Constable MS 4: a leaf from the so-called “Wilton Processional”

by David T. Gura, Curator, Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts

In August 2015, Giles Constable donated a small collection of fragments and charters in memory of his daughter, Olivia Remie Constable (1960-2014), who had been the Robert M. Conway Director of the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame. The gift included a thirteenth-century leaf from a processional, later shown to be at Wilton Abbey, a women’s Benedictine house, until 1860. The parent manuscript was broken by Cleveland biblioclast, Otto F. Ege (1888-1951), who included leaves from it in his portfolio, Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscript. It was Leaf no. 8. Leaves from the processional were disseminated widely through Ege’s portfolios as well as from later dealers, and now are part of many American and Canadian collections. Processionals contain the antiphons and rubrics pertaining to the processions themselves. For example, Palm Sunday and the Visitatio sepulchri are included.

Constable MS 4 contains part of the procession for Palm Sunday. Of great interest, and rarity, is the use of feminine forms in the rubrics (e.g., ‘cantrix’). This shows intentional customization for a female religious community, whereas many other manuscripts often transmit the masculine forms even though they were used by women.

 

Bibliography

Alison Altstatt, “Re-membering the Wilton Processional,” Notes 72 (2016): 690-732.

David T. Gura, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2016), pp. 480-482.

Scott Gwara, Otto Ege’s Manuscripts (Cayce, SC: De Brailes, 2013).

 


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Recent Acquisition: Leaf from a 13th-century illuminated Flemish Psalter-Hours

by David T. Gura, Curator, Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts

Frag. I. 36 is a single leaf from a type of devotional manuscript known as a Psalter-Hours. As its name implies, the book contained a Psalter as well as the Hours of the Virgin accompanied by other texts. The Psalter-Hours grew in popularity among the laity in the mid to late thirteenth century, whereas the few earlier examples were used by monastics. The Book of Hours became far more common in later centuries for the laity and eventually displaced the Psalter-Hours, though not completely.

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This particular leaf contains a portion of the Office for the Dead, which the living would pray to ease the departed’s time in Purgatory. The end of Job 10.20 is followed by a responsory and a versicle. The text on the verso breaks off at Psalm 22.2.

The decorative borders are typical of Flemish painting during the thirteenth century. The initials are inhabited by grotesques and a playful illustration of a dog chasing a hare occupies the lower margin of the verso.

This fragment is fully described in David T. Gura, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2016), pp. 452-53. Expected publication: November 2016.

 


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Recent Acquisition: Medieval Manuscript Facsimile

by Julia Schneider, Medieval Studies Librarian 

The Bamberg Apocalypse facsimile is an original-format copy of a manuscript commissioned by Otto III (980-1002 AD). After his untimely death, the manuscript was left unfinished in the scriptorium of the Benedictine Abbey of Reichenau in Southern Germany. His successor, Henry II (973-1024 AD) ordered it finished. Thus, the manuscript dates to 1000-1020.

Containing 106 leaves in total, the first fifty-seven leaves of the Bamberg Apocalypse (Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, Msc. Bibl. 140) contain the text and images of the Apocalypse of St. John from the Bible (a.k.a., Revelation). The remaining leaves of the manuscript include gospel pericopes (extracted readings) for specific feasts. There are a hundred decorated initials throughout the manuscript along with fifty-seven images, or miniatures, forty-nine of which provide striking visual interpretations of the prophecies contained in the Apocalypse concerning the end of the world and the final judgment, all with significant gold decoration.

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The image shown above, described in the facing text, depicts Apocalypse 12:1-5. The woman, who has brought forth a man child, is clothed with the sun and has the moon under her feet. The great dragon with its seven heads and ten horns looks on in the foreground. Though the text describes a red dragon, the image features a multi-colored dragon—red, gold, and purple. Standing in the background is the Church that houses the Ark of the Covenant.

There were many ornate apocalypses and apocalypse commentaries produced during the Middle Ages, and, while we do not own the manuscripts, Hesburgh Libraries’ Rare Books and Special Collections houses facsimiles of several in addition to this recently acquired version. Be sure to search “apocalypse” in our database of facsimiles for more information on these fascinating, illustrated manuscript facsimiles.

 

Recent Acquisition: Authoritative Sylburg Edition of Aristotle

BOO_004396443-t1-001Recently acquired is volume three of Friedrich Sylburg’s authoritative Greek edition of Aristotle’s works. Printed in 1584 in Frankfurt by Andreas Wechel, this volume contains Physikēs akroaseōs biblia 8, Peri ouranou 4, Peri geneseōs kai phthoras 2, Meteōrologikōn 4, Peri kosmou 1, and Peri phychē 3.

The volume is bound in contemporary, blind-stamped pig skin over boards. On the front is a central medallion with the bust of Ludwig the Pious, surrounded by a knotted foliate pattern and border with medallions of noted humanists including Erasmus, Martin [Luther], John [of Saxony], and Philip [Melanchthon].

