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les Enluminures

Breviary (Matutinal from Easter to Pentecost) (Dominican use)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Bavaria or Austria, c. 1475-1500

TM 985

i + 129 folios on parchment, incorrect modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto, 1-12, *14-130 (cited), original structure is impossible to determine, now constructed with numerous glued-together singletons and missing an undetermined number of folios (collation i-vi10 vii10 [-10, final folio cancelled with no text loss] viii-x10 xi8 [-8, final folio with loss of text] xii9 [+8, f. 115, one folio added in eighth position] xiii8 [-4, one folio cancelled in fourth position with no text loss] xiv8 [-8, final blank folio used as pastedown]), catchwords in black or red ink at bottom inner margins, sometimes trimmed, on all but quires i, xi, and xiv, small alphabetical quire signatures and Arabic numeral leaf signatures in faint black ink recto bottom outer corners, ruling in black ink (justification 200 x 125 mm.), written by three scribes (ff. 1-12, ff. 16-129, and ff. 129v-130v, with ff. 12v-15v and ff. 69v-70v blank) in a German Gothic bookhand in two columns of 31 lines, red rubrics, alternating red and blue one- and two-line initials, occasionally extending vertically in the margin alongside additional lines, two faces (ff. 59 and 105v) doodled between columns, one seven-line red initial on f. 1 inhabited by a bear-like drollery, a flower, and leaves, some original holes in the parchment, small stains (ex. f. 87 and ff. 93-98) not affecting text, minor staining at bottom outer corners from use, in excellent condition. ORIGINAL LATE GOTHIC BINDING, probably slightly later than the book-block but before 1516, brown calf leather over wooden boards with slightly cushioned edges, five double-cord sewing supports, burgundy fabric spine lining, decorative endbands in white, green, and brown (probably once red) thread, mitered turn-ins covered by intact parchment pastedowns, front and back tooled with same panel layout but with single-tool blind stamps arranged in different order, on front: triple-fillet outer border, around alternating stamps of a ten-petal blossom and an imperial eagle in a lozenge, triple-fillet zigzag pattern on top and bottom edges, around inset triple-fillet frame containing individual stamps of a wavy vine with two opposing leaves and fleur-de-lis, three corners contain fleur-de-lis while lower right corner holds a blossom, innermost panel divided into a diamond grid with triple-fillet lines, with an imperial eagle or fleur-de-lis; on back: triple-fillet outer border, around wavy vine stamp repeated along top, spine, and opening edges, alternating blossom and eagle stamps along bottom edge, around inset triple-fillet frame containing alternating vine and blossom stamps on sides, alternating eagle and blossom stamps at top, and vines at bottom, three corners contain blossoms while lower right corner holds a vine, innermost panel on back mirrors that of front but features small five-petal blossoms, leather strap fasteners (one now missing), fastening back to front, back cover is worn with abrasion through its leather to the wooden board in some areas (±20%), spine covering cracked at joints, front cover abraded, especially at spine edge, discrete restorations, in overall sturdy condition. Dimensions 280 x 190 mm.   

Large-format, finely written volume for the Divine Office that survives in excellent condition in its original handsome blind-stamped leather binding.  One of the most fascinating features of the manuscript is the inclusion of numerous cues to decorators and binders, mostly post-production, that help explain how and in what state the manuscript was put together.  This is an intriguing volume particularly well-suited for use in teaching.


1. As indicated by the script, this manuscript was copied by three scribes in the last quarter of the fifteenth century. It probably originated in Bavaria, as demonstrated by certain saints in the Sanctorale, but could conceivably be Austrian due to the shared script style and veneration of some of the same saints. It is unquestionably Dominican, as it contains several specifically Dominican saints. In addition to its “fractured” appearance, specific letter forms and abbreviations employed by one or both scribes point to Germanic origins.

Layers of small notes throughout were meant to aid completion of several production phases, thus demonstrating the order in which this incomplete volume was brought to its present state. While the rubrics were added by the main text scribe, tiny cue letters in grey ink can be found in most of the alternating red and blue initials telling the decorator, probably a different individual, which letter to add in the (once vacant) space. The bottom margins also bear small quire signatures in a different hand than that of the scribe’s (demonstrated in comparison to his cue letters) to direct the binder, and some folios (ex. ff. 101-105) include leaf signatures to facilitate their correct arrangement within the quire. These cues, added post-production to the quires as they are now, may suggest that at some point after copying but while the manuscript was in its present incomplete state, the quires were arranged as they are now for binding.  Perhaps they had been set aside as an incomplete project, and a few years later deemed worthy of binding anyway. Lastly, small notes reading “vacat” (empty) are found in the margins of some folios (ex. ff. 16, 17v, 71). No error in the text they accompany is obviously discernable. The precise production location and reason for the manuscript’s incompleteness are presently uncertain; its binding stamps are somewhat common (and thus not easily identified in the Einbanddatenbank).

