that this book was being tailored for use in southern Germany by the fifteenth century, if not before.  Hand 1 not only contributed substantially to this final quire and added text to the first leaf, presumably left blank initially, but also recopied the Breviary text in a number of places where repeated handling had caused the pages to fade (see particularly ff. 398v and 416v).  Hand 1’s additions to the final quire include prayers for the feast days of a number of saints, few of whom were included in the calendar or Sanctorale of the Breviary; many of the new saints are associated with southern Germany, and it is possible that this quire was added to the manuscript to customize it further after it had come into the hands of an owner in this region.  The inclusion of Nicholas of Tolentino (f. 455v) offers a terminus a quo for the completion of this quire, as he was canonized in 1446.

3. Bound in the sixteenth-century, most likely in southern Germany, to judge from the evidence of the binding stamps and flyleaf watermarks.  The IHS monogram stamp on the upper binding is similar to two localized to sixteenth-century Bavaria (Einbanddatenbank p002467, Bavaria, 1585-1590, and p002489, Bavaria, possibly Reichenhall, sixteenth century).  Additionally, the flyleaves bear a watermark resembling one localized chiefly to Konstanz in the late sixteenth century (Briquet no. 15948, Tour: Konstanz, 1577 and also Bamberg, 1585, Hochstädt, 1586, Osnabrück, 1590, Brunswick, 1596).

4. Belonged to collector Dr. Hans Titschack; his ex libris, front pastedown.


f. 1rv, incipit, “Omnia que fecisti nobis domine in uero iudico [sic] fecisti quia pecauimus [sic] tibi ... et erroribus vniuersis secura libertate. Per.”;

Added introit and collects.

ff. 2-7v, Calendar with entries including Erhard, bishop of Regensburg (8 January); translation of Thomas Aquinas, in red (28 January); “Anniuersarium patrum et matrum,” in red (4 February); Thomas Aquinas, in red (7 March, totum duplex); Peter Martyr, in red (29 April, totum duplex); “Festum Corone domini” (4 May); translation of Dominic, in red (24 May, totum duplex); Martialis, now mostly effaced (16 June); “Anniuersarium omnium sepultorum,” in red (7 July); Margaret, in red (12 July, simplex); Martha, in red (27 July, simplex); Dominic, in red (5 August, totum duplex); octave of Dominic (12 August, simplex); Louis (25 August, simplex); Marcellus (4 September); “Anniuersarium familiarum et benefactorum,” in red (5 September); Cornelius and Cyprian (14 September); “Anniuersarium fratrum et sororum ordinis,” in red (10 October); Edward (13 October); Martin, in red (11 November, duplex); octave of Martin (18 November, simplex); and Odilia (13 December), with additions including Dorothy (6 February); “Engel sem mycopx[?]” (8 May, most likely a reference to the Apparition of Michael, the archangel); “mein svn[?] jar tag” (27 August); and Leonard, confessor (6 November);

ff. 8-9v, incipit, “[P]Rotege domine famulos tuos subsidijs pacis ... cum vera [“vide” crossed out] fide et pura confessione percipere mereamur”;

Prayers for saints’ feast days, three of which are accompanied by marginal additions identifying their respective feasts: “dorothea” (f. 8v), “martha” (f. 9), and “von sand barbara” (f. 9v).

ff. 10-185v, Dominica prima in aduentu domini Sabbato ad vesperas. Capitulum, incipit, “ECCE dies ueniunt dicit dominus ... et miserator dominus escam dedit timentibus se. Explicit de tempore”;

Temporale from the first Sunday in Advent to the twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity Sunday, followed by Office texts for the dedication of a church (f. 175v), day of consecration (f. 177v), anniversaries (f. 178), and the feast of Corpus Christi (f. 180v). This Temporale does not include texts for the night office of Matins, nor does it routinely include those for Compline.

ff. 186-334, In festo sancti Andree apostoli ad vesperas super psalmo antiphona, incipit, “Unus ex duobus qui secuti sunt dominum erat andreas frater symonis petri alleluia ... eius nos tribue meritis adiuuari. Per”;

Sanctorale from the feast of Andrew (30 November) to the feast of Saturninus (29 November), including Office texts for the feasts of the translation of Thomas Aquinas (f. 212v), Thomas Aquinas (f. 221v), Peter Martyr (f. 232), the translation of Dominic (f. 247), and Dominic (f. 278), most visually marked with larger decorated initials. The feasts of John the Baptist (f. 252), Michael the Archangel (f. 306), and Katherine (f. 330) have been singled out for a large initials as well. This Sanctorale does not include texts for the night office of Matins, nor does it routinely include those for Compline.

ff. 334-358, In Communi vnius apostoli siue plurimorum, Ad vesperas super psalmo antiphona, incipit, “Estote fortes in bello et pugnate cum antiquo serpente ... intercede pro deuoto femineo sexu. Alleluia alleluia. V. Elegite. Oratio. Concede”;

