TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures


In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Spain, Castile (Segovia or Toledo?), c. 1475-1500

TM 923

i (paper) + 170 folios on parchment, original foliation in red roman numerals top outer corner recto, i-clxvii beginning on f. 4, with f. 136bis, first three leaves, originally unnumbered, with modern foliation i-iii, missing one leaf (collation i3 ii-xviii8 xix8 [-3, one leaf, f. 138, with loss of text] xx-xxi8 xxii8 [structure uncertain]), flourished horizontal and vertical catchwords, imperfectly alternating, no leaf or quire signatures, ruled in purple ink with full-length vertical bounding lines, (158 x 113-112 mm.), written in a formal gothic bookhand in two columns of 22 lines, guide notes for the rubricator occasionally visible, majuscules within the text highlighted in pale yellow, red rubrics, one-line polished gold initials with black penwork, countless two-line polished gold initials infilled and on notched grounds of blue and pink with white highlights, three 3- to 2-line pink or blue initials with  white highlights on gold grounds with flowers, and THREE ILLUMINATED BORDERS, C-shaped, ff. 1, 45v (Easter), 86 (Canon), green, pink, red, and blue acanthus, some with white small dots used as highlights, with colored flowers and leaves on black hairline stems, infilled with black-rayed gold besants, with vivid birds, and on f. 86, a small naked child covered in hair in the upper margin, ONE RECTANGULAR MINIATURE on f. 86 in a narrow gold frame, equivalent to 8-lines of text, of the Crucifixion, set in a green landscape with a road visible, excellent condition apart from cockling and occasional dirt, especially in the gutter, lower border f. 86, slightly rubbed, initial f. 102v, smudged.  BOUND IN 16TH-CENTURY brown leather over wooden boards, tooled in blind with two sets of fillets, forming an outer frame around a rectangular center panel with three fleurons down the center and a fleuron in each corner, spine with five raised bands, with a small fleuron stamped between each pair of bands, speckled edges, two clasps with brass fasteners, fastening front to back, covers worn, spine covering worn and fragile, split at the top along the joint, boards slightly bowed. Dimensions 225 x 164 mm.

Missals survive with less frequency than other types of liturgical manuscripts.  This is a very fine example of an illuminated “Hispano-Flemish” Missal, almost certainly made for use in Segovia in Central Spain by the workshop of Juan de Carrión, the most celebrated artist active in Castile in the second half of the fifteenth century. In excellent condition and in an early binding, it still, quite remarkably, includes notes for the corrector preserved on small independent and completely unattached slips of parchment.


1. Written in the Spanish kingdom of Castile in Central Spain, most likely in Segovia, or possibly in Toledo, in the last quarter of the fifteenth century, based on the script, and the style of the illuminated borders and miniature by artists associated with the workshop of Juan de Carrión (discussed in detail below), almost certainly for use in Segovia (f. 138 with the Mass for St. Fructus, patron saint of Segovia, is now missing in the Sanctorale, quite likely because it included an illuminated initial and border).  Includes the Transfiguration (6 August), universally celebrated by the Roman Church from 1457.  The readings for the Mass during Advent, and the fact that the Sanctorale begins with Stephen on December 26, rather than at the beginning of Advent, indicates that the liturgical Use of this Missal is not that of Rome.

Other notable feasts include Peter of Luxembourg (1369-1387), who was not ‘officially’ beatified by the Roman church until 1527, but who was venerated locally soon after his death; in 1432 he was named patron saint of Avignon, and there was a chapel dedicated to him in the cathedral of Toledo; Vincent Martyr (22 January), the smudged initial at the beginning of his Mass suggests special devotional attention; Vincent was widely venerated in Spain, and is patron saint of Lisbon and Valencia; and Justa and Rufina (19 July), patrons of Seville.  Saints Eugenius, Ildefonsus, and Leocadia, all particularly venerated in Toledo, are lacking.

