ORDINAL of the Dominican Nuns of Engelthal, in German. MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER.

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ORDINAL of the Dominican Nuns of Engelthal, in German. MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER.

[Engelthal, 1504]
4° (212 x 150mm). 86 leaves, including one initial blank, and one smaller inserted leaf, COMPLETE, collation: a12, b16 (-10,11; 13+1) c14, d10, e12, f8 (7+1), g14, signed in lower left corner on first rectos, horizontal catchwords in lower right corner on last versos, 21 lines, single column, frame-ruled in brown ink, justification: 153 x 101mm, written in brown ink in a gothic cursive hand, contemporary additions in other similar hands, rubrics in textura in red or brown ink, one three-line red and brown pen-flourished Lombard initial (f.2), one-line initials in red or brown, capitals slashed in red (erased ink stamp on ff.a/1, a/2, and e/1v). Original binding of brown leather over wooden boards: Kyriss shop 121, Nuremberg, Nachfolger des Minoriten-Binders (wanting two clasps, spine partially perished, several small pieces of leather missing from back, coated with a shellac-like preservative).

This ordinal of the Dominican nuns of Engelthal bei Nürnberg was written in 1504 at the command of the prioress Margarethe von Kürmreuth, in the 17th year of her reign, as stated on the first page of the introduction to the text. The compiler of the manuscript referred to it as a Gesangbuch, and although it contains no musical notation, it gives detailed information about the feasts observed at Engelthal in the early 16th century. For each feast of the church year, which here begins with Christmas and ends with 31 December, the manuscript specifies the degree of solemnity and the number of priests to be involved in celebrating mass, the location of the various celebrations (e.g.,...in die Newen Capeln, ...in das capital hawss, etc.), the texts to be sung at mass and office with the name of the melody or the manner of performance (e.g., Benedicamus von Bamburg, Sanctus von Amberg, etc.), and the details of processions to be held within the monastery precincts. It also names the benefactors of the convent who were commemorated on each day, identifies the nature of the commemoration, and often details the contribution made to support this occasion.

Engelthal was founded in 1240, affiliated with the Dominican order in 1244, and dissolved in 1565. During the 14th century it was the home of the mystics Christine Ebner and Adelheid Langmann. Subsequently discipline declined, and in 1513 the community was reformed by Dominicans from Nuremberg. At that time Prioress Margarethe von Kürmreuth was deposed and spent the rest of her life imprisoned in the Dominican convent at Nuremberg. Although she opposed the reform and was charged with having neglected the community's spiritual obligations to its benefactors, the evidence of this manuscript commisioned by her shows that she was not indifferent to matters of religious observance.
This manuscript must be the 'Anniversary Book' of Prioress Margarethe described in the early 16th century by the parish priest Mauer von Offerhausen. In the 18th century, it was seen by J.C. Martini, who published extracts from it in his Historisch-geographische Beschreibung des ehemaligen Frauenklosters Engelthal (Nuremberg, 1798). Martini's notes served in turn as a source for the list of Engelthal benefactors and commemorations published by Gustav Voit, Engelthal: Geschichte eines Dominikanerinnenklosters im Nürnberger Raum (Nuremberg, 1977-78). Only four other manuscripts are recorded as having survived from Engelthal, all of them in German libraries (S. Krämer, Handschriftenerbe des deutschen Mittelalters, Munich, 1989).
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