Common of Saints, followed by antiphons and prayers for the commemorations of confessors (f. 354), virgins (f. 354v), and the Virgin Mary during Advent (f. 355), between Christmas and the feast of the Purification (f. 355v), between the feast of the Purification and Palm Sunday (f. 356v), and at Easter (f. 357v). This Common of Saints does not include texts for the night office of Matins, nor does it include those for Compline.

ff. 358-368, Incipit Cursus beate virginis, Ad Matutinam, Inuitatorium, incipit, “Regem virginis filium. Venite adoremus ... a nostris iniquitatibus resurgamus. Per eundem”;

Office of the Virgin Mary, Dominican use (see “Hore Beate Marie Virginis – Use of the Dominican Order” Online Resources, below).

ff. 368v-442, Ad primam, incipit, “Deus deus meus respice in me quare me dereliquisti ... Benedicat te dominus ex syon qui fecit celum et terram. Gloria”;

Ferial Psalter, not following biblical order, but rather following the order in which the Psalms were used during the daytime hours of the daily Office.  Rubrics indicate the liturgical offices at which Psalms were chanted, beginning with the Psalms for Prime and ending with the Psalms for Compline.  No Psalms are included for Matins or Lauds. The arrangement of Psalms here follows secular rather than monastic use.  For Vespers, for which Psalms vary according to the day of the week, one or more antiphons have also been included following each Psalm.

f. 442, incipit, [O]mnipotens sempiterne deus qui beati leonhardi confessores tui ... concede [“nobis” apparently inserted from below] famulus tuus”;

Added prayer for the feast of Leonard (also added in the calendar, though not in the same hand).

ff. 442v-445, Für einen man der gestorben ist die collecten, incipit, “INclina domine autem tuam ad preces nostras ... et tribue eis requiem sempiternam et lucem perpetuam. Per dominum”;

Collects for deceased man (f. 442v) or woman (f. 442v), anniversary (f. 443), fellow sisters and benefactors (f. 443), father and mother (f. 443v), souls of believers (f. 444), and souls in misery (f. 444v).

f. 445, added notes on the Office;

f. 445v, incipit, “Qaniam [sic] ex precepto regvle iubemur [sic] erem [sic] cor vnvm et anima [sic] vnnan [sic] ... religianes [sic] infeniamvr [sic]”;

Extract from the beginning of the Constitutions for Dominican nuns, issued at the Valenciennes Chapter of 1259.  The Liber constitutionum sororum ordinis praedicatorum, issued by Humbert of Romans, is edited by Andreas Frühwirth (see 1897, pp. 337-348).

f. 445v, “Ave regina celorum”;

f. 446, “Salvator mundi, salva nos”;

f. 446, John 1:1-3;

f. 446v, De pluribus martyribus super psalmo antiphona, incipit, “Hij sunt qui venerunt ex magna tribulacione ... ab omnibus nos absoluas peccatis. Per. Anno domini Mo ccco lxxo. Scripsit hunc librum frater Cunradus Tronner ordinis predicatorum”;

Additions to the Common of Saints.

f. 447rv, incipit, “DEus qui fidelissimo patriache [sic] ioseph inconparabilem [sic] thesaurum tue genetricis beate marie ... Qui viuis et regnat”;

Added prayer for the feast of Joseph.

ff. 447v-450, Her nachfolgen die ii Junius von beata maria magdalena tewschtz[?], Lauda mater, incipit, “Lob du mater der cristenheit ... vnd teilt vns mit seines lichtes schein amen”;

Added prayers, in German.

f. 450v, incipit, “Veniente sponso prudens virgo ... V. Eructauit cor meum verbum bonum dico ego opera mea regi Quem”;

Excerpt from the Common of Virgins.

f. 451, incipit, “Hec est preclarum vos [sic] paracliti spiritus Sancti ... fac nos tuis precibus consortes celestis glorie”;

Added antiphon.

ff. 451v-456, Sancte wolfgange Oratio, incipit, “Deus qui beatum pantifiem Wolfgangum glorie sanctorum similem fecisti ... perpetua pace atque in vnitate letetur. Per”;

Prayers for the feasts of Wolfgang, bishop of Regensburg (f. 451v), Rupert, bishop of Salzburg (f. 451v), Vergilius, bishop of Salzburg (f. 452), the Division of the Apostles (f. 452v), Emmeram of Regensburg (f. 452v), Wolfgang, again (f. 453), Ulrich, bishop of Augsburg (f. 453v), Erhard, bishop of Regensburg (f. 454), Dorothy (f. 454v), Apollonia (f. 455), and Nicholas of Tolentino (f. 455v).

ff. 456-459v, Vesperas antiphona, incipit, “Ecce crucem domini fugite partes aduerse ... et pacem tuam nostris concede temporibus. Per.”

Added antiphons and prayers.

This capacious volume presents a carefully produced Dominican Breviary with some additions, both in the margins and at the edges of the Breviary, pointing to its customization in the hands of one or more early users, at least one of whom was a Dominican nun.

