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les Enluminures

Breviary (Franciscan Use)

In Latin (with some Dutch), illuminated manuscript on parchment and paper and imprint on paper (added)
Eastern Netherlands (Arnhem?), c. 1440-1450 and c.1460-1480

TM 830

i (paper) + 6 (paper) + 366 (parchment and paper) + i (paper) folios, modern foliation in pencil, top outer recto, 1-6 and 1-366 (collation, I. ff. 1-6v, i6; II. ff. 1-366v, ii-xxiii8 xxiv8 [-7 following f. 182, neat stub remains, cancelled with no loss of text] xxv4 [-4 following f. 186, cancelled with no loss of text] xxvi-xxxiii8 xxxiv8 [-7 -8, two uneven stubs following f. 256 remain, cancelled with no loss of text] xxxv-xliii8 xliv2 xlv8 xlvi8 [-2 following f. 339, with loss of text] xlvii8 xlviii8 [+6; f. 359, paper leaf, tipped in] xlvix4), I. ff. 1-6v  printed in black and red ink, some black calendar entries highlighted in red ink by an annotator, annotations in black and red; II. ff. 1-366v, ruled with two full-length horizontal bounding lines at top and bottom and full-length vertical bounding lines in pale brown ink (ff. 1-256v) and crayon (ff. 257-366v) (justification ff. 1-256v, 137-138 x 97-98 mm.; ff. 257-366v 126-130 x 85-87 mm.), written in two columns in six hands: ff. 1-185v, 187-256v, a well-formed Gothic bookhand with decorative hairlines on twenty-three lines; f. 186, a Gothic bookhand with some cursive features on twenty-two lines; ff. 257-328v, a spiky, compressed Gothic bookhand with decorative hairlines on twenty-two lines; ff. 329-358v, 360-365,in  a Gothic bookhand on twenty-two to twenty-three lines; f. 359, a rapid Gothic bookhand with some cursive features on twenty-two lines; ff. 365-366v, a narrow Gothic hybrida script on twenty-two lines, some guide letters visible for initials, rubrics written or underlined in red, capitals touched in red, one-line red or blue paraphs, one-line versal initials in red or blue, one- to two-line initials in red or blue, ff. 1-256v: three- to 5-line blue initials with red pen decoration, touched with green and extending vertically along the length or width of the column, some with burnished gold bezants serving as the center of the floral motif, eleven five- to six-line red and blue parted initials with red pen decoration, touched with green and with burnished gold bezants, and extending vertically along the length and, sometimes, width of the column (ff. 1, 113v, 127v, 136v, 144v, 152v, 163, 171v, 182, 187, 203), ff. 257-366v: three- to four-line blue initials with purple or red pen decoration, most touched and outlined with green, some with gold rounds, parchment fore-edge tabs throughout, many still tipped with knots of colored string, blank patch added to the bottom of f. 332, blank parchment cut away on ff. 254, 290, and 291, with a patch stitched onto the outer edge of f. 290, small tears in the outer margins of ff. 11 and 132, some rubbing and fading where the text has been handled, but overall in very fine condition.  Bound in sixteenth-century brown calf blind-tooled with single fillets along the edges and with triple-fillets flanking a blind-stamped foliate design rolled twice vertically and twice horizontally to form an inner frame, all over wooden boards, spine with four raised bands and paper label, inscribed “Breviarium / Fratrum Minorum. / French MSS. SAEC. XV,” brass attachments for two fore-edge clasps, now lost, some wear to the hinges and edges, with some losses at the top of the spine, owner’s inscription on the recto of the front flyleaf, earlier sale description and seller’s label pasted on front pastedown.  Dimensions 175 x 127 mm.

Intact in its medieval binding, this attractive, well-preserved Franciscan Breviary has skillful script and lovely, localizable penwork initials (some with burnished gold bezants and green wash).  It is notable for its interesting accretions of Breviary texts and other signs of use, including fore-edge reference tabs, many still tipped in with colored string, and added leaves.  Now a hybrid book, it begins with a printed calendar, apparently adapted once it was added to this Breviary.


