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Medieval and early modern manuscript collection
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Ethiopian Coptic Bible

Item is an Ethiopian Coptic manuscript Bible with an accompanying leather carrying case. The codex consists of 140 goatskin parchment leaves, with text in Ge'ez (the liturgical language of the Ethiopian church) written in red and black ink, with occasional annotations throughout. The codex is illustrated with 9 full-page illuminations in colour, and 5 decorative headpieces in black, red, and blue. The binding is in traditional Ethiopian Coptic style and features wooden boards (the back board has been crudely repaired) and a leather spine.

Liber Sextus Decretalium leaf

Item is a large leaf from an Italian copy of Liber Sextus Decretalium (the Sixth Book of Decretals), a collection of papal decrees concerning canon law (decretals) that was compiled by Pope Boniface VIII as a supplement to the Decretals of Pope Gregory IX. The leaf features glossing, manicules, and paraphs and headings in red and blue.

Shahnameh leaf

Item is a leaf from the Shahnameh (The Book of Kings), the national epic of Greater Iran which was written by the Persian poet Hakīm Abul-Qāsim Firdawsī Tūsī (Ferdowsi) in the early 11th century.

Spanish antiphonal leaf

Item is a large illuminated leaf from a Spanish antiphonal featuring Gregorian chant musical notation and containing sections of the Book of Wisdom 5:5 and the Book of Acts 4:33. An antiphonal, or antiphonary, is a choir book that contains chants for the canonical hours of the Divine Office.

A partial transcription of the leaf reads: Beginning with the illuminated letter E of "Ecce quomodo..." : "Behold how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints..."
Beginning with the illuminated letter L of "Lux perpetua..." : "Let perpetual light shine upon them Lord, for eternity, alleluia, alleluia..."
Beginning with the illuminated letter V of "Virtute magna..." :"With great power did the apostles give testimony of the resurrection."

Spanish antiphonal leaf

Item is a large illuminated leaf from a Spanish antiphonal/antiphonary featuring Gregorian chant in square notation to be sung during the celebration of the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours). The leaf features several illuminated initials including two knot-work (cadel) initials and a very large puzzle initial 'R' in red and violet in mudejar style, which was directly influenced by the geometric decorative art of Islamic Spain.

The knot-work initial 'M' on the recto begins: “Magnus sanctus…” (the great Saint Paul, the vessel of election, is indeed worthy to be glorified), and the puzzle initial 'R' begins the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary “Recordare mei…” (Remember me and visit me…), and

Italian missal leaf

Item is a leaf from a missal from Italy that contains a reading from chapter 4 of the Gospel of Luke. The leaf features several illuminated initials in blue and red, and a marginal illustration of a face.

A partial translation of the text, beginning with the first illuminated 'I' reads: "At that time, Jesus rising up out of the synagogue, went into Simon's house. And Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever, and they besought him for her. And standing over her, he commanded the fever, and it left her. And immediately rising, she ministered to them."

French breviary leaf

Item is a leaf from an illuminated breviary from Northern France. Verso features a zoomorphic initial featuring a dragon, and several other illuminated initials and line fillers in red, blue, and burnished gold. A breviary is a liturgical book used by the clergy to celebrate the Divine Office (also known as the Liturgy of the Hours), and contains readings, hymns, psalms, and prayers.

French book of hours leaves

File contains three leaves from an illuminated book of hours from Northern France, possibly Paris. The leaves are decorated with elaborate panel borders, some inhabited by fantastical creatures, as well as illuminated initials and line fillers.

French pocket Bible leaf

Item is an illuminated leaf from a French pocket Bible, likely from Paris. The leaf features text from the Book of Obadiah in minute Gothic miniscule script in two columns. The recto features an elongated whimsical creature (possibly a griffon?) between the two columns of text, and the verso contains a 6-line historiated initial depicting the prophet Obadiah seated and holding a scroll.

German noted breviary fragment

Item is a fragment of a leaf from a German noted (containing music) breviary, likely recovered from a binding. The recto features musical notation in Hufnagelschrift ("horseshoe nail script") neumes on 4-line staves, with lyrics relating to Easter. A breviary is a liturgical book used by the clergy to celebrate the Divine Office (also known as the Liturgy of the Hours), and contains readings, hymns, psalms, and prayers.