2. On the front pastedown near the top are two inscriptions. The first reports – not quite correctly – the volume’s contents: “Hymnarion complens Psalmos, cantilena, et orationes varia.” The second, probably by the same hand but in old German cursive (Kurrentschrift) reads: “Burgundt Purcklin im 1516 jar.”  Burgundt Purcklin was almost certainly an early owner of this manuscript, perhaps even the first or second, and may have commissioned its intact late Gothic German binding (for contemporary bindings, see Szirmai, 1999, pp. 173-275, especially pp. 243-247). While nothing further is presently known of this man, his distinctly German name, script, and German-language inscription are consistent with production in Germany or a bordering German-speaking region.

3. There are faint traces of various notes, mostly numbers and almost entirely erased, on both the front and back pastedowns. Most recently held in a Dutch private collection.


ff. 1-12, incipit, “Beatus vir qui non abiit … [f. 10], ambroaus [sic], Te deum laudamus … [f. 10v] psalmus, Domine regnavit decorem … [f. 11] psalmus, Benedicite omnia opera … [f. 12] psalmus, Benedictus dominus deus … ad dirigendas pedes nostros in viam pacis. Gloria patri”; [ff. 12v-15v, [erroneously foliated from f. 12 straight to f. 14, skipping 13] blank];

Psalms 1-5, 8, 10, 14-15, 18, 20-21, 23, 29, 32-33, 44-47, 60, 63, 67, 74, 83-84, 86, 90, 95-98, 102-103, Te Deum, psalms 92, 99, 62, 66, Benedicite, psalm 148, Benedictus [Luke 1:68-79]. The arrangement of this Psalter is puzzling; many of the psalms used to perform the secular Offices of Matins and Lauds are present, while many more are omitted (with no missing folios). There are no liturgical directions or other practical aids to guide use in the Divine Office, and rubrics for the Benedicite and Benedictus erroneously label them as psalms. Immediately following the psalms and Benedictus are several blank folios.

ff. 16-69, incipit, “//[cho]rus continens gloria in excelsis deo et in terra pax … [f. 68v] In festo dedicationis in paschali tempore … [f. 69] sceptrum et palmam pro gladio . pro scuto clamidem deauratam : pro stolam iocunditatis. Ev[ovae].”; [ff. 69v-70rv blank];

Temporale from Easter to the Saturday after Pentecost, with additional special Offices. This section opens in the midst of St. Jerome’s commentary on Matthew (see Züntl, 1789, p. 22) which is the eighth of nine Matins readings; nine readings on greater feasts and three on lesser feasts make this a secular Breviary. Most of what is needed to perform Matins is found here, including psalm cues, invitatories, readings, antiphons, responses, versicles, prayers, hymns, and directions in heavily abbreviated rubrics. Lauds is also sometimes included. The final reading is a sermon by St. Bernard (Sermo II, Mabillon, 1839, § 2273-2275) for the dedication of a church.

ff. 71-109, “//quidam orasse fertus ad dominum … In festo beati benedicti abbatis. Extra temporis paschale. Gregorius in dyalogo lectio i. Fuit vir vite venerabilis … [f. 109] v. Addurentur regi virgines post eam. Proxime eius afferentur tibi.”; [f. 109v blank];

Sanctorale for Matins and sometimes Lauds beginning in the midst of the seventh reading for St. Gregory the Great’s feast day (here March 12, Urfels-Capot, 2007, p. 211), and ending with the Common of Several Virgins; like the Temporale it includes the part of the liturgical year roughly from Easter to Pentecost. 

Among the feasts included are Benedict (21 March), Annunciation (25 March), Ambrose (4 April), Cecilia, Valerian, and Tiburtius (14 April), George (23 April), and Barnabus (11 June).  Specifically Dominican feast days include those of Vincent Ferrer (5 April), a Spanish Dominican canonized only in 1456; Peter Martyr (29 April); the Feast of the Crown of Thorns (here on 4 May) observed by German Dominicans; and the Translation of Dominic’s Relics (24 May).  Feasts which definitively place this manuscript in Bavaria or its environs include those of Adalbert (24 April) who was especially venerated in Salzburg, Augsburg, and Eichstädt; Gordianus and Epimachus (10 May) who were almost exclusively venerated in Bavaria; and Primus and Felician (9 June) who likewise enjoyed a particularly Bavarian following.

