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les Enluminures

Prayerbook (for the use of the Augustinians of Brignoles)

In Latin, Provençal and some French, decorated manuscript on paper
France, Provence (Brignoles), c. 1500

TM 501

86 ff., lacking a number of leaves (collation: i8, ii4, iii7 [of 8, missing i], iv3 [of 8? with current iii misbound and to be replaced between ff. 19-20], v-viii8, ix8, x4, xi8, xii7 [of 8, likely missing i], xiii5 [of 6, with vi likely a cancelled blank]), on paper (watermark close to Briquet, no. 10762: “Main ouverte sommée d’une fleur,” Genoa [1503-1504] and Provence, undated), written in a gothic liturgical script (textura quadrata), by at least two different hands, in brown ink, ruled in plummet (justification 135 x 95 mm.), rubrics in red, initials in red throughout, some 2-line high, a few 16th-century marginal annotations. Bound in a modern imitation binding, polished brown calf, back sewn on 3 raised bands, boards decorated with blind-stamped triple fillets to a saltire pattern with rosettes and griffon (?) tools, leather ties (Some restorations to paper, some internal stains and acidity due to ink, but overall in good general condition). Dimensions 205 x 150 mm.

Containing a large number of prayers in Provençal, this manuscript is one of only about ten Prayerbooks or Books of Hours with substantial portions of text in Provençal. Signed by an unrecorded scribe, it was copied for use amongst the Augustinians of Brignoles in the diocese of Aix-en-Provence with specific references to the Augustinian Friars in certain prayers. Although fragmentary, the manuscript with its complete sequence of Laudationes warrants further study for its devotional, as well as its linguistic and historical features.


1. Copied by Brother Augustinus Perrone, as per the colophon found in red ink on f. 83, not recorded in Bénédictins du Bouveret, Colophons manuscrits…: “Hic finis laus deo. Qui scripcit scribat semper cum domino vivat vivat in celis semper cum domino felix. Frater Augustinus Perrone.” The manuscript was copied for use in an Augustinian foundation in Brignoles or Brignolles (Provence “verte,” département du Var, diocese of Aix-en-Provence), just north of Toulon, to the west of Marseille (not in Cottineau, who records only a Benedictine foundation in Brignoles). These were known as the “Grands Augustins de Brignoles” and were established in 1319. This would account for the entry in the Calendar, with Augustine in red (28 August). Still standing is an Eglise des Augustins in Brignoles. There are other noteworthy saints honored in Provence such as Saint Hilarius Bishop of Arles, Saint Trophime (Chapter of Saint-Trophime, and consecrated primatiale church in Arles), Inventio sancte crucis (in red, 3 May) [the relics of the True Cross were kept in the Primatiale of Saint-Trophime, Arles], Saint Stephen (in red, 26 May, other patron saint of the Primatiale de Saint-Trophime, Arles), Saint Lawrence (in red in the Calendar, 10 Aug.), Saint Reparata (in red, 8 October), Saint Ermentarius (in brown, 12 November). As for dating, the manuscript is copied on paper with watermarks suggesting northern Italian and Provençal paper.

2. There is a poorly legible inscription on f. 86v, referring to a confraternity: “Deu la confrairia sancto catarinna...”

3. Maison curiale de Brignoles [Presbytery of Brignoles], with printed library label pasted on front pastedown: “Bibliothèque de la Maison curiale de Brignoles. 3 tablette. 2 division. 4 rayon.” Brignoles is located in Provence (département du Var).