[Breviary?] leaf

Item is a leaf, likely from a breviary, featuring illuminated initials in painted gold on brown, blue, or red grounds. A breviary is a liturgical book used by the clergy to celebrate the Divine Office (also known as the Liturgy of the Hours), and contains readings, hymns, psalms, and prayers.

[Breviary?] calendar leaf

Item is a leaf, likely from a breviary, featuring a calendar of church feasts from July to December. A breviary is a liturgical book used by the clergy to celebrate the Divine Office (also known as the Liturgy of the Hours), and contains readings, hymns, psalms, and prayers.

Manuscript fragments

File contains three fragments of manuscript leaves (possibly works of canon law) recovered from later bindings. Fragments 1 and 2 appear to be from the same manuscript, and possibly the same leaf. The fragments feature glossing in a number of medieval and modern hands, rubrication, and illuminated initials, paraphs, and marginal decorations, one in the form of a a mythical creature.

Unfinished French psalter leaf

Item is a leaf from a French psalter with text from Psalm 24. The leaf features guide letters where the illuminator was supposed to paint illuminated initials, but these were never added. A psalter is a book containing the Book of Psalms and often other devotional texts such as a liturgical calendar, Litany of Saints, and Office of the Dead.

Bible leaf from William de Brailes' workshop

Item is a leaf from an English pocket bible containing verses 22:12-24:39 of the Book of Ecclesiastes. Leaf features illuminated initials and marginalia including a partial English translation of verse 24:1 ("Wisedome shall prayse herselfe and be honored in god and rejoyse in the middes of his people :". The leaf was produced in Oxford in the workshop of the prominent manuscript illuminator William de Brailes.

A partial transcription of the leaf reads: Beginning nequissimi enim...: "For the wicked life of a wicked fool is worse than death... keep fidelity with a friend in his poverty, that in his prosperity also thou mayst rejoice... wisdom shall praise her own self, and shall be honored in God, and shall glory in the midst of her people and shall open her mouth in the churches of the most high, and shall glorify herself in the sight of his power... he said to me: let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in my elect. From the beginning and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before him..."

English pocket Bible leaf

Item is a leaf from an English pocket bible, possibly from East Anglia, containing verses 10:30-12:41 of the Book of Mark. Leaf features illuminated initials and marginalia.

A partial transcription of the leaf reads: "Et sorores, et matres, et agros..." : "and sisters , and mothers, and children... the Son of man also is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a redemption for many... Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord... My house shall be called the house of prayer to all nations. But you have made it a den of thieves... Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's... And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like to it; thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself..."

English book of hours leaf

Item is a leaf from an English book of hours containing verses 22:5-23:4 of the Book of Psalms. The leaf may have been produced at Syon Abbey (a wealthy monastery of the Bridgettine Order that was located east of London on the north bank of the River Thames in the parish of Isleworth), but this claim (from the seller's description) remains unsubstantiated. The leaf features illuminated initials of burnished gold and a floral border on the recto. Surviving English books of hours are rare, as many were destroyed during the English Reformation.

A partial transcription of the leaf reads: Beginning with "In conspectus meo..." : "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Beginning with the illuminated letter D of "Domini est terra..." : "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof: the world, and all they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas; and hath prepared it upon the rivers. Who shall ascend into the mountains of the Lord: or who shall stand in his holy place? The innocent in hands, and the clean of heart, who hath not taken his soul in vain, nor sworn deceitfully to his neighbour..."

Flemish book of hours bifolium

Item is a continuous bifolium from a book of hours produced in Flanders. The text follows the Use of Sarum (Salisbury), an English variant of the Roman rite for public worship, indicating that it was produced for the English market. The two leaves constituting the bifolium contain the latter part of a Litany of Saints, and feature illuminated initials and burnished gold lettering. A partial transcription of the leaves reads:
Beginning with the illuminated letter "U" ut oculos...: "That it may please thee to look upon us with eyes of mercy... Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world, spare us O Lord... Lord have mercy upon us. Christ have mercy upon us..."
Beginning with the illuminated letter "D" deus...: "O God, Whose property is always to have mercy and to spare, receive our petition; that we and all thy servants who are bound by the chain of sin may, by the compassion of thy goodness mercifully be absolved..."
Beginning with the illuminated letter "I" in...: "Show with clemency O Lord they unspeakable mercy unto us: that thou both acquit us of our sins and deliver us from the pains, which for them we deserve..."