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Who’s Who in RBSC: Dave Gura

Dave Gura joined Rare Books and Special Collections in August 2010 as Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts. Trained in Greek and Latin with particular interests in textual criticism, Latin paleography, and manuscript studies, Dave earned his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. His doctoral research examined the transmission of the Roman poet Ovid in the Middle Ages and culminated in his dissertation, “A Critical Edition and Study of Arnulf of Orléans’s Philological Commentary to Ovid’s Metamorphoses,” under the supervision of Professor Frank T. Coulson.

Since coming to Notre Dame, Dave has been engaged in numerous projects that have brought attention to the library’s Medieval manuscript collection. He co-curated an exhibit with his colleague, David Sullivan, titled Readers Writing Books: Annotation in Context, 1200-1600 in Spring 2012 that featured medieval annotations in printed texts. Then in Spring 2013, Dave curated his first full exhibit, Hour by Hour: Reconstructing a Medieval Breton Prayerbook, and a version of this was put on display at the Snite Museum at Notre Dame for the Medieval Academy of America annual meeting in Spring 2015. This exhibit featured a fifteenth-century Book of Hours from Brittany, France that had been cut apart so that individual leaves could be sold. In curating this exhibit, Dave aimed to reconstruct the entire manuscript, searching for the various leaves that had been sold, and to inform viewers about the practice of book breaking.

Dave’s current exhibit features papal manuscripts, books, and other materials related to the Vatican. Vestigia Vaticana: An exhibition of papal manuscripts, books, and more in conjunction with the conference “The Promise of the Vatican Library” at the University of Notre Dame opened May 4, 2016, to coincide with the conference.

In addition to highlighting the collection through exhibits, Dave uses the medieval manuscript collection to teach a variety of classes that range from individual tutorials on Western codicology to graduate courses on Latin paleography. Students get hands-on experience analyzing these manuscripts. They learn basic aspects of Western codicology—the study of books as physical objects—including how to read different styles of Latin handwriting, identify bindings, and estimate the period in which the text was written.

Both his classes and exhibits reflect how Dave views his role as curator. He works with manuscripts in the RBSC collections, researching their provenance and content and using them to teach students, faculty, and the public. One of his main goals is to help undergraduates and graduate students develop the skills they need to conduct their own research with these types of materials.

A consummate scholar, Dave has an active research agenda. He recently completed his book entitled A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College, which is forthcoming from the University of Notre Dame Press. Having finished installing his exhibit, he plans to resume research on a newly acquired fragment that is an unknown witness to a 13th-century French poem to Charlemagne’s mother.

From the hours he spends examining 13th-century papal bulls to evaluate their legitimacy to his dream of acquiring a perfectly glossed, complete, 13th-century copy of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Dave’s passion for what he does is quite apparent to all of us in Special Collections. To keep up with his research on ND’s medieval collections, follow him on Twitter.

ND’s Conservation Lab Looks at our Pico: Is it human?

by Sue Donovan, Rare Books Conservator

The conservation lab, a unit within Hesburgh Libraries Preservation, has been part of a collaborative effort to determine if a book owned by the University since 1916 was bound in human skin. The book, a volume of the works of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, a 15th-century humanist writer, contains newspaper clippings and handwritten affidavits attesting to the book’s past. These documents purport that the book was owned by Christopher Columbus and was bound in the skin of a Moorish chieftain, which had been obtained after the conversion of the Muslim population of Granada to Catholicism by the zealous Cardinal Cisneros in 1500. After contradictions were found in the provenance records, the conservation lab engaged in identifying the nature of the skin used for the binding.

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Opera Joannis Pici Mirandule Comitis Concordie, by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (Argentinus: diligenter impressit industrius Ioannes Prüs Ciuis Argentinus Anno salutis 1503 Die vero XV Marcij i.e., 15 March 1504).

In January of 2015 two samples were taken—one from the purported human skin binding and one as a control from a book with a similar binding and of the same time period and country of production as the Pico volume. Finding an area that was relatively untouched was important so that there would be no contamination from proteins and grime from centuries of handling and consultation. Accordingly, small samples were taken from underneath the paper pastedowns of each book, and they were sent to the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), where they were analyzed through protein mass spectrometry. Proteins are more stable than DNA, and because of the unique patterns and mutations that exist across species, they can be used to determine whether a binding has been made with pig, sheep, calfskin, or human skin.

In the meantime, Conservator Liz Dube and I took the volume to the photo macroscopy lab on campus to see if we could determine any information about the origin of the skin through the pore and follicle patterns, but we left just as perplexed—perhaps even more so!—than when we arrived.

Based upon in-house tests, it was uncertain whether the Pico book was bound in human skin. We turned next to our outside collaborators for their expertise. To find out what they uncovered, read John Nagy’s article, “The Truth Uncovered,” in the Spring 2016 issue of Notre Dame Magazine.

Thanks to George Rugg for his research on the provenance of the Pico volume, Donald Siegle of the NYC OCME for his correspondence regarding protein mass spectrometry, and John Nagy for his research into the personalities behind this book’s ownership and for bringing the information together in his article.

