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les Enluminures

Liturgical Miscellany, with musical notation (use of Rottenbuch)

In Latin and German, decorated manuscript on parchment
Southern Germany (Bavaria), c. 1375-1425; 1400-1450; c. 1500-20

TM 638

ii (modern paper) + 82 + ii (paper) folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil, lower, outer corner on the recto, collation conjectural, manuscript resewn, (i12 ii6 [-6, following f. 17, with loss of text] iii11[structure uncertain, one leaf cancelled, text is complete] iv8 [through f. 36] v6 vi4 [text missing following 4, f. 43] vii8 viii8 [+1, f. 63] ix6 [-5, following f. 67, with loss of text] x8 xi4 xii2, no catchwords or signatures, section 1, ff. 1-36, frame ruled in ink with full-length vertical bounding lines only (justification, 95 x 62 mm.), written in a gothic bookhand in up to 25 long lines, or with five lines of text and five four-line black staves with square musical notation (c. 33 folios of music), red rubrics, one- to two-line red initials, f. 2, six-line red initial, infilled with curling acanthus leaves in shades of green, f. 4, nine-line red HISTORIATED INITIAL, depicting a reclining (dying?) monk drawn in ink and delicately colored in wash in subdued colors, with vine scroll, also tinted, extending into the lower and outer margins (mostly trimmed in outer margin), ff. 36-63v, frame ruling as above through f. 42v, then no ruling discernible (justification, 92-80 x 62-60 mm.), copied by at least four scribes in cursive gothic bookhands, red rubrics in most sections, two- to one-line red initials, ff. 43-62v, frame ruled with vertical bounding lines only (often not discernible) (justification, 92-88 x 65-60 mm), copied in an artificial well-spaced rather rounded mannered gothic bookhand, red rubrics, one- to two-line red initials, in good, sturdy condition, but with soiling and signs of use throughout (especially in the Hours of the Virgin). Bound in a modern pigskin binding over beveled wooden boards, preserving blindstamped pigskin from a sixteenth-century binding, laid down on the front and back covers, very worn, but with numerous rectangular stamps of couples standing in arched compartments and other motifs forming a border around a rectangular center panel, left blank (?), rounded spine with two raised bands, in excellent condition. Dimensions 115 x 80 mm.

This is a very small-format collection of devotions and Offices, copied to be used by the Canons Regular of Rottenbuch, an important center for church reform in the late eleventh and twelfth centuries, and again in the fifteenth century. An important survival from their library, it includes significant evidence of their liturgical practices, in particular a version of the Office of the Dead, here including musical notation, known in only two other manuscripts, illustrated by a poignant historiated initial of a dying monk.


1. Copied in Southern Germany, in Bavaria, for use at the Augustinian Monastery of Rottenbuch (also spelled, Raitenbuch), as indicated by the use of the Office of the Dead. Although the contents of this small devotional manuscript fit together nicely, and form a cohesive collection of prayers and short Offices that would have been part of the regular liturgical life of a Canon, it was assembled from texts copied at different times. The earliest section, ff. 2-35v, was probably copied c. 1375-25, with other sections copied, c. 1400-1450, and the final section, the Hours of the Virgin, ff. 64-80v, probably the latest, dating c. 1500-20. The present binding is modern, but it retains elements from a sixteenth-century German blindstamped binding, presumably from this manuscript’s previous binding, and it seems likely that these texts were assembled together in the sixteenth century.

The monastery of Rottenbuch was located in Bavaria, in the diocese of Freising, southwest of Munich in a remote location in the foothills of the Alps; it was founded in 1073/4 by Duke Welf of Bavaria, in association of Bishop Altmann of Passau. Approved by charters of Pope Urban II in 1092 and 1094, it became the most important foundation of Regular Canons in Bavaria, and remained steadfastly loyal to the Papacy during the investiture controversy. In the twelfth century, the renowned theologian, Geroh of Reichersberg (1093-1169) took refuge at Rottenbuch around 1122 and again in 1125. It was an important center religious reform in the twelfth century, and its constitution was adopted by numerous houses founded in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. In the fifteenth century, it was again a force for reformed religious life, and the flourishing community rebuilt its church. It survived through the struggles of the Protestant reformation and the Thirty Year’s War, remaining a center of learning until its secularization in 1803. Its important library suffered losses through its history (about 100 manuscripts were burnt in 1704), and the library was plundered by to French troops in 1796 and 1800. Some of its surviving manuscripts are now in Munich (the database Manuscripta Mediaevalia includes eleven, and nineteen fragments; see Online Resources).