French breviary leaf

Item is a leaf from a French breviary containing verses 1:20 to 2:12 of the Book of Genesis, including the Creation of Man. The leaf features illuminated initials with floral designs and rinceaux in bright colours and burnished gold.

A partial transcription of the leaf reads:
Beginning with the illuminated letter D of "Dixit etiam..." : "God also said: Let the waters bring forth the creeping creature having life, and the fowl that may fly over the earth... and God created the great whales... and the evening and the morning were the first day..."
Beginning with the illuminated letter D of "Dixit quoque..." : "And God said: Let the earth bring forth the living creatures in its kind..."
Beginning with the illuminated letter E of "Et vidit deaus..." : "And God saw that it was good. And he said : let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts and the whole earth..."
Beginning with the illuminated letter E of "Et creavit..." : "And God created man to his own image... increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule..."
Beginning with the illuminated letter D of "Dixitque..." : "And God said: behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon earth... and the evening and morning were the sixth day... and on the seventh day God ended his work... he blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it... and the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul..."

A breviary is a liturgical book used by the clergy to celebrate the Divine Office (also known as the Liturgy of the Hours), and contains readings, hymns, psalms, and prayers.

Moralia in Job fragment

Item is a fragment of a leaf from the Moralia in Job (also known as the Commentary on Job, Magna Moralia, or Moralia, sive Expositio in Job), a work of biblical commentary authored by Pope Gregory I (Saint Gregory the Great) in the late 6th century. The fragment is written in late Caroline miniscule or protogothic script. It also features several holes including a large parchment flaw at bottom, while those in the centre were probably created when the fragment was reused as a limp binding.

French processional gradual leaf

Item is a leaf from a processional gradual, a choir book containing the music used in processions during the Mass. The bookseller's description notes that "the opening leaf of the parent manuscript states this was a 'Gradual for the Carthusian Order'... from the Royal Workshop of Henri II" in Paris. The text of this leaf is for use on Holy Saturday, and is decorated with two large illuminated initials featuring flowers and a strawberry on liquid gold grounds, as well as three smaller initials and three paraphs.

The illuminated C begins part of Exodus 15:1-2: "Cantemus domino...": "Let us sing to the Lord: For he is gloriously magnified: The horse and the rider He has thrown into the sea: My helper and protector. He has brought salvation to me. He is my God, and I will glorify him: The God of my father, and I will exalt him. The Lord has destroyed war: Almighty is His name..."
Beginning with the illuminated letter V: "Vinea...": " My beloved has a vineyard on a very fruitful hill. And he enclosed it with a fence and made a ditch around it, and planted it with the choicest vine..."

A gradual contains the music for the proper of the Mass, the part of the liturgy that varies according to the date (as opposed to the ordinary of the Mass, which is relatively constant). For example, chants for the proper (such as introits, graduals, tracts, alleluia, offertory and communion verses) would vary depending on which holiday or saint's feast day was being celebrated.

Tefillin scroll

Item is a tefillin scroll containing an excerpt from the Torah. Tefillin (or phylacteries) are sets of two small black leather boxes, each containing a set of four scrolls of verses from the Torah, which are worn by observant adult Jews during weekday morning prayers as a remembrance of God's delivery of the Israelites out of Egypt.

French psalter-hours leaf

Item is an illuminated leaf from a miniature psalter-hour from France. A psalter-hours is a personal prayer book that was the precursor to Books of Hours. The leaf features initials and line fillers in red, blue, and burnished gold.

