The Netherlands - Circa 1450-1475


Les Enluminures


In the public domain; For high quality reproductions, contact Archival & Special Collections, University of Guelph., 519-824-4120, Ext. 53413


JPEG derived from master file, which was scanned from the original postcard in 24-bit color at 600 dpi in TIFF format using an Epson Expression 10000XL scanner


In Latin




MMS 940 V1 and V2

Alternative Title

Breviary for the Night Office in Two Volumes (Use of Utrecht)


24.5 x 18 centimetres


Copied in the Netherlands in the third quarter of the fifteenth century, c. 1450-1475, based on the evidence of the script, style of the decoration, and liturgical use. The script is a consistent and upright example of Netherlandish Hybrida, known as the national script of The Netherlands (Derolez, 2003, pp. 166-8, esp. pl. 142). The penwork decoration can be confidently localizable to the modern Dutch province of South Holland. The ‘radishes’ style, on which this manuscript’s ‘aubergine’ style is based, seems to have originated around Delft in the 1440s (Korteweg, 1992, p. 68) and quickly spread throughout the region, appearing in workshops and monastic scriptoria from Dordrecht to Leiden. Because of this dissemination, more precise localization based on penwork alone is difficult. As the century progressed, examples became more ‘cluttered’ and colorful, with additional elements such as birds and flowers. This manuscript is likely an earlier example, datable to the third quarter of the fifteenth century.

The text is of the Use of Utrecht for secular use – there are nine lessons for major feasts, compared to the twelve found in monastic volumes – meaning it was used, and also possibly made, by secular religious, such as canons or friars.

Includes saints venerated in the Low Countries: St. Servatius (d. 384) was Bishop of Tongeren and Maastricht; St. Odulphus (d. after 854) is considered one of the ‘Apostles of the Frisians’; St. Willibrord (d. 739), originally of Northumbria, was among the first missionaries to the Low Countries. The Anglo-Saxon St. Lebuinus (d. 775) was another ‘Apostle of the Frisians’; and St. Lambert (d. 705) was Bishop of Maastricht.

The prevalence of feasts related to St. Augustine suggest it was made for Augustinian secular Canons, perhaps with ties to a church dedicated to St. Agnes; feasts and hymns for her veneration appear frequently. Augustine figures prominently in both volumes: the nativity of St. Augustine and his octave (28 August and 4 September) as well as the translation of his relics (11 October and in the other volume, 28 February) are included, as well as hymns for him. The translation of St. Agnes (2 September) is entered in the summer Sanctorale twice, and her Feast and Octave (21 and 28 January) in the winter Sanctorale. There are also hymns for her in both volumes.

2. Owned by H. J. von Aussem, apparently a collector and/or dealer of antiques, including books, in Aachen in the first quarter of the nineteenth century; his ownership inscriptions top outer corner of the front pastedowns in both volumes, labeling them as “No. 6” and “No. 7.” He also owned Fitzwilliam Museum, MS McClean 79.

3. Owned by William Ridley Richardson (b. 1856) of Ravensfell and Bromley House in Kent, England; his armorial bookplate (Fox-Davies 1905, p. 1153-4; Peter, 2016), front pastedowns of both volumes. He married into the Essex branch of the Tweedy family in 1886. Another fifteenth-century Netherlandish manuscript, now Dunedin, Public Library, RMM MS 5, also holds his bookplate. The volumes perhaps passed to one of his six children after his death in 1935.

4. At the end of the twentieth century and beginning of the twenty-first, this manuscript was owned by a private collector in North Brabant, The Netherlands. While remaining anonymous, the highlights of his collection were shown in the now-defunct Museum Scryption (Tillburg) in 1999. An exhibition catalogue, featuring a brief description and two photographs of Vol. I, were published by Scryption’s press (As-Vijvers, van Vugt, and Berkel, 1999, p. 53). It was also loaned to the Royal Library of the Netherlands in 1993 for an exhibition of Dutch manuscripts, and likewise appears in that exhibition’s catalogue (Duijzer 1993; Sanders 1993).

5. Volumes I and II, front and back pastedowns contain booksellers’s marks and prices in pencil and ink.


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“Breviary,” Digital Exhibits, accessed May 28, 2024,

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