The Editing of Illuminated Manuscripts by Medieval Scribes

By Dr. Kathryn M. Rudy / 09.19.2016
Senior Lecturer in Art History and Medieval Studies
University of St. Andrews

From Piety in Pieces: How Medieval Readers Customized their Manuscripts


My discussion thus far has shown that the modular way of making manuscripts multiplied the amount of blank space in them, which owners often desired to fill. Nearly all manuscripts, whether they were made modularly or not, also have blank space at the very beginning and very end of the book, in the form of flyleaves and paste-downs. But many votaries wanted a full book, and they took opportunities to fill up any blank space. Book owners, or the scribes they hired, could simply write in these blank spaces without having to take the book apart. In this part, I systematically work through the types of additions they could make to the book without rebinding.

Correcting the Text

How does someone amend the text once it’s already neatly formed in the text block? Early medieval author portraits show that the scribe wrote with a pen in one hand and a knife in the other. The knife was for sharpening the quill, but also for scraping out errors. If the scribe caught an error immediately, he could scrape it out and write over the now-velvety and slightly weakened parchment. If he caught the error after one or more lines of text were already inscribed, he could “expunctuate” it, that is, make little dots under a wrong word, signaling the reader to ignore it. An example is a child’s ABC, written in the Southern Netherlands in the fifteenth century in silver and gold letters on stained parchment, in which the repeated words “adveniat regnum” have been expunctuated with gold dots (New York, Columbia University, Plimpton Ms. 287; fig. 36).[1] In the Bruges book of hours, made for English export explored above (Cambridge, UL, Ms. Ii.6.2), the English owner found an error in the manuscript and must have taken the book to a professional copyist to have the problem rectified (fig. 37).[2] The English scribe has scraped out the offending passage but then has reinscribed the ruling in the erased section using bright red, and then used a dark brown ink to write the correct words. The scribe probably did this without taking the book apart.

Fig. 38 Folio in a breviary made by the convent of St. Agnes in Delft revealing text painted out and corrected. Delft, Prinsenhof, no number. Image © Author

A little-known way of correcting the text was to use the medieval version of typewriter correction fluid. A manuscript probably made at the convent of St. Agnes in Delft on very fine parchment has employed this technique (fig. 38). The parchment here is so thin that it would not have withstood scraping with a knife, which may explain why the copyist chose instead to cover over her errors with a layer of white. Using this method indicates that the scribe had access to thick, lead-based white paint of the sort used by illuminators. In the period after 1400, this method was employed seldom because scribes were writing in ateliers in which there was no paint. Paint was kept in painters’ ateliers instead. (The Augustinian convent of St. Agnes in Delft, whose sisters both wrote and illuminated manuscripts, was an exception and therefore had white paint on hand.)

Occasionally, to cover large errors, a scribe would paste over a sheet of paper or parchment with the new, corrected text, in the way that the Soviet government did to get rid of Beria and add the Bering Strait. This involved introducing small amounts of new material. This solution to correction appears in a prayerbook now at Columbia University (Columbia RBML, Ms. X096.C286; fig. 39).[3] This book has been pieced together from dozens of dismembered “parent” manuscripts and some printed fragments. The owner has built the first folio out of two columns of text pasted to a parchment page (so that the verso is not visible). Not only is the text glued to the page, but the decorated initials, which were cut out of different manuscripts, have been pasted down on top, to create a page that is several layers thick.[4] In addition to these layers, the book’s user has pasted a correction to the text in the second column. This approach to correcting an error is consistent with the user’s approach toward illuminating the book: this person in fact glued in decoration as well, using an extra strip of parchment for a small correction was an extension of the same thinking.