4. M. Charles Perrat (1899-1976), member of the Ecole française de Rome, eminent paleographer and Director of the Ecole des chartes (Paris), his private collection, as listed in Brunel (1973), p. 72, no. 250. Charles Perrat was the author of a number of works of erudition, including Barthélemy Buyer et les débuts de l’imprimerie à Lyon (Extract, Humanisme et Renaissance, 1935, tome II, fasc 2, 3, 4); Paléographie romaine, Florence, G. C. Sansoni, 1955.


ff. 1-12v, Calendar, in red and brown, quite scarce, but nonetheless including noteworthy saints: Gilbertus (in brown, 4 Feb.); Pauli Narbonensis (in brown, 22 March); Athanasius (in brown, 2 May); Hilarii Aralatensis (in brown, 5 May); Stephani promartiris (in red, 26 May); Petronille (in brown, 31 May); Claudii, episcopi (in brown, 6 June); Anthonii confessor de ordine minorum (13 June); Alexis (in brown, 17 July); Laurentius (in red, 10 Aug.); Ludovicus, episcopi (19 Aug.); Bernardi abbatis (in brown, 20 Aug.); Augustini (in red, 28 Aug.); Felicis et Audacti (30 Aug.); Grati, episcopi (7 Sept.); Reparata (in red, 8 Oct.); Ospicii abbatis (in brown, 15 Oct.); Martini episcopi (in brown, 12 Nov.); Martini pape (in red, 13 Nov); Ermentari, abbatis (in brown, 13 Nov.); Trophimi, episcopi (in brown, 29 Dec.);

ff. 13-16,, including on the Passion, on the Three Vices, beginning incomplete: “[...] meis. Ne proiicias me a facie tua et spiritum sanctum tuum...”; rubric, In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti amen. Ad honorem et reverentiam ac memoriam passionis domini nostri Ihesu Christi sequitur (fol. 13v); Sequens oratio debet dici tribus vicibus (fol. 16);

ff. 16v-19v; ff. 22-22v; ff. 20-20v [misbound], Litany, including saints Poncius; Ciacrius; Ermentarius; Blasius; Reparata; also Stephen (second patron saint of the Cathedral of Saint Trophime, in Arles); Lawrence; Honorat; Augustine;

ff. 21-21v, fragment, rubric (incomplete), [...] dicitur lauda finita sequatur ut infra;

ff. 23-27, in Provençal, beginning incomplete, “[...] aministrar aquel syeu exercissi a l’auror he honor he glorio de dieu he augmentament de ben...”; incipits, “Ancara may pregarem lo dich nostre segnor...”; “Ancara mays preguarem per tos los paires he frayres de sanct augustin de brignolo...”; “Ancaro may pregarem per enfans orfaneuls viduos he autros personos affligidos...”; “He per los naveans en la mar per ben far traffegans...” […]; “Ancaro mays pregarem per nostri communitat he per toutos las personos de aquesto villo de brignolo he de tout lo pays...” (f. 25);

ff. 27-38v,, beginning with rubric in Latin and Provencal (f. 27), Ave Maria et Te Deum laudamus salve regina: humbloment he puey fasent la disciplinio diren ave maria gratia plena; follow, in Latin, Te Deum; Salve regina; Porrige nobis...etc.

ff. 38v-83, Laudationes [] all in Provençal, rubrics in latin, Sequitur laudes per totum annum et primo de adventu domini, incipit, “Ogni homs cum devocione s’alegra en questo sancte avento...”; rubric, Lauda de sancto Ihoanne evangelista, incipit; “Ben he digno de horare / Sancto ihoanne evangelista...” (ff. 42-44), rubric, Lauda de circuncisione domini (ff. 44-46); Lauda de epiphania domini (ff. 46-50v); Lauda de sancto sebastiano (ff. 50v-52); Lauda de purificatione beate marie (ff. 52-54); Lauda de cadragesima (ff. 54-56); Lauda de anunciatione beate marie (ff. 56-58); Lauda de resurrectione domini (ff. 58-60); Lauda de ascentione domini nostri iesu christi (ff. 60-62); Lauda de cruce domini...(ff. 62-64v); Lauda in die sancto pentecoste (ff. 64v-66); Lauda de nativitate beati ioannis baptiste (ff. 66-68v); Lauda Maria Magdalena (ff. 68v-69v); Lauda de asumtione beate marie virginis (ff. 69v-72); Lauda de nativitate beate marie virginis (ff. 72-74); In festo omnium sanctorum (ff. 74-76v); Lauda domini nostri ihesu christi (ff. 77-78v); Lauda de iudicio dei (ff. 78v-79v); Lauda beate maie (ff. 79v-82); Lauda pro mortuis (ff. 82-83);

ff. 83v-86v, Added inscriptions, including in Latin: “Gaude virgo caterina...”; in Provençal: “Lauda nostra domina. A vos nostra dama de gratia / De tot lo mondo...”; “Segnor dious mon paire...”; in French: “Ave mere du redempteur / Si te prions tous de bon cueur...” (ff. 85-86).

