This book of hours was obtained by Marcus Jansen from Amersfoort (the Netherlands) in the middle of the seventeenth century and later became the first manuscript in the possession of the Convent of St. Agnes in Amersfoort. Marcus personalized this manuscript by writing down his family history on the flyleaves, including information about the death of his wife Annetjen Willems in 1652 and about his marriage to his second wife, Elysabet Syberts, in 1653. We know from an additional note written by the person that obtained the book after Marcus’ death that he died in 1670 and was buried in the Cattuijsers kerckhoeff.
This manuscript contains several texts, which were all written by a single scribe. It discusses the Last Supper, the Passion of Jesus, and the Resurrection, and is based on the Gospel Harmony by Johannes Scutken (d. 1423). Scutken, a student of Geert Grote, translated the New Testament into Dutch. It is estimated that over one hundred and fifty manuscripts containing his text have survived. The second text in this manuscript is a Dutch translation of an excerpt from Henricus Suso’s Horologium aeternae sapientiae (The Clock of Wisdom).
This manuscript is beautifully decorated with pen-flourished initials. Fols. 12v - 13r show three computus circles used to determine the date of Easter. The text in the circle in fol. 12v asks the reader to start looking for the Golden Number from “drientsestig” (sixty-three), which tells us that the manuscript was written in 1463.
- Manuscripts were made from parchment, paper or a combination of these two materials. The quality of these materials varied considerably. What material was used in this manuscript and how can you tell?
- Up to 1200 most manuscripts were produced by monastic scribes, whereas after this date it became increasingly common for lay (i.e. non-clerical) individuals to be involved in book production. Does the manuscript in front of you provide any clues as to the potential background of the scribe? If you were forced to speculate, what would your verdict be and why?
- Gumbert, J. P. (2009). Illustrated Inventory of Medieval Manuscripts in Latin script in the Netherlands. Verloren.
- Deschamps, J. (1975). De Verspreiding Van Johan Scutkens Vertaling Van Het Nieuwe Testament En De Oudtestamentische Perikopen. Nederlands Archief Voor Kerkgeschiedenis, 56(1).