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les Enluminures

Breviary (secular use; Order of the Hermits of St. Paul?)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on paper
Southern Germany (Baden-Württemberg?), c. 1470-1490

TM 578

i + 363 + ii (parchment) + i (paper) folios on paper, watermarks, Oxhead with eyes above double line, f. 145, similar to Piccard Online 68820 (Nuremberg 1459), 68909 (Weissenburg 1459), 69028 (Ansbach 1482), snake made with two lines on a rod with cross, ff. 333 and 349, similar type, Piccard Online 43689 (Stuttgart 1579), 4384 (Baden, 1700), 4395 (Baden-Baden, 1699), and many others, Oxhead with eyes above double line, f. 360, possibly similar to Piccard Online 68920, 68922, and 68924 (Ansbach, 1485, 1486), 69795 (Nordlingen, 1483) and 69796 (Bopfingen, 1484), modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto, 1-365, including the two parchment endleaves, partial remains of early foliation in ink in Arabic numerals, mostly trimmed, text is complete, but may have once included additional leaves at the end (collation, [part I] i11 [structure uncertain, but text seems complete, probably -1, cancelled] ii-xviii12 xix8 [-8, cancelled with no loss of text; through f. 222] [part II] xx-xxiv12 xxv10 xxvi-xviii12 xxix10 xxx12 xxxi12 [+1, f. 363, added after 12]), horizontal catchwords, boxed in part two, quires 12-14 (part one), and in quires 20-23 (part two), no leaf or quire signatures, layout varies, ff. 1-222, frame ruled in ink with all rules full-length (justification 72-70 x 50-48 mm.), copied below the top line in a quick cursive gothic bookhand by three scribes, new hands beginning on f. 109 and f. 193, guide letters for initials, red rubrics and underlining, two- to one-line red initials; ff. 223-363, ruled in lead with the top and bottom horizontal rules full across, and with full-length single vertical bounding lines on most folios, prickings along the vertical bounding line on ff. 233-234 (justification 62-60 x 42-40 mm), written below the top line in a cursive gothic bookhand in thirteen to twelve long lines, red rubrics, occasional majuscules stroked with red, four- to one-line red or blue initials, four-line red initial, f. 323v, with gold pen decoration, four eight- to six-line red or blue initials on rectangular grounds with contrasting decoration in blue or red and dark yellow, ff. 223, 244 (decoration incomplete), 259, and 294 (decoration incomplete), with the opening words of the text copied in alternately red and blue decorative capitals alongside the initials, in good condition, top margin trimmed (occasional small loss of rubrics, for example f. 193), f. 86, bottom corner folded, and f. 197, folded along the outer edge, opening leaves, ff. 1-85, and final folios, top outer corners slightly stained, lower outer corners stained, ff. 289-300, f. 223, darkened and stained, minor soiling throughout. Bound c. 1700 in speckled paper over pasteboard, sewn on two bands, smooth spine, now broken and split vertically, with title written in ink, “Hymnar MS”, worn at edges, especially on the back cover and spine, back cover warped and slightly bent. Dimensions 97 x 68 mm.

This is an appealing example of a very small Breviary from the late Middle Ages, possibly made for the Order of the Hermits of St. Paul. It is an excellent example of a personal Office book, idiosyncratic in terms of its contents, copied in legible, but informal cursive scripts, and decorated with charming, but unpolished initials. As such, it is an interesting contrast to the numerous surviving formal Breviaries associated with monastic houses and the Mendicant Orders. It was owned early in its history by a woman.


1. Written in southern Germany, c. 1470-90, as indicated by the evidence of the script, decoration, and watermarks; an origin in the diocese of Bamberg, suggested by the manuscript’s presence in Hollfeld at an early date (ownership note, cited below), is also suggested by the saints included in the suffrages -- Henry II (buried in the cathedral at Bamberg), Cunigundis, Sebald, and Otto -- but other evidence of the text is less clear-cut. The inclusion of hymns for Dorothy (especially venerated in Salzburg) and Afra (widely venerated in Germany in the Late Middle Ages, especially at Augsburg) does not point particularly to Bamberg.

Moreover, the manuscript does not include the Office of the Dead celebrated at Bamberg (see Ottosen, 1993, pp. 195, and 124-125, for the Bamberg major and minor offices). One Office included here is not found in Ottosen 1993, but belongs generally to a type common in Southern Germany. The second series, derived from the Bamberg minor office, was identified by Ottosen in seven Slavic dioceses found to the east of Bamberg and in a source from the Hermits of St. Paul (in German, the Pauliner-Eremiten), an order that originated in Hungary in the thirteenth century. By the fifteenth century it had houses in Germany, and in particular eleven foundations in Baden-Württemberg (see Online Resources), including fourteenth-century foundations at Tanheim and Grünwald. The question of whether this manuscript was copied for a House belonging to this order deserves further study.

