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les Enluminures

Processional (Use of the Dominican Nuns of Poissy)

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment with musical notation
France (Paris), c. 1500, with additions, Paris, c. 1525-40

TM 636

vi (paper) + 123 + ii (paper) folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto, and bottom outer corner, leaving the first folio unnumbered, as follows, a-d +1-105 + A-L, text is complete (collation, i6 [1 and 2, single, probably added to a quire of 4] ii8 [beginning with f. 1] iii7 [1, f. 9, single, text appears complete] iv-xiv8 xv2 xvi12 [in another hand, possibly added?, but text continues from the previous quire, foliated A-L]), no catchwords, partial signatures (?) remain on the first leaf of some quires, very bottom insider margin, ruled in pale red ink with the top and bottom horizontal rules full across, full-length single vertical bounding lines, (justification, 90-89 x 57-66 mm.), written below the top line in a calligraphic gothic bookhand in eighteen long lines, or with up to six lines of text and six four-line red staves, square musical notation in black, with additions at the beginning and end, ff. a-d at the beginning copied in a careful humanist script, and ff. A-I at the end in a mannered gothic bookhand, majuscules carefully touched with pale yellow, red rubrics, decorative cadel initials equivalent to a line of text and music on square pale yellow grounds (many with faces in profile), blue, gold, and red line fillers, one-line brushed gold initials alternately filled with blue or red with white highlights on grounds of the other color, two-line (or a line of text and music) white and pale gray ribbon initials infilled with realistic flowers or fruit (often blue flowers with green leaves or strawberries) on gold grounds, HISTORIATED INITIAL, equivalent to two lines of text and music, depicting Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, initial is blue with white three-dimensional highlights on a square red ground, with a full scatter border with blue, white, and red acanthus, and delicate violets and pink flowers on green stems, on a gold ground (partially trimmed), FULL PAGE MINIATURE, facing the first unnumbered leaf, of St. Susanna meeting Daniel, surrounded by a gold architectural frame, overall in excellent condition, miniature slightly rubbed (possibly re-touched) and border, f. 1, slightly trimmed and smudged in the lower margin. Bound in a very fine French seventeenth-century elaborately gold-tooled red leather binding over pasteboard; tooled in gold with an outer border of dots in groups of three, two fillets, and very small stamps, including fleur-de-lis and tassels, and a similar inner border with corner ornaments forming an center rectangular panel with a fanfare-style centerpiece of very fine stamps, enclosing a roundel stamped “Soeur Anne” on the front, and “De Tournebu” on the back; similar bindings include British Library, c46b11 for Drout in 1640, c46c15, and c46c17, for Claudius Tapin in 1640 (Online Resources; similar layout found in De Conihout, 2002, pp. 34-5, dated 1644), smooth spine with delicate gold-tooled border surrounding a row of small stamps, gilt edges, in good condition apart from slight cracking and wear along the joint on the front cover, and lesser wear to the back joint and corners, once fastened front to back, straps missing, wound headband, tailband missing (?), combed marbled pastedowns and facing flyleaves. Dimensions 125 x 90 mm.

This is a particularly deluxe and elegant example of a Processional, made for a nun from the wealthy Royal Abbey of Poissy outside of Paris. The Processionals from this foundation are of particular interest, and only about thirty are known (all remarkably different and dating over three centuries). This example is unrecorded, and it includes illumination by the Master of the Paris Entries, as well as a slightly later full-page miniature by an anonymous Parisian artist (Jean Leclerc?). This book is associated with two nuns. Sister Anne of Tournebu had the book rebound in the seventeenth century, and an earlier nun had the full-page miniature added shortly after the book was made. This miniature is an unusual depiction from the life of Saint Susanna, suggesting that this early owner’s name may have been Susan. 


1. Made for use in the Dominican convent of the nuns of St.-Louis of Poissy on the Seine, approximately thirty kilometers from Paris. Founded in 1304 by King Philip the Fair (1268-1314) for nuns of noble birth and dedicated to Saint Louis (King Louis IX), it was closely associated with the royal family for several centuries until its dissolution in 1793. For the most recent and complete history of Poissy, see Moreau-Rendu (1968). 