Following these few months of the Sanctorale are the Common of One or Several Apostles, the Common of One Evangelist, the Common of One Martyr and of Several Martyrs, the Common of One Confessor and the Common of Several Virgins.

ff. 110-130v, De officio beatae virginis. In sabbati in adventum … Sicut cynamomum et balsamum … [f. 130v] ewangelizantes et curantes ubique alleluia alleluia.”

Offices including Matins (and occasionally Lauds) for feasts in the Temporale and Sanctorale, beginning with the Office of the Virgin for the Saturdays of Advent, and ending with the feast of the Dispersion of the Apostles (15 July), added by a slightly later hand, including changed Offices of the Virgin, with variant readings during Advent, Lent, the Nativity of Mary and her Assumption, several folios of invitatories for major liturgical feasts, the Dedication of a Church and its anniversary, the Pater noster, Credo, benedictions and prayers (ff. 127-129). The contents are out of order, both with regards their copying and binding, with different materials for some holy days appearing in several places.

Noteworthy feasts in this section:  the Lance and Nail of the Lord, celebrated on the first Friday of Lent (their primary relics, attributable to the Carolingian era, and their Ottonian replica were in royal treasuries in Vienna and Nuremberg by the first quarter of the fifteenth century (“Holy Lance,” Online Resources), underlining this manuscript’s connection to Bavaria or its environs); St. Catherine of Siena (29 April), a Dominican nun who was canonized on 29 June 1461, only decades before this manuscript was made; St. Dominic whose multiple appearances in this manuscript emphasize his importance to its intended users.

Breviaries contain all the text used to perform the Divine Office, including a program of psalms, readings, antiphons, prayers, hymns, canticles, versicles, and responses organized according to the canonical hours (see Palazzo 1998, pp. 113-27). This type of Breviary – called a Matutinal – includes only the material needed for the performance of Matins, which takes place in the early morning hours after midnight. As in this manuscript, a Matutinal sometimes also includes texts for the shorter Office of Lauds, which occurs at daybreak. Because this is a Dominican Matutinal, it follows secular Use.  Only part of the liturgical year is included, from Easter through Pentecost.

The Dominican Order, named for its founder St. Dominic (1170-1221), and also known as the Order of Preachers, received papal approval in 1216 with the primary aims of preaching the Gospel and tackling heresy. They were also renowned in the Middle Ages for their contribution to intellectual culture, with famous theologians, philosophers, and mystics, including Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) and many others. The Order was especially well represented in Germany by a great number of both male and female houses.

Although this Matutinal seems to have been intended for the use of Dominican friars, its difficult to know whether it ever fulfilled this purpose. Most Breviaries for individual use exist in a much smaller, portable format, yet the ownership inscription of this volume bears the name of an individual, a certain Burgundt Purcklin, added with decades of its production. It is plausible that this manuscript – commissioned for or copied by Dominican friars – was abandoned mid-project, and later purchased or otherwise acquired by a layperson.


Derolez, Albert. The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books from the Twelfth to the Early Sixteenth Century, Cambridge, 2004.

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, 1991.

Hinnebusch, William A. The History of the Dominican Order: The Intellectual and Cultural Life to 1500, New York, 1973.

Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to Their Organization and Terminology, Toronto, 1995.

Mabillon, Jean. Sancti Bernardi abbatis clarae-vallensis opera omnia, vol. 3, Paris, 1839.

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

Szirmai, Janos A. The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding, Aldershot, 1999.

Urfels-Capot, Anne Elisabeth. Le Sanctoral de L’Office Dominicain (1254-1256), Paris, 2007.

Züntl, Sigismundus. Praecipua, quae doctores ecclesiae in evangelia singulis per annum dominicis apud nos legi solita commentati sunt, Vol. 3, Munich, 1789. Available at https://books.google.nl/books?id=45BAAAAAcAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s.

Online Resources

Brief history of Dominicans, “In Germany,” Blog of the Dominican Central Province, USA

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

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

“Holy Lance,” see section “4.2 Relics: Vienna”

Medieval Manuscripts: Bookbinding Terms, Materials, Methods, and Models

St. Vincent Ferrer, Dominican Confessor (1357-1419)

TM 985