The watermark evidence should be used cautiously, since all the easily discernible marks are partial due to the manuscript’s format, and varieties of Oxhead watermarks were very common; nonetheless, the two different Oxhead marks both support a provenance in the 1480s in Southern Germany, south of Bamberg in Baden-Württemberg. No fifteenth-century watermarks similar to the snake found in part two of the manuscript were found in the repertories of watermarks; similar types are found in southern Germany, including in Stuttgart and Baden-Baden, but the examples in the Online Piccard are all very late, dating from 1579 and into the seventeenth century, dates which seem impossible for this manuscript.

The question of the two parts of the manuscript is also a difficult one to resolve. The two parts are certainly distinct in layout, script and decoration, and the first folio of part two is darkened and stained, suggesting independent origin and early circulation. However, the manuscript includes early foliation that is continuous through the volume, suggesting the two parts were united as one manuscript early in its history.

2. There is no evidence that the manuscript was copied for use of a woman (“fratres” are used in part two, on ff. 238v and 322v), but the prayer added on f. 219, does use feminine forms, and an early ownership note on the parchment endleaf, records that it belonged to Katherine: “ Regratietur[?] domine katherine haytz[?] Holfeldeyn cuius liber iste est”, possibly Hollfeld in Upper Franconia, thirty kilometers east of Bamberg (archdiocese of Bamberg).

3. Marginal additions, showing the manuscript was used liturgically into the sixteenth century on ff. 14, 25, 33, 192v, and 219.

4. Jonannes (Hans) Prinster, 1565, copied the alphabet and signed his name, ff. 179 (Hans Prinst), f. 180, Johannes prinster; f. 182v, alphabets (inexpert) and name, f. 233v; f. 219v, alphabet and date, 1565. He probably also added the comment on f. 219, “Die bes(beth?) dich reuin mehten.”

5. Modern annotation, inside front cover, “XLP.”


1. ff. 1-222v, Part one:

ff. 1-57v, Daily offices for Prime, Terce, Sext, None and Vespers; with prayers commemorating the Passion of Christ at the end of each Office [f. 57v, blank];

ff. 58-95v, Hymns for the Temporale beginning with Advent, and including Corpus Christi; the Sanctorale from the Purification to the Dedication of a Church, with Dorothy, Annunciation, De lancea et clauis, de sancta cruce, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul, Mary Magdalene, Anne, Afra, Assumption, Nativity of Mary, Michael, All Saints, Elizabeth and Catherine of Alexandria; and the Common of Saints (with a proper hymn for Barbara); [ending mid f. 95v, remainder blank];

ff. 96-100v, Preces maiores, incipit, “Ego dixi domine miserere mei …”, including, prayers for “pastore nostro”, “pro rege nostro”, “pro fratribus et sororibus” (with the text mentioning only “fratres”) and “pro iter agentibus”: followed by Preces minores for terce, sext, and none, incipit, “Ego dixi domine miserere mei …”; [Ending mid f. 100; remainder and f. 100v, blank];

ff. 101-108v, Suffrages at Matins (Suffragia ad matutinas et primo de sancta cruce), including suffrages of the Cross, the Virgin, Angels, Apostles, Sebald (f. 203v), Lawrence, Henry (f. 204), Cunigundis (f. 204v), for peace and All Saints; and Vesper suffrages (also with Henry, Otto, Cunigundis and Lawrence); [f. 108rv, blank];

ff. 109-154v, Sunday offices for Matins and Lauds, followed by daily offices for Lauds; [text copied in sections, Sunday, ending f. 133, f. 133v blank; feria 2, ending mid f. 136v; ferias three and four followed by f. 141v blank; feria 5, ending mid f. 145, f. 145v, blank; feria vi, ending f. 148v, f. 149, blank; sabbato, ending mid f. 154, f. 154v, blank];

ff. 155-173v, Temporale for the twenty-five Sundays after Trinity Sunday, concluding with the Dedication of a Church [ends mid f. 173; f. 173v, blank];

ff. 174-197v, Offices for feasts of the Virgin (copied in sections, usually with spaces left blank at the end of each office], Conception of Mary, f. 177, Purification, f. 180, Annunciation, f. 183, Vigil of the Assumption, f. 186, Nativity of Mary, f. 190, Presentation of Mary, f. 193, Vistiation;

The Office for the Presentation of Mary is of interest; the feast was observed at the Papal Chapel in Avignon in 1372 and in Paris in 1373, and it had spread to Germany by the fifteenth century (Metz, 1418, and Cologne, 1420). It was included in the Roman Missal of 1472, but suppressed by Pope Pius V in 1568.