2. Private European Collection.


f. 1 [added in a formal sixteenth-century gothic], Lord’s Prayer, incipit, “Pater noster …, Ave maria [cue only]”;

f. 1v, German saying, added, incipit, “O Mvnsch gedenck die grossen not, die ich erlitten hon mit bitterem dot, do mir mein hertz wart auff gethon, damit ich dich erlest hon, des solstu mir alle Zeit danck sagen, vnd mein leiden in deinem hertzen tragen”;
ff. 2-26, Office of the Dead, with musical notation, use of Rottenbuch; leaf missing following f. 17v, so seventh lesson ends imperfectly, and all but the last two words of the noted response are missing on f. 18, [Quomodo confitebor tibi … discutias me mi]//serere mei …” [added prayer, f. 26, incipit, “Media vita in morte sumus …”];

Ottosen, 1993, pp. 180-181, listing only two books with these responses (following his numerical list of responses, nos. 70, 40, 47, 1, 58, 18, 76, 79, 83), both from Rottenbuch (also speeled Raitenbuch), Munich BSB, Clm 23288 and 12201C .

ff. 26v-35v, Minores lectiones cum Responsoriis sequuntur, with musical notation [Short lessons for the Office of the Dead with Responses];

Ottosen, 1992, p.125, listing only three books with these responses (his nos. 14, 72, 24, 32, 57, 68, 28, 40, 82), the two from Rottenbuch that also include the longer lessons and responses above, and one from Augsburg.

f. 35v, Alternate response (“Libera me domine de morte eterna …”) and versicle added in a cursive script at the end of the preceding text.

f. 36rv, [Added, possibly by the scribe who copied the Hours of the Virgin] Oratio bona de christi passione, incipit, “O misericordissime domine ihesu criste tue misericordie non est <numerus?> ad cuius respectum omnia peccata mea … et iudicio tuo extremo securre valeamus astare. Qui cum patre et”;
Prayer on the Passion of Christ.

ff. 37-39v, The Seven Verses of St. Bernard, incipit, “Illumina oculos meos … [Ps. 12:4-5] …”

[f. 40rv, blank];

Chevalier, RH, 192-1921, no. 27912; this was a very popular text, found in devotional books of many types, including Books of Hours. It is sometime preceded by a rubric explaining how St. Bernard tricked the Devil to reveal the seven special verses in the Psalms that would ensure that anyone who recited them daily would not die in sin. The verses are: “Illumina oculos meos ... adversus eum [Ps. 12:4-5]; “In manus tuas Domine ... Deus veritatis [Ps. 30:6]”; “Locutus sum in lingua mea ... finem meum [Ps. 38:5]”; “Et numerum dierum meorum ... desit mihi [Ps. 38:5]”; “Disrupisti Domine Vincula mea ... invocabo [Ps. 115:16-17].” Periit fuga a me ... animam meam. [Ps. 141:5]”; “Clamavi ad te Domine ... terra vivencium [Ps. 141:6]”; and “Fac mecum signum ... consolatus es me. [Ps. 85:17].”

ff. 41-42, Notes on liturgical readings, incipit, “Si A fuit littera dominicalis historia sapiencie inonatur in dominica ante vincula petri, Job post egidii …”;

Notes on the varying cycle of biblical readings from the Old Testament (Wisdom, Tobit, Job, Judith and Esther) for the Divine Office, traditionally assigned to the Summer months, depending on the dominical letters.

ff. 42v-45, De passione dominus ad matutinum, Short Hours of the Cross in a very abbreviated format, including only the hymns for each hour and the concluding prayer; followed by the prayer, incipit, “Auxilientur nobis domine septem passionis tue …”;

f. 45-46v, Suffragium de passione domini deuotum feria sexta orandum multis indulgentiis …, incipit, “Dum fabricator mundi mortis supplicium pateretur in cruce … Quia innocens dominus//”;

Suffrage on the Passion, the opening antiphon often sung during the adoration of the Cross; ending imperfectly on f. 46v.

ff. 47-52, Office of the Holy Spirit, incipit, “Domine labia mea aperies …,” concluding, with the prayer, incipit, “Deus qui corda fidelium sancti spiritus …”;

The text is given in full, and includes the hymn, “Veni creator spiritus mentes tuorum,” and Psalms 82-85.

ff. 52-60v, before and after Mass, Oracio bona ante communionem. Et deuota oratio, incipit, “Omnipotens et misericors deus. Ecce accedo ad sacrametnum corpis et sangwis …”; Oratio, incipit, “O mi domine ihesu dulcissime et amatissime …”; … f. 55, Recessus altaris, Trium puerum cantemus ymnus …”; …[Prayer], incipit, “Domine ihesu chrsite fili dei viui mundi creator …”;

The prayers said after Mass are similar to those found in other German fifteenth century manuscripts, including the Miniature Prayer Book, Germany, c. 1400-50, TM 258, on this site, and Munich, Clm 3702, and Meditations, Schwaben 1468/9.

ff. 60v-63v, Suffrages to the Virgin, St. Barbara, On the Passion, One’s own Angel, De beata maria virgine …; De sancta barbara …; De passione domini …; De proprio angelo ….; de marie …;

ff. 64-80v, Hours of the Virgin (use of Mainz?); one leaf missing following f. 67 in Matins.