Once the scribe finished copying the text, this volume was carefully corrected.  It includes numerous corrections written in a formal script, contemporary with that of the scribe, often supplying the end of texts included with only a brief cue by the original scribe; the number of initials that were entered incorrectly is notable (e.g. f. 5v, Ixcita for Excita; f. 6v, Cumptis for Sumptis).  Remarkably, a number of these corrections were first written on small strips of parchment, and are preserved, completely unattached, in the manuscript (see ff. 57v-58, 59v-60, 107v-108, and 119v-120).

2. Lower margin, f. 81v-82, pen trials and an early note in Spanish(?).

3. This manuscript has been preserved remarkably untouched, and still includes rubble in the gutter; on f. 130 there is a bit of plant matter (a flower?).

4. Inside back cover, “39862/6” and “18424A” circled.


ff. i-ii verso, Tabula missarum dominicalium et sanctorum que continetur in isto missali, incipit, “Dominica prima aduentu domini, i; … Missa pro mortalitate, clxii”; [ends top column, a; remainder and f. iii rv, blank];

Careful and complete table of contents in a contemporary hand; references are to the conemporary folio numbers in red Roman numerals (these are also occasionally used to provide cross references within the text).

ff. 1-82, Temporale from the first Sunday in Advent through the twenty-first Sunday after Trinity Sunday; [ending mid col. b; remainder blank];

Passion readings for Holy Week on ff. 34v-45 copied in long lines and with c, s, + indicating the tones used in the readings; Pentecost followed by Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi, and then selected Sundays after Trinity (ix, xiii, xv, xvii, xxi).

ff. 82v-85v, Prefaces for Christmas, Apparition of our Lord, Lent, Vigil of Easter and Easter Season, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity, Peter and Paul, Michael, Assumption of Mary, Holy Cross, for the Dead;

ff. 86-90v, Canon of the Mass; [ending col. a, f. 90v; remainder blank];

ff. 91-153v, Votive Masses and the Sanctorale, with Masses for the Cross, the Virgin (different Masses for different times in the liturgical year), followed by Stephen (December 26) through Thomas (December 21), concluding with Masses for the dead.

Note that the saints following Christmas (Stephen, John, Holy Innocents) are included here in the Sanctorale; initial on f. 102v, St. Vincent of Saragossa (January 22), is smudged (see also f. 86v, where his name is highlighted in the Canon); includes Saints Justa and Rufina (July 19); folio is missing in the Sanctorale between St. Francis (October 4) and Simon and Jude (October 28) with the Mass for St. Fructus; f. 139, the only remaining prayer from the missing Mass includes the phrase, “cuius patrocinio.”

ff. 153v-165v, Incipiunt misse uotiue officuium, Votive Masses for health, for sins, Saints Onofrius, Anthony of Padua, and Peter of Luxemburg, the Exorcism of Salt and Water, and for immortality, including prayers for rain, and invoking Mary, Blaise, and Sebastian; [ending mid column a; remainder blank];

ff. 166-167 [contemporary addition, same hand as table of contents], For a friend in tribulation;

f. 167, [early addition], Mass texts for Egidius; [col. b, and f. 167v, blank].


ff. 1, 45v, 86, three illuminated borders, with bright colored acanthus, flowers, and plants, and numerous gold balls, set within scrolling trellis of black ink sprays, and enlivened by birds and in one case (f. 86) a small naked figure of a child/wild man, covered in hair;

f. 86, miniature in a rectangular frame of the Crucifixion, f. 86.

Our manuscript was illuminated by Juan de Carrión and his workshop, the preeminent illuminator active in Castile in the second half of the fifteenth century, associated with Guadalajara, Avila, Segovia, and Toledo.  This artist worked for the Archbishop of Toledo, Alfonso Carrillo, for Cardinal Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, and for the king and royal family, producing some of the preeminent examples of Hispano-Flemish art, influenced by earlier and contemporary artists from the Netherlands, especially Jan van Eyck (d. 1441), Roger van der Weyden (d. 1464), and Martin Schongauer (d. 1491).

