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les Enluminures

Portable Liturgical Psalter and Noted Diurnal (Use of the Carthusians of Vauvert-lès-Paris?

In Latin, with some French, decorated manuscript on parchment
France, Paris, c. 1260-1290, after 1257/1258 and before 1297 (probably between 1282-1297)

TM 277

[I] + 359 + [II] ff., preceded by 2 paper flyleaves and ending with 4 parchment and paper flyleaves, on parchment, apparently complete but modified in the 14th century (collation: i7 [8-1, missing first folio], ii8, iii8+1, iv-xvi8, xvii3, xviii-xxi8, xxii12, xxiii8, xxiv4, xxv-xxx8, xxxi12, xxxii4, xxxiii-xlii8, xliii12, xliv8-2), partially foliated, early foliation in Arabic numerals in upper right-hand corners beginning at “22” and stopping at “38” [modern folios 1-17 = medieval folios 22-38], contemporary foliation in Roman numerals in red starting with the beginning of the Diurnal “1” (fol. 133) to “91” (fol. 231), medieval foliation interrupted between modern ff. 232-252, resuming at “113” (fol. 253) till “177” (fol. 318), written in two sizes of gothic script (littera textualis), with a smaller size for chants, by at least two scribes (many other subsequent annotators and users), text copied on up to 20 lines per page, parchment ruled in plummet (justification 115 x 80 mm), some catchwords, a number of guide-letters copied in the margins, numerous 1-line high capitals in black with black and red calligraphic infill, some decorated with a variety of figures, small faces and caricatures, numerous 1-line high versal initials in red or blue, 2-line high initials in blue or red initials with opposing color penwork marking chants, prayers and readings, larger 4-line high initials parti-colored in red and blue ornamented with red and blue penwork extending into the margins, manicula, punctuation consists of the punctus and punctus elevatus, musical notation in black on 4-line staves in red, marginalia in several 14th and 15th century cursive hands with liturgical or ceremonial notes and added prayers, front and rear flyleaves likely former pastedowns from notarial documents in French and Latin. Nineteenth-century binding of green morocco over pasteboard, covers with a gilt frame with roll-tooled border and blind-stamped gauffered pattern on boards, spine gilt in six compartments, lettered in French in the second and third: “Antiphonnaire. Manuscrit sur vélin du 14e siècle”, with Sir Thomas Phillipps’ shelfmark on paper label pasted in last compartment “1312”, gilt dentelles and gilt filet on edges, marbled pastedowns and first flyleaves (Binding somewhat rubbed and worn, some internal staining and parchment defects, but overall in good condition). Dimensions 180 x 125 mm.

Likely made for the royal foundation of the Chartreuse de Vauvert-lès-Paris soon after its foundation and endowment by Saint Louis in 1257/1258, the present office book with its excellent provenance and clean condition, survives as one of the earliest witnesses to the liturgy of the Parisian foundation. Extensively annotated and bearing the traces of extended use throughout the centuries, it constitutes a precious source for the study of Carthusian liturgy and music in the 13th century.


1.Likely copied for use by a Carthusian monk, member of the Carthusian monastery of Vauvert-lès-Paris. The manuscript presents a distinctly Carthusian calendar as well as a number of Carthusian saints included in the Sanctoral (compare Grotefend, vol. 2, pp. 18-20). Amongst the typical Carthusian saints, there are: Hugo of Grenoble (1 April); Hugo, bishop of Lincoln (17 Nov.); Bernard (20 Aug.); Colombanus (21 Nov.); Remigius (1 Oct.); Silas (28 Nov.); and feasts such as the Feast of the Holy Relics (Sanctuarum reliquarum, 8 Nov.). An in-depth liturgical analysis of the Calendar and contents of the Diurnal would surely yield more typical Carthusian features: for example the Office of the Dead (ff. 323v-328) presents responsories for the use of the Carthusians. In addition, the Calendar contains the Dedication of a church to be celebrated on 3 October, copied in red by a “first” hand. A later 14th c. entry in the Calendar reads “Dedicatio ecclesie”, facing the date 26 June. The official Church of Notre-Dame de Vauvert de Paris was dedicated on 26 June 1325 (see Raoul, 19955; Exhibition Catalogue, 1987). However, interestingly, while the official Church was being erected, there was a “temporary” or “primitive” church whose dedication took place precisely on 3 October (this “double” dedication is suggested here: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rite_cartusien; further research in the chapters archives and historic documents relating to the foundation of Vauvert should provide more precise sources to corroborate this affirmation). An early obit penned in a late 13th or early 14th c. hand reads: “Obitus comitissa de blois” (Jan. 10, fol. 10). This could be either Jeanne de Châtillon, comtesse de Blois (1258-1292) who married Pierre d’Alençon (1251-1284), son of Louis IX. We know that the Chartreuse de Vauvert-lès-Paris was founded in 1257 and endowed by Saint Louis [Louis IX] (canonized in 1297). The Carthusians received ample land and riches (those terrains situated where the modern-day Paris Luxembourg Gardens are located). The court, the two cloisters, the primitive chapel, the church, and the cells, composed each of a distinct pavilion, following the usages of the order, covered a space large enough to contain a city. Vauvert was the first of the “urban” Charterhouses, where the monks accepted to settle near a city rather than their customary secluded “desert” in the country (see A. Saint-Denis, 2006 and his recent study: “Saint Louis et la fondation de la Chartreuse de Vauvert”). Another important benefactor of Vauvert was Saint Louis’s daughter-in-law, Jeanne de Châtillon (died in 1292), married to Pierre d’Alençon: this accounts no doubt for the presence of the added obit, meant to commemorate the generous benefactor of the Carthusians of Paris (Jeanne de Châtillon endowed the Charterhouse quite liberally in March 1291 and provided for 14 additional monks; see Exhibition Catalogue, 1987, p. 14; see also Raoul, 1955, p. 19).

