Religion and Devotion
BPL 2782 (Holland, Netherlands, 1481): Getijdenboek met devotionele teksten (Book of Hours with devotional texts), parchment, 72 fols., 189 x 133 mm, 2 cols., 29 lines.

This book of hours is quite unique, and is a great example of the personal touches that people added to their devotional books.1 Johannes Philipszoon (1443-1509), secretary of state of Leiden, was the first owner of this manuscript. Usually hours were written in prose, but the hours in this book were composed in rhyme. Every day of the week was described in seven verses and provided spiritual meditations about different stages in the life of Jesus such as his childhood, his entry into Jerusalem, his Crucifixion and his Resurrection. The same poems occur in another manuscript owned by Johannes Philipszoon from 1472-1481. After Johannes’ death in 1509 the manuscript was given to his daughter, Margriete Claesdochter (see fol. 1v).

The manuscript is extensively decorated with pen-flourished initials, painted borders and colored initials in red and blue. In the front of the manuscript many of the blue initials are faded and smudgy, probably because of water damage. Surprisingly, the red ink was not affected. The manuscript begins with a calendar of saints. Just as in BPL 2706, this manuscript has computus circles to determine the date of Easter. The starting date is 1481 (see fol. 10v).

(Gumbert, 2009, p. 228) (Brinkman, 1997) (Bouwman & van der Vlist, 2008, pp. 49,51,54-55)


  1. When the quires were filled with text, the rubrics were in place, and the scribe had corrected his work, it was time for the finishing touches. Many medieval books contain some kind of decoration in addition to the written words. What kind of decoration can you find in this manuscript? Give three examples.
  2. Medieval page design entails a wide range of components. The main text is an important part, of course, but so are marginal space, commentaries, reading aids, chapter titles, etc. Everything included on the page was given a specific location and a feature was usually included for a good reason. Make an inventory of the components included in this manuscript’s page design and speculate why the scribe opted for this specific design: why did he or she included these specific elements? If your design is plain, why would this be; if it is complex, what may the rationale have been?


  1. Gumbert, J. P. (2009). Illustrated Inventory of Medieval Manuscripts in Latin script in the Netherlands. Verloren.
  2. Brinkman, H. (1997). Dichten uit liefde : literatuur in Leiden aan het einde van de Middeleeuwen. Verloren.
  3. Bouwman, A., & van der Vlist, E. (2008). Van schrijven naar drukken. Het Leidse boek van begin tot Beleg. In A. Bouwman (Ed.), Stad van boeken : handschrift en druk in Leiden, 1260-2000. Primavera Pers.