Saturday, 24 November 2018

Leaves from a 14th-century Dominican Lectionary

In the last few years I have seen a number of leaves from a volume written in a strange "prescissa" or "sine pedibus" script: in which the bottoms of the minims terminate without an upturn or a lozenge as a foot. The script is perhaps most often associated with England in the 13th and 14th centuries, the Luttrell Psalter being a classic example:

The present manuscript certainly does not look English, however, and attributions have included  "Germany, 15th century", "Flanders, late 14th century", "late XIVth c. ... probably written in Flanders", "Northern Spain, ca. 1350", and "northern Spain, first half of the fourteenth century": people obviously have trouble deciding where and when it was written. I always thought it curious, but had no reason to pursue it. Earlier this year however, I was generously given a leaf of the manuscript, and thus a reason to think about it in a more focused way.

A detail of my leaf is at the top of this post, and a full page looks like this:

A few weeks after being given this leaf, I found two more at the Lilly Library (de Ricci, Census, p. 617 no. 36), where it is recorded that they were "Obtained in 1910 from Hill and Son, London", so we now know that the book was broken up at least as long ago as that date, and that at least two leaves were for sale in London. The ruler at the bottom of this image gives a sense of their size, approximately 395×295mm:
[Lilly Library, Bloomington, IN, MS Ricketts 36]

Then, just a week after returning home from visiting the Lilly I saw another leaf at a London book fair:

The lower margin of the verso has an inscription which suggests that single leaves were in circulation in England (or at least available to an English-speaking owner) by 1879:
Original page of Missal
Manuscript 15th Century
written by a monk of old
[? ...] Oct 21/79”
The text of this leaf consists of reading for the feast of St Peter Martyr, which suggests that the volume may have been for Dominican Use, and this is confirmed by the fact that the text of all the Sanctorale leaves that I have seen, correspond to that edited by Anne-Elisabeth Urfels-Capot, Le sanctoral du lectionnaire de l'office dominicain (1254-1256) ... (Paris, 2007), while the text on leaves from the Temporale correspond to a Dominican Lectionary available online. Leaves identified so far are:

  1. 1st Sunday in Advent. Formerly Reiss & Sohn, 28-29 April 2010 (image below).
  2. 3rd Sunday in Advent. Turnbull Library, New Zealand (Manion, Vines, de Hamel, p. 137 no. 159).
  3. 1st Sunday after the Octave of Epiphany, Monday, and Tuesday. Private collection.
  4. Quinquagesima Sunday and Monday. My leaf.
  5. Second Sunday in Quadragesima, Monday, and Tuesday. Lilly Library, MS Ricketts 36a.
  6. Eve of Palm Sunday, and Palm Sunday. Lilly Library, MS Ricketts 36b.
  7. Easter Sunday. Snowshill Manor (National Trust, NT 1337977).
  8. Tuesday after Easter Sunday. Snowshill Manor (National Trust, NT 1337977) (perhaps a bifolium with the preceding leaf).
  1. (3 and 4 January) Octaves of John the Evangelist and the Innocents. Newark, NJ, Public Library.
  2. (5 February) Agatha. [Currently for sale at Bernard Quaritch Ltd.].
  3. (22 and 24 February) St Peter’s Chair and Matthias. Newark, NJ, Public Library.
  4. (14 and 23 April) Tiburtius, Valerian, & Maximus, and St George. Bloomsbury Auctions, 6 December 2017, lot 13.
  5. (29 April) Peter Martyr. [Currently for sale at Giuseppe Solmi Studio bibliografico]
I will leave a more detailed discussion of the place and date of origin until a later post. The best evidence comes from the decoration of what was doubtless the opening leaf of the manuscript, of which I only have this image, downloaded in 2010:

EDIT, 8 Nov. 2020
I recognied another one on 21 October, at the University of British Columbia, when it was tweeted by Stephanie J. Lahey.

EDIT, 16 May 2023
Another leaf is at the University of Missouri: It belonged to John Bagford, and thus the parent volume must have been broken up before his death in 1716.

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