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les Enluminures

Diurnal (Use of Windesheim)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on paper with two parchment leaves
Southern Netherlands (diocese of Liège, perhaps Mechelen), c. 1490-1520, with 17th-century additions

TM 1085
  • 17 200 €
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237 folios (223 original, with 14 added folios), on paper, watermark, obscured in the gutter, but possibly similar type to Briquet 1663, Armoires, deux fleurs de lis rangées en fasce surmontées d’une coronne, avec un ‘p’ pendu, Malines 1534, with two parchment leaves, ff. 13 and 22, modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto, 1-130, 130bis-236, lacking at least one leaf after f. 222v, (collation i12 ii-vi10 vii8 viii-xiiii10 xiv10 [-1 before f. 130bis, cancelled with no loss of text] xv12 xvi-xviii8 xix-xxiii10 xxiv8 [ending f. 222v] xxv8 xxvi6), no catchwords or signatures, ruled in ink with the top two and bottom horizontal rules full across, single full-length vertical bounding lines (justification 90-88 x 65 mm.), written on the top line in a gothic bookhand in eighteen long lines, majuscules stroked with red, red rubrics, one- to two-line red initials throughout, 2- to 3-line red initials with decorative void spaces within the initial, around twenty 3- to 4-line and eight 8- to 5-line fine penwork initials, most initials are blue (a few are red) with decorative void spaces within the initials, infilled with red (some with touches of green wash) and on red penwork grounds, often with pen decoration in red and sometimes dark purple extending into the margins, first quire (ff. 1-12), f. 1 stained, edges a bit tattered, with wear and a bit of cracking along the gutter, f. 23, ink doodles in margin, f. 53, small rip lower margin, f. 99v, stains within the text, which is still legible, ff. 72 and 100, early repairs, f. 222v, darkened, occasional stains and dirt in outer margins.  Bound in a modern parchment binding re-using leaves from a fifteenth-century liturgical manuscript with musical notation (hufnagelschrift notation), smooth spine, edges dyed green, in very good condition.  Dimensions 128 x 96 mm.

This personalized liturgical volume was made for (and perhaps by) a female religious in a convent following the liturgical use of the Windesheim Chapter. Prayers and litanies for canonesses entering the convent and for novices are of special interest. Copied on paper in a skillful and legible script, decorated in a functional manner with red initials and a few larger initials with exuberant pen decoration, this breathes the spirit of the Devotio moderna, the religious reform movement that changed the nature of the religious life in the later Middle Ages.


1. Certainly made for a convent of canonesses following the rule of St. Augustine according to the use of the Windesheim Chapter in the diocese of Liège.  There were only thirteen female houses formally accepted within the Chapter, including two in the medieval diocese of Liège, Barberendaal in Tienen and Bethany in Mechelen (or in French, Malines, admitted to the Windesheim order about 1429), but many female convents in the fifteenth century modelled their way of life and their liturgy on Windesheim, making it is difficult to establish with certainty where this was made (see below for further discussion of female participation in the Chapter of Windesheim). 

The watermark is unfortunately fragmented, and difficult to identify with certainty, nonetheless it provides a hint of evidence that this was made at Bethany in Mechelen, a convent known for their production of engravings and illustrated books at the end of the fifteenth century (Hamburger, 1992, p. 102). The emphasis on St. Ursula, however, and the lack of the feast of St. Rombout (July 1), the patron of the largest church in Mechelen, in the calendar may argue against this identification. The feast of the Transfiguration, observed on August 6 by the whole church from 1457 is included in the body of the text, but not in the calendar; the (tentative) evidence of the watermark, together with that of the script and decoration, suggests this was likely made at the end of the fifteenth century or in the early decades of the sixteenth century.

Use of Windesheim is decisively confirmed by the presence of the lesser Office of the Dead (“minores”), which is unique to Windesheim (Korteweg, 2013; Ottosen, p. 143 and 280-282). The Hours of the Virgin for Use of Windesheim and Use of Utrecht, in contrast, are seemingly indistinguishable (see Korteweg, 2013, and CHD, Online resources).  Our Breviary includes three litanies (beginning on f. 140v, 146, and 156v), in each case placing Augustine before Anthony and Martin and beginning the virgins with Mary Magdalene, also features of Windesheim Use (Korteweg, 2013). 

