Most books of hours contain not only the Divine Office but also prayers for other occasions. One of the prayers in this book of hours is focuses on the “sweet name of Jesus” which, according to the rubric1, was supposed to prevent or cure the plague. The prayer was composed by Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444), an Italian priest who worked for several months in the hospital of Siena, taking care those infected by the plague.
This book of hours is written in both Latin and Dutch. Since most lay people (and many nuns) were unable to read Latin it was probably owned by a monastery with male members, most likely from the order of Augustine (see the prayer to “our dear father St. Augustine” at fol. 147v). The monks could have used this book of hours either during the Divine Office or during personal meditation. By listing January 8^th^ as the feast day of St. Goedele in the manuscript’s calendar we are given another hint as to where this book was produced. It is believed that this manuscript originated in the vicinity of Brussels (Belgium), since the relics of St. Goedele were transferred to the cathedral in Brussels in the eleventh century.
- Before a scribe could begin to fill the quires with text, the layout of the page needed to be designed and prepared. What instruments did the scribe of this manuscript use to prepare the pages?
- Some manuscripts were made for institutional use, for example for a monastery, a nunnery, or a school. Others were made for one specific reader, who may even have made the book for him- or herself. While it is not easy to deduce whether the scribe made the manuscript for a community or a specific individual (or even for personal use), material features can sometimes provide clues to this end. Study this manuscript in search for such clues. Look for ownership inscriptions (often in the front or back of the book), the number of different individuals who added information into the margins (the script may help you here), and the number of entries added by these individuals. If you had to speculate, for what scenario would you opt and why: community or individual use?
- Lieftinck, G. I. (1948). Codices Manuscripti V: codicum in finibus belgarum ante annum 1550 conscriptorum qui in bibliotheca universitatis asservantur (Vol. 1). Brill.
- Stooker, K., & Verbeij, T. (1997). Collecties op orde : Middelnederlandse handschriften uit kloosters en semi-religieuze gemeenschappen in de Nederlanden (Vol. 2). Peeters.