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A RECORD OF SEVERAL MIRACLES, and Indulgences Available, manuscript on vellum, dated at Wasserleben (Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany), 25 January 1332
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A RECORD OF SEVERAL MIRACLES, and Indulgences Available, manuscript on vellum, dated at Wasserleben (Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany), 25 January 1332

Details
A RECORD OF SEVERAL MIRACLES, and Indulgences Available, manuscript on vellum, dated at Wasserleben (Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany), 25 January 1332

An extremely rare class of document, providing a fascinating insight into the origins and growth of a local pilgrimage site.

A single sheet, c.510×360mm, ruled in plummet and written with 67 lines in an angular bastarda script, the first initial 4 lines high and with penwork ornament, the indulgence paragraph introduced by a 3-line initial in red, capitals stroked in red, accounts of individual miracles introduced by a single word in red, blank on the reverse (except for Rosenthal’s pencil price-code) with no evidence that this was ever treated as an ‘archival’ document (with single unobtrusive vertical and horizontal folds and other minor creases, with some minor staining and darkening at the edges, but generally in fine condition).


Provenance:
(1) The main text is dated ‘at Waterlere, A.D. 1332, on the day of the Conversion of St Paul’ (i.e. Saturday, 25 January).

(2) Hans Koch (trading as Jacques Rosenthal’s Antiquariaat), Munich; sold in 1965 to:

(3) Bernard Rosenthal, his ‘I/182’.

(4) Bernard Quaritch.

(5) Schøyen Collection, MS 590/48.


Text:
The Cistercian nunnery of the Holy Blood at Waterlere (now known as Wasserleben, about 15 miles west of Halberstadt and 2 miles west of a house of Teutonic Knights (at Langeln) who were doubtless responsible for performing Mass for the nuns), was founded c.1300 by the Bishop of Halberstadt, to commemorate a series of miracles that led to its becoming a pilgrimage site. The document records that in 1221 there was at Wasserleben a man named Conrad de Arnesten whose wife, Ermegarde, kept the Eucharist in her mouth on Easter day and took it home; three days later Conrad found it and took it to Herbord, the parish priest, who called the parishioners together the next day and used the Eucharist to celebrate Mass at the church of St James; having prayed that the Lord might reveal himself, he broke bread and it revealed Holy Blood. From then onwards, further miracles occurred: a 12-year-old boy drowned and stayed in the water all day until found by a fisherman, but when his corpse was carried to the altar of the Holy Blood he was immediately revived; another boy drowned in the area of Brunswick, but he too revived when his body was carried to Wasserleben; and several other miracles are recounted.

A succession of 13th-century bishops of Halberstadt (including Frederick, Wulradus, Hermann, and Albert) granted indulgences to anyone who would give alms to the church and visit on specified feast days, including the Dedication of the church (it is listed between the feasts of St James and St Laurence: i.e. between 25 July and 10 August). This extremely rare document was presumably drawn-up as an official record of the miracles and indulgences, and was perhaps displayed publicly in the church.


Script:
The final five lines of the document, introduced by a red initial ‘I’, refer to ‘this monastery’ and ‘our convent’: it thus seems probable that the document was written at the convent, perhaps by one of the nuns. The script is of a type known as ‘bastarda’: fundamentally a gothic bookhand, but with an ‘f’ and tall ‘s’ which descend below the line; the letters ‘b’, ‘h’, ‘l’ with a looping head, and especially the 8-shaped ‘d’; the letter ‘i’ is dotted, and ‘r’ is written with a fine extra vertical stroke.
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These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

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Eugenio Donadoni
Eugenio Donadoni

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