1. This manuscript was made for Franciscan use, as suggested by its adherence to the textual arrangements of the revised Roman Breviary of Haymo of Faversham, its arrangements of texts for secular use (evident in the Psalter and lections for Matins), a reference to “sancti francisci patris nostri” (f. 324v), and the general prominence of Franciscan saints and feast days – including Francis, Clare, Anthony of Padua, and Louis of Toulouse – in the Sanctorale and elsewhere.  Office texts added for the feast of the Holy Stigmata (ff. 365-366v) further testify to this volume’s Franciscan use.  A prayer on f. 340 that refers to Bernardino of Siena adds another prominent Franciscan saint to the volume and offers a terminus a quo for this part of the manuscript, as Bernardino of Siena was canonized in 1450.

Evidence of decoration indicates that the first part of this manuscript (ff. 1-256v) was probably copied around or shortly before 1450, most likely in the eastern Netherlands.  The intricately decorated initials bear a stylistic resemblance to those in Brussels, Bibliothèque royale, MS IV. 550, produced in Doetinchem, near Arnhem, in 1446 (Masai and Wittek, ed., 1978, no. 270, pl. 485-487).  The second part of the manuscript (ff. 257-366v) was likely copied after the first; it would appear that the artist of the initials in this part of the volume modeled them after those found in the first part. The initials in this section bear a notable resemblance to those in a vernacular Prayer Book described on this site (TM 322) possibly also produced in Arnhem c. 1460-1480.  As indicated above, the reference to Bernardino of Siena’s sainthood in this part of the manuscript indicates that it must have been copied after his canonization in 1450.  The occasional use of Dutch rubrics in this part of the volume would support its localization to the Netherlands.  It is possible that this manuscript was made for use at the Franciscan house at Arnhem; Moorman notes the existence of one attested in 1318 and again in the early fifteenth century (1983, p. 31). Unfortunately, there is no definitive evidence within the manuscript to indicate a particular house for which it was made.

There are numerous corrections and additions in the margin, many by the scribes or rubricators, testifying to its active use, including three slips added with corrections, one tipped in between ff. 274-275 and the other two pasted onto the lower margins of ff. 298v and 327v.  There is also a larger loose slip copied in a handsome Gothic hybrida script following f. 366 that appears to contain added text for the Office, though it is not clear where the addition belongs.  Parchment fore-edge tabs, many still tipped in with colored string, were added to make this Breviary easier to navigate.

2. The front flyleaf bears a watermark similar to Heawood no. 417 “Coat of Arms”: 1720; given that other variants of the watermark have been localized to the Low Countries and to Britain, it is possible that this manuscript remained in the Low Countries at the time when the flyleaves were added.

3. Belonged to Edward Lyndor(?); his inscription, “Edward Lyndor / Copenhagen mcmlvij,” on the recto of the first flyleaf.


I. ff. 1-6v

ff. 1-6v, Printed calendar;  among the entries highlighted in red are:  Genevieve, (3 January); Rigobert, bishop of Reims (8 January); William, bishop of Bourges (10 January); Bonitus, bishop of Auvergne (15 January); Babylas, bishop of Antioch (24 January); Julian, bishop of Le Mans (27 January); Charlemagne (28 January); Bathildis, queen of France (30 January); Bridget (1 February); Fulcrann, bishop of Lodève (13 February); Adrian, bishop of St. Andrews (4 March); Rupert, bishop of Salzburg (27 March), as well as Gilbert (4 February) (not highlighted), with additions including Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum (19 January); Anastasius (22 January); Agnes secundo (28 January); Ignatius, bishop of Antioch (1 February); Gabriel, the archangel (18 March); Joseph (19 March); and Joachim (20 March);

Based on the distribution of saints throughout this calendar it appears to have been printed for use in Paris (cf. Composite Paris Calendar, 1330-1530 in Online Resources).  Entries have been added or highlighted by hand for the months of January through March, and these bring the contents of the calendar more closely in line with the feasts included in the Sanctorale included within the manuscript.

