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les Enluminures

Wine Tappers’s Prayer Book

In Dutch, decorated manuscript on paper
East central Low Countries, c. 1550-1565

TM 852

ii (modern paper) + iii (contemporary paper) + 228 + ii (modern paper) folios on paper (watermarks similar to Briquet no. 146, Aigle:  Eltville, 1553-1563, Brussels, 1554-1563, Frankfurt, 1558, Cologne, 1558-1564; similar to Briquet, no. 5000, Couronne: Stromberg, 1556 and to Piccard-Online, no. 55658, Krone: Lübeck, 1553 ; similar to Briquet, no. 8728, Lettre P: Bruges, 1545, Bar-le-Duc, 1549-1555, Heusden, 1555 and Piccard Buchstabe P IV, nos. 595: Cologne, 1556-1557 and 596: Arnhem, 1551), modern foliation, upper outer rectos, 1-227, with 106 repeated, lacking six leaves, otherwise complete (collation i-vii8 viii10 ix-xxv8 xxvi8 [-1 through 4; 4 leaves lacking between ff. 201 and 202 with loss of text] xxvii8 xxviii8 [-8; leaf lacking between ff. 220 and 221] xxix8 [-1; leaf lacking between ff. 220 and 221]), quires signed a-z, a ii-f ii, lower center rectos, partially or wholly cropped in many instances, horizontal catchwords still visible on quires xix-xx, xxiii, xxv-xxvi, lower inner versos, layout varies, I. ff. 1-24v, 33-227v, frame-ruled faintly in lead (justification 110-120 x 75-80 mm.), written in dark brown ink in an upright Gothic hybrida libraria hand on seventeen to twenty-three long lines, red rubrics, capitals touched in red, underlining in red, one- to two-line plain initials in red or, less often, blue, three- to five-line initials in blue or red, most with white internal decoration, three with contrasting pen decoration (ff. 49, 55v, 134); II. ff. 25-32v, frame-ruled in hard point (justification 118-125 x 70-75 mm.), written in black ink in a smaller Gothic hybrida libraria hand on nineteen to twenty-two long lines, red rubrics, capitals touched in red, guide letters visible for some initials, one- to two-line red initials, some with white internal decoration, three- to four-line red or blue initials, nearly all with white internal decoration, corrections by scribe on f. 63, blot on f. 66v with some loss of text, patched tear on ff. 102-103 and hole on ff. 153-154 with some loss of text, waterstaining in the margins of opening folios with, slight wear to the edges of most leaves, with expert repairs to the top and bottom edges of many, stains and smears on some pages (for example, ff. 66, 107-108), heavy soiling on some pages (ff. 88v-89, 130v-131), some cropping along the top.  Bound in modern leather by Scott Kellar with period-style tooling, spine with four bands.  Dimensions 149-152 x 100 mm.

A well-thumbed collection of prayers and readings in Dutch (many of them unique) for lay use, this Prayer Book offers us a glimpse of the religious practices of members of a medieval guild of wine tappers.  In addition to its interest as a book directly linked to a medieval guild, the mixture of private devotional prayers and liturgical prayers here, including prayers to be said during Mass, all in the vernacular, is intriguing.  A delightful inscription in the front of the book promises a reward (“one good drink penny”) to anyone who should find and return the manuscript to its owner.


1. This volume’s watermarks and the particularities of its language (a dialect showing some German influence) both point to it having been produced around 1550-1565 in the east central Low Countries, now southeast Netherlands or northeast Belgium

This Prayer Book appears to have been made for the use of a wine tapper (or a guild of wine tappers), in this area.  A contemporary inscription on the recto of the second contemporary flyleaf offers a reward (literally, “one good drink penny”) for the book’s safe return to the “graeueschen” of the wine tappers, situated near the churchyard of the Church of Saint Lambert: “Item[?] der graeueschen der wyntepperschen by sunth lambertus kerckhaue hoert dyt boeck to we dat vynth de brenget eer wedder vnd he sal enen gueden drynck pennynck hebben (Item: this book belongs to the “graeueschen” [probably a senior officer of the guild] of the winetappers by the churchyard of Saint Lambert; whoever finds it brings it again and he shall have one good drink penny).”

The absence of any clear local details in this inscription or of any local saints in the Prayer Book makes it difficult to identify the Church of Saint Lambert to which it refers; in the present-day Netherlands alone, over twenty-five churches with that dedication date back to the sixteenth century (and, in many cases, much earlier).  Saint Lambert is patron saint of Maastricht, but given that he is not singled out for particular attention in this Prayer Book, it seems unlikely that the volume originated in Maastricht itself, though it could have been produced in the province of Limburg, where Maastricht is situated.  Alternatively, the volume’s inclusion of Saint Ludger (specially venerated in the Netherlands in Utrecht, Deventer, and Dokkum) might point to an origin further north.

2. An inscription on the first contemporary flyleaf, “Graf v. Galen,” probably identifies a later owner of the book, perhaps a member of the van Galen family, prominent both in northwestern Germany and, from the fourteenth century onward, in the eastern Netherlands as well.  There is also an earlier inscription on the same leaf that is no longer legible.


ff. 1-11, Hyr begynet de lettenije van den lijden vnses leuen here Jesu christi seer nutte gelesen in groten noeden, incipit, “HEre verbarme dij ouer my christe verbarme dij ouer my Here ... vnd gyf vns vulherdynge in allen doegen dorch vnsen heren Jesum christum Amen”;

Litany of the suffering of Jesus Christ to be read in great need.

ff. 11-24v, Hyr begynet ene suuerlike crone van der kyntheit .leuen. vnd lijden vnses leuen vnd lijden vnses leuen [sic] heren Jesu christi ten ersten des mandages, incipit, “Wes gegroitet gudertirne here Jesu christi wunderlike wercker in allen geschapenen dyngen ... vnd troste my in alle mynen lijden vnd make my blijde in dij”;

Prayers for the seven days of the week, beginning with Monday and concluding with Sunday.

ff. 25-32v, incipit, “Gebenediet vnd gelouet vnd geeret sy de werdyge vngedelde hyllige dreiuoldycheit ... vnd to allen tyden de gebenediede hillige dreuoldicht de vader de sone vnd de hillige geist Amen”;

Texts for the Mass, including a Gospel reading (Matthew 11:25-30, sharing text in common with Luke 10:21-22).

ff. 33-48v, Als gy yn gebet sprecken wilt, incipit, “O Gudertirne Jesu want ick wal weet dat dij dat lof des sunders nicht ene behaget ... vnd tho gaue in dyne ewige roste Amen Am[en]”;

Assorted prayers, many to be said at mass, including specific prayers for Tenebrae on Good Friday and receipt of the holy sacrament.

ff. 49-74v, Dyt gebet heuet gemaket de hillige bisschop suncte Ambrosyus tho lezen vor der vntfancknysse des hilligen sacramentes, incipit, “O Du ouerste prester vnd gewaer bysschop here Jesu christe ... vnd dat leuen sunder ende Amen”;

Prayer attributed to Saint Ambrose to be said before receiving the holy sacrament, followed by more prayers to be said before and after receiving the holy sacrament.  The prayer attributed to Saint Ambrose is more likely the work of Jean de Fécamp (1028-1078).  The Latin text and English translation is available online (see Online Resources).

ff. 75-82v, Item dusse nageschreyuen groityn gesal men lesen vor en crucefix, incipit, “Ick neige my vor dy hoge louede konynck here Jesu christi ... makest de reigeer in ewicheit Amen”;

Prayers for Jesus, some to be said before the cross.  One is attributed to Saint Bernard (f. 78v).

ff. 83-90v, De seuen bloitstortynge vnses leuen heren Jesu tegen de seuen doitsunde seer nutte gelesen, dyt erste gebet in gedechtnysse der besnydynge tegen de sunde der vnkuscht, incipit, “O verlozer der werlt vnde en oecker der reynycheit ... myt dynen durbaren blode vnde bytteren dode verlost heuest Amen”;

Seven prayers for the seven sheddings of Jesus’s blood, followed by an additional prayer for Jesus.

ff. 91-92, Hyr begynet suncte Johannes euangelyum, incipit, “In den anbegynne was dat wort vnd dat wort was by gode ... vnd genaden vnd warheit Amen ouer mydes den worden des hilligen euangelyums moiten gedellygetwerden all vnse sunde”;

Gospel reading from John 1:1-14.

ff. 92-94v, Dat gesette eder geloue des hilligen bysschopes Atanozie ser nutte in groten noede gelesen, incipit, “Eyn ynwelick mensche de sallich wil wesen den ys vor allen dyngen noyt dat he holde den christen geloue ... Alst was in den bogyne nu vnd altos vnd ewelike sunder ende Amen”;

Athanasian Creed.

ff. 95-113v, So welck mensche dussen vergeschreyuen psalmen vnd dyt nagescheuen gebet myt andacht lezet wat he van gode bijddet dat sal he verkrygen, incipit, “O hyllige dreuoldicht vnd vnuerscheidene euicheit ... dijeden in dat ewige vur Amen”;

Additional prayers for different circumstances, including prayers for Tenebrae and readings for Vespers and Compline.

ff. 114-129v, Eyn andechtich gebet van den rouwen vnser leuen vrou wen vnder den cruce, incipit, “O maria hoch gelauede hemelsch conyngyne ... van ynscheyden ene moite Amen”;

Prayers to the Virgin Mary.

ff. 130-145v, Van suncta mychael den ertzengel, incipit, “O du glorioze ertzengel suncte mychael de van gode heuest macht ... dat moite ock myn leste wort wesen in dussen Amen”;

Prayers to various saints, including Michael the Archangel, all holy angels, one’s own angel, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, James, John the Apostle, Andrew, Simon and Jude, Philip and James, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, Luke, Mark, and Stephen.

ff. 146-154, Van den apostlen ynt gemeyne of van euen dent syn dach ys ymnus, incipit, “Lat vns myt begorliken gemoede lauen ...dorch vnsen heren Jesum christum Amen”;

Prayers and readings for the feasts of apostles.

ff. 154-158, Van den mertlers ynt gemeynen of van enen den syn dach ys suncte steffen laurencius georijus suncte lambertus etc., incipit, “Laet vns myt blijde gemode lauen de ewige gaue christi ... dorch vnsren heren Jesum christum Amen”;

Prayers and readings for the feasts of martyrs.

ff. 158-163, Van den confessoren ynt gemeynen of van enen bisschop suncte mertynus suncte lugerus Augustynus, incipit, “O gy borgers des hemels verblydet yn vn gy broiders synget ... Sette vns in dat vaderlant vnde gyf vns de genade de wy hoppen”;

Prayers and reading for the feasts of confessors.

ff. 163-168, Van den Junfferen vnt gemeyne kathrina leue barbara margerte agneite dorothea etc. eder wat Junfferen dach dattet vs en schone ymnus, incipit, “O Jesu crons der Junfferen den de moder vntfenck de allene Junckfrouwe geberde vntfange gudertyrnelike vnse begerte ... myt den hilligen geiste in ewicheit Amen”;

Prayers and readings for the feasts of virgins.

ff. 168v-177v, Hyr begynet en suuerlick ymnus vp de hochtyd der kerckwyngen, incipit, “Sallich ys de stade Jerusalem geheiten ene beschon wynge des vreden geheiten ... de dar in bydet sal vntfange[?]”;

Prayers and readings for the consecration of a church.

ff. 178-187v, Hyr begynne en suuerlick krensken van alle godes hilligen, incipit, “Ick buge myne knee vor den gloriozen cron der hilligen dreuoldicheit god vader God sonne God hillige geist schepper aller creaturen ... de ene crone ys allerhilligen vnd uthuercornen[?] Amen”;

Prayers to all saints.

ff. 187v-193v, Eyn andechtich gebet uth Augusthynus hertz gedachten boeke dat vp allen hochtydz dage mach gelesen werden, incipit, “O here Ick mochte wal myst trostich geworden hebben ... gaue ys hyr bouen afstygende van den vader des lechtes”;

Two prayers from Saint Augustine’s Confessions (or Book of the Heart, as it is identified in the rubric here).

ff. 194-224, Hyr na uolget de vygylye vor de doden, incipit, “Och laet vns bydde vor alle keritene menschen vnd zeilen ... mydes der gudertyrnen barmherticheit godes moiten cristen in vrede”;

Prayers and readings for the Office of the Dead.  It is worth noting that the text of this Office does not follow the translation or the use of Geert Grote (edited in Van Wijk, 1940).

ff. 224-227, Hyr begynet en andeth van den hjden vnses leuen heren vor de zeilen, incipit, “O Here Jesu christi de in der lesten nacht dynes naturliken leuens ... vnd laet se vnd vns gebruken der ewigen wonden Amen”.

