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les Enluminures

Devotional Hymnal with Glosses

In Latin and Castilian, decorated manuscript on paper
[Spain (Navarre?), c. 1475-1500]

TM 149

ii + 69 + ii folios, complete (collation i4, ii-vi12, vii4+1), two distinct watermarks (unidentifiable due to binding), no catchwords or signatures, sporadic modern foliation in pencil (foliation: a-d, 11, 21, 31, 41, 51, 61, and 65 = 1-4, 15, 25, 35, 45, 55, 65, and 69), primary text written in two distinct scripts (the hymn stanzas are in Gothic script in dark brown ink with use of uncial letters and the glosses are written in a smaller Gothic bâtarde script in lighter brown ink), at least seven additional scribes appear in marginalia and fragmentary texts used as guard pages (see description below), single column text throughout, 24 to 28 lines per page, ruled in plummet, varying written space 110-115 x 75-80 mm, several first and last lines of text have ascending and descending pen flourishes into upper and lower margins, paraphs in rubric, one-line to four-line initials in rubric, guide letters for rubricator appear in margins, one 12-line decorated initial letter “P” on f. 5r (50 x 35 mm.) in red and brown ink with marginal extensions nearly the height of the page, 4 3-line figural capitals with human faces in the center of the letter appear on f. 4rv, 3 pen illustrations, f. 1r (unicorns and grotesques), f. 2r (cross with lambs), and f. 4v (warrior with shield and sword), ff. 1-4 and 69 are original guard pages, f. 36 originally blank, early sixteenth-century devotions in three hands appear on f. 36, marginalia to primary text appears in Castilian and Latin in at least two contemporary early sixteenth-century gothic cursive scripts with humanist tendencies, modern notations in pencil appear on f. 69r (see provenance below), pen trials appear on ff. 68v and 69r, glosses lacking on ff. 62r-63r and f. 68rv, rubrication lacking on f. 68rv, glossator at times completes hymn text on ff. 62v-67r, scribal corrections by erasure on ff. 6r, 17v, 18r and 64v, small tears to corners on ff. 5, 7, 26, 42, and 60-61, small holes to f. 1 and 69 that affect text, ff. 3-4 partially detached from sewing, smudging on ff. 42r and 57r, minor to moderate damp staining throughout, minor soiling to f. 5r, heavy wear and fading to page and ink on f. 69v, ink heavily faded on ff. 68rv, modern paper repairs appear on sewing edge of ff. 5 and 55, margins have been trimmed as part of rebinding, trimming has affect on marginalia and text on guard pages. Bound in full calf over cardboard, with modern notations in pencil on front paste down (see provenance below) and two fourteenth-century vellum cuttings in Gothic textualis script pasted to the spine and front board serving as title pieces, pasted cutting on front board reads “Ecce uideo celos apertos, et Ihesum stans,” front board cutting has two-line initial ‘E’ in blue, a blue decorative pax christi abbreviation, and a blue border, pasted cutting on spine reads “unda deum, celum vidit ecce et fili[um]...”, modern fly leaves in heavy bonded paper, edges of paper dyed red. Dimensions 145 x 110 mm.

Unusual, possibly unique Devotional Hymnal with interlinear glosses, translations, and commentaries in Castilian Spanish and accompanied by fragments of a Latin catechism also with glosses in Castilian, the latter distinct from the published edition. Size, as well as content, suggests that the manuscript was used in religious formation of youths in late medieval Spain, and it anticipates publishing enterprises such as that of Montserrat around c. 1500.


1. Linguistically, the vernacular corresponds to the Castilian common throughout the Spanish kingdoms. There are no certain indications of provenance in the primary text. The reference to the Church of San Martín on f. 3r is of little help since churches dedicated to this saint were common throughout Spain, particularly in Northern Spain and along the Camino de Santiago. The relationship of the second text to Biblioteca Colombina Seville MS 5-3-41 may also suggest that the manuscript may have come from Navarre. The manuscript was likely written at various dates due to the several hands in the manuscript. Paleography, however, provides little help. The reference to the date of 1459 on f. 2r perhaps provides a terminus. A cryptic reference in rubric to “1498” on f. 69v should be taken lightly since the date is recorded in two separate inks and the “4” seems to be composed of two descenders from the previous lines of the original text. A modern hand in pencil records that the manuscript was composed “circa 1498 | 458 painted initials” on the recto side first front fly leaf. The same hand records that the manuscript was composed in the same year on f. 69r. This statement is also cyrptic. It states that the manuscript was composed “En el díecinueavo año d[el] reinado del ferdinand [?] Rey del Navarre.” This Ferdinand is Ferdinand II. The date would correspond to 1498, if we date the nineteenth year of Ferdinand II’s reign from his coronation as king of Aragón in 1479, and not of Castile. However, Ferdinand II did not become king of Navarre until 1512. Since he died in 1520, this could not correspond to the nineteenth year of his reign in that kingdom.

3. USA, Private Collection.


ff. 1r, Grammar fragment in Latin (unidentified).