This manuscript’s connection with Poissy is clearly indicated by its contents; the rubric on f. 52v, explicitly mentions St. Louis de Poissy (“in ecclesia beati ludovici de pisciaco”) by name. Its text follows the usual contents of Dominican Processionals (Huglo, 1999, tableau VII, pp. 52*-53*), with the additions that were proper to Poissy, including Saint Louis, their patron saint, St. John the Baptist, the Nativity of the Virgin, and the cleansing of the twenty-altars in the Church of Poissy on Maundy Thursday.

Joan Naughton has suggested that in the sixteenth-century Processionals were copied by the nuns themselves at Poissy, who may also have added the secondary decoration (Naughton, 1999/2000, p. 167). The script used here for the main portion of the manuscript is a careful Gothic bookhand, similar to that found in other sixteenth-century manuscripts from Poissy. The secondary decoration in this manuscript however, is not in the “archaizing gothic style” of many of these books, but is instead completely up-to-date, making this book a stylistically coherent example of an illuminated manuscript from c. 1500. The historiated initial on f. 1 may have been executed in Paris by the Master of the Paris Entries or his associates (Illumination discussed below).

2. The full page miniature on the verso of the first unnumbered leaf, the texts on ff. a-e at the beginning of the manuscript, as well as those at the end on ff. A-J, were added to the manuscript. The text sections were copied in different scripts (a careful mannered humanist script, and a very mannered gothic bookhand respectively), on parchment that differs from that in the remainder of the manuscript (although the rubric on f. 105v is appropriate for the text found in a new hand on f. A, so perhaps this replaces the original text, or possibly supplies text left incomplete when the manuscript was first copied). This last section of the text was also clearly part of manuscript before it was rebound in the seventeenth century as the back of the last parchment leaf, f. “L” verso has traces of glue and once was a pastedown. 

This full-page miniature (see discussion below), depicts St. Susanna meeting Daniel on the way to her excecution (the young Daniel discovered she was innocent, and had her accusers put to death instead of Susanna). It is not part of the usual iconography found in sixteenth-century Processionals from Poissy, and may have some connection with this manuscript’s sixteenth-century owner. Indeed, it seems possible, that her name may have been Susanna.

3. Belonged to Sister Anne de Tournebu in the seventeenth century; the book is now bound in a finely decorated gold-tooled binding with her name on the covers (on the front, “Soeur Anne”, and on the back, “De Tournebu”). Sister Anne de Tournebu was among the nuns who signed the document affirming the election of Elisabeth de Bermond as Prioress in August, 1666 (Chapotin, 1892, p. 50).

4. Seventeenth-century (?) note, front flyleaf, f. i verso, “A l’office de chantre” (the same note found in TM 524, a fourteenth-century Processional from Poissy sold on this site).


[Unnumbered folio, blank on recto; verso, full page miniature]; ff. a-e, Noted texts for the Offices for Corpus Christi and confessor, common of saints, De Sacramento, R., incipit, “Homo quidam fecit cenam magnam …”; De communi confessore. R., incipit, “Iste sanctus digne in memoriam vertitur …”;

ff. 1-20v, Chants for the processions [noted Offices] for Palm Sunday, Easter, Ascension, Purification, and the Assumption, beginning with the antiphons for the procession, incipit, “Pueri hebreorum tollentes ramos ….”, ant, incipit, “Pueri hebreorum uestimenta …”, f. 8, In die pasche et duobus diebus sequentibus, Ant., incipit, “Christus resurgens ex mortuis …”; f. 10, In ascensione domini, R., incipit “Uiri galilei quid admirami …”; f. 13, In purificatione beate marie, incipit, “Lumen ad reuelationem …”; f. 17, In purificatione beate marie, ant., incipit, “Hodie beata uirgo maria …”; f. 17v, In assumptione beate marie, incipit, “Felix namque …”;

ff. 21-30, Chants for the processions for the feasts of St. Dominic, St. Louis (the Patron of Poissy), and Corpus Christi, In festo sancti dominici, R., incipit, “Panis oblatus celitus fratrum …”, f. 23v, In festo sancti ludouici, R., incipit, “Felix regnum …”, f. 27, De sancto sacramento, incipit, “Panis oblatus celitus in altari …”;