A similar solution also appears in a booklet made with prints, now disassembled and housed in the British Museum. Each folio of the booklet consists of a printed engraved image on the recto, which has then been highly decorated with multiple colors (fig. 40).[5] Each sheet’s verso contains densely written prayer text, written in a West Flemish dialect of Middle Dutch (fig. 41).[6] Fitting the long text into the small area of the back of the print gave the scribe tremendous difficulty. When she made an error, she was in trouble. Because this was paper not parchment she could not scrape out the error. Often a scribe would add a missing piece of text to the margin and signal its correct position by placing a carat in the text, but she had no room at the bottom to do so. The solution was to clip a small piece of paper onto the error and inscribe the correct text on top. This has been done in a different hand, similar to the first (which suggests a corporate similarity, an adherence to an impersonal style typical of female convents), but slightly less slanted. Thus, the corrector was using a solution that anticipates the fiasco around the Soviet encyclopedia by 500 years.

Adding Texts to the Blank Folios and Interstices

One way to augment an existing, finished manuscript was simply to write in its blank areas. Both the modular and the uniform methods leave several possible blank spaces in a manuscript, including its paste-downs, front and back flyleaves, and margins. The former also leaves blank spaces at the ends of quires and the backs of full-page miniatures. Nearly every existing medieval manuscript has had at least some text added to its interstices. Because the reasons for doing so were extensive, I do not pretend that this list is comprehensive. Nevertheless, there are a few major patterns that emerge:

Noting Who Owned, Commissioned, and Paid for Items


[LEFT]: Fig. 42 Flyleaf in a book of hours, inscribed with notes of ownership and practice letters. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 132 G 38, fol. 140r. Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands
[CENTER]: Fig. 43 Folio in the Missal of the Guild of St. Mary Magdalene at Bruges, showing an iconic Mary Magdalene surrounded by scenes from her Life, made in 1475–76. ’s-Heerenberg, The Netherlands, Collection Dr. J. H. van Heek, Huis Bergh Foundation, Ms. 16; inv. no. 285, fol. 201v. Image © The Huis Bergh Foundation
[RIGHT]: Fig. 44 Final folio in the Missal of the Guild of St. Mary Magdalene at Bruges, listing the the patrons who paid for the manuscript. ’s-Heerenberg, The Netherlands, Collection Dr. J. H. van Heek, Huis Bergh Foundation, Ms. 16; inv. no. 285, fol. 250v. Image © The Huis Bergh Foundation

Owners inscribed pleas to return the book if found.[7] In a similar vein, owners added their names to the front or the back of the book to lay claim to their property. The front and back usually had space in the form of flyleaves and a paste-down. In writing there owners followed a tradition of scribal colophons that appear at the end of the writing and record part of the book’s history. In writing notes in the back of the book, owners were perhaps extending this tradition by placing themselves in the book’s history. For example, two female book owners record their ownerships of a book of hours from South Holland (to be discussed at length below; HKB, Ms. 132 G 38; fig. 42). Diewer Goes and later Josina van Sijdenburch record their names in shaky hands on the final folio.[8] Josina was particularly insecure as a scribe and seems to have practiced a few of the letters first in the middle of the page.

A more fulsome addition to the back of a richly decorated missal tells the story of its patronage (’s-Heerenberg, HB, Ms. 16; inv. no. 285).[9] Made for the Guild of St. Mary Magdalene in Bruges in 1475–1476, the missal contains voluminous decoration, with the life of Mary Magdalene in vignettes around her iconic image (fig. 43). Willem Vrelant may have illuminated the book, but if he did, he apparently was not important enough to mention in the record on the last page (fig. 44). Instead, important were the patrons who paid for it. While the rest of the manuscript was written in Latin, the note of patronage was added in the vernacular (Dutch). The patrons, whose names include Lenaert Brouke, Oliver vander Abeele, Jan de Pape Temmerman, Jan de Pape Vulder, Pieter Lowijc, Joos vanden Broucke, amongst others. The inscription also lists the guild masters: Jooris Weilaert, Jan van Haerdenburch, Iacob van Craylo, Iacob Beghin Silvester van den Berghe, Pieter Lowijc, Adrian vanden Moere, Arnout vanden Abeele and Jacob van Hulst, who were the decision makers in the Guild of Mary Magdalene, which commissioned the book. According to the inscription, they used alms to pay for it. One can see why they would have needed to take up a collection, as the decorative cycle is full and would have been expensive. Whereas most missals include only one full-page miniature, this one contains two, both with elaborate border decoration, plus 18 historiated initials, numerous images in the margin, painted initials on all pages and penwork initials on some. The canon was quite heavily used, as one can see from the pages discolored from handling at the center of the book. These pages would have also been partially visible when the book was used, and anyone who had access to the altar during mass would have seen flashes of color from its rich illumination.