2. Front and rear parchment flyleaves added in the 15th century (dated 1451 and 1456) are fragments of notarial documents, in French and Latin, with references to courts in Paris such as “…du palays a paris au quinziesme jour dudit moys de may…,” but also references to small towns and parishes such as “Bresdon,” “Honey [Aulnay],” le lieu “Des Touches” (Poitou region). Additions in French and Latin appear on f. 16 with the date 1350 (although the elements of computus were most likely copied in the 15th century).

3. Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872), MS 1312, his paper label with shelfmark on spine, and his shelfmark in ink and with ink stamp on front flyleaf “Sir T. P. Middle Hill.” In 1835, Phillipps purchased the present manuscript with a group of books from the Monteil collection from the Paris bookseller Royez. Amans-Alexis Monteil (1769-1850) was a historian and author of Traité des matériaux manuscrits de divers genres d'histoire (1835).

4. H.P. Kraus, Catalogue 153 (1979), item 38. In 1977, Kraus purchased all the remaining Phillipps manuscripts: “I am confident that many discoveries will reward my venture.” One reads in Kraus’s Bibliotheca Phillippica: “I am sitting, figuratively, on a huge heap of manuscripts and printed books which arrived in hundreds of cartons (…) It is still like Christmas, and scarcely a week passes without the discovery of something important” (Bibliotheca Phillippica, 1979).


ff. I-Iv, Fifteenth-century inscription, with liturgical and ceremonial instructions, beginning: “Cantor hebdomarius caputium removet antequam invitatorium incipiat…” (the Carthusian monks wear a scapular joined at the sided by bands at the side and has the hood (caputium) attached to it, also known as the “cowl”);

ff. 1-8v, Noted invitatory Psalm Venite exsultemus, traditionally numbered 94 in the Septuagint or 95 in the Masoretic text, and used to start Nocturns in the Divine Office;

ff. 9-9v, Blessings of the table, rubric, Benedictio prandii tempore ieieunii; Benedictio super mensam… etc.;

ff. 10-15v, Calendar, in red and black, among the saints and feasts included by the first hand are: Agnes, with 12 lessons (21 Jan.) and (28 Jan.) (both of which are not red-letter days); Hugh of Grenoble (1 April) [instituted with 12 lessons in 1258 in all charterhouses];Bernard (20 Aug.) [with later added mention of 12 lessons and Chapter Feast [Leroquais: “fête de chapitre”] as instituted in 1361]; Remigius (1 Oct.) [the importance of Remigius, patron saint of Reims, is tied to the fact that Saint Bruno, founder of the Order, was a chancellor of the diocese of Reims and involved in the cathedral school of Reims]; Dedication of a church (3 Oct.); Denis (9 Oct.); Theodorus (9 Nov.); Martin and Mennas (11 Nov.); Brixius (13 Nov.); Hugo, Bishop of Lincoln (17 Nov.) [with 12 lessons in 1258]; Columbanus (21 Nov.); Cecilia (22 Nov.); Clement and Felicitas (25 Nov.); Silas (28 Nov.) [feast adopted in 1282]. This Calendar contains a few obits: Obit for a Countess of Blois, copied in an early 14th c. hand: “Obitus comitissa de blois”(Jan. 30): Obit for a “Dominus Karolus”, in a later fifteenth-century hand (16 Dec.); feasts added in a later (fourteenth-century) hand, Saint Louis (25 Aug.; canonized in 1297) and Eleven Thousand virgins (Oct. 21) [instituted in 1291; chapter feast extended later in 1352]; Dedicacio ecclesie (26 June) [Dedication of the official Church of Notre-Dame de Vauvert, in 1325]; feasts added in a fifteenth-century hand: Geneviève (3 Jan.), Maur (14 Jan.); Thomas (7 March); Benedict (21 March); Visitacio beatissime virginis marie (2 July); Octava visitacionis (9 July); Anne matris marie (26 July); Presentacio beatissime virginis marie (21 Nov.) etc.

