TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

JAN VAN BREDERODE, Des Coninx Summe, Dutch translation of LAURENT D’ORLÉANS, La Somme le Roy (The King’s Summa); Die passy vur ene[n] corte sey[?] and Die heilighe passy zeer cort en[de] goet (Two Texts on the Passion of Christ); JOHANNES BRUGMAN, XV Goede punten ende leringhe (Fifteen Good and Learned Points); Three Rhymed Exempla

In Dutch, decorated manuscript on paper
Northern Netherlands (near Utrecht), dated 1487

TM 933
  • 57 300 €
  • £51,400
  • $65,000

ii+124+ii folios on paper (bifolium in the front and bifolium in the back, serving as flyleaves and pastedowns, are parchment leaves from another source), watermarks with some similarity to Briquet 11419, Main, Troyes 1522 and Bruges 1523, and Briquet 8580, letter ‘P’, Belmont 1500, with numerous variants dating 1469-1513, and possibly (unverified): Lettre ‘P’ Briquet 8529, Colmar 1471, Bruges 1473, Hamburg 1475-6; and Lettre ‘P’, Briquet 8658, Pontoise 1471, Rhijnsburg 1471, and variants dating through 1478, and a hand with quatrefoil flower, similar to Piccard Online 155482-155483, Utrecht 1484, paginated 1-250 in pencil in the middle of the upper margin by Jozef Geldhof in or shortly before 1960 starting on the pastedown in the front (collation i–x8 xi6 [pp. 165-172, lacking 2 and 4, with loss of text] xii–xvi8), remnants of catchword lower margin of p. 84, remnants of quire signatures pp. 5, 7, 11, frame ruled in pale brown ink, prickings still present in most of the leaves, (justification 137 x 85 mm.), written in a littera cursiva by one hand in 29-32 long lines, no rubrics, majuscules in text stroked in red, some paragraph marks in red, many three- and two-line initials in red or blue, two six- to four-line red or blue initials, pp. 7 and 26, in good condition, the first two paper leaves (pp. 5–8) a bit creased, minor traces of use, ink stain in the lower margin of p. 9. CONTEMPORARY binding of brown leather over wooden boards, double fillets forming two rectangular frames and a central diapered rectangle, five raised bands, two brass catches and clasps on leather thongs, parchment flyleaves and pastedowns at front and back of maculature from two Utrecht charters of c. 1425-1450 (dated 1425 and 1424?) in Latin in a littera cursiva, written on one side, folded with the text on the outside, the pastedowns have come loose from the boards, hinges weak.  Dimensions 207 x 145 mm.

This is the only known copy in private hands of the Mirror of Prince’s text, La somme le roy, in the Dutch translation by Jan Van Brederode, the subject of a recent publication by historian, Frits van Oostrom.  The text on leading a Christian life, XV Goede punten ende leringhe, attributed to the Dutch preacher Johannes Brugman, and the three short, rhymed exempla that follow, are known only in this manuscript.  Written in 1487 by brother Jan Symoensz at the Carthusian monastery of Nieuwlicht in Utrecht, this dated and precisely localized manuscript is in a contemporary (likely original) binding.


1. The manuscript was written by Jan Symoensz, a Carthusian monk in the monastery Nieuwlicht, near Utrecht. He makes himself known in two colophons in which he also mentions the year in which the manuscript was made: 1487.  Jan Symoensz even indicates when he started writing the manuscript–although somewhat confusingly he mentions two dates: 23 February (St. Matthias’s eve) and 4 April (St. Ambrose’s day)–and when he finished it, on April 24 (St. George’s day); on p. 6 he states, “The writing of this book started in the year 1487 on St. Ambrose’s Day, the 4th of April. And it was written by a hermit brother, Jan Symoensz ...”, and then on p. 232 concluedes, “[The book] was written by a hermit brother, Jan Symoensz, at the Carthusians near Utrecht.  And the writing started in the year of Our Lord 1487 on St. Matthias’s Eve.  And it was finished on St. George’s Day.  And it surpasses all books in Dutch, except the Holy Passion, the Gospels, the [Tafel van] den Kersten Ghelove [by Dirc of Delft] and the Bible. Say a small prayer for his soul.”

Signed and dated manuscripts are relatively uncommon. Manuscripts such as this one that include information that allow us to calculate how long the scribe spent copying the manuscript are even less common (for other examples see de Hamel, 2006, Gullick, 1995, and TM 582 on this site).  Even allowing for the confusion about the exact day when he began his work, the two colophons in this manuscript are evidence that Jan Symoensz worked unusually quickly.

