Religion and Devotion

Arguably the majority of manuscripts made in the Middle Ages served a religious or devotional function. It is telling that the top three of popular reads in the later medieval period were the Bible, Book of Hours, and Psalms. These were do-it-yourself manuals, in a sense, given that they showed how to live a good Christian life. Religious and devotional manuscripts survive in very large numbers from medieval monasteries, where they served a variety of purposes, from majestic manuscripts made for consultation in the library (sermons and glossed bibles, for example), to heavily-used copies available for general use in church and refectory. In the 14th and 15th centuries, religious and devotional manuscripts also became popular with private owners, many of whom lived in the cities. The Book of Hours, for example, provided private readers with an opportunity to regulate their devotional lives in the manner of monks and nuns: the books facilitated reading specific texts at specific hours of the day. The kind of books seen in this section often presents a somewhat predictable material design, in large part because the objects are affiliated to specific religious rituals, such as reading or singing out loud during the Mass. From the 13th century onwards, religious and devotional manuscripts also became available in the vernacular, for example in Middle Dutch. While these manuscripts were not used in the same settings as their Latin counterparts, they served the same purpose: to support devotional readers in their daily religious experience and help secure a heavenly afterlife.

  1. Mistake or forgery? (BPL 1800, 1459-1530)
  2. Solitary devotion (BPL 1949, 1450-1500)
  3. Something to talk about (BPL 2231, 1450-1500)
  4. Daily excercises (BPL 2480, 1528)
  5. Sermons (BPL 2482, 1400-1425)
  6. Follow the rules (BPL 2483, 1400-1500)
  7. One hundred meditations (BPL 2627, 1400 and 1450-1475)
  8. Marcus' Book of Hours (BPL 2706, 1463?)
  9. Personal favorites (BPL 2782, 1481)
  10. Recycling manuscripts (BPL 2795, 1525-1550)
  11. For want of a nail (BPL 2851, 1450-1475)
  12. Psalms and bloodletting (BPL 2856, 1450-1500)
  13. Breviarium (BPL 2905, c.1450-1500)
  14. The City of God (BPL 4, 1453)
  15. Three in One (LTK 218, 1450-1500)
  16. Written and printed (LTK 237, 1400-1550)
  17. Secret language (LTK 247, 1463)
  18. One of the 11.000 virgins (LTK 263, 1437)
  19. Saints and legends (LTK 278, 1420)
  20. Geert Groote (LTK 284, 1500-1550?)
  21. Preventing Plague through Prayer (LTK 304, 1550)
  22. Jesus in hell (LTK 316, 1400-1450?)
  23. Memento mori (LTK 318, 1476)
  24. The white nuns of Leiden (LTK 336, 1533-1534)