Following Windesheim Use, the feast of St. Augustine on August 28, the patron saint of the order, is recorded in red. Windesheim and Utrecht calendars were was closely related, and the calendar in our manuscript includes six of the seven distinctive feasts which characterize Utrecht calendars (as discussed by Korteweg, 2013), although they are not in red here: Pontian (14 January); Pancras (12 May), Odulph (12 June), the Translation of Martin (4 July), Willibrord (7 November, but here on 8 November) and Lebuinus and his Translation (12 November); the translation of Lebuinus, 25 June is lacking.

The calendar also includes feasts particular to the diocese of Liège, including Theodardus, bishop of Liège, on September 10, ranked missa (only three sources cited in Calendoscope, Online resources, two from Liège), Lambert, bishop of Maastricht, martyred in Liège, where his relics remain, on September 17, in red, ranked maius duplex with an octave, and Hubert, bishop of Liège, in red, duplex, on November 4.  Also in red: Anthony, monk, 3 lessons (January 17), Servatius, bishop of Tongeren, duplex maius (13 May), Mary Magdalene, duplex (July), Lawrence, duplex (August 10), Michael Archangel (Sept 29), Denis (October 9), Ursula and the 11,000 virgins (October 21), Leonard (November 6), and Martin (November 11).

The text was clearly meant for use by canonesses, since it includes prayers and litanies said for the investitures of sisters of St. Augustine beginning on f. 139v, as well as prayers in the feminine voice (e.g., f. 165, 172v, 177).

2. Marginal liturgical additions in Dutch on ff. 18v-19, 38, 56; added later in the calendar on April 6, Guielmi abbatis (William of Paris?).

3. Belonged to Petrus Josephus Lambers of Weerd, the Netherlands, in the nineteenth century, see f. 236; see also f. 233v, for another note by a contemporary hand.

4. Modern booksellers’ or owners’ notes, inside front cover, and front flyleaf.


ff. 1-12v, Calendar;

ff. 13-62v, Office of the Virgin, use of Utrecht/Windesheim; f. 29v, Lauds, f. 38, Prime, f. 43, Terce, f. 45v, Sext, f. 47v, None, f. 50, Vespers, f. 56, Compline, f. 60v, changed Office; Matins with nine lessons, Suffrages for the Holy Cross, St. Augustine, Ursula and companions and all saints follow Lauds and Vespers;

ff. 63-70v, Hours of the Cross, followed by prayers; [text ends top, f. 70v; remainder blank];

ff. 71-135, Abbreviated Offices, with collects, capitula, and antiphons for the Benedictus and Magnificat, but without psalms, for Vespers and Lauds, with the Temporal and Sanctoral mixed; followed by the Dedication of a church and Common of Saints; among the Offices included are the Visitation, Transfiguration, St. Augustine (natale and translation), Hubert, Leonard, and Willbrord;

ff. 135-138, Officium ad mandatum in cena domini (Foot Washing on Holy Thursday); [f. 138v, blank];

ff. 139-150v, Hymn of the holy spirit (“Veni creator spiritus mentes”); f. 139v, Quando sit investicie sororum ordinis beati Augustine legenda sunt sequencia, incipt, “Domine quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo …;

Service for the investiture of a sister of St. Augustine, with Psalms and litany, beginning with Mary before the angels, martyrs with Lawrence, Vincent, Ignatius, Denis, and Maurice, Augustine first among the confessors, Ursula last among the virgins and widows; followed by prayers for novices, with a second, longer, litany with the same saints plus additions including Martin, Nicholas, and Willibrord; first among virgins is Mary Magdalene, followed by Ursula.

ff. 151-162, Seven Penitential Psalms, followed by litany;

Litany begins with the Holy Trinity, and then Mary, with Pontianus, Theodardus, Lambert, Denis, Maurice, Boniface and Gereon, Augustine first among confessors, with Servatius, Willibrord, Remaclus, Hubert, Leonard, Francis, Dominic, Lebuin, and Odulph, among the virgins, Mary Magdalene followed by Ursula at the beginning; added in a later hand, Apollonia, Dorothy, Helen, and Monica.

ff. 163-164v, [Gospel of John 1:1-14], Inicio sancti ewangelii secundum iohanem, …; followed by hymns de omnibus virginibus, and de beata anna [ends top f. 164v, remainder blank];

ff. 165-184v, Services for death and burial; [many prayers written in the feminine voice];

ff. 185-222v, Office of the Dead, Use of Windesheim, with the last prayer ending imperfectly, incipit, ”Omnipotens mitissime deus … sanguine preciosissimo perfudisti//”;