ff. 30-37v, Noted texts for procession on Maundy Thursday, Ad mandatum oratoris, incipit, “Actiones nostros quesumus dominus …”, Ant., incipit, “Dominus iesus postquam cenauit …”; [thirteen antiphons], concluding prayer, incipit “Adesto domine nostre officio …”;

ff. 37v-39v, Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday, In die parasceue ad crucem adorandum duo sacerdotes et duo sorores, versus, incipit, “Popule meus quid feci tibi …”, … Sorores, incipit, Agyos Otheros …” [parts marked for the priests, the sisters, and the chorus (“choros”)];

ff. 40-47, Noted processions for the Nativity of Mary and John the Baptist, both proper to Poissy, In die natiuitate beate marie R., incipit, “Natiuitas tua dei genetrix …”, Ad introitum ecclesie, incipit, ”Sanctum Mariam uirginum piissima …”, f. 42v, De Sancto iohanne, incipit, “Hic precursor directus …”;

ff. 47-50v, [Blessings of the candles on the Purification, of Ashes and Palms], Benedictio candelarum in purificationis, incipit, “Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui hodierna die unigentium …”, f. 47v, Benedictio cineris, incipit, “Deus qui non mortem …”;

ff. 50v-52v, For Good Friday, Feria vi in parasceue … due sorores ante gradum altaris …, incipit, “Kyrie eleison …”,

ff. 52v-73, Cleansing of the altars in the Church at Poissy on Maundy Thursday, Feria V in cena domini. Ordo altarium abluendorum in cena domini in ecclesia beati ludovici de pisciaco, cantor, incipit, “In monte oliueti oraui …”, … f. 53v, De sancto ludouico [proper to Poissy] …, f. 61v, De sancto martino [Saint Martin revered in Paris] …, f. 66, De sancto dionisio [Saint Denis also revered in Paris] …, f. 67v, De sanctis lupo et eligio …, f. 68, De sanctis dominico et petro [Saint Dominic and Peter Martyr] …, f. 69v, De sancto iohanne baptista …, f. 71, De Magdalene et Martha .., f. 72v, De Sancta Anna …;

ff. 73-94, Biblical Readings for Maundy Thursday, Feria v in cena domini. Lectio sancti euangelii secundum iohannem, incipit,“ In illo tempore. Ante diem festum pasche sciens te …; f. 74, Finito euangelio diaconus prosequitur sermonem dominicum in modum lectionis versus ad crucifixum, incipit, “Amen, amen dico vobis …”; f. 79v, Cum dixerit diaconus, “Surgite eamus hinc [John 14:31]”, Vadat conventus ad refectorium et residentibus sororibus diaconus stans ad pulpitum …, incipit, “Ego sum vitis vera …”, followed by noted antiphons, and the hymn, “Crux fidelis inter omnes arbor …”;

Biblical Readings for Maundy Thursday, divided into three parts, in the Church, John 13:1-15, turning toward the Cross, John 13:16-14:31, and then finished in the refectory, John 15:1-17:26.

ff. 94-105v, Blessings of fire and candles during the Easter Vigil, Benedictio ignis, incipit “Domine sancte pater eterne deus bene dicere et santificare digneris ignem …”, Benedictio cerei, incipit, “Exulte iam angelica …”;

f. 105v, ff. A-L, In festo visitationis beate marie [at the bottom of the folio, then continuing on f. A in another hand] incipit, “Est uiget sponsus et desie[?] in thalamo virgine …” [continuing with noted texts for the Office of the Visitation, Sunday in the octave of all All Saints, and De sacramento, in two hands [f. K, blank except for red staff lines, and L, blank].

Processionals, which contain the texts and chants necessary for liturgical processions, and often additional for liturgical texts related to death and burial, have been well studied and recorded by scholars, but new examples, such as the present manuscript, continue to come to light. In her studies of Poissy Processionals from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, J. Naughton (1998 and 1999/2000) identified 27 processionals; M. Huglo’s catalogue of Processionals (1999 and 2004) added additional manuscripts, bringing the published total to 31. Subsequently, two Processionals from Poissy have recently been listed on this site (TM 524 and 626), and further codices have appeared on the market.  The Poissy group merits a new study with the addition of as many as 10 Processionals to it, especially since each Processional is quite distinctive one from another. The present manuscript with its many unique features would figure in such a study.

