MEMORIAL BOOK OF THE KALENDENBROEDERSCHAP OF GRONINGEN, in Dutch, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
Groningen, 1501-1506, with alterations and additions to 1590
158 x 120mm. ii paper + 60 + i paper leaves: 110(of 8 + i and ii two singletons glued together), 28, 310, 4-68, 76, 82(single leaves, former pastedowns), pencilled pagination, 15-16 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand with additions in several hands between two verticals and between or on 16 horizontals ruled in ink, justification: 124 x 80mm, headings in red, text capitals touched red, one- and two-line initials in red (erasures and additions made for the brotherhood, wear to margins, some gatherings loose). 19th-century half vellum (worn).
The Broederschap der Kalenden of Groningen: founded in 1318 by priests and burgesses of Groningen, as stated pp.2-3, the 'geestelijke broederschap', spiritual confraternity, consisted of a limited number of priests and laymen and women, founded to pray to God for the salvation of their souls, chiefly through prayers and masses for the dead. They were not attached to a specific church but met in one of the parishes of the members: their name comes from kalendae, the calends or first day of each month, when meetings were usually held. The brotherhood was suppressed when Groningen officially adopted Calvinism in 1594.
Frederik Muller & Co, Amsterdam: label inside upper cover with cutting from sale catalogue.
Exhibited in Hel en Hemel. De middeleeuwen in het noorden at the Groningen Museum, 2001, with catalogue by E. Knol, J.M.M. Hermans and M. Driebergen.
Int jaer ons heren dusent drihondert ende achtien waert desse broderscap eersten begrepen in maneren als nae gheschreven is, p.2; Regulations of the brotherhood founded by the preesters ende burghers eendeel van Groninghen, first rule opening In den eersten dat wy to twen tijden in den iaer to samen zullen comen..., pp.2-37: the first rule altered from twice yearly meetings, on the Tuesdays after Corpus Christi and St Michael's day, to an annual gathering, the eleventh rule on masses and other observances for the dead heavily scored through, rules 17 and 19, of 1458, both on observances for the dead, lightly scored through, rule 19, dating from 1497, interrupted by an added leaf with a rule of 1470 (p.19) rule dating from 1479 (pp.23-24), rules of 1512 and 1518 in a different hand (pp.24-32), rule of 1523 in another hand (pp.32-37), addition of 1574 in an informal hand (p.37); Item de levende broders desser kalende, list of the living clerical brothers, partly erased and annotated with death dates, in several hands, the last entry in 1589, pp.38-43; Dit sijn de leye broders desser kalenden, list of the lay members, some erased, last entry 1587, p.45; ruled blanks pp.46-50; Dit sijn de susters desser kalende, list of women members with erasures, pp.51-52; ruled blanks, pp.53-56; Dit sijn de preesters de tot desser kalende ghestorven sijn. Int eerste, list of the priestly members who have died, pp.57-70: the original list ending p.64, to which the same cursive hand has added death dates of 1483, 1494 and 1500, the first dated added entry is annotated 1506 and the final entry is for 1590; ruled blanks, pp.71-72; Dit sijn de leye broders de wt desser kalende ghestorven sijn. Int eerste, list of the lay brothers who have died, pp.73-78: the original list, with some added death dates from 1333, ending p.77 with a death annotated as in 1501, the first annotated date for an addition is 1515 and the last 1590; ruled blanks pp.79-86; Dit sijn de susters de wt desser kalende ghestorven sijn, Int eerste, list of the dead sisters, pp.87-92: the original list ending p.90, the first added name is annotated with the date of 1506, the latest is dated 1573, p.92; ruled blanks, pp.93-98; Dit sint de gherechte de men ghevet toe der maltijt als de kalende is, regulations for what is to be served at the feasts, with alterations, pp.99-101, with additions of 1530 and 1563, p.102; Dit is de rente de onse kalende broderschap hebben, list of revenues, largely annual charges on houses, located by naming the owners of adjacent properties, with annotations of new owners, pp.103-109; subsequent regulations, including in 1564 deciding to have only one feast a year, additional revenues, regulations of 1531 for masses, pp.110-116; note of 1678 on pastedown, p.117; date of 1318 on p.120 suggests that was the front pastedown, now bound upside down.
An earlier Memorial Book, preserved in the Groningen archives (Groninger Archieven, Archief Broederschap der Kalenden, inv.nr.1), was partially published in the 19th century by R.K. Driessen, Monumenta Groningana veteris aevi inedita, 1822-30, no 144, and by P.J. Blok, Oorkondenboek van Groningen en Drenthe, 1896-99, no 260, with references to this manuscript, then in the possession of W.J. Baron van Welderen Rengers. The earlier book was written between 1462-1463, with later regulations of 1470, 1479 and 1497 added out of sequence to the opening leaves and with the lists of members amended until about 1500. It seems that at this point the confraternity decided that the book was full and a new Memorial Book was begun.
The scribe of the present lot seems to have copied the regulations from this earlier model, since he was confused by the irregular additions of 1470, 1479 and 1497 on its opening leaves. He wrote out the final rule of the original collection, of 1458, and followed it by the added rules of 1497 and then 1479; the omitted rule of 1470 had to be included on an inserted leaf. The new Memorial Book was then added to and amended until 1590, providing an intimate insight into Groningen life as it takes the history of the confraternity to the eve of its suppression in 1594. We learn not only the names of the members, an exclusive group drawn from the wealthy and well respected, but also the occupants of properties in the town; we learn not only what dishes were served at the feasts, such as ham and mustard or roast chicken larded with bacon and sage, but also how tastes changed: good Rhine wine replaced Hamburg beer as an alternative to Groningen beer; chicken was added as an alternative to capon and goose although game and pasties were not acceptable.
The alterations and additions, unique to this later Memorial Book, give an exceptional immediacy to the final phase of the nearly three centuries of Groningen's religious life that it documents. The town government exploited Groningen's comparative independence from Habsburg control to protect religious dissidents and to avoid overt conflict and civil strife. Many Lutheran and then Calvinist practices were quietly adopted without openly breaking with Catholicism, a state of affairs perhaps mirrored in the Memorial Book by the lightly scored lines through some observances. The more thorough blacking out of the eleventh rule, on masses for the dead, suggests a bolder attitude as positions hardened and the rituals observed for centuries were finally abandoned. In 1594 Groningen definitively became Calvinist and the Broederschap der Kalenden ceased to exist.