Fig. 45 Folio near the end of a book of hours, with a note of ownership. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 135 G 10, fol. 163v.Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands

Sometimes notes record more complicated information about the transfer of a book. A book of hours made in the Southern Netherlands has this note on the final folio: “Dit boeck heeft brueder Jan die Kock Griet van Haselberch gegeven sijn nicht. Ende heeft begheert dat int convent bliven soude tot een ewich testament” (Brother Jan die Kock gave this book to his niece, Griet van Haselberch. He has requested that it shall remain in the convent as an everlasting testimony (HKB, Ms. 135 G 10, fol. 163v; fig. 45). Although Brother Jan die Kock is giving the book to his niece, he is ostensibly giving it to the convent so that the other sisters can continue to remember him after she is dead. His real motivation was to secure prayers for his soul in perpetuity. Internal evidence suggests that he was not the book’s original owner; namely, three figures who may represent the original patrons, appear in a miniature depicting the Elevation of the Host (fig. 46).[10] A moneybag hangs from the belt of the man in the image, who sports a full head of hair, both indications that he is not a “brother.” Somehow, the book passed to Brother Jan die Kock, who then gave it to his niece, Griet van Haselberch. In other words, he was giving his niece (and her convent) a used book, not one made expressly for them with their interests reflected.

Adding Family Information


[LEFT]: Fig. 47 Family information added to the end of the calendar of a book of hours made in Enkhuizen. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 79 K 6, fol. 10v-11r.Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands.
[RIGHT]: Fig. 48 Christ teaching in the temple, Book of hours from Delft, hand-colored prints instead of miniatures. Brussels, Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België, Ms. IV 142, fol. 47v.Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België, all rights reserved.

While some augmentations might record smaller transitions, such as the gift of a book, other augmentations, taken collectively, also record large-scale transitions in the way people used the book itself. Most significantly, private prayerbooks went from being exclusively repositories of devotional material to being family heirlooms that might fill devotional purposes. One kind of annotation that signals this shift is notes recording birth and death information and family history. Such notations appear, for example, in a book of hours probably made in Enkhuizen, where several generations of owners added this information at the end of the calendar (which is also the end of a quire) (fig. 47). Here an expanse of blank parchment formed a powerful invitation to the owner, who obligingly filled the void. The dates incorporated in such additions, and the style of handwriting in which they are inscribed, indicate that birth and death notices were often made in the post-medieval period, and well-after the Reformation, when the structures and content of prayer had changed significantly. In other words, books of hours often changed function, from prayerbook to family heirloom. People understood their books of hours to be time machines that would continue to have relevance to their progeny’s progeny. A book of hours made in Delft, with printed full-page “miniatures,” for example, has some of its margins filled with just this kind of family information, added in the seventeenth century (BKB, Ms. IV 142; fig. 48). While the margins around the Last Judgment print are left blank, those around the image of Christ preaching in the temple as a child are filled with a family’s birth records, as if they wanted to associate their progeny with the clever young Jesus.

For several reasons families chose a book of hours as the repository of such information.[11] First, books of hours were made on parchment, a far more durable surface than paper, which has a finite lifespan. Families wanted to record their important information on a material they considered suitable for the job. Second, families in the sixteenth century chose a book from the previous century in which to record data in order to extend the existing record, demonstrate the antiquity of their family, and provide a sense of continuity. Third, recording this information is an extension of recording obits in calendars. Having such information in a book of hours reminded one to read the Vigil for the Dead, on the anniversaries of loved ones’ deaths. One of the functions of a book of hours was to pray for the long dead and recently departed. If the book stays in the family for several generations, then one is ideally praying for the person who had bequeathed that very book of hours.[12] Fourth, owners considered the book of hours a vessel in which to store all manner of objects and concepts, including pilgrims’ badges, other religious tokens, loose images, and talismans.

