NOTED BREVIARY, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Cologne, mid-15th century]
465 x 310mm. 294 vellum leaves + 11 added paper leaves: 13(of 4, lacking iv), 28, 36, 41(f.13 a singleton with stub), 5-1312, 1410(of 12, lacking vi & vii), 159(of ?14, lacking iv, vii, viii, x, xi but foliation only showing vii and x missing), 169(of 12, lacking i-iii), 1712, 1810, 19-2212, 2311(of 12, xi cancelled), 24-2712, 283, 298; 305+1(of 6, v as pastedown vi cancelled, and a smaller leaf attached to i); two columns of 53 lines written in brown-black ink in a gothic bookhand between four verticals and 54 horizontals ruled in plummet, justification: 415 x 120-20-125mm, with sections of music with hufnagelshrift neumes on a four-line stave ruled brown, black and yellow, rubrics in red, initials in sung elements the height of stave and text of are of two types, simple letters of red or blue and calligraphic decorative ink initials touched red, NINETEEN LARGE INITIALS WITH DIVIDED STAVES OF RED AND BLUE AND PENWORK FLOURISHING OF RED AND LILAC open offices or texts, the first with a foliate infill in red ink and green wash, numerous marginal instructions and added titles (vellum darkened, thumbing to lower corners and frequent wax spots on night offices, two folios with candle burns, occasional strengthening of letters and music, tears and small losses to some lower borders, some with early parchment repairs, outer column of f.288 excised). German 17th-century panelled pigskin tooled in blind, brass cornerpieces, bosses, two catches and clasps (one clasp detached).
The Breviary was clearly made for use in the diocese of Cologne and most probably in the Cathedral itself. The Calendar has relatively few feasts in red besides the feasts of the Virgin and the Apostles -- Cologne Cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin and St Peter -- but they include the martyrs and bishop of Cologne, St Gereon (10 October), the Eleven Thousand Virgins (21 October) and St Severinus (23 October). The Sanctoral contains Offices for these and many other saints associated with the city: Anno, Suitbert, Heribert, Lambert, Evergisil, Cunibert, Pantaleon and an Office with nine lessons for the Translation of the Three Kings -- the feast commemorating the gift of their relics to the Bishop of Cologne by Frederick Barbarossa in the 12th century. These relics, the principal object of pilgrimage in Cologne, housed in the golden shrine made for them by Nicholas of Verdun, still stand on the high altar of the Cathedral.
The manuscript's precise destination in the Cathedral is indicated by a sequence of suffrages for the 'most important feasts' on f.6v (In sum[m]is festis). It begins with the Holy Cross and continues with the Virgin, St Peter, Three Kings and a second suffrage to the Holy Cross. It seems very likely that this Breviary was for use in the chapel containing the Gero Cross, the great 10th-century wooden crucifix that is the earliest surviving life-size statue since antiquity.
The inclusion of an office for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a feast not established until 1476 by Sixtus VI, need not indicate that the Breviary was made after this date: the teaching was accepted at the assembly of Basle in 1439 as fitting for approval by all Christians and this view was confirmed by several provincial synods in France and Germany.
The manuscript was clearly a treasured and functional object that was well used from the 15th until at least the end of 18th century. Its service throughout these years was the cause of the darkening and wear to the edges of the leaves, and the guttering candles of the church the source of the wax splattered over several of the most important night offices. The manuscript was restored and updated -- the text, which is dated 1751, added on to f.296v continues over one of the parchment patches that reinforce damaged margins -- and foliation, headings and marginal instructions were added in 16th- to 18th-century hands to make the Breviary easier to use. The latest note, written in pencil in a margin of the office of the Name of Jesus decrees 3 nocturns in 1794.
Bookseller's note and description, in German and typed in purple, taped inside front cover.
Calendar, lacking leaf with July and August ff.i-v verso; Invitatories for matins, followed by prayers with benedictions, suffrages for the principal feasts ff.1-6v; Antiphons from the 1st to the 3rd Sundays in Advent ff.7-13v; Noted Breviary, lacking six leaves ff.15-282: Temporal opening in matins of Feria II in the first week of Advent f.15, Sanctoral f.160, Common of Saints f.272; Hymns ff.282-288; Offices of the Purification of the Virgin and the Visitation, added in a near contemporary hand ff.289-292; Antiphons for the Feast of the Name of the Virgin, the Feast of the Name of Jesus and for the Exaltation of the Cross on 9 added leaves paper leaves.