The Royal Abbey of Poissy was founded by Phillip IV in 1304 in honor of his grandfather, St. Louis, King of France on the Seine outside of Paris. It was a prestigious house, restricted by its foundation charter to women of noble blood, which maintained close relationships to the royal family. Numerous manuscripts associated with the monastery survive, dating from the fourteenth through the sixteenth century, sometimes illuminated. Many of these were small, portable Processionals, appropriate for the use of a particular nun, and they would have accompanied each nun in the liturgical processions central to monastic life at Poissy. As Naughton has observed, Books of Hours from Poissy are uncommon. Thus in many cases the small Processionals from the Abbey seem to have been the functional equivalent of Books of Hours for the nuns: personal books that included not only the texts necessary for liturgical Processions and the Rites associated with death and burial, but also texts for personal devotion and the Mass.

The contents of this Processional are particularly focused. It does not include the Office of the Dead or texts for services related to death and burial, found so often in Processionals, nor does it include the sort of devotional prayers found in some of the Processionals from Poissy. However, in addition to the texts and music necessary for Poissy’s liturgical processions, and related texts for the Offices on those occasions, it does include a number of additional texts for Holy Week. The readings from the Gospel of St. John for Maundy Thursday are given in full, with liturgical directions stating they were read first in Church, and then continued in the Refectory (noting that the nuns were allowed to sit during this last, lengthy reading). Also included are the blessings of fire and the Paschal candle from the Easter Vigil Mass, including the The Exultet or the Easter proclamation, with musical notation, the ancient and very beautiful hymn of praise chanted by the deacon at the Easter Vigil after the Pascal candle has been lit.


The historiated initial P, depicting the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem on f. 1, illustrates the first Procession for Palm Sunday. It was painted in Paris, c. 1500, and can be attributed to the Master of the Paris Entries (or Master of the Entry of Claude de France or Jean Coene IV), active c. 1490-1495 to 1520.

Extremely prolific between 1490 or 1495 in Paris until the 1520s and likely head of a large atelier, the Master of the Paris Entries takes his name from two manuscripts: the Entrée de Marie Tudor (1514), the sister of Henry VIII of England and wife of Louis XII (London, British Library, Cotton MS Vespasian B II) and the Sacre, couronnement, triomphe et entrée de la reine et duchesse Madame Claude de France (1517), wife of King Francis I (Paris, BnF, MS fr. 5750). For the best recent summation of his style, see I. Delauney, “Le Maître des entrées parisiennes”, in “Le Graduel de Saint-Dié”, Art de l’enluminure, 26 (sept-nov 2008), pp. 52-70. She considers him a kind of emulator of Jean Pichore, with whom he even collaborated on several occasions. She further notes that the large number of portraits that he painted, many with family arms, suggests that he may have exercised the profession of stationer (libraire), which would have afforded him access to a wide variety of clients for special orders. Stylistic characteristics include his vivid palette with purple, azure, gray, mauve, and orange, blue skies with striations going from blue marine to light blue, and faces with relatively small eyes and slightly puckered red lips.

He was named by E. Konig, Master of the Entry of Claude de France, or Jean Coene IV (see Leuchtendes Mittelater V. Psalter und Studenbuch in Frankreich vom 13 bis zum 16 Jahrhundert, H. Tenschert, cat. XXX, Passau, 1993, pp. 530-544, and, on the identification as Jean Coene IV, see Leuchtendes Mittelater, Neue Folge I, Bocaccio und Petrarca in Paris, H. Tenschert, Passau, 1997, pp. 306-309, 320). See also Petrarch, Triumphs, Paris, BnF, MS fr. 12423, attributed to the Master of the Paris Entries/ Master of the Entries of Claude de France (Jean Coene), in France 1500. Entre Moyen Age et Renaissance, Paris, Editions de la Réunion de musées nationaux, 2010, no. 138.

The full-page miniature of St. Susanna meeting Daniel, found on the verso of the first, unnumbered leaf, was added to the manuscript slightly later, probably c. 1525-1540. It is close in style to the works attributed to an Anonymous artist (Jean Leclerc?), active in Paris between 1525 and 1542-1543.