Eamon Duffy and Kathleen M. Ashley have discussed this kind of change of use, from prayerbook to family heirloom.[13] In the present study I am primarily interested in changes made to the book in the medieval period, roughly before 1550, and will therefore set aside annotations that signal an early modern change of function.

Adding Legal Documents

People also used religious manuscripts to inscribe legal transactions. An eighth-century Anglo-Saxon gospel book had some empty space at the end of a column just before the incipit of the Gospel of Matthew. Into this space someone in the tenth-century has inscribed a manumission document in Old English under King Athelstan (LBL, Royal Ms. 1 B VII, fol. 15v; fig. 49).[14] Beyond simply improvising in the face of parchment shortages, medieval users may have added such a manumission document to a gospel book with the intent of giving the documents greater gravitas and a more binding character, by virtue of the fact that the Gospel of Matthew witnessed them. The added text is formulaic, but it has been inscribed, and possibly pronounced aloud, in the presence of sacred scripture. This manumission document is not an isolated event: several manumission documents have been inscribed into the folios of a compilation manuscript begun in the eighth century, the Leofric Missal (Oxford, Bodl. 579, fol. 11v). Nicholas Orchard has sorted out the manuscript’s complicated stratigraphy, with its phased genesis that lasted several hundred years.[15] The manumission documents appear in the earliest parts of the manuscript. Such documents attest to the ways in which gospel and liturgical books took on functions other than their religious ones.[16] They could also symbolize terrestrial power and therefore serve as witness to civic oaths and legal agreements. Added text could therefore expand the functions of the manuscript. Legal records such as this do not appear frequently in private prayerbooks in the later Middle Ages, because separate systems for recording legal documents were more fully developed by the thirteenth century and had greater legal authority than recording something in a prayerbook would have had.


[LEFT]: Fig. 50 Christ crucified between Mary and John, full-page miniature in a missal. Zutphen, Regionaal Archief, Ms. 7, fol. 144v.Image © Regionaal Archief Zutphen.
[RIGHT]: Fig. 51 Formerly blank back of a full-page miniature of Christ crucified, with inscriptions added in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Zutphen, Regionaal Archief, Ms. 7, fol. 144r.Image © Regionaal Archief Zutphen.

Manumission documents were irrelevant after the twelfth century, when serfdom replaced slavery. The legal system had also evolved, and with it came the rise of charters, land deeds, legal documents, and secular institutions to deal with civic cases, which obviated the need to inscribe that kind of legal information in other (religious) books. One kind of legal document that continued to be inscribed into books, however, was transactions about the book itself. A fascinating example appears in a missal made in the mid-fifteenth century (Zutphen, Ms. 7; fig. 50).[17] It has a canon page—an image of Christ crucified—made by the Masters of Otto van Moerdrecht in the second quarter of the fifteenth century.[18] Someone has made an inscription in the vernacular on the back of the canon page (fig. 51).[19] It indicates that “this missal” was sold in 1473 to the “altar of St. Anthony.” Guild brothers of St. Anthony paid for it, with the provision that it must never be sold or removed but would serve on the altar for daily service.

Two items need to be mentioned here: First, the inscription serves as a testament to a transaction—the sale of this very missal to the brotherhood of St. Anthony in Zutphen in 1473. Second, the position of the inscription serves a symbolic and ritual function. The scribe was instructed to write these words not at the beginning of the book, on, say, a flyleaf, but rather in the middle of the book, right on the back of the canon page. That same canon page initiates the most important part of the mass, the part of the ceremony involving ritualized actions that culminate in the transubstantiation. Here a crucifixion miniature initiates and signals the canon page in the book, all the more so because it is the only large miniature in this (and most other) missals. Though the parchment is thick, it is slightly lipidinous, rendering it translucent and allowing the bold colors and heavy gold delineating the figures and background to be visible through the parchment membrane. By inscribing the back of this miniature, the scribe was placing his words as closely as possible to the body of Christ, and therefore as closely as possible to the moment of transubstantiation. In fact, he has written the words at the faint feet of Jesus, and used the body of St. John to demarcate the left side of the text block, and the frame of the miniature to define the right side. In this way, the inscription is made as a response to, and in relation to, the image. The testament becomes more powerful because it is laid at the feet of the lord and only a thin membrane away.