English psalter leaves

File contains two leaves from an illuminated psalter that feature illuminated initials and line fillers in red, blue, and burnished gold. The leaves also feature three-quarter borders on both sides depicting long tendrils terminating in trefoils and containing marginal illustrations of humans/hybrid creatures and a bird. A psalter is a book containing the Book of Psalms and often other devotional texts such as a liturgical calendar, Litany of Saints, and Office of the Dead.

Papal bull in the name of Pope Urban VIII

Item is a papal bull issued by Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644). A papal bull is a public decree, letters patent, or charter issued by the pope of the Catholic Church. Bulls were issued by the Apostolic Chancery (also known as the Papal Chancellery) and were written in a heavily abbreviated and archaic form of Latin known as scrittura bollatica, and were often accompanied by a copy in ordinary script. This bull lacks the lead seal ('bulla,' the origin of the term 'papal bull') which was typically affixed to these documents (via the cord at bottom) as a form of authentication and to prevent tampering.

Egyptian Coptic Euchologion leaf

Item is a leaf from a Euchologion, one of the principal liturgical texts of the Coptic churches (as well as the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches). The text is written in Bohairic (an Egyptian dialect of the Coptic language, and the official liturgical language), with an Arabic translation. The leaf features some rubrication and a marginal illustration of a cross on the verso.

French psalter leaf

Item is an illuminated leaf from a psalter from Paris, featuring a number of inhabited initials and marginal illustrations depicting human-animal hybrids, a bird, and a crowned and bearded king.

English psalter leaf

Item is a leaf from an illuminated psalter featuring initials, line fillers, and leafy borders in red, blue, and burnished gold. The borders are inhabited by a pointing figure (recto), and a downward facing human-animal hybrid with a tall hat (verso).

Burmese black parabaik leaf

File contains a leaf from a Burmese black parabaik, or folding-book manuscript, that contains tattoo designs, including: birds, tigers (one eating a person), flags, and an elaborate hti (a Burmese umbrella, an important religious symbol and marker of high social status). Tattooing was a traditional practice of several ethnic groups (including the Shan people) in Burma / Myanmar until the 20th century, and had cultural, religious, and magical significance. The accompanying text is likely in Burmese or Shan.

Parabaik are made of thick paper from the bark of the paper mulberry tree that is sometimes blackened with charcoal like this one, and then written on with a white steatite (soapstone) pencil. The paper is then folded accordion-style and bound with protective covers.

Russian Old Believer hymnal leaf

Item is a leaf from a hymnal created and used by the Old Believers, a religious sect that split off from the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1660s after rejecting liturgical reforms. It features text in Church Slavonic (the liturgical language of the Eastern Orthodox Church), an illuminated initial, and znamenny notation, an archaic form of musical notation used by the Old Believers long after it was abandoned by the official Church in the 18th century.

Palm-leaf manuscript

Item is a palm-leaf manuscript from Southeast Asia (possibly Thailand), and is likely a Buddhist text in Pali. The text is written in 5 lines, possibly in Thai script. The manuscript is bound with a cord that passes through a central hole in the leaves and the boards. Both the boards and the manuscript's accompanying display stand are made of wood and painted black with gilt decoration.

Medieval and early modern manuscript collection

  • CA MRUASC C0003
  • Collection
  • [11--?]-[19--?], predominant [12--]-[15--]

Collection consists of manuscript (written by hand) books, book fragments, and documents, predominantly from the medieval and early modern periods. Most items were produced in western and southern Europe (France, England, Flanders, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Spain), while others originated in Asia, northern Africa, the Middle East, and Russia. Many leaves are illuminated and feature decorative initials, borders, line fillers, marginal illustrations, etc.

The collection is arranged in series by manuscript type: books of hours and prayer books, liturgical books (containing leaves from psalters, breviaries, antiphonals, and graduals), charters (legal records), Bibles, and canon law.

Liturgical books

Series consists of leaves from liturgical books (also known as service books), which were used by the clergy in the celebration of Christian public religious worship. Types of liturgical books in the series include breviaries, antiphonals, psalters, hymnals and gradual processionals.

Legal documents

Series consists of English and French legal documents enacting or recording the transfer of property or rights from one person or group to another. Legal documents in this series include marriage settlements/contracts, property leases/declarations of sale, a will, a deed, an obligation, and a papal bull.

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