BREVIARY, Carthusian Use, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[?Castile, first half 15th century]
171 x 114 mm. 180 leaves (modern foliation A-H in pencil + original foliation 1-182 in red Roman numerals on versos, lacking at least one leaf after f.H, ff.158-165 and ff.169-170, the unfoliated prefatory leaves may once have included a calendar): 29 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand in two columns between four verticals and 30 horizontals ruled in grey, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one-line initials and line-endings alternately in red or blue, two-line initials alternately in burnished gold with grounds and infills in dark pink and blue patterned with white or in blue with red flourishing, TWELVE LARGE INITIALS ON BURNISHED GOLD GROUNDS with acanthus staves and infills in combinations of pink, red, purple, green and blue patterned with white, TEN WITH ACANTHUS EXTENSIONS INTO THE BORDER decorated with burnished gold disks (lacking ten leaves, foliation and marginal annotations slightly cropped on some leaves, ink faded on a few leaves not affecting legibility). 19th-century French tan morocco gilt, spine in five compartments (scuffed).
1. The Breviary was written for use in a Carthusian monastery, that is a Charterhouse; the Carthusians are famed for the propriety and humility that ensured that their services remained close to Roman Use and took on few specifically Carthusian elements, although the Carthusian St Hugh of Lincoln is honoured (ff.50, 176). The script and illumination suggest an origin in Castile, where the Charterhouse of S. Maria de el Paular, outside Segovia, founded in 1390, was followed by others, most famously the foundation of John II of Castile at Miraflores, outside Burgos. The neat corrections and annotations by the scribe show that he worked from an imperfect model, perhaps indicative of a new foundation.
2. The binding and a loose description in French show that by the nineteenth century the manuscript was in France.
Breviary of Carthusian use: seasonal variations for the Office of the Virgin ff.A-B; Litany and prayers ff.B-D; Office of the Dead, Carthusian Use, ff.Dv-F; Office of the Virgin, Carthusian Use, lacking end of Vespers and Compline, ff.Fv-Hv; hymns for the feasts of Corpus Christi (lacking opening), John the Baptist, Exaltation of the Cross f.1; benedictions for lessons f.1v; Temporal, without lessons, from advent to the 37th Sunday after Pentecost, ff.2-36; Sanctoral, without lessons, from Silvester (31 Dec) to Thomas the Apostle (21 Dec) ff.36v-51; Communal, without lessons, ff.51-56; prayers and benedictions ff.56-57v; Temporal lections from Advent to the 25th Sunday after Pentecost ff.58-146; Sanctoral lections from Anthony Abbot (17 Jan) to Thomas (21 Dec), followed by the Dedication of a church (lacking ff.158-165 and 169-170), ff.146-179; Communal lections ff.179-182.
The Breviary contains the offices which every cleric was obliged to recite daily, with complicated variations according to the liturgical calendar. The richly coloured, golden and flourished initials, which help to guide the reader through the complex text, follow conventions current in Castile; see, for example, Paris, BnF, Ms esp. 211, F. Avril et al., Manuscrits enluminés de la péninsule ibérique, 1982, no 146.