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les Enluminures

USUARDUS, Martyrologium with added Elogia for Limousine Saints (Part of the Chapter Office Book for the Cordeliers of Limoges)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
France, Limoges (Aquitaine), c. 1485-1500 (after 1482)

TM 561

83 ff. + original pastedown remounted, leaves preceded by 3 paper and followed by 2 parchment and 5 paper flyleaves, wanting leaves after f. 3 (missing one calendar leaf for the months of July and August), and leaves after ff. 15, 44, 70, 82 and 83 (collation: i5 (6-1, missing iv), ii8, iii7 (8-1, missing ii), iii8, iv8, v8, vi7 (8-1, missing i), vii8, viii8, ix3 (4-1, missing iv), x8, xi4 (6-2? missing v-vi?), xii1 (of 8?)), parchment ruled in pink (justification 255 x 160 mm.), written in an angular late gothic textura, text in a single column, text on up to 26-27 long lines per page, rubrics in red, Roman numerals and letters in red, alternating initials in red or blue, some later 15th or 16th century inscriptions sometimes effaced (e.g. f. 2). Nineteenth-century tanned pigskin over pasteboards, smooth spine with leather title-piece and gilt lettering “Usuardi Martyrologium MS.,” gilt frame on boards, gilt roll-tooled frieze on inner boards, marbled pastedowns (Good general condition, although leather a bit faded; general sound internal condition, although one notes the unfortunate use of tape on the first leaf, part of margin of f. 3 cut away but with no loss of text; some stains a few initials smudged but overall in sound condition). Dimensions 367 x 245 mm.

Designated as a “chapter-book,” which usually contained a calendar, a martyrology, and obituary, this manuscript was copied for use by the Franciscans of Limoges. Only five localized chapter-books of this type for the Franciscans are recorded in France. Although missing certain leaves and most of its obituary, this manuscript is important in that it contains up to 366 additional “elogia” of saints not found in the first recensions of Usuard, including over 60 local Limousine saints. Leaves from the obituary that once followed the martyrology have been discovered as binding fragments in another codex.


1.Copied for use in the Franciscan foundation of Limoges (Aquitaine, France), with a Calendar containing numerous references to Franciscan saints, such as the Translation of Saint Anthony of Padua (15 Feb.); Translation of Saint Bonaventura (14 March); Isidorus, in red (4 April); Translation of Saint Bernardinus (17 May); Peter Celestine (added later, 19 May); Lupi episcopi Lemo[vicensis] (Saint Loup, Bishop of Limoges) (22 May); Translation of Saint Francis (25 May); Anthony (12 June); Festum sacrorum stigmatum sancti francisci (17 Sept.); Officium mortuorum per benefactoribus et familiaribus fratrum (in red, 28 Sept.); Translation of Saint Clare (2 Oct.); Feast of Saint Francis (4 Oct.); Septem fratrem ordinis minorum (added in black ink, 13 Oct.); Octava et translatio sancti Ludovici...(8 Nov.); Officium pro parentibus fratrum... (in red, 28 Nov.).

A Franciscan House or “menudets” was set up in Limoges quite early on in 1223. Its first “custos” was none other than Anthony of Padua in 1224-1225. Anthony moved the friars near the abbey of Saint Martin, but the friars subsequently moved again to a place called Palvézy where they built a new convent in 1246-1257. The new Church was consecrated in 1258 (see Moorman, 1983, p. 265-266; see especially Delorme, 1938-38 and 1940-1941; Lemaître, 1999, p. 351).

This manuscript was necessarily copied after 1482 because of the original inclusion of an entry for Saint Bonaventura O.F.M. in the calendar (f. 2, 14 March), canonized only in 1482. This date constitutes hence a terminus post quem for this manuscript. There are also some local Limousine saints that one should signal: Loup, Bishop of Limoges (22 May); Léobon (Hermit in Salagnac; 13 Oct.); Léonard (Hermit, in Noblat; 6 Nov.); Valérie (10 Dec.); Psalmet (16 Dec.) [see Lemaître, 1999, pp. 361-362].