Windesheim and Utrecht use are the same for the greater Office (Ottosen, 1993, pp. 174-176), but our manuscript also includes the “minores” readings, which are particular to Windesheim (Ottosen, 1993, 143, and 280-282; see also Korteweg, 2013).

ff. 223-233, Added in the 17th century, Offices for St. Elizabeth, Corona domini, Anthony, Joseph, Cosma and Damiani, Monica, Catherine, and Barbara; [f. 233v-236v, blank but ruled].

Breviaries include the Psalms and other prayers said throughout the day by religious communities, including nuns and canonesses, as well as priests. The Office is divided into eight services or Hours. Breviaries that include only the daytime Offices are called Diurnals. Our manuscript includes only selected texts from the daily liturgy observed by this convent of canonesses (that is, female religious, living according to the Rule of St. Augustine). It is an example of a personalized liturgical volume, combining abbreviated Offices for two of the daytime Office, Lauds and Vespers, with other Offices often found in Breviaries including the Hours of the Cross, services for death and burial, and the Office of the Dead. The prayers and litanies for those entering the religious life, and for novices, are special features. 

The movement known as the Devotio moderna (the Modern Devotion) began in Deventer in the Low Countries, in the valley of the IJssel River, through the efforts of Geert Grote (1340-1384) and his followers.  This religious reform movement stressed the importance of inner spiritual development and a return to the way of life of the early church.  Alongside communities of lay men and women, known as the Brethren and Sisters of the Common Life, a monastic branch of the movement was created shortly after Grote’s death, with the foundation of Windesheim (near Zwolle) in 1386.  More foundations followed, and the Chapter of Windesheim was founded in 1395.  Members of the houses in the Windesheim Chapter lived in common, following the Rule of St. Augustine. By the end of the fifteenth century, there were as many as 100 monasteries in the chapter, but only thirteen of these were for women. Throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, however, numerous convents for women adopted the liturgy of Windesheim unofficially, and others joined related but independent chapters such as the “Chapter of Sion” and the “Chapter of Venlo” (see Scheepsma, 2004, for the importance of women within the Devotio moderna). 

Copying books was an important part of the reformed monastic life adopted by followers of the Devotio moderna, and our manuscript is an excellent example of their well-crafted, functional volumes.  Written on paper, in a formal and easily legible gothic book hand, its decoration is restrained, with numerous serviceable red initials interspersed with handsome initials adorned with penwork marking important sections of the text.


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

Derolez, A. and B. Victor with the collaboration of W. Bracke, M. Oosterbosch and J. W. Klein, eds. Corpus Catalogorum Belgii. The Medieval Booklists of the Southern Low Countries. III Counts of Flanders Provinces of East Flanders, Antwerp and Limburg, Brussels, 1999.  

Hamburger, Jeffrey F. “ArtEnclosure, and the Cura Monialium,” Gesta 31, no. 2 (1992), pp. 108-134.

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

Kohl, W. E. Persoons, A.G. Weiler, eds. Monasticon Windeshemense, Archives et bibliothèques de Belgique=Archief- en bibliotheekwezen in België, Numéro special, 4 vols., Brussels, 1976-1984.

Korteweg, A. “Books of Hours from Northern Netherlands Reconsidered: The Use of Utrecht and Windersheim and Geert Grote’s Role as a Translator,” in Books of Hours Reconsidered, eds. S. Hindman and J. Marrow, London, 2013, pp. 235-277.

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

Post, R. R. The Modern Devotion: Confrontation with Reformation and Humanism, Leiden, 1968.

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

Scheepsma, Wybren, tr. by translated from the Dutch by David F. Johnson. Medieval Religious Women in the Low Countries, Woodbridge, Suffolk, and Rochester, N.Y., 2004.

“Tableau écclésiastique du diocèse (ancien) de Liège,” Journal historique et littéraire 6 (1839), p. 247.

Van Engen, John H. Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life:  The Devotio Moderna and the World of the Later Middle Ages, Philadelphia, 2008.

Online Resources


CHD Institute for Studies of Illuminated Manuscripts in Denmark, “Use of Utrecht, c. 1430”

TM 1085