The Carthusian monastery Nieuwlicht, near Utrecht is well-studied, especially thanks to the research done by the codicologist and palaeographer Jan Peter Gumbert (Gumbert, 1974). Nova Lux or Nieuwlicht was founded in c. 1392. The monks were very active in producing manuscripts, both in Latin and the vernacular, and in building a library within the wall of their monastery. The University Library of Utrecht holds a collection of 135 manuscripts and c. 70 printed books from the library of Nieuwlicht.  Other items from that library were dispersed. The monks also produced manuscripts for people outside the monastery. The present manuscript is the only manuscript known to have been written by Jan Symoensz, of whom nothing more is known, but he may well be traceable in Utrecht archival records.

2. The flyleaves and pastedowns in the front and in the back are maculature from two charters in Latin from the second quarter of the fifteenth century. The one in the front makes mention of Wilhelmus de Medenblick, who was active as a notary in Utrecht between 1420 and 1448.  Archival records of Wilhelmus de Medenblick (alias Willem van Medemblick) are kept in Het Utrechts Archief in Utrecht, and a charter made up by him on 14 June 1427 is in the archive of the Abbey of Egmond, now in the Rijksarchief Noord-Holland in Haarlem. The charter in the back mentions Gerardus de Damasche. He was a Canon of the church of St. Peter in Utrecht, and is also mentioned in a charter from 1437, published in Aanhangsel op de kerkelyke oudheden van Nederland, Utrecht, 1744, p. 363.

3. In the sixteenth century the manuscript belonged to a Neyn Dircx, according to an owner’s inscription in brown ink on p. 5: “Dit boek hoort toe Neyn Dircx.”

4. When Jozef Geldhof prepared a brief article, published in 1960, on the shorter texts in the manuscript, it was in the possession of the Belgian Baron Raphaël Gillès de Pélichy (1875-1967).


[pp. 1-4 are a pastedown and a flyleaf; p. 5 blank]; pp. 6-232, [introductory text and colophon], incipit, “Dit boeck wart begonnen te scriven int jaer ons heren M IIIIc ende LXXXVII op sinte Ambrosyus dach den IIIIden dach van april [= 4 April 1487]. Ende heeft ghescreven een reduyt broder Jan Symoens zone. Ende is ghenoemt des conincx somme Ende is die som ende dat hoeft van allen Duytsche boeken uut ghenomen die heilighe passij ons heren Ende die bibel ende zijn heilighe ewangelyen ende die X gheboden ende d[ie] XII artikelen vanden heylighen kersten ghelove die dat fondament sijn die staen hier in ondersceydeliken inden eersten vanden boeke Ic bidde om gods willen datmen een clein ghebet wil bidden voer den ghenen diet om goods willen ghescreven heeft Wanttet een boeck is vol van leringhe ende hoe een kersten mensche behoert te leven om te comen ten ew[i]ghen leven”; [p. 7, translator’s prologue], incipit, “Sonderlinghe ende lieve gheminde neve ende broder in Jhesu Christo Want ic broder Jan van Brerode convaers der carthuser oerden tot Zeelem grote begheerte hebbe ... Als die alre wijste gardenier of hofman onse lieve here Jhesum Christum amen”; [p. 232, scribal explicit and colophon], incipit, “Hier eyndet des conincx somme ghemaect van een groet doctoer inder godheit vander prediker oerde tot des conincs behoef van Vrancrijc Filpus ghenoemt Ende wart ghemaect int jaer ons heren M twiehondert LXXIX [= 1279] Ende was eerst ghemaect in Fransoysen Ende wart uten Fransoyse over gheset in Duytsche Int jaer ons heren M IIIIc ende VIII [= 1408] van enen convaers broder vander kathusers oerde ghenoemt broder Jan van Brerode Ende gheert ende bidt dat sijt wel studieren Ende heeft ghescreven een reduyt broder Jan Symoens zone totten kathusers buten Uuttrecht Ende wart begonnen te scriven int jaer ons heren M IIIIc LXXXVII op sinte Mathijs avont [= 23 February 1487] Ende gheeyndet op sinte Jorijs dach [= 24 April] ende gaet boven alle Duytsche boeken uutgheseit die heilighe passij ende die ewangelien ende den kersten ghelove ende die bibel Bidt een clein ghebet voer zijn ziel”;

Des coninx summe, Middle Dutch translation by Jan van Brederode of Laurent d’Orléans, La somme le roy; ed. Tinbergen, 1907, pp. 219–362; short sections of text missing in the eleventh quire following pp. 166 and 170.  Tinbergen records ten early manuscripts of this translation, the earliest dated one from 1437.  He did not know the present manuscript and one he did know has since been destroyed. The text of the present manuscript shows numerous variations from the text published by Tinbergen based primarily on the 1437 manuscript. It also names the translator “Brerode,” rather than the 1437 manuscript’s “Rode,” so it appears to be independent of the 1437 text. The translation first printed in 1478 (Delft), 1481 (no place mentioned), 1482 (Hasselt) and 1484 (Haarlem). At the same time, c. 1486, William Caxton printed an English translation of La somme le roy, called The Book Ryal or The Book for a Kyng.  