2. There are a few ex-libris penned on f. 84v, a former pastedown: “Fratrum minorum Lemovicensis,” repeated a number of times. A few 16th century inscriptions are found on f. 83v: “L’an 1558 la grant vistre a estée parachevée de poser laquelle a fait faire monsieur maistre Joseph de Juliens receveur [general] du roy”; below: “L’an mil 1583, la grande vitre a esté refette toute a neuf et a esté parachevée le 28 jour […] de may que estoyt la vigile de la pentacouste….” Both relate to the glass windows (or stained-glass) in a church, that of the Franciscans?

3. The manuscript must have had some relation to the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Martial de Limoges. This is suggested by an obit for a Brother Albertus Saleys found on f. 83, which reads: “Feria secunda post dominicam primam quadragesime fiat anniversarium ad intencionem honestissimi viri religiosi fratris Alberti Saleys religiosi insigni monasterii sancti marcialis castri lemovicensis et prioris prioratus de crousilia. Quia sic promisit sibi conventus. Et post suum obitum tali die fiat anniversarium quo placuerit deo illum evocare. Et pro faciendo expedivit … conventus decem libri turonenus moneti currenti.” Another obit on f. 83v reads: “Obiit frater Marcialis Romphuafort licenciatus in sacra pagina.”

4. William Carr (1863-1925), his armorial bookplate pasted on the front pastedown. Also found pasted on the lower pastedown, the upper portion of the bill recording the sale to William Carr dated 21 September 1903 for 9 £, sold by W. Ridler, “bookseller and dealer in rare old books,” Oxford Street, London. By descent to Brigadier General William Greenwood Carr (1901-1982), his sale London, Sotheby’s, 7 December 1982, lot 80.

5. Alan Thomas, bookseller, sold to Joseph Pope in November 1984. Joseph Pope (1921-2011) was a Canadian collector, whose collection is described in his catalogue One hundred and twenty-five manuscripts: Bergendal Collection Catalogue, Toronto, Brabant Holdings, 1999, this manuscript, no. 67.


ff. 1-5v, Calendar (Franciscan Use) (see Provenance above), in brown and red ink; noteworthy is the presence on f. 3 of Saint Loup, Bishop of Limoges, 7th century (22 May). His relics are kept in the Church of Saint-Michel des Lions, in Limoges, transferred from Saint-Martial in 1158. To be noted however, the absence in this calendar of Saint Martial, patron saint of Limoges. There is an addition for two professions of faith made in 1502 and 1605, effaced, identified by Lemaître, 1999, p. 352.

ff. 6-6v, Preface of Usuard to Charles the Bold (Recension A), rubric, Incipit prefacio Usuardi monachi ad Karolum; incipit, “Domino regum piissimo karolo augusto usuardus indignus sacerdos ac monachus...” (published in Dubois, 1965, p. 144, recension A);

ff. 6v-82v, Usuardus, Martyrologium per anni circulum, Recension A, with a few borrowings from the second recension, as studied by Lemaître, 1999, p. 354 (on the different recensions see Overgaauw, 48-49 (1988-1989), pp. 85-101);

f. 6v, IX Kalendas Januarii, [24 December] Christmas Eve; “1. Vigilia nathalis Domini. 2. Apud Antiochiam Syrie, nathalis sanctarum virginum quadraginta...”;

ff. 81-81v, [X Kalendas Januarii], “Apud Nicomediam sanctorum martyrum viginti...”; explicit, “[...] 6. Eodem die Lemovicis in monasterio Sancti Augustini depositio sancti Asclepii Lemovicensis episcopi et gloriosissimi confessoris. 7. Item sancti Zoili confessoris, de quo in vita beati Grisogoni martiris legitur quod eundem martirem sepelivit et quod tringentesimo die a passione sua apparente predicto martire, feliciter quievit in pace”;

ff. 81v-82v, Capitulae, rubrics, In die resurrectionis Domini; De ascensione Domini; De adventu Spiritus sanctus; Dominica prima adventus capitulum; Feria IIa natalis Domini; In festo sancti Stephani. Positis autem genibus clamavit voce ma[...] (text breaks off, wanting last leaf of capitulae);

ff. 83-83v, Obituary (added calendar leaf, to inscribe obits and anniversaries), fragmentary; there are only two entries, both undated (missing most of the obituary, but see Paris, BnF NAF 10060 for related leaves coming from this obituary).