This text seems to be an unedited fragment of a grammatical text describing declensions (f. 1r) and following a scholastic organization. However, searches on CETEDOC have not correlated the text with any published sources. It may derive from the Latin and Castilian grammar based on Priscian and Alexander de Villa Dei found Biblioteca Colombina Seville MS 5-3-41. This conjecture derives from the fact that the third text found in the guard pages of the manuscript also derives from this manuscript.

ff. 1v-2r, [Brief notice concerning a local indulgence]; incipit, “Esta es la summa mesura de nuestro señor ihesu xristo cual quier quela adorare que la besare en esse die non morira in muerte supiterna ni perdera la vista delos ojos ni sera leuantado falso testimonio....”; explicit, “Questa medida santa [???] en la yglesia de san martin delante [el] altar de santa maria fue sacada esta medida de la longura del cuerpo de dios nuestro señ[or] ihesu xristo stavan presentes buenas personas [???] canonigos de la yglesia de san martin año de mil et cuatrocientos et cincuent[a] et nueve”;

The second text (f. 1v-2r) in the front guard pages contains a complete and unedited description of a local indulgence pertaining to the adoration of the mensura of a statue of Christ and Mary at an unidentified church of San Martín. The description of the devotion is unique in that it records the benefits of the indulgence rather than the indulgence itself. It describes how the indulgence was previously granted by pope Lucius (whether Lucius II or III is not known) and Pope Pius, most likely Pius II. The latter seems likely since the scribe records that the indulgence was witnessed in the year 1459, one year after the election of Pius II.

ff. 2r-4v, [Anonymous, Latin catechism with pericopic Latin and Castilian glosses (incomplete)], incipit, “Metra parrant anymos comprehendunt pluryma paucys...[gloss incipit] La sentencya [sentencya] de estos versos es esta los versos […] n los coracones para bien obrar....”;

The third text of the manuscript (continuing on f. 69) is comprised of an anonymous Latin catechism with Castilian glosses in the manner of the Devotional Hymnal. This is an incomplete copy of a text preserved in the Biblioteca Colombina Seville MS 5-3-41, ff. 293r-300v (see http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Philobiblon/BETA/3587.html). Its editor, Casas Homs, dated this text to 1390-1410 and located its provenance in northern Spain. The text of the catechism found in this manuscript, however, contains a distinct orthography, a different order in the selection of the text, and shorter (sometimes different) glosses. Both this manuscript and the Seville manuscript are likely derived from the same lost Latin source. A version of the Latin catechism dates back to at least the thirteenth century. The earliest known copy of this Latin text now survives on a guard page preserved in Brussels (see de Poorter, below).

ff. 5r-68v, Devotional hymnal with pericopic Latin and Castilian glosses; f. 5r, incipit, “Primo dierum omnium... [gloss] constructo omnino nos todos surgamus leuantemus octius id est ama [?] ama primo id est primo die en el primero dia omnium dierum en todos los dias;”

f. 69r, Continuation of Latin catechism with pericopic Latin and Castilian glosses from ff. 4v [see no. III above];

f. 69v, [Contract fragment in Latin and Castilian (unidentified)];

This last text is difficult to identify on account of the heavy wear and faded writing. The text is written in a humanistic semi-cursive text common to the Spanish Kingdoms from the 1450’s onward. The content of this unedited text seems to be some form of standard contract with students. Several first person verbs (si siempre me consulta, ago, digo, respondeo, deseo, ego), references to students (estudiantes), and what seem to be numerical figures suggest such a text. It is likely that this text is complete, although the heavy wear, trimming, and deterioration make this difficult to determine.

The core of this small manuscript is a devotional Hymnal providing text, translation, and commentary of a Latin Hymnal that contains the major hymns of the Sundays from Advent through Lent. A medieval Hymnal included the metrical hymns sung during the Divine Office during the liturgical year. It could be included in a Psalter or Antiphonal, and its contents were eventually incorporated into the Breviary.

The hymns in this manuscript are divided into stanzas, which are followed by a gloss in Castilian that provides a translation for the text. These translations periodically contain commentary regarding devotional interpretations of the hymns. The translation is accomplished by breaking down the words and phrases of the hymns, and then pairing Castilian words with Latin words in a running translation. For example, the glossator explains that the phrase Primo dierum omnium (f. 5r) as “primo die en el primero dia omnium dierum en todos los dias.” As such, the glossator provides a primer to the liturgical songs so that the reader may gain a proper understanding of the Latin hymns when he or she recites the verses privately or communally during the Divine Office. Pairing Latin and vernacular as a means of translation was not an uncommon practice during the later Middle Ages.

This devotional Hymnal forms part of the widespread practice in late medieval religious formation in the Spanish kingdoms that increasingly used vernacular as a means to educate Christians (both religious and secular) in the official language of the liturgy. It anticipates such works as the Directorio delas horas canonicas (Montserrat, 1500) by García Jímenez de Cisneros. However, this text stands out for its inter-stanza glosses as well as being a primary liturgical text, rather than a strictly devotional treatise. No other copy of such a Hymnal with glosses in Castilian has been recognized in major library catalogues.


Casas Homs, José María, ed. “Refranero latino-castellano,” Anales de la Universidad Hispalense 7 (1944), pp. 211-48.

Casas Homs, José María, ed. “Un catecismo hispano-latino medieval,” Hispania Sacra 1 (1948), pp. 113-26.

Collet, Henri. Le Mysticisme muscial espagnol au xvie siècle. Paris, Libraire Félix Alcane, 1913.

de Poorter, A. "Un catéchisme du XIIIe siècle," Revue de histoire ecclésiastique 28 (1932), pp. 70-74.

Kreitner, Kenneth. The Church Music of Fifteenth-Century Spain, London, Boydell Press, 2004.

Messenger, Ruth Ellis. The Medieval Latin Hymn, Washington, D.C., Capital Press, 1953.

Szövérffy, Joseph. Iberian Latin Hymnody: Survey and Problems, Turnhout, Classical Folia Editions, 1998.

Szövérffy, Joseph. A Concise History of Medieval Latin Hymnody, Leiden, Classical Folia Editions, 1985.