 


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Recent Acquisition: A Calendar Leaf for May

by Dr. David T. Gura, Curator, Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts

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Notre Dame (Ind.), Univ. of Notre Dame, Hesburgh Library, Frag. I. 33

A newly acquired fragment (Frag. I. 33) provides a representative specimen of a historiated calendar from a fifteenth-century book of hours from France. The leaf contains the feast days of saints and other liturgical celebrations for the month of May. The entries are written in French using a double-graded system which invokes a deluxe presentation with a utilitarian element. Feasts written in gold are celebrated at a higher grade (e.g. as a solemnity) than the others. Those written in red and blue inks are celebrated at the same level, and the colors alternate purely for aesthetic purposes.

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Dentelle initial KL marking the Kalends of May (first of the month). Frag. I. 33 (detail)

The outer border is decorated with black and gold rinceaux and contains acanthus leaves and other floral motifs. A similar piece border sprays from the initials KL in the upper inner margin (for Kalends, Latin for the first day of a month—hence our term ‘Calendar’).

The labors for the month of May are those of the nobility: courtly love and falconry. The lower margin features a miniature (below) which depicts both activities. The two lovers on horseback are engaged in courtship while on the hunt. The man holds a green branch, a symbol of fertility. A white hunting dog follows the couple closely on the ground, and the man’s falcon is perched on his left hand.

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Though a product of biblioclasty from a period unknown, Frag. I. 33 still retains aspects which provide clues to its place of origin and location of use. For example, the Translation of the relics of St. Ouen celebrated on May 5 points towards the diocese of Rouen, which is located in the region of Upper Normandy. St. Ouen—also known as Audoin, Audoenus, or Dado—became bishop of Rouen in 641, and died in the last decades of the seventh century. A Gothic church bearing his name (the Basilica of St. Ouen) still stands in the city of Rouen.

 

Bibliography: David T. Gura, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College. Forthcoming 2016.

 


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Recent Acquisition: Sacramentary of Henry II

by Julia Schneider, Medieval Studies Librarian

Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute has recently added the Sacramentary of Henry II to its substantial original-format facsimile collection. Original-format facsimiles are reproductions of important works that are intended to mimic the original. They are highly detailed, specialized, and provide insights into various aspects of intellectual history.

München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 4456, fol. 11r, is known as the coronation image of Henry II. In the image, Henry is crowned by Christ, as angels in the two windows beside Christ bring him his lance and sword. He is being supported by Saint Ulrich on the left and Emmeram on the right.
München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 4456, fol. 11r, is known as the coronation image of Henry II. In the image, Henry is crowned by Christ, as angels in the two windows beside Christ bring him his lance and sword. He is being supported by Saint Ulrich on the left and Emmeram on the right.

This sacramentary was a ceremonial service book for Mass to be used by the celebrant, and commissioned by Henry II, the Duke of Bavaria. Henry was crowned Holy Roman Emperor (1014-1024) by Boniface VIII and was known as a builder of the empire north of the Alps, as well as for being deeply religious. He considered himself to be “the Ruler of the House of God,” following in the footsteps of his not-so-distant ancestor, Charlemagne (d. 814), and thus was a great patron of the Bavarian church. The founder of the See of Bamberg, Henry and his wife Kunegunde were both canonized and are interred in the cathedral of Sts. Peter and Georg there.

Henry’s sacramentary is the epitome of a deluxe manuscript; it is made of calf and sheep skin, and its luxurious illuminations, decorated initials, elaborately designed marginalia, use of gold and silver lettering throughout the manuscript, and sumptuous goldsmith’s decorated binding with ivory decorative plate made this a book truly worthy of an emperor and one that the emperor thought worthy to celebrate the sacred liturgy. The original was produced in the scriptorium of the Benedictine monastery of St. Emmeram at Regensburg, later made its way to Bamberg, and is now in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, leaving its location in the vault only rarely. Unlike the original, the facsimile, though not inexpensive to purchase, is not priceless. Because it is not the original medieval manuscript, it may be handled, offering students and scholars the opportunity to learn about the sacramentary itself and aiding them in gaining insight into the history of medieval book production, liturgy, and art history.

 


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Spring & Summer Exhibit – Sacred Music at Notre Dame: The Voice of the Text

There’s still time to see the Special Collections spring and summer 2015 exhibit, Sacred Music at Notre Dame: the Voice of the Text, curated by Dr. David T. Gura, Curator, Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts.

library-web-graphicThis exhibition highlights the variety of medieval liturgical manuscripts and fragments housed in the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library which contain music. The manuscripts featured date from the eleventh through fifteenth century, and originate from various regions in France, Germany, Austria, and Italy. Some examples represent specific uses such as Carthusian monks or Dominican nuns. Other manuscripts in this exhibit were recovered from book bindings and serve as examples of older practices which may no longer exist in complete manuscripts.

The exhibit was featured as the cover story for ND Works in June 2015.

Select chants from the manuscripts on display were performed and recorded by Prof. Alexander Blachly (Department of Music, Notre Dame) and the Notre Dame Schola Musicorum. Audio files of these chants can be listened to online.

The exhibit is open to the public 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday, through July 31, 2015.