There is an anniversary foundation by Friar Albert Saleys, monk at Saint-Martial in Limoges and Prior of La Crouzille, a priory dependent of Saint-Martial, diocese of Limoges (Dept. Haute-Vienne, cant. de Laurière, com. de Saint-Sylvestre). [Lemaître, 1999, p. 355, note 16 refers to C. de Lasteyrie, L’abbaye de Saint-Martial de Limoges, Paris, 1901, p. 373]. The entry reads as follows: “Feria secunda post dominicam primam quadragesime fiat anniversarium ad intencionem honestissimi viri religiosi fratris Alberti Saleys religiosi insigni monasterii Sancti Marcialis Castri Lemovicensis et prioris prioratus de Crousilia. Quia sic promisit sibi conventus. Et post suum obitum tali die fiat anniversarium quo placuerit deo illum evocare. Et pro faciendo expedivit … conventus decem libri turonenus moneti currenti;”

Another obit on fol. 83v for a Brother Martialis Rompnhafort reads: “Obiit frater Marcialis Romphuafort licenciatus in sacra pagina.”

This is a rediscovered manuscript of liturgical and local importance for Limoges. The manuscript was published and studied by Lemaître (1999), when it was in the Bergendal Collection (Toronto). The present comments are taken from the results of his study. The resurfacing of this manuscript will certainly be of importance for the historians of the Limousine, of Franciscan liturgy, and for the study of the textual evolution of Usuard’s work in the fifteenth century.

In 1989, Lemaître published his article on a group of leaves found as binding fragments in Paris, BnF, MS nouv. acq. fr. 10060 (Roman de Thésée de Cologne). These were identified as leaves coming from an obituary for the Cordeliers of Limoges and considered to be part of the chapter-book for the same Cordeliers de Limoges, at the time unlocalized (Lemaître, 1989, p. 396). It was some time after his publication on the leaves found in BnF, MS nouv. acq. fr. 10060 that Lemaître was able to associate the leaves with a lost chapter-book made for the Franciscans of Limoges in the last decades of the fifteenth century, none other than the present codex. Once he had access to copies of this manuscript, Lemaître was able to establish the connection between the obituary leaves and the isolated obituary leaf in this codex and study the Martyrology associated with the obituary for the Franciscans of Limoges.

In medieval monasteries, a meeting called “Chapter” took place daily after the office of Prime or after the morning mass. Hence the appellation of the liturgical books used for the chapter office celebrated daily as “chapter-books.” A monk was assigned to read a chapter from the Rule (that of Benedict if the community was Benedictine; that of Augustine if it was Augustinian, and so forth), or if it was a feast day, a special reading for that day. Next, a member of the community (monk or nun) read the names of saints to be commemorated the next day in the martyrology, a compendium listing for each day the names of saints, the places in which they were commemorated, and sometimes a summary of their deeds. The reader announced the phase of the moon and recited the names of deceased monks and patrons of the monastery recorded in the necrology. Dates in the martyrology and necrology employ the Roman calendrical system of kalends, nones, and ides. Books used in chapter were composites including the Rule, martyrology, and necrology as well as other texts that vary from manuscript to manuscript. The necrology included the names of monks in the immediate community, of those in other affiliated communities, and of powerful friends of the monastery such as aristocratic donors.

A “martyrology” is a catalogue or list of martyrs and saints, arranged in the order of their anniversaries or feasts. This manuscript contains the “universal” martyrology of Usuardus but augmented with local saints venerated in Limoges. The Martyrology of Usuardus (compiled certainly after 858, and of course before 877, date of Usuardus’s death) is the text on which the Roman martyrology was based and is of considerable importance in the history of hagiography. It comprises for each saint and his feast a short “elogium” of the saint, for recitation during the Chapter Office held daily. Usuardus or Usuard was a Benedictine monk of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, in Paris. He states in his prologue that he composed his Martyrology to offer to Charles the Bold.