The Breviary, like the Missal, consists of a combination of various liturgical books, in this case pertaining to the Divine Office, within a single volume.  Breviaries contain the complete text of the Divine Office, encompassing a program of readings, prayers, hymns, canticles, and Psalms arranged according to the canonical hours of the Divine Office (Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline).  As this is a Dominican Breviary, it follows secular rather than monastic use in its Ferial Psalter.  The manuscript does not include the texts for the night office of Matins, and can thus be considered a Diurnal.  The texts for Compline are also omitted throughout much of the Temporale and Sanctorale, and, curiously, the Psalms for Lauds as well as Matins are absent from the Ferial Psalter.  

Particularly noteworthy in this volume are the added texts and annotations that hint at the identities and concerns of the book’s early users.  At least two stages of customization are evident in the volume, the first of which (evident on ff. 442-446) may have been partially concurrent with the Breviary’s production and the second of which (evident on ff. 1rv and 447-459v) was definitely completed later, probably around the middle of the fifteenth century (see Provenance, above).

In this first stage, in addition to some supplementary texts – collects and an antiphon – copied in neat Gothic bookhands (see ff. 442v-445v), some of the added texts could well have been added by one or more early users of the book.  Hand 6 (see above, in Provenance) seems a particularly likely candidate for this identification.  In addition to copying the opening of the Constitutions, one of the first texts to which Dominican novices would have been introduced, hand 6 has also copied an antiphon and a biblical extract in available space and made annotations, both referring to contents and correcting them, throughout.  Though the texts copied in hand 6 betray some struggles with Latin orthography, the corrections added elsewhere in the hand speak to an awareness of – and investment in – the correct text of the Office.  This hand may well belong to the Dominican nun who used this Breviary early on.

Women played an important role in the Dominican Order from its very earliest years. Dominic himself founded the first Dominican convent for Nuns at Prouille in 1206, and the number of convents grew rapidly.  In 1259, Humbert of Romans, then Master General of the Dominican Order, issued Constitutions for all nuns associated with the Dominican Order, an excerpt of which has been copied into this volume (see above).  In 1267 a papal order secured the place of women within the Order. Throughout the medieval period the number of convents was especially notable in Germany, particularly in the southeast: in 1277 there were fifty-three convents in Germany and by 1303 the number had grown to seventy-four, compared with only forty-eight houses for men. Modern historians interested in the religious life of women have tended to focus on vernacular sources, and on illuminated liturgical manuscripts that belonged to nuns.  Manuscripts such as this one – small, more simply decorated, customized for early use – are a source that deserves to be studied more closely for what they can teach us about the daily life of religious women in the late Middle Ages.


Bénédictins du Bouveret. Colophons de manuscrits occidentaux des origines au XVIe siècle, Fribourg, 1976.

Bonniwell, William R. A History of the Dominican Liturgy, 1215-1945, New York, Joseph F. Wagner, 1945.

Eichenlaub, Jean-Luc, ed. Dominicains et dominicaines en Alsace, XIIIe-XXe s.: actes du colloque de Guebwiller, 8-9 avril 1994, Colmar, Conseil général du Haut-Rhin, 1996.

Fassler, Margot E. and Rebecca A. Baltzer, eds. The Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages: Methodology and Source Studies, Regional Developments, Hagiography: Written in Honor of Professor Ruth Steiner, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000.

Hamburger, Jeffrey F. “La bibliothèque d’Unterlinden et l’art de la formation spirituelle,” trans. Pierre-Antoine Fabre, in Les dominicaines d’Unterlinden, vol. 1, Colmar, Musée d’Unterlinden, 2000, pp. 110-159.

Hamburger, Jeffrey F. “Magdalena Kremer, Scribe and Painter of the Choir and Chapter Books of the Dominican Convent of St. Johannes-Baptista in Kirchheim unter Teck,” in The Medieval Book: Glosses from Friends & Colleagues of Christopher de Hamel, ed. James H. Marrow, Richard A. Linenthal, and William Noel, ‘t Goy-Houten: Hes & De Graaf, 2010, pp. 124-149.

Harper, John. The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century: A Historical Introduction and Guide for Students and Musicians, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1991.

Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A guide to their organization and terminology, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1982.

Humbert of Romans, “Liber constitutionum sororum ordinis praedicatorum,” Analecta sacri ordinis fratrum praedicatorum seu vetera ordinis monumenta recentioraque acta, vol. 3, ed. Andreas Frühwirth, Rome, 1897, pp. 337-348.

Palazzo, Eric. A History of Liturgical Books from the Beginning to the Thirteenth Century, trans. Madeleine Beaumont, Collegeville, 1998.

Online Resources

Cabrol, Fernand. “Breviary,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 2, New York, 1907

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

Drigsdahl, Erik. “Hore Beate Marie Virginis – Use of the Dominican Order,” Center for Håndskriftstudier i Danmark, 1998

Mandonnet, Pierre. “Order of Preachers, The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 12, New York, 1911

TM 829