This artist painted two manuscripts, the first an Evangeliary for Francis I (St-Petersburg, National Library of Russia, ms Lat. Q.v.I, 104) and Paris, Bibliothèque Ste-Genevieve, MS 106. He collaborated with Etienne Colaud (active Paris, c. 1512-1513 to 1541), and there are stylistic similiarities between the artists: “L’hypothèse ne peut être davantage étayée, mais c’est bien au cote d’Etienne Colaud, un historieur documenté à Paris de 1512-1513 à 1541, que l’enlumineur du document de 1542 participe dans les années 1525-1530, avec d’autres à l’ornementation de deux évangéliaires, dont l’un était destiné à François Ier” (M.-B. Cousseau, in Les Enluminures du Louvre, Paris, 2011, no. 127, p. 242: entry on an illuminated document dated 1542 painted by this artist, Collection Rothschild, 3750 DR).

On Etienne Colaud, see M.-B. Cousseau, “Autour d’Etienne Colaud, recherches sur les enlumineurs a Paris sous le regne de Francois Ier”, these de doctorat sous la dir. de Guy-michel Leproux, Paris, 2009. See also L’art du manuscrit de la Renaissance en France, Paris, 2001, no. 8, painted by Etienne Collaud (Chantilly, Musée Condé, MS 892)


Chapotin, Marie-Dominique. La Guerre de succession à Poissy, 1660-1707, Paris 1892.

de Conihout, Isabelle and Pascal Ract-Madoux. Reliures françaises du XVIIe siècle: chefs-d’oeuvre du Musée Condé: grands décors (1615-1665) et reliures pour les curieux (1690-1710), Paris and Chantilly, 2002.

Delaporte, Y. “Manuscrits liturgiques [de Poissy]” in S. Moreau-Rendu, Le Prieuré royal de saint-Louis de Poissy, Colmar, 1968.

Gy, P. M. “Collectaire, rituel, processional”, Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 44 (1960), pp. 441-69.

Huglo, M. Les livres de chant liturgique, Typologie des sources du moyen âge occidental, 52, Turnhout, Brepols, 1988.

Huglo, Michel, “Processional”, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie, London, 1980, vol. 15, pp. 278-281.

Huglo, M. “Les processionaux de Poissy”, Rituels: mélanges offerts à Pierre-Marie Gy, ed. P. De Clerck and E. Palazzo, Paris, 1990, pp. 339-446.

Huglo, M. Les manuscrits du Processional, Volume I, Autriche à Espagne, Répertoire international des sources musicales B XIV (1), Munich, 1999.

Huglo, M. Les manuscrits du Processional, Volume II, France à Afrique du Sud, Répertoire international des sources musicales B XIV (2), Munich, 2004.

Moreau-Rendu, S. Le Prieuré royal de Saint-Louis de Poissy, Colmar, 1968.

Naughton, Joan. “Books for a Dominican Nun’s Choir: Illustrated Liturgical Manuscripts at Saint-Louis de Poissy, c. 1330-1350”, in The Art of the Book. Its Place in Medieval Worship, eds. Margaret Manion and Bernard Muir, Exeter, 1998, pp. 67-109.

Naughton, Joan. “From Unillustrated Book to Illustrated Book: Personalization and Change in the Poissy Processional”, Manuscripta, 43/44 (1999-2000), pp. 161-187.

Naughton, Joan. “The Poissy Antiphonary in its Royal Monastic Milieu”, La Trobe Library Journal 51 and 52 (1993), pp. 38-49.

Wieck, Roger. “The Susanna Hours”, Tributes in Honor of James H. Marrow: Studies in Painting and Manuscript Illumination of the Late Middle Ages and Northern Renaissance, Jeffrey F. Hamburger and Anne S. Korteweg, eds., London, 2006, pp. 577-84.

Online resources

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

General Introduction to liturgical processions (New Catholic Encyclopedia, “Processions”)

Joan Naughton, “The Poissy Antiphonary in its Royal Monastic Milieu”, La Trobe Library Journal 51 and 52 (1993); with digitized images of the historiated initials

Liber Floridus (for Bibliothèque Sainte-Genevieve MS 106)