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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This 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.