ff. 198-222v, Office of the Dead, two versions (f. 213, Sequitur alie vigilie mortuorum); Concludes with prayers, including, incipit, “Concede quesumus omnipotens deus ut animam famuli tui N …”; and “Quesumus domine pro tua pietate misericors anime famule tue N …”, with the final prayer ending, Et sic est finis; followed by added prayer, f. 219, incipit, “[D]eus consolacionis et pacis respice ad precem famule tue et concede ut anime famulorum famularumque tue …”, [ff. 219v-222v, blank, except for later notes on f. 219v (see provenance, above)];

The first Office of the Dead is not found in Ottosen, 1993, it includes responsories 70, 44, 47, 58, 83, 76, 1, 18, 38 (responsories are listed by number in Ottosen, pp. 389-390). Ottosen, pp. 348-52, identified fifty-four examples from Swabia, Bavaria, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, and Moravia of series with no. 70 (“Putasne mortuus”) as the first response (see pp. 348-352, esp. p. 349, map, figure 32, and pp. 180-182); within this group, examples with 70, 44 are numerous, and there are examples with 70, 44, 47 in the first nocturne from Raitenbach, Reichenhall, Passau, Vienna, and Regensburg (cf. also p. 181, with a similar series from Regensburg, 70, 44, 76, 47, 58, 83, 1, 18, 38).

The second Office of the Dead, beginning f. 213, includes responsories 14, 72, 24, 32, 57, 68, 79, 40, 38; Ottosen, p. 127, lists examples from Cracow, Gran, Zagreb, Plock, Olmütz, Breslau, Gnesen, and the Hermits of St. Paul; see also Ottosen, pp. 263-266, noting that the series on pp. 123-129, are derived from the Bamberg minor series.

2. ff. 223-363, part two:

ff. 223-363v, Commune sanctorum, including offices for apostles, f. 244, a martyr, f. 259, martyrs, f. 277, a confessor pontiff, f. 294, confessor not a pontiff, f. 300, virgins, f. 323v, widows, f. 334, dedication of a church, f. 350, common office within Eastertide.

The Common of Saints gives generic texts, divided into general categories, for feasts of saints without a proper office in the Sanctoral; some manuscripts include names of saints inserted within the prayers, but here all the saints are simply recorded as “N”, allowing the user to insert the appropriate name.

The Divine Office is the continuous cycle of prayer said throughout the day and night by the clergy at the offices of Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. A Breviary is the liturgical manuscript that contains all the texts required for the celebration of the Office -- prayers, hymns, antiphons, readings (many, but not all of which are from the Bible), responsories, versicles, and the Psalms. The Office said in monasteries following the Benedictine rule differs in a number of particulars from the secular Office, observed in cathedrals, parishes, and by many religious orders, including regular canons, Franciscans and Dominicans. The text in this manuscript follows secular use, evident in the psalms recited at Prime through Vespers at the beginning of the manuscript, ff. 1-57, as well as in the Common of saints found in the second part, where Matins for important feasts includes three nocturnes, each with three lessons and a responsory.

Very small Breviaries such as this one are relatively uncommon. A general query “Breviary”, produces 2, 412 results in the Schoenberg Database; of these, only seventy-four measure less than 100 mm. in height. The desire to produce a very personal, highly-portable volume probably explains the somewhat unusual contents of this manuscript, which includes only some of the texts found in a formal, “complete”, breviary. The calendar and the Psalter (admittedly often omitted, since the Psalms were memorized) are omitted entirely. Only the summer portion of the Temporale (the feasts of the liturgical year centering on the life of Christ) is included, and the Sanctorale is restricted to feasts associated with the Virgin Mary (amplified greatly by the addition of the second part of the volume with the Common of Saints). The personal nature of this Breviary is also underlined by its physical characteristics. Copied on paper, in informal cursive scripts, it provides a clear contrast to the more usual liturgical volumes copied in formal bookhands on parchment.


Bonniwell, William R. A History of the Dominican Liturgy, New York, J. F. Wagner, 1944.

Battifol, P. History of the Roman Breviary, London and New York, 1898.

Harper, John. The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century, Oxford, 1991.

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, New York, Oxford University Press, 2000.

Ottosen, Knud. The Responsories and Versicles of the Latin Office of the Dead, Aarhus, 1993.

Plummer, John. Liturgical Manuscripts for the Mass and Divine Office, New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, 1964.

Salmon, Pierre. The Breviary through the Centuries, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1962.

Online resources

Piccard Online:

Klöster in Baden-Württemberg, Pauliner-Eremiten

Paulists (including the Hermits of St. Paul), by F. McGahan, in The Catholic Encyclopedia, New York, Robert Appleton Company, 1911

The History of the Breviary
www.newadvent.org/cathen/02768b.htm (Catholic Encyclopedia, “Breviary”)

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

Jean-Baptiste Lebigue, “Livres de l’office. L’office des heures”, in Initiation aux manuscrits liturgiques, Paris-Orléans, IRHT, 2007 (Ædilis, Publications pédagogiques, 6) 

“The Roman Breviary” (text of modern Roman Breviary in Latin and English, with historical introduction):