Usuard’s Martyrology is preserved in numerous manuscripts, of which H. Quentin (1908, reprint 2002) gives a partial list, pp. 675-677. The text of Usuard’s Martyrologium was published in PL, vol. 123-124 and published again by J. Dubois, who based his edition on Paris, BnF, MS lat. 13745 (9th century). It is J. Dubois who first best studied the different recensions of the Usuard’s Martyrologium (in all 3 recensions), and see also E.A. Overgaauw, 1990-1991. Although the base manuscript Paris, BnF, MS lat. 13745 is not strictly speaking an “autograph,” it certainly was copied under the guidance of Usuard and contains his corrections (see Dubois, 1965; see also discussion in E.A. Overgaauw, 1993, pp. 27-42). The editio princeps of Usuard’s Martyrology was printed in L├╝beck, by Lucas Brandis, in 1475 (Hain *4996), and first in France in 1490 and 1491, so more or less contemporary with the present manuscript copied in Limoges.

This particular manuscript is quite rare in that it does not simply contain a copy of Usuard’s Martyrology. Lemaître has shown quite convincingly that the manuscript contains up to 366 additional “elogia” for different saints, of which 17 are Franciscan and 61 are Limousine local saints, not usually found in Usuard (see Lemaître, 1999, p. 379). There are only six known Limousine martyrologia extant, and the present manuscript contains the most local saints and additions. The books known as “chapter-books” for use by the Franciscans are in themselves rare (there are only 5 recorded in all of France for confirmed use by the Franciscans, see Lemaître, 1999, p. 351: “Les livres du chapitre provenant de communautés franciscaines sont rarrissimes et nous n’en connaissons, en comptant celui-ci, que cinq pour la France...”). The anonymous Franciscan compiler of this martyrology was clearly well-versed in local hagiography and probably had access to such hagiographical works as that of Bernard Gui (Nomina sanctorum quorum corpora Lemovicensem diocesim oranant) (see Lemaître, 1999, pp. 382-383). This manuscript is important from many perspectives, hagiographically, textually and as a new witness of a rare type of chapter-books used by the Franciscans, who adapted the more universal martyrology of Usuard to a local Limousine use. It is also grand and monumental, a book fit for daily chapter offices in late medieval Limoges.


Delorme, F.M. “Les Cordeliers dans le Limousin aux XIII-XV siècles,” Archivum Franciscanum Historicum 32 (1938-1939), pp. 202-259; 33 (1940-1941), pp. 114-160.

Dubois, J. Le martyrologe d’Usuard. Texte et commentaire, Brussels, 1965.

Lemaître, J.-L. Mourir à Saint-Martial: la commémoration des morts et les obituaires à Saint-Martial de Limoges, du XIe au XIIIe siècle, Paris, 1989.

Lemaître, J.-L. “L’obituaire des Cordeliers de Limoges,” in Archivum Franciscanum historicum 82 (1989), pp. 384-405, reprinted in Lemaître, J.-L. Le Limousin monastique. Autour de quelques textes, Ussel, 1992, pp. 178-189.

Lemaître, J.-L. “Le martyrologe retrouvé des cordeliers de Limoges,” in Archivum Franciscanum historicum 92 (1999), no. 3-4, pp. 351-394.

Migne, J. -P. Patrologia latina. Usuardi Martyrologium, Paris, 1852 [Patrologiae latinae, 123][reprint, Turnhout, Brepols, 1983] and Patrologia latina. Usuardi Martyrologium, Paris, 1852 [Patrologiae latinae, 124][reprint, Turnhout, Brepols, 1986].

Moorman, J. R. H. Medieval Franciscan Houses, St.-Bonaventure, N.Y., 1983.

Overgaauw, E.A. “Les deux recensions de la lettre-préface d’Usuard à Charles le Chauve et les trois recensions de son martyrologe,” in Archivum latinitatis medii aevi 48-49 (1990-1991), pp. 85-101.

Overgaauw, E.A. Martyrologes manuscrits des anciens diocèses d’Utrecht et de Liège, 2 vol., Hilversum, Verloren, 1993.

Quentin, H. Les martyrologes historiques du Moyen Age: étude sur la formation du martyrologe romain, Spoleto, 2002 (repr. of Paris, 1908).

Online resources

On the Martyrology of Usuard

On Obituaries