The Carthusian calendar and chronology for the adoption of feasts by the Order is provided in Leroquais, Les bréviaires manuscrits… (1934), pp. CII-CIII “Tableau chronologique des fêtes cartusiennes.” There are a number of breviaries described by Leroquais as “use of the Carthusians,” with very similar calendars and liturgical particularities. It is interesting to note that the primitive Carthusian calendar, although it admitted more feasts later, gave prominence to non-festal days in order to promote simplicity. It is normal that one does not find the Feast of the founder of the Order in this calendar as the general chapter only authorized the celebration of the Feast of Saint Bruno in 1515 when he was canonized (see Degand, 1948, col. 1059).

f. 16, Elements of computus for determining Easter, incipit, “Sciendum est quod annus incarnationis dominice…”;

f. 16v, Blessings for Matins, rubric, Benediciones in matutinis super lectiones et evangelia;

ff. 17-132, Liturgical Psalter (Gallican), with some antiphons inserted in the Psalter, and canticles;

ff. 132-132v, Later inscriptions (fifteenth century), with additional prayers, including a prayer in French: “Mon createur et redempteur et vrai pere…”;

ff. 133-259, Diurnal, Noted Temporale beginning with Vespers on the Saturday before the first Sunday of Advent, and ending with 25 Sunday after Pentecost; ff. 241-244v, Added office for the Feast of the Corpus Christi (14th century hand), adopted as a Feast by the Carthusians in 1318, rubric, In solemnitate corporis Christi ad vesperas super psalmos antiphona; with marginal note that reads: “Nota hoc [emptum] (?) fuisse per cartusianis addimento XIV s.”(f. 241);

ff. 259v-301v, Diurnal, Noted Sanctorale, beginning with Saint Andrew and ending with Saint Saturninus, and Dedication of a Church (ff. 300v-301v); In festo sancti hugonis… (f. 300); Note the added rubric (a slightly later fourteenth century hand) in margin of fol. 260: Sanctificatione beate marie…, later corrected in the fifteenth century as “Conceptione,” as the Feast of the Conception of the Virgin, first integrated officially into the Carthusian rite in 1335, was initially called “Santificatio” but the changed appellation “Conceptio” was retained by the Chapter in 1341. The rubric thus antidates 1341, and the correction followed after;

ff. 301v-312v, Diurnal, Noted Common of Saints;

ff. 312v-315, Office of the Virgin;

ff. 315-321, Mass of the Virgin;

ff. 321v-323, Litany, with no particular Carthusian saints, except Sancte Hugo added in the margin by a later fifteenth-century hand; followed by Kyrie;

ff. 323v-328, Office of the Dead, use of the Carthusians (with responses: Credo quod redemptor; Induta est caro mea; Memento mei, Domine, quia ventus est; same responses as another Carthusian Breviary, Marseille, Bibl. municipale, MS. 119)

ff. 328v-335, Noted Hymns;

ff. 335v-344, Canticles, with first rubric, Diebus dominicis canticum ysaie prophete;in the margins, an interesting use of a system of associated letters copied in brown ink in a later hand (15th c.?) in upper margin;

ff. 344-350, Additional noted hymns, with first rubric, Ad lectio legendas; Ad matutinas post lectiones et post responsa dicitur iste hymnus; ending with a hymn for the Holy Cross, De sancta Cruce;

f. 350v, Gospel sequence according to John;

f. I, Noted Hymn, copied in a later hand “Credo quod redemptor meus…”;

ff. Iv-IIv, Recycled parchment used as flyleaves (see Provenance above), with added inscriptions.