One situation I observed in the course of writing Postcards in Parchment is this: once a book has some objects pasted into it, this addition gives the owner, and later owners, license to add more images and objects. By their presence, previously added images inherently convey the idea of adding more images, and tacitly give permission to do so. This idea has broad applications, and is in effect the idea behind Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point.[20] Among numerous examples that explain phenomena in our modern world, he shows that once a wall bears some graffiti, it becomes a magnet for further graffiti. In a similar way, the Zutphen missal became a target for further inscriptions that bear testaments, in particular a note describing the book’s conservation:

This book has been renewed and repaired at Deventer in the house of Florence in the year 1539. The payment and expenses as regards this missal were paid by the venerable master Reyner Bruckinck, who died in the year of our lord 1550. Please pray to God for him.

Hic liber innovatus et reparatus est Daventrie in domo Florencii. Anno domini 1539 Stipendiis et expensis venerabilis domini Reyneri Bruckinck. istius altaris vicarii. ad quod spectat hoc missale. Qui obiit anno domini m vc l. Oretis propter deum pro eo [Zutphen, Ms. 7, flyleaf]

In 1539 the manuscript was therefore repaired, and the person who paid for the restoration was to be memorialized within the very object in whose longevity he had invested. Stating that the work was done in Deventer, the inscription refers to a monastic house there, that of the Brothers of the Common Life, who were dedicated to St. Mary and St. Gregory and St. Jerome, and whose house was also known as the House of Master Floris. At this point this missal still belonged to the brothers of St. Anthony. The inscriptions trace the various owners and their investments in the book.

I make three observations about this situation. First, the fact that the missal needed to be rebound in 1539 suggests that it was heavily used in the preceding decades. Thus the brothers of St. Anthony used the book quite vigorously. Secondly, and more tenuously, I hypothesize that if the testament of purchase had not been inscribed in the book in 1473, that master Reyner Bruckinck would not have had the idea to add his own testament in 1539 when he had it repaired. Writing in the book once makes it more likely that someone will write in it again. Such a statement as his, detailing the terms of the book’s conservation, are rare. The previous testament gave him the idea of adding his own.

Thirdly, the way in which the book was constructed, with the crucifixion miniature on a separate leaf that was slotted in to preface the text commencing Te Igitur, meant that the page had a blank back, which the new owners could exploit. A new function was suggested by the structure of the book itself, that of making testaments witnessed by Jesus, Mary, and John on the very flesh that made them manifest. Most of what I am discussing in this book concerns prayerbooks, but some aspect of the method of production could was also applied to other types of books in the Netherlands, including Missals. Namely, the single image could be made in a separate atelier, which meant that the back would normally be blank, and therefore available for fill.

Adding a Gloss

One of the simplest ways to add text to a finished manuscript is by writing in the margins, so that the added notes relate spatially to the main text. One can add words, signs, or manicules (“little hands”). All of these additions could be called glosses. They function by bringing a reader’s notes into a relationship with what’s already on the page. The meaning of a gloss comes from its content and its position on the page.

A gloss can reveal how someone used a book. A thirteenth-century psalter made in Amiens for an abbey was written in two columns with a small amount of blank space at the end of the column, just before the initial for Psalm 109.[21] Because the scribe needed six lines for a historiated initial, but only had five available at the end of column 1, he has begun the Psalm at the top of column 2. This has left five empty lines of ruled, uninscribed parchment. In this blank space at the end of the column, a user has squeezed eight lines of text, in very small and highly abbreviated script. These added words provide an indication of how he used the manuscript. A fragment from the Psalms, “Confitebor domino nimis in ore meo,” forms the first line, which repeats the psalter text at the top of this very page.[22] It is also an antiphon used in the liturgy. Specifically, it is sung on Saturdays, at matins, as the third antiphon in the second nocturne. Other texts to be sung during the Saturday liturgy were noted by the book’s user in the squeezed-in list. His notations are therefore oriented to the space of this page.