pp. 233-235, [Text on the Passion of Christ], Hier volghet die passij [illegible], Die passy vur ene[n] corte sey[?], incipit: “Als Jhesus onse ghesontmaker die werelt wou laten Soe heeft ... dat Jhesus mit zinen lieven discypelen dede des donre dages avonts”;

pp. 236-245, [Text on the Passion of Christ], Hier beghint die heilighe passij zeer cort ende goet /Die heilighe passy zeer cort en[de] goet/, incipit, “Hier na ghinc Jhesus een luttel van hem ende is ghevallen in bedinge Ende wort bevende van groter anxt ... dat dae an menich mensche verloren soude wesen dat hij te voeren wiste”;

p. 245, [Rhymed meditation], incipit, “Wye Jhesus passij ende sijn doot in sijn hert can draghen / Die en mach mit ghien reden over liden claghen / Ghien dinc en mach ons bet van sonden bekeren / Dan mit dancbarheit te dencken op die passij ons heren”;

pp. 245-249, Hier volghet na XV goede punten ende leringhe die broder Jan Brugman den volc plach te prediken ende te leren daer die sommighe gheboden of sijn Ende die sommighe sijn goede raden”, incipit, “Die eerste raet is dat een mensche voer alle dinc zijn pater noster ende sijn credo in Duytsche sel konnen ende dat hij weet die X gheboden op dat hij weten mach wat hij bidt ende wat hij gheloven sel ... Want god gheliken hem selven bi den armen Als hij selve seit wat ghij den alren minsten doet in minen naem dat doe dij mij”;

Johannes Brugman, XV goede punten ende leringhe; edited from this manuscript by Geldhof, 1960, pp. 262-264.

pp. 249-250, Exempel, incipit: “O mensche denc op die vervaerlike ewicheit / daer die heilighe scrift aldus of seit / Want het staet ghescreven alsmen lesen / dat een berch zoe hoghe mocht wesen ... dat is hem die alre meeste pijn ende plaghe / denckt dat wel over in juwen daghe”; [p. 250], Exempel, incipit, “Ghij en selt u liden niemant claghen / dan Jhesus die selt u helpen draghen / den menighen seit sijn liden voert / den ghenen die dat gaerne hoert ... Ende hebben van bate alsulc ghebaer / recht of in hem ghien liden en waer”; [p. 250], Exempel, incipit, “Drie dinghen weet ic wel voer waer / Die mijn herte maken alte swaer / ... Dat ic niet en weet waer ic varen sal”.

Three rhymed exempla; edited from this manuscript in Geldhof, 1960, pp. 264–265.

p. 251, [contemporary addition], the beginning of a musical composition (a four-line staff with three neumes only); [p. 252 blank].

The main text in this manuscript is a Middle Dutch translation of La somme le roy, a series of moral lessons in the Mirror of Princes tradition written in 1279 for King Philip III of France by his confessor, the Dominican friar Laurent d’Orléans, also known as Laurent du Bois. By the fourteenth century it had been translated into several languages and spread throughout Europe.  Its popularity was at least in part due to its lively style and pictures of daily life, using descriptions of the virtues and (often amusing) vices of the time, and its use of fables, anecdotes, legends, saint’s lives and the Bible to provide moral instruction.  Deluxe illuminated copies survive, including one by the Parisian illuminator known as Master Honoré c. 1290-1300 (eleven leaves in the London, British Library, Add. MS 54180, and two leaves in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, MS 192 and MS 368), and another illuminated by Honoré’s son-in-law Richard of Verdun c. 1295 (Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, MS 870).

This Dutch translation was made by the adventurous nobleman Jan van Brederode (c. 1371-1415). Ivn 1390 Jan had succeeded his father as Lord of Brederode and got married. In 1402 his wife entered the convent of Dominican nuns in Wijk bij Duurstede, and Jan himself became a lay brother at the Carthusian monastery at Zelem, near Hasselt, where he translated La somme le roy in 1408. After the death of his father-in-law, he left the Carthusian order with papal approval and joined his wife again, but quarrels with the bishop led to his imprisonment.  Following the death of his wife, he was released from prison, and died in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. His translation—in which he allowed himself to make elaborations, abridgements and other adaptations—has survived in only ten manuscripts.  Jan van Brederode is the subject of the recent important monograph by Frits van Oostrom, a leading mediaevalist in the Netherlands:  Frits van Oostrom, Nobel streven. Het onwaarschijnlijke maar waargebeurde verhaal van ridder Jan van Brederode, Amsterdam, 2017.