This manuscript contains a composite liturgical office book whose major parts are made up of a liturgical Psalter and a noted Diurnal, the use of which is clearly Carthusian. Describing such a multi-purpose office book generates typological problems when trying to determine exactly what “type” of liturgical book the present manuscript actually is, and who used it within the monastery. Preceded by a liturgical Psalter, the second part of the manuscript (ff. 133-312v) contains the readings and noted chants for all offices, to the exclusion of the responsories and readings for the Office of Matins. Thus it cannot be construed as being strictly speaking a “Breviary”. Rather than a “Noted Breviary” the second portion of this manuscript is rather a “Livre d’hebdomadier ou du chantre” or a Diurnal (Day-Offices only). The Divine Office is divided into eight services or hours (lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers, compline and matins). Here, because one finds only the program of readings, hymns, canticles and psalms for the day offices--lauds through vespers–the manuscript is called a Diurnal.Amongst the officers of the liturgy in the Carthusian Rite, the present book could have served the Hebdomadary-Priest (Celebrant at all offices and conventual masses, who intones the beginning of the offices, and offers the preces intercessions and the prayers) or the Hebdomadary-Chanter (Cloister monk who intones and chants the Invitatory Psalm at matins, any versicles in the Office, and the responsories at lauds and vespers: all the Cloister Monks take their turn in the rotation for this). According to the Carthusian rite, the only offices sung collectively were matins (sometimes lauds) and vespers. The remaining Hours were recited (sung?) in the privacy and solitude of each monk’s cell.

The recitation of the Divine Office in the Carthusian monk’s cell in between periods of work, study and personal prayer, and the attendance of the long night office of matins and the evening office of vespers in the Church, were the basic pattern of the liturgical day of the Carthusians of the Middle Ages. In 1150, Peter of Cluny, who had known the Carthusians since 1121, gave a more detailed description of their early liturgical life: “In the cells they fulfill the task of the regular Hours…” (see Bruce-Lockhart, Halfway to Heaven : The Hidden Life of the Sublime Carthusians, London, 1985, p. 102). Marginal notes distinguish between those Hours that were to be said in the solitude of one’s cell, and those recited in common in the Church, for example: “Dicitur tertia de die et sexta de beata vigilis in cella…dicitur sexta de die in ecclesia…” (f. 190v). The Carthusians embraced the strictest separation from the world, characterized by total dedication to contemplation through silence, prayer, penance, and almost continuous occupancy of a solitary cell.

As described in “Provenance” above, the present manuscript was most likely originally copied for a Carthusian foundation that celebrated the Dedication of its church on 3 October. A fourteenth-century hand has crossed out the initial red-letter day of 3 October and added an entry to the Calendar facing 26 June that reads precisely “Dedication of the church.” It is interesting to note that the newly founded monastery of Vauvert was housed in modest quarters during the first decades of its existence. Indeed, construction of the monastery began quite late in the 1270s, and the official Church of the Monastery Notre-Dame de Vauvert-lès-Paris was only consecrated in 1325. This could account for the double dedication, with in first instance the dedication of the first “primitive” church on 3 October and in second instance the more “official” church on 26 June. The presence of the Feast of Saint Louis, added in a near-contemporary hand on 25 August, commemorates and honors the founder and first endower of the Parisian Charterhouse. We cannot discard entirely that there is a possibility the manuscript could have been copied for another foundation and passed on very early on in the 14th c. for use in the Chartreuse de Vauvert. But there is also a convincing possibility that the whole manuscript was copied during this period of foundational “limbo” in the 1280s and 1290s, and annotated throughout the centuries as the festal days were being adopted or modified with regard to their solemnity and as the liturgy of the Order and the contents of its service-books were being firmly established.

Dating the core of this manuscript certainly presents some difficulties. An in-depth analysis of the Calendar – clearly Carthusian – would certainly allow for a more precise dating. This is because the Order progressively integrated over time certain feasts with various degrees of solemnity, or transformed certain feasts into Chapter feasts. However, it seems safe to state that the manuscript was certainly copied after 1257 (date of the foundation of the Chartreuse de Vauvert), after 1282 (date of the adoption of the Feast of Saint Silas; see Leroquais, 1934, p. CIII) and before 1297, date of canonization of Saint Louis in 1297 (had the manuscript been copied after 1297, the scribe would certainly have included the Feast of Saint Louis in the “primitive” calendar). Instead, the feast of Saint Louis is added by a near-contemporary hand on fol. 13v (25 Aug.). Finally, it needs to be verified that the presence of Agnes twice in January (21 and 28 Jan.) means that the Calendar was copied soon after the saint was admitted to the Carthusian Calendar in 1291 (see Leroquais, 1934, p. CIII who states that Agnes, Margaret and Catherine were all adopted as festal days in 1291, but only by Carthusian nuns?).