The figure of Christ in the Crucifixion miniature on f. 86, is strikingly similar to the Crucifixion in a Missal, Toledo, Cathedral Archive, MS Res. 5, fol. 119v, that was made for the personal use of Cardinal Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza (1428-1495), by artists linked to the Carrión workshop.  This Missal, which includes an Easter Table beginning in 1476, and thus must date from before Mendoza became archbishop of Toledo in 1482, may have been made in Segovia (Bosch, 2000, p. 98).  The miniature in our manuscript depicts only the Crucifixion, and lacks the figures of Mary and John included in the Mendoza Missal; the figure of Christ in both manuscripts, however, is almost identical, depicted with long hair, his head tilted to the left, crowned in thorns, with a two-colored halo, very thin arms, and a loin cloth that drapes between his legs and then flares out to the right.  The complicated landscape in the Mendoza Missal has been simplified in our manuscript to a green background scattered with shrubs, but both manuscripts depict a road.  As discussed by Bosch (1982), inspiration for this miniature can be found in three prints by Schongauer (see fig. 4, p. 633, of Lehrs 27; fig. 6, p. 635, Lehrs 12, and fig 9, Lehrs 14. Washington, National Gallery of Art, Rosenwald Collection; the closest parallel to the figure of Christ in our manuscripts is found in the print reproduced in fig. 9).

The polished gold initials on divided grounds of blue and pink found throughout the manuscript, and the illuminated borders are also very similar to those found in manuscripts decorated in the workshop of Juan de Carrión in the last quarter of the fifteenth century, including a Book of Hours, British Library, Add. MS 50004 (maybe Toledo?), and a Breviary, Paris, BnF, MS lat. 1064, made for Archbishop Alfonso Carrillo (1410-1482) (Bosch, 2000, p. 95, suggests this was probably made in Segovia; Avril, et al., 1982, cat. 151, Segovia or Toledo), although our Missal has a more modest decorative program, and lacks the numerous figures and grotesques found in the full borders of these two manuscripts.  The birds and the hairy wild child in our Missal in the border on f. 86 can also be compared with details in the borders of the Breviary in Paris, (see, for example, the  hairy child on f. 28).

This manuscript is a Missal, the liturgical book for the celebrant that includes all the texts necessary to celebrate the Mass.  From the thirteenth century on Missals were the predominant book used by the celebrant during the Mass, and include the prayers for the celebrant, as well as the biblical readings, read or chanted by the sub-deacon or deacon, and the texts sung by the choir.  Copied during the final years of the Reconquista, at the beginning of Spanish voyages of exploration by Columbus and others, this is a wonderful example of a manuscript copied at the height of the Renaissance in Castile, illuminated in the distinctively “Hispano-Flemish” style of the last decades of the fifteenth century.


Avril, François, Jean-Pierre, Aniel Mireille Mentré, Alix Saulnier, and Yolanta Zaluska. Manuscrits enluminés de la péninsule ibérique, Paris, 1982.

Bosch, Lynette M. F. Art, liturgy, and legend in Renaissance Toledo: the Mendoza and the Iglesia primada, University Park, Pennsylvania, 2000.

Lynette M. F. Bosch.  “A Terminus ante quem for Two of Martin Schongauer’s Crucifixions,” The Art Bulletin, 64.4 (1982), pp. 632-635.

Dominguez Bordona, Jesús.  “Las miniaturas de Juan de Carrión,” Archivo Espanol de Arte y Arqueologia, 6 (1930), pp. 17-20.

Hughes, Andrews. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office, Toronto, 1982.

Leroquais, V. Les sacramentaires et les missels manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France, 3 vols, Paris, 1924.

Nickson, T.  Toledo Cathedral : Building Histories in Medieval Castile, University Park, Pennsylvania, 2015.

Robinson, C.  Imagining the Passion in a Multiconfessional Castile: The Virgin, Christ, Devotions, and Images in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, University Park, Pennsylvania, 2013.

Villaseñor Sebastián, Fernando. “Préstamos y influencias en la miniatura hispanoflamenca, “ in El arte foráneo en España: presencia e influencia, ed. by Miguel Cabañas Bravo, 2005) pp. 227-236.

Online Resources

British Library, Additional MS 50004


Paris, BnF, MS lat. 1064

Lebigue, J.-B. “Initiation to Liturgical Manuscripts” (in French)

Thurston, Herbert. “Missal,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 10, New York, 1911

Susan Boynton and Consuelo Dutschke, “Celebrating the Liturgy’s Books”