To the best of our knowledge, the text attributed to Johannes Brugman, XV goede punten ende leringhe, and the three rhymed exempla which follow it, survive only in this codex; they were published from this manuscript by Jozef Geldhof in 1960.  Johannes or Jan Brugman (c. 1400-1473) was a Franciscan friar, who had studied in Paris, became a lector in theology and wrote several devotional texts, including two lives of St. Lidwina, and poems. He was famous for his sermons, delivered in churches, monasteries and in the open air. They received much acclaim in the Northern Netherlands because of their egalitarian character and Brugman’s eloquence (his name has gained a place in Dutch usage in the expression “Praten als Brugman,” meaning “Talking like Brugman”).


De Hamel, C. “Dates in the Giant Bible of Mainz”, in Tributes in Honor of James H. Marrow. Studies in Painting and Manuscript Illumination of the Late Middle Ages and Northern Renaissance, London, 2006.

Dijk, A. van,  ed. Johannes Brugman, Verspreide sermoenen, Antwerpen, 1948 (available online, www.dbnl.org/tekst/brug013vers01_01/index.php).

Geldhof, Jozef. “Een onbekend handschrift van Des Conincx Somme. De vijftien punten van pater Jan Brugman, 1487,” Biekorf, 61 (1960), pp. 261–265 (available online: www.dbnl.org/tekst/_bie001196001_01/_bie001196001_01_0074.php).

Grootens, P., ed. Onuitgegeven sermoenen van Jan Brugman O.F.M, Studiën en Tekstuitgaven van Ons Geestelijk Erf, 8, Tielt, 1948.

Gumbert, J.P. “Jan van Brederode: een beetje nieuw licht uit Nieuwlicht,” in

Chr. de Backer, A.J. Geurts & A.G. Weiler (eds.). Codex in context. Studies over codicologie, kartuizergeschiedenis en laatmiddeleeuws leven aangeboden aan Prof. Dr. A. Gruijs, Nijmegen/Grave, 1985, pp. 161–174.

Gumbert, J. P. Die Utrechter Kartäuser und ihre Bücher im frühen fünfzehnten Jahrhundert, Leiden, 1974.

Hombergh, F.A.H. van den. Leven en werk van Jan Brugman O.F.M. (ca. 1400-1473). Met een uitgave van twee van zijn tractaten, Teksten en Documenten, 6, Groningen, 1967.

Lettinck, Nico. Praten als Brugman. De wereld van een Nederlandse volksprediker aan het einde van de Middeleeuwen, Verloren verleden, 5, Hilversum, 1999.

Moll, W. Johannes Brugman en het godsdienstig leven onzer vaderen in de vijftiende eeuw grootendeels volgens handschriften geschetst. 2 vols., Amsterdam, 1854.

Oostrom, Frits van. Nobel streven. Het onwaarschijnlijke maar waargebeurde verhaal van ridder Jan van Brederode, Amsterdam, 2017.

Scholtens, H. J. J. “Jan van Brederode, convers der kartuizers bij Diest,” Historisch Tijdschrift, 3 (1924), pp. 8–29.

Stooker, Karl and Theodorus Johannes Verbeij. Collecties op orde. Middelnederlandse handschriften uit kloosters en semi-religieuze gemeenschappen in de Nederlanden. 2 vols. I: Studie. II: Repertorium, Miscellanea neerlandica, 15-16, Leuven, 1997, no. 1199 (this manuscript).

Tinbergen, D. C., ed. Des coninx summe, Groningen, 1900.

Tinbergen, D. C., ed. Des coninx summe, Leiden, 1907 (available online: www.dbnl.org/tekst/_con001coni01_01).

Tinbergen, D.C. “Jan van Brederode als vertaler van Des coninx summe,De Nieuwe Taalgids 19 (1925), pp. 81. (available online: www.dbnl.org/tekst/_taa008192501_01/_taa008192501_01_0011.php).

Online Resources

Database of Middle Dutch manuscripts and printed books, the Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta and Impressa (BNM-I): https://bnm-i.huygens.knaw.nl; this manuscript listed as “Gillès de Pélichy (Izegem): z.s.”; see http://hdl.handle.net/11240/a44d70b0-30a6-4739-8b84-05d6fb0d6337.

Database of watermarks www.memoryofpaper.eu.

Database of Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections http://www.mmdc.nl.

On Nieuwlicht http://repertorium.library.uu.nl/node/2820.

On Willem van Medemblick
www.hetutrechtsarchief.nl/onderzoek/resultaten/archieven?mivast=39&mizig=210&miadt=39&miaet=1&micode=34-4&minr=2677005&miview=inv2. www.archieven.nl/nl/zoeken?mivast=0&mizig=210&miadt=236&miaet=1&micode=356&minr=879542&miview=inv2.

TM 933