There are a great number of liturgical and devotional annotations that pepper the manuscript, with different early fourteenth-century hands, and other later fifteenth- and even sixteenth-century hands, attesting to the fact that the manuscript was obviously still in use within a Charterhouse well into the sixteenth century. In addition, this composite office book offers early insight into the noted music and hymns performed by monks in a thirteenth-century Carthusian monastery, likely that of Vauvert. Comparisons with other such noted office books, both earlier and later, would certainly allow for interesting conclusions on musical practices within Carthusian foundations. One of the main questions to be posed is that of the practice of solitary chant in one’s cell. Given the fact that the Carthusians were obliged to recite most of the Hours in the solitude of their cells, does such a considerably noted Diurnal suggest that the chants and hymns were performed collectively but also individually? Further research must be conducted, but it appears that this office book is one of the earliest surviving office books tied to the royal foundation of Vauvert, destined to a great future until its suppression and destruction in 1792 (there are no survining buildings from this great conventual complex). We have gone through the first Census of Carthusian manuscripts in French collections (see Devaux, 2007), to find a selection of manuscripts that either belonged to or were made for Vauvert (for example,. Orléans, Bibl. mun. MS 15, Psalter, Use of the Chartreuse de Vauvert, second half of the 14th c.; or Paris, BnF. lat. 1116, Missale ad usum cartusiae Vallis Viridis, dated 1514). In this first Census, we have not localized any manuscripts made for Vauvert and dating as early as the present Psalter-Diurnal. The library of the Chartreuse de Vauvert was destined to become a very “famous” and “rich” collection (to quote A. Franklin, 1863, p. 326), placed near the apartments of the Prior of the monastery. In addition, each monk “owned” his personal library, shelved in his cell. The production of manuscripts destined for use at Vauvert, as well as the history of its library, has yet to be studied and undertaken.


Cluzet, E. Particularités du sanctoral cartusien, Salzburg, Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 1994 [Analecta Cartusiana, 99].

Degand, A. “Chartreux (Liturgie des),” in Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, III, Paris, 1948, col. 1045-1071.

Devaux, A. Catalogue des manuscrits des dépôts publics français concernant l’Ordre des Chartreux, I, Abbeville-Lyon; II, Marseille-Vienne, Salzburg, Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 2007 [Analecta Cartusiana, 217].

Franklin, A. Les anciennes bibliothèques de Paris, “Monastère des chartreux”, Paris, 1863, vol. I, pp. 323-327.

Grotefend, H. Zeitrechnung des Deutschen Mittelalters und der Neuzeit, 2 vols., Hannover, 1892-98 (reprint 1984).

Kraus, H. P. Bibliotheca Phillippica. Catalogue 153 (1979), item 38.

Lambres, B.-M. “Le chant des Chartreux,” in Revue Belge de Musicologie, XXIV (1970), pp. 17-41.

Leroquais, V. Les bréviaires manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France, III, Paris, 1934.

Munby, A.N.L. The Formation of the Phillipps Library up to the Year 1840, Phillipps Studies III, Cambridge, 1954.

Palazzo, E. Le Moyen âge : des origines au XIIIe siècle [Histoire des livres liturgiques], Paris, Beauchesne, 1993.

Plummer, John, Liturgical Manuscripts for the Mass and Divine Office, New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, 1964.

Raoul, P. “Etude sur la Chartreuse de Vauvert-lès-Paris,“ in Amis de Saint-François, janvier-mars 1955, no. 71, pp. 14-32.

Saint-Denis, A. “Saint Louis et la fondation de la chartreuse de Vauvert à Paris,” in L'ordre des Chartreux au XIIIe siècle, Actes du Colloque du 8e centenaire de la fondation de la Chartreuse de Valbonne, 11-13 juin 2004, Salzburg, 2006, pp. 97-104 [Analecta Cartusiana, 234].

Salmon, Pierre. Les manuscrits liturgiques latins de la Bibliothèque Vaticane. I: Psautiers Antiphonaires Hymnaires Collectaires Bréviares, Vatican, 1968.

Exhibition Catalogue. La Chartreuse de Paris (Vauvert), Paris, Musée Carnavalet, 1987.

Online resources

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

On the Carthusian Rite, with reference to Dedication of the primitive church (3 Oct.) and later the official church (26 June) of Vauvert-lès-Paris

Analecta Cartusiana

Especially for the Calendar and the detailed account of the celebration of masses and Offices according to the Carthusian Rite.

On Vauvert-lès-Paris:

A list of manuscripts containing noted music, in France: