Religion and Devotion
BPL 1800 (Netherlands, 1459-1530): Noordnederlandse Historiebijbel (Dutch History Bible), paper, 256 fols., 262 x 202 mm, 2 cols., 35-38 lines.

This manuscript contains a Dutch History Bible. It differs from other Bibles written in the vernacular in that History Bibles are not close translations of the standard Latin version of the Bible at the time, called the Vulgate. Instead, they are loose adaptations of the Vulgate combined with information from other works, intentionally written in an easy-to-read narrative style. There are two Dutch History Bibles that originated independently from each other. This manuscript contains the so-called “Second History Bible”. Its contents are based on the Vulgate, Jacob van Maerlant’s Rijmbijbel (Versified Bible), and Petrus Comestor’s Historica scholastica.

This particular manuscript, which contains numerous rubrics1 as well as colored initials, consists of two parts. The first part dates to 1530, the second part to 1459. From fol. 128 onward this manuscript differs from other manuscripts that contain the Second History Bible. It is likely that the scribe copied this part of the manuscript from another source that was a closer translation of the Vulgate. At the end of the text (fol. 245r) the scribe writes “Et sic est finis MCCC XXII”, claiming that he finished this book in 1322. Did he inadvertently copy the date from the manuscript he used as his exemplar, or did he write it on purpose, hoping to convince people that this manuscript was also from an earlier time?

(Gumbert, 2009, pp. 110-112) (van den Berg, 1998, pp. 107, 155, 160) (van den Berg, 2007, pp. 59-75)


  1. Users often modified the manuscript post-production, bringing it even more in tune with their needs. How did the readers of this manuscript interact with the texts? Clue: take a look at the margins and the flyleaves.
  2. Some books were heavily used, while others were not. Observe the presence or absence of wear-and-tear and damage in this book and try to assess how heavily it was used. What are your main reasons for saying so? If there are traces of use, can these be related to a specific kind of use, such as education or religious rituals?


  1. Gumbert, J. P. (2009). Illustrated Inventory of Medieval Manuscripts in Latin script in the Netherlands. Verloren.
  2. van den Berg, M. K. A. (1998). De Noordnederlandse historiebijbel. Een kritische editie met inleiding en aantekeningen van hs. Ltk. 231 uit de Leidse Universiteitsbibliotheek. Verloren.
  3. van den Berg, M. K. A. (2007). De Noordnederlandse historiebijbel. Verhaal en moraal in bijbelse (en wereldlijke) geschiedenis. In A. den Hollander (Ed.), Middelnederlandse bijbelvertalingen. Verloren.