Religion and Devotion
LTK 336 (Leiden, Netherlands, 1533-1534): Homilien (Homilies), paper, 246 fols., 288 x 200 mm, 2 cols., 35-40 lines.

The scribe of this manuscript wrote at fol. 141v that she finished writing it in 1533 and that it belonged to the “witte nonnen” of Leiden. The so-called white nuns were members of the Dominican Convent of the Virgin at the Rapenburg in Leiden (Netherlands). The chapel of this convent was taken over by by the University of Leiden in 1581 and has been used as academic building ever since. Many street names in the vicinity of the University still refer to nuns that once lived in this area.

This manuscript contains Dutch translations of homilies (commentary that follows a reading of scripture) by several Christian authors, including Bede, Augustine and John Chrysostom. The scribe has copied these homilies from the first book of Collationes by Dirc van Herxen (see also BPL 2231). The first pages of the manuscript contain many reader’s annotations. At fol. 188r, 188v, and 190v you can see drawings of small hands pointing to specific sentences in the text. These hands, called manicula1, show the reader which passages deserve extra attention and appear often in medieval manuscripts. The shape of the hand and the number of fingers visible varied from manuscript to manuscript.

(Lieftinck, 1948, pp. 179-180) (van Beek, 2009)


  1. Mistakes are made in a split-second. Even scribes who carefully copied their text, a few words at the time, would ultimately make mistakes. Can you give three examples in this manuscript where a part of the text was corrected? Note how the mistakes were corrected.
  2. Even though they were often planned to remain empty, the margins of the page contain all sorts of information. Scribes added corrections or additional text, but more often it is readers who scribbled signs, words or even entire sentences in the margins. Focus on the margins of this manuscript and make a rough inventory of the marginal additions. What do they tell you about how the book was used, or who the reader was? Are there any that are obviously from the scribe?


  1. Lieftinck, G. I. (1948). Codices Manuscripti V: codicum in finibus belgarum ante annum 1550 conscriptorum qui in bibliotheca universitatis asservantur (Vol. 1). Brill.
  2. van Beek, L. (2009). Leken trekken tot Gods Woord : Dirc van Herxen (1381-1457) en zijn Eerste Collatieboek. Verloren.