II. ff. 1-366v

ff. 1-111v, Incipit breuiarium fratrum a[?] minorum de tempore secundum ordinem sancte romane ecclesie. Dominica prima aduentus domini ad matutinum. Inuitatorium, incipit, “Regem venturum dominum. Venite adoremus ... V. Accedentes principes sacerdotum ad pylatum petierunt illum. Ponentes”;

Temporale for the winter season, beginning with the night office for the first Sunday in Advent and concluding with that for Holy Saturday.  Tabs and, in most cases, decorated initials mark the first lections for Advent (f. 1), Christmas (f. 20), the Sundays after the octave of Epiphany (f. 50v), and Quinquagesima Sunday (f. 70).

f. 112, incipit, “Venite exultemus domino iubilemus deo salutari nostro ... introibunt in requiem meam. Gloria patri. Sicut erat [“in principio et” added in a different hand]”; f. 112v, blank but ruled;

Psalm 94, employed in the daily Invitatory for Matins.

f. 113rv, Sequens Inuitatorium dicitur ab octava penthecostes in dominicis usque ad kalendas octobris, incipit, “Adoremus dominum. Qui fecit nos ... cuius reboat in omni gloria mundo. Amen. Antiphona. Seruite. Antiphona. Alleluia”;

Seasonal invitatory and hymns.

ff. 113v-182, incipit, “BEatus vir qui non abiit in consilio impiorum ... V. Egredietur dominus de loco sancto suo. Veniet vt saluet populum suum”;

This Ferial Psalter presents the Psalms for weekly Matins, Psalms 1-49, 51-61, 63-108, in their biblical order, with only the opening words of Psalms 66, 89, 91, and 92 included. The excluded Psalms, which include 50, 62, and 109-150, are exclusively Psalms that would have been sung during the daytime Offices during the week, from Lauds to Vespers.  Since this portion of the manuscript is a Nocturnal (see below), it seems likely that its Psalter was tailored accordingly. Many, but not all, of the Psalms are followed by antiphons and/or other Office texts.  Initials and tabs indicate major ferial divisions for secular use at Psalms 1 (f. 113v), 26 (f. 127v), 38 (f. 136v), 52 (f. 144v), 68 (f. 152v), 80 (f. 163), and 97 (f. 171v).

ff. 182-185v, Dominica prima aduentus et deinceps tam in dominicis quam in ferijs ad nocturnum ymnus, incipit, “UErbum supernum prodiens a patre olim exiens ... De virgine non martyre siue de viduis ad nocturno ymnus, incipit, “Huius obtentu etc.”;

Hymns, not noted, to be sung at the night offices for Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and Passion Sunday; for the feasts of the Virgin Mary, the Conversion of Saint Paul, Saint Peter’s Seat, and the translation of Saint Anthony; and for the commons of apostles, a single martyr, martyrs, confessors, a virgin martyr, and a virgin or widow.  A tab on f. 182 marks the beginning of the hymns.

f. 186, incipit, “Ueni electa mea et ponam in te thronum meum ... Gloria sit deo patri et filio et spiritui sancto. Quem vidi”; f. 186, blank but ruled;

Added responsories and versicles, possibly supplementing the Common of Virgins that follows (f. 200).  The Common of Virgins further on lacks the responsories and versicles for the ninth lection and these are supplied here, along with additional responsories and versicles, possibly intended for feasts of virgins who are not martyrs.

ff. 187-202v, Incipit commune sanctorum, In natalicijs apostolorum, Ad matutinum, Inuitatorium, incipit, “Rege apostolorum dominum. Venite adoremus ... Diffusa est gratia cum relicta”;

Common of Saints for the night office, with tabs marking the opening and the Offices of a martyr (f. 189v), multiple martyrs (f. 192), a confessor and pope (f. 195), a confessor who was not a pope (f. 197v), and virgins (f. 200).

ff. 203-254, Incipit breuiarium fratrum minorum, De sanctis secundum ordinem sacrosancte romane ecclesie, De sancto saturnino, lectio primo, incipit, “ROme [“ne” crossed out in red] natale sancti saturnini martyris ... inter coronas martyrum ecclesia dei venerabiliter honorat”; f. 254v, blank but ruled;

Sanctorale for the winter season, beginning with the night office for the feast of Saturninus (29 November) and ending with that for the feast of George (23 April). In most respects the feasts and texts here follow those in the reformed Roman Breviary of Haymo of Faversham. The feast days of Prisca, Valentine, Perpetua and Felicity, the Forty Martyrs, and Tiburtius, Valerian, and Maximus, included in Haymo’s Breviary, have not been included here, and the feast of the translation of Anthony (15 February) has been added.  Tabs mark the opening of the Sanctorale and the openings of the feasts of Agnes (f. 222), the translation of Anthony (f. 239), and the Annunciation (f. 250).