Because the present book does not apparently contain a section devoted to the Hours of the Virgin, it is technically speaking not a Book of Hours. It should be noted however that the manuscript is missing (especially before current f. 13), and thus it is difficult to determine exactly its original composition. The term “Prayerbook” seems more appropriate, although this manuscript presents many elements found in Books of Hours (Calendar, Litany). It was described by Clovis Brunel as “Livre d’oraisons en latin, provençal, italien [sic] et français” (Brunel, 1973, p. 72).

Although a fragment, the present manuscript is nonetheless a rarity. It contains substantial passages redacted in Provençal. In his work on literary manuscripts in old Provençal, Clovis Brunel (1973) records only four Books of Hours with passages in Provençal (these are, no. 53, San Marino, Huntington, HM 1104: “The instructions for a penitent which occupy the last 17 pages of the MS are in the old langue d’oc..;”; no. 60, Ancienne Collection Compayré, Livres d’heures, Albigeois; no. 114, Ancienne Collection Bory, Heures de la Vierge, avec des prieres en provençal]; no. 204, Paris, BnF, lat 1357; see V. Leroquais, Les livres d’heures manuscrits de la Bibliothèque nationale, tome I, no. 72). A census of Horae made in Southern France was announced in P.V. Davies (1993), which has yet to be published (Inventaire provisoire des livres d’heures manuscrits provenant du Midi de la France ou des regions limitrophes [as quoted and announced in P. V. Davies, 1993, p. 3]). Davies however states that in addition to the four Horae that contain Provençal and Occitan, he has identified six others (see Davies, 1993, p. 9). Davies studies one of these Horae with passages in Provençal: Birmingham City Art Gallery (N. Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, 1977, II, pp. 55-58, probably copied in Arles [Davies, 1993, pp. 10-24]).

The manuscript was copied for use within the community of Augustinian Friars in Brignoles (Grands Augustins de Brignoles), as indicated in a number of prayers which explicitly refer to “tos los paires he frayres de sanct augustin de brignolo” (f. 23v), as well as to the inhabitants of Brignoles: “...per toutos las personas de aquesto villo de brignolo he de tout lo pays...” (f. 25) and, interestingly, the King of France: “...he desdir he felicitat del segnor nostre Rey de Franso he de los citadins de la vilo de brignolo...” (f. 25v).

This manuscript testifies to the vivacious nature of Provençal towards the very end of the Middle Ages, even in private devotional contexts, and one notes the importance of the passages in the vernacular, that supersede those redacted in Latin. These devotional and liturgical texts should be edited and published; all testimonies of Provençal culture and language are precious to historians and linguists.


Audisio, G. “Deux réseaux, quatre circuits. Le livre religieux en Provence au XVIe siècle,” in Le livre religieux et ses pratiques..., Göttingen, 1991, pp. 95-109.

Brunel, C. Bibliographie des manuscrits littéraires en ancien provençal, Geneva [Slatkine reprints], 1973, no. 250, p. 72.

Chevalier, U. Notice sur un livre d’heures provençal de 1265, 1890.

Davies, P. V. Glanures occitanes recueillies dans trois livres d’heures (fin XIVe s.-XVe s.), Glasgow, University of Glasgow French and German Publications, 1993.

Giordano, C. Livres et bibliothèques des cathédrales. Fin XIIIe siècle-1530. L’exemple provençal, Arles, 2010.

Reboul, G. Essai historique sur la ville de Brignoles..., Marseille, 1897.

Online resources

On Provencal Literature