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THE BOOK OF THE FRATERNITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF BILLERBECK, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
THE BOOK OF THE FRATERNITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF BILLERBECK, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
THE BOOK OF THE FRATERNITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF BILLERBECK, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
THE BOOK OF THE FRATERNITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF BILLERBECK, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
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THE BOOK OF THE FRATERNITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF BILLERBECK, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM

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THE BOOK OF THE FRATERNITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF BILLERBECK, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Germany, likely the diocese of Münster, end 15th century]
360 x 250mm. iii (medieval pastedown and flyleaves) + 57 leaves: 1-58, 69 (of 8, f.44 inserted), 78, COMPLETE, the leaves apparently untrimmed: prickings occasionally survive, leaf signatures survive in some gatherings ('a', 'd' and 'e'), and instructions to the rubricator often survive at the lower edge of leaves, two columns of 30 lines written in a fine regular gothic bookhand in black ink, justification: c.245 x 160mm, rubrics in red, music in hufnagel notation on four-line staves, one FULL-PAGE MINIATURE depicting the Crucifixion at the Canon of the Mass (f.44), TWO LARGE ILLUMINATED INITIALS in blue with gold foliate patterns, infilled and surrounded by leafy penwork designs in red ink against a green background, the penwork extending the full height of the text to form a partial border, one three-line (f.34v) and one two-line initial (f.41) in blue with red penwork, three-, two- and one-line initials alternately red or blue, three-line cadels at the start of pieces of music stroked in red (first and last few leaves creased, some corners dog-eared, signs of use and wear throughout, rubrics sometimes worn, not significantly affecting legibility). CONTEMPORARY BINDING: sewn on five slit tawed thongs laced into short horizontal channels in oak boards with rounded edges, covered with dark brown leather decorated with a blind-tooled lattice pattern within a frame, the upper board with traces of clasp fittings, the lower board with nail-holes and recesses for corresponding catches (some of the thongs coming loose, the leather somewhat scuffed and defective, and shrunk so that it no longer fits the boards neatly).

PROVENANCE:
THE FRATERNITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF BILLERBECK, IN THE DIOCESE OF MüNSTER: an inscription on the flyleaf facing the opening of the text and written by the main scribe of the manuscript reads, 'H(u)nc libru(m) scribi fecit d(omi)n(u)s theodricus wiggerink p(re)sbiter curatus in Ottensteyn p(ro)prius expensis ad usu(m) fraternitatis spiritus sancti pro debito exitus sui'. The Ottenstein of which Wiggerink was the parish priest is clearly the town in Westmünsterland (Nordrein-Westfalen) that lies close to the border with The Netherlands: the style of the illuminated initials is localisable to the eastern part of the northern Netherlands; on f.50 among the rules of the Fraternity, a joining fee in Münster currency is stipulated ('et a fratribus admissus fuerit tres solidos denariorum monast. [i.e. of Münster] camerario nostro per introitu prompte soluet'), and although the Use of the Office of the Dead is not recorded by Ottosen (The Responsories and Versicles of the Latin Office of the Dead, 1993), the first three responsories are recorded only from sources attributed by him to Münster (p.194), and the other six correspond to this Münster series (with the exception of the 4th and 5th, which are reversed).

One of the two great fraternities in the territory of the Prince-Bishopric of Münster -- later known as the Grosse Kaland des hl. Geistes -- was founded in 1314 by Bishop Ludwig II of Hesse in the town of Billerbeck, which lies halfway between Ottenstein and Münster. The liber decani of the Kaland of Billerbeck in the archive of St Johannes (Hs.14), was not compiled before 1568 but it records the full list of deceased members; Dirick Wigherinck, undoubtedly the Theodricus Wiggerinck of the donation inscription, is one of them. The date of his death is not given but the position of his name in the list suggests sometime in the decades to either side of 1500, the date added to the record of gift. The Canon of the Mass includes 'our king' after the Pope and the Bishop. This is presumably a reference to the King of the Romans, the title borne by the future Holy Roman Emperor, either during the lifetime of his predecessor or until his coronation as Emperor. Frederick III, crowned Emperor in 1452, died in 1493 and was succeeded by his son Maximilian, who was never crowned. On the death of Maximilian in 1519, his grandson Charles V was elected Emperor and crowned King of the Romans in 1520 and Emperor in 1530. This indicates a date for the book of after 1493; its style makes a date as late as 1530 unlikely.

18th(?)-century shelfmark 'II. No. 21'(f.iii).

CONTENT:
Office of the Dead ff.1-19; Office of the Holy Spirit ff.19-22v; Mass of the Virgin ff.22v-27v; Mass for the Dead ff.27v-30v; processions in the church and graveyard ff.30v-34v; Mass for Pentecost ff.34v-38v; added collects for the souls of both men and women ff.38v-40; a ruled blank f.40v; preparation for Mass, with prefaces for masses of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin and the Dead, ff.41-44; full-page miniature f.44v; Canon of the Mass ff.45-49; ruled blank f.49v; the Rules of the Fraternity of the Holy Spirit ff.50-51; Mass of the Holy Spirit ff.51v-56; added prayers to St Anne ff.56-57; ruled blank f.57v.

THE EARLIEST SURVIVING RECORD OF THE COMPOSITION AND ACTIVITIES OF THE BROTHERHOOD AND A REMARKABLE UNPUBLISHED WITNESS TO AN ORGANISATION THAT WAS A FUNDAMENTAL AND ENDURING ELEMENT OF THE SPIRITUAL AND SOCIAL LIFE OF WESTPHALIA -- THE GROSSE KALAND DES HL. GEISTE, OR FRATERNITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AT BILLERBECK

The regulations and rubrics within the present manuscript show that the Kaland -- a term found in north-west Germany and the eastern Netherlands -- had been founded by 'certain venerable priests' in honour of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin and All Saints. It had a dean, decanus, as the highest official, a chamberlain, camerarius, choristers, cantores, and rectors, rectores. There were brothers and sisters, clerical and lay. The rubrics as well as the regulations make clear their respective roles in meetings and services. It can be deduced that the number of priestly members was significant from the regulations specifically for them and their obligations -- the membership lists in the later Dean's Book show that priests from all around the western part of Münster's diocese were, like Wigherinck drawn to membership, and maintains that the Kaland was especially intended for parish priests. Admission was three Münster shillings to be paid to the chamberlain. The fraternity was to meet twice a year 'where the brothers ordained', indicating that it was a Landkaland without a fixed meeting place. At their feast where there would be three 'dishes' and drink restricted to wine, the dean would begin with prayers for the dead, including the De profundis; he would have the highest place at the table followed by the choristers and then others according to rank. The members were not to be noisy but instead were to listen to readings. Guests were only allowed with the permission of the dean and should be educated people or people of standing.

ILLUMINATION:
No other known manuscript from the Billerbeck Grosse Kaland is so splendidly illustrated and decorated. Another manuscript with initials in this style (The Hague, KB, 135 G 19) also contains a decorated initial in German style and by 1498 was in Riga, then German-controlled. This integration of styles is a feature of this Billerbeck Kaland book where the Crucifixion miniature appears certainly to be the work of an artist formed in Germany: the deep, rich colours for the principal draperies, vegetation and foreground, softening through the middle distance to a the pale blue landscape under a pale sky; Christ's body contrasting with the bright green of the Crown of Thorns and the copious red blood that slows from his wounds; all three figures serene rather than tormented or anguished.

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Eugenio Donadoni
Eugenio Donadoni

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