f. 255rv, Sequuntur absoluciones et benediciones matutinales, In primo nocturno absolucio, incipit, “Exaudi dominus ihesu christe preces seruorum tuorum et misere nobis ... Ad societatem ciuium supernorum”;

The absolutions and benedictions for the night office.

f. 256rv, Canticum sanctorum ambrosij et Augustini, incipit, “TE deum laudamus te dominum confitemur ... In te domine speraui non confundar in eternum”;

The Te Deum.

f. 257rv, incipit, “Te deum laudamus te dominum confitemur ... In te domine speraui non confundar in eternum”;

The Te Deum (again), copied this time by the second scribe, who was just beginning his section of the manuscript.

ff. 257v-311, Dominicis diebus et in temporis paschalis ad laudes antiphona, incipit, “Alleluia. Dominus regnauit decorem indutus est ... exaltare humiles vsque in seculum”;

Office texts for the Easter season for the daytime offices, from Lauds to Vespers. These texts follow the arrangement of readings laid out in the revised Roman Breviary for the second Sunday after Epiphany (see van Dijk, 1963, vol. 2, pp. 49-61).  Tabs or traces of tabs, now lacking, on ff. 257, 262, 277, 287, 290, 292, and 294 mark Sunday texts for Lauds, ferial texts for Lauds, all texts for Prime, all texts for Terce, all texts for Sext, texts for None, and texts for Vespers.

ff. 311-328v, In aduentu domini ymnus, Ad vesperas, incipit, “COnditor alme syderum eterna lux credencium ... spiritus alme deus vnius omni tempore seculi. Amen”;

Hymns, not noted, for Vespers and Lauds for Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Passion Sunday, Holy Saturday, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and Corpus Christi; for the dedication of a church; for the feasts of the Conversion of Paul, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Peter’s Chains, Anthony, John, Peter and Paul, Mary Magdalene, Peter’s Chains, Clare, Louis of Toulouse, Michael, Francis, and All Saints; and for the Commons of apostles, one martyr, multiple martyrs, one confessor, a confessor who is not a pope, and virgins. A tab on f. 311 marks the beginning of the hymns.

f. 329, beginning imperfectly, “// populo terre vt enarrent mirabilia tua. Oratio. Deus qui nos annua ... peruenire valeamus. Per eundem”;

The end of a Sanctorale containing office texts for the feasts of Chrysogonus (24 November) and Catherine (25 November).

ff. 329-339v, Incipit commune sanctorum in natalicijs apostolorum, Ad vesperas, Capitulum, incipit, “FRatres Iam non estis hospites et aduene ... Gloria tibi domine qui //”;

Common of Saints for the daytime offices (Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, and Vespers).  A contemporary rubricated incipit, “Incipit communi,” written in the scribe’s hand on the facing leaf (f. 328v) suggests that the fragmentary Sanctorale whose ending also appears on f. 329 was never intended to be part of the present manuscript. It would appear that this Common of Saints was extracted from another manuscript and that the rest of the Sanctorale from that earlier volume was discarded or bound elsewhere. A tab marks the beginning of the Common of Saints, and it concludes here with the office texts for the anniversary of a church’s dedication and with specifications for the celebration of feast days between Easter and Pentecost. It appears to end imperfectly.

f. 340, beginning imperfectly, “// rari. Oratio. Deuocionem nostram quesumus domine tua reddet gracia salutarem ... in vnitate spiritus sancti deus per omnia secula seculorum. Amen”;

Prayers and other office texts.  The first prayer makes specific mention of Saints Clare, Louis, Anthony, and Bernardino.

ff. 340-358v, 360-364v, Ad matutinus de sancta maria, incipit, “Pater noster. Aue maria gratia plena. Dominus tecum et etc. Domine labia mea aperies ... omnis gentes venient dicentes gloria tibi domine”;

Hours of the Virgin, with some rubrics in Dutch, followed by the Hours for Advent (f. 361v) and for the Christmas season (f. 364).  A tab on f. 340 marks the beginning of the Hours.

f. 359, incipit, “MAgnificat anima mea dominum ... Abraham et semini eius in secula. Gloria patri”; f. 359v, blank;

The Magnificat, a later addition in the middle of the texts for Vespers of the Hours of the Virgin.

ff. 364v-365, Van paesschen tot ons heeren hemeluaert so salmen lesen dese antiffane tot Magnificat tot nunc dimittes end tot benedictus, Antiphona, Regina celi letare alleluia ... da nobis in eterna beatitudine eteorum societate gaudere. Per dominum”;

Antiphons for the Easter season, Francis, and Clare, followed by a prayer.

ff. 365-366v, In festo sanctorum stigmatum sancti francisci ad vesperas antiphona, incipit, “Crucis vox alloquitur cum reliquis de laudibus ... Oratio. Deus qui mira crucis misteria in beato”.