Prayers for Jesus, focused on the events of his Passion.

This fascinating Dutch-language volume is best described as a Prayer Book – in other words, a collection of texts for private devotion; nonetheless the fact that it does include some liturgical prayers for the mass and Divine Office (in the vernacular), is of special interest.  Its entirely vernacular contents and early inscription mentioning the Wine Tappers’s guild are evidence that the book was made for lay use.


The book brings together translations of texts we might expect in a Book of Hours or in a Breviary (including suffrages and prayers and readings for the Divine Office, the Office of the Dead, the commons of saints, and the feast of a church’s dedication), as well as prayers and readings to be said at mass.  Other prayers are organized around particular focal points, including, for example, the Virgin Mary, the cross, and the Passion of Christ.  Many prayers here appear to be unique, and the volume is not listed in the online database of the Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta (see Online Resources).

This Prayer Book’s scope and arrangement of texts reflect, in some respects, the contents of roughly contemporary Prayer Books produced in the Low Countries.  Indeed, it bears comparison to books produced for both clerical and lay audiences.  In language, types of prayers, and organization, for example, it resembles a volume, formerly Les Enluminures TM 817, produced in Limburg in Dutch for a lay owner around the same date.  But even a Prayer Book copied in Latin some decades earlier for the use of Premonstratensian canons (formerly Les Enluminures TM 522) shares a number of similar texts, including many of the liturgical texts, but also some more private and affective prayers.  In fact, all three contain one text in common, a prayer attributed to Saint Ambrose.  Collections of prayers like these are important sources for scholars interested in the history of late medieval and Early Modern spirituality.

Setting this book apart from these others, however, is its apparent connection to a craft guild or confraternity, specifically an association of wine tappers (see above, in Provenance).  Wine tappers served wine, often in the capacity of innkeepers, and guilds of wine tappers (or innkeepers) are well documented in Konstanz, Florence, and Antwerp, for example (see Dambruyne, 2006 and Nicholas, 1997).  The contents of the Prayer Book itself lend support to this connection.  Several of the saints given special attention in the book’s rubrics, for example, would have been likely to receive particular veneration from members of the wine trade.  Martin, bishop of Tours, is the patron saint of vintners, while Dorothea and Agnes are both patron saints of gardeners (and, in Dorothea’s case, of brewers as well).  The inclusion of two prayers attributed to Augustine’s Confessions may indicate that he was an important saint to this particular craft guild as well, or, perhaps, that they had ties to an Augustinian congregation or lay society. Certainly, this Prayer Book warrants further study for the information its contents might yield regarding intersections of Early Modern lay spirituality and guild society.  While chapels and altarpieces attest to the craft guilds’s investment in religion as part of a public identity, this Prayer Book surely offers many insights into the private devotions of a guild member.


Craft Guilds in the Early Modern Low Countries: Work, Power and Representation, ed. by Maarten Prak, Catharina Lis, Jan Lucassen, and Hugo Soly, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2006 [in particular, Dambruyne, Johan.  “Corporative capital and social representation in the Southern and Northern Netherlands, 1500-1800,” pp. 194-223].

Nicholas, David.  The Later Medieval City: 1300-1500, London, 1997.

Van Wijk, Nicolaas.  Het Getijdenboek van Geert Grote, Leiden,1940.

Online Resources

Database of Middle Dutch manuscripts, the Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta


Het Getijdenboek van Geert Grote http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/grot001geti01_01/

“Orationes Sancti Ambrosii Ante Missam singulis hebdomadae diebus distributae,” Thesaurum precum Latinarum, 2016

TM 852