The texts from Prime and None here agree with sources from Mainz 1495 and Chiemsee, 1516 (CHD, Online Resources), but these indicate only superficial agreement and further study to determine the Use is called for; the text appears interesting and may include variation in the Psalms said at some of the Hours.

ff. 81-82v, added in the seventeenth century (Sequuntur ultissimus orationes contra tempestates, tonitura, fulgura, et grandines….), including very useful prayers against storms, thunder, lightning, and hail.

The House of Regular Canons at Rottenbuch was an important center of Church reform from the time of their foundation through the twelfth century, and once again in the fifteenth century. A commitment to reform and renewal was part of their earliest goals. In 1092, Pope Urban II rejoiced that the brothers of Rottenbuch had “renewed the life approved by the Holy Fathers and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit revived the ordinances of the apostolic discipline, which originated in the earliest time of holy Church, but, as the Church aged, were almost destroyed” (Robinson, 2004, p. 271; Migne, PL, vol.151, col. 338B; Mois, 1953, p. 76).

This book is evidence of the continuing vitality of the devotional life at Rottenbuch in the fifteenth century. Although it includes many of the texts found in Books of Hours, illuminated books for private, and most often presumably lay devotion, including the Office of the Dead, Hours of the Virgin, an abbreviated version of the Hours of the Cross, and an Office of the Holy Spirit (although it should be noted that this Office is not the Short Hours of the Holy Spirit commonly found in Books of Hours), as well as a few additional prayers for before and after Mass, this was a book for a cleric, made for the use the Canons of the illustrious German House at Rottenbuch. These short Offices and prayers would have been said by the Canons in addition to the public Psalms and prayers of the Divine Office, and the daily conventual Mass.

This manuscript includes evidence for the liturgical practices at Rottenbuch; of special interest are the Office of the Dead (recorded by Ottosen, 1993 in only two other manuscripts), here with musical notation and with two sets of lessons and responses, and the text describing the rules to determine the choice of the Office readings from Old Testament books (ff. 41-2).


Backmund, Norbert. Die Chorherrenorden und ihre Stifte in Bayern. Augustinerchorherren, Prämonstratenser, Chorherren vom Hl. Geist, Antoniter, Passau, Neue Presse Verlag, 1966, pp. 34ff, and 127-132.

Chevalier, Ulysse. Repertorium hymnologicum, Louvain,1892-1912; Brussels, 1920-21.

Glauche, Günter. “Mittelalterliche Handschriften und frühe Drucke in der Stiftsbibliothek Rottenbuch,” in Pörnbacher, 1974, p. 99ff, and 1980.

Mois, Jakob. Das Stift Rottenbuch in der Kirchenreform des XI.-XII. Jahrhunderts : ein Beitrag zur Ordens-Geschichte der Augustiner-Chorherren, Munich, Verlag des Erzbischöflichen Ordinariats, 1953.

Mois, Jakob. Die Stiftskirche Rottenbuch (= Die Kirchen und Kapellen des Augustinerchorherrenstifts Rottenbuch Bd. 1), Rottenbuch 2000.

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

Pörnbacher, Hans. Rottenbuch. Das Augustinerchorherrenstift im Ammergau. Beiträge zur Geschichte, Kunst und Kultur, Weißenhorn, Konrad, 1974 (second expanded edition, Weißenhorn, 1980).

Robinson, I. S. “Reform and the Church,” in the New Cambridge Medieval History, Vol. IV, c. 1024-c. 1198, eds. David Luscombe and Jonathan Riley-Smith, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 265-334.

Online resources

Website of the Augustinian Canons, Houses and Foudations: Canons Regular of Rottenbuch

Bavarian Monaseries (Klöster in Bayern): Kloster Rottenbuch

Manuscripta mediaevalia (online catalogue of manuscripts in German Libraries)

CHD Institute for Studies of Illuminated Manuscripts in Denmark, Books of Hours 1300-1530