Office texts for the feast of the Holy Stigmata of Saint Francis.  This feast was celebrated by the Franciscans beginning in 1337.

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 Franciscan Breviary, it follows secular rather than monastic use in its Psalter and in its inclusion of three, rather than four, lections for each nocturn of Matins.

Several distinct parts make up this Breviary and extend its coverage of the texts of the Divine Office.  A printed calendar (I. ff.1-6v) precedes the manuscript portion of the Breviary.  Though it appears to have been intended for Parisian use, additions to the first three months suggest that it was adapted to more closely fit the contents of the rest of the manuscript, possibly after it had been bound in this Breviary.  The first part of the manuscript (II. ff. 1-256v) contains texts to be read or chanted at Matins; it is a Nocturnal, specifically for the winter season.  

The second part of the manuscript (II. ff. 257-366v) complements this first part to some extent, furnishing texts that are predominantly intended for the daytime offices (from Lauds to Vespers) and emulating the decorative program of the first part, albeit somewhat clumsily.  Though this section notably opens with office texts for the Easter season, picking up where the winter season left off, it does not systematically fill the gaps left by the first part of the manuscript.  Indeed, the fragmentary ending of a Sanctorale precedes the Common of Saints in this section (see f. 329), suggesting that this Common of Saints originated in a Breviary that included a Sanctorale for the summer season, at the very least, but that the compiler of this present Breviary made no effort to include it here. A rubric on the facing leaf (f. 328v) for the Common of Saints suggests that this was intentional on the part of the manuscript’s compiler. It is possible that this Breviary was intended for use alongside a complementary volume containing the texts excluded here.

The First Order of the Friars Minor dates from 1209, when St. Francis obtained approval of the rule he had composed. The Second Order (the foundation of the Poor Clares) dates from 1212. The year 1221 is traditionally given as the date of the foundation of the Third Order, the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, the Tertiaries. Haymo of Faversham (died in Italy, c. 1243), an English Franciscan and schoolman, was responsible for revision of the Roman Breviary under the direction of Pope Gregory IX, which was approved by the Church in 1241.  As is to be expected in a Franciscan Breviary, our manuscript follows the order of Haymo of Faversham’s revised Roman Breviary.

This Breviary was well-used early on. The additions described above and further stages in the production of the second part of the manuscript all attest to the care with which it was updated.  The knotted-thread fore-edge tabs attached throughout also made this book easier to use; the tabs marking the ferial divisions within the Psalter, for example, would have helped users navigate the Psalter during the Divine Office.  Some pages show signs of having been especially well-thumbed, with rubbing and darkening in their lower margins.


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, 2000.

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.

Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to their Organization and Terminology, Toronto, 1982.

Korteweg, Anne. Kriezels, aubergines en takkenbossen, Randversiering n Noornederlandse handschriften uit de vijftiende eeuw, exhibition catalogue, The Hague, 1992.

Masai, François, Martin Wittek, et al. Manuscrits datés, conservés en Belgique, Vol. 3: 1441-1460, Brussels, 1978.


Moorman, John R. H. Medieval Franciscan Houses, St. Bonaventure, NY, 1983.

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

Vauchez, André. Francis of Assisi: The Life and Afterlife of a Medieval Saint, trans. Michael F. Cusato, New Haven, 2012.

van Dijk, S.J.P., ed. Sources of the Modern Roman Liturgy: The Ordinals of Haymo of Faversham and Related Documents, 1243-1307, 2 vols. Leiden, 1963.

Online Resources

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

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

Drigsdahl, Erik. “The Composite Paris Calendar 1330-1530,” Center for Håndskriftstudier i Danmark, 1995 (last revised 21 November 2012)

Robinson, Paschal. “Franciscan Order,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 6, New York, 1909

TM 830