These notes are:

Marginal note                         In which part of the Saturday      Inventory number in Dom René-Jean Hesbert, Corpus Antiphonalium
liturgy the text is used                                    Officii. 6 vols. Rome: Herder, 1963–79

Confitebor domino                      Ad Matutinam, In secundo                                                         CAO 1874
nimis in ore meo                             nocturno, Antiphon 3

Responsus Domine exaudi         Ad Matutinam, In primo nocturno,                                             CAO 6494
oratio nem me am et clamor            Responsory 2

Benigne fac in bona volun          Ad Laudes, Antiphon 1                                                               CAO 1736
tate tua domine

Bonum est confiteri domino        Ad Laudes, Antiphon 2                                                               CAO 1744

Metuant dominum omnes           Ad Laudes, Antiphon 3                                                               CAO 3749
fines terre

Et in servis suis domine              Ad Laudes, Antiphon 5                                                               CAO 2705

In cymbalis benesonan               Ad Matutinam, In secundo                                                          CAO 5471
tibus laudate dominum                nocturno, Antiphon 2

In viam pacis dirige nos              Ad Laudes, Antiphon                                                                   CAO 3310

The texts he has listed in the extra space relate to the Psalm at the top of the page, because that Psalm is part of the Saturday liturgy and he provides the first few lines of the other texts used in the same service. But his list deviates somewhat from the standard order of the Saturday liturgy, as given in the second column of my chart. This suggests that he is either using his psalter to follow along with some non-standard antiphonal, or to sketch out a few adjustments, but it is difficult to know whether the list is descriptive or prescriptive. What is clear is that the person who made these notes knew Latin, knew how to write, knew quite a bit about the liturgy, and was using the psalter not just as an aid to private meditation, but as a tool for organizing the liturgy. His reason for using this particular space in the book to record this list was not simply opportunistic, but also closely related to the contents of the page.

As I show below, the ways in which Netherlandish prayerbooks were made meant that there was a great amount of blank parchment, which owners could fill. Sometimes these additions relate to, or comment upon, what is already present on the page. But the many empty spaces simply created opportunities for additional comments and texts, images and items. What kinds of things were added, and how they were added, shifted considerably in the fifteenth century. It appears that a cottage industry opened up to add marginal glosses to empty space, because the opportunities were so numerous.

Adding Calendrical Data

There is typically blank space in the vicinity of the calendar, because saints’ names are too short to fill an entire line, and because usually not every day is filled in. There were often blank lines with no saints, especially in calendars from before, say, 1430: calendars before this date are often sparsely populated. Such open areas seem to have called out to owners, including one who felt the need to fill some of the empty space with a grinning, waving figure (Paris, Bibl. Sainte-Geneviève, Ms. 95; fig. 52).[23] As the century wore on, a new fashion for very full calendars grew, as if scribes themselves were responding to the need to fill these spaces by finding saints, so that most calendars made around 1500 have a saint for every day, and therefore less space for frivolities.


[LEFT]: Fig. 53 Calendar with additions, in a missal made in Utrecht but used on Lopik. Utrecht, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Ms. 405, fol. 3r. Image © Utrecht, Universiteitsbibliotheek
[CENTER]: Fig. 54 Calendar with additions. Glasgow, University Library, Ms. Hunter, H186, fol. 7v-8r. Published by permission of University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections. Image © University of Glasgow Library, all rights reserved.
[RIGHT]: Fig. 55 Necrology, filled in by various scribes. Utrecht, Museum Catharijneconvent, BMH h 127, fol. 7r. Image © Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht

Users often added notes to the calendar in order to turn this part of the manuscript into an annual memory aid. For example, a missal made in the middle of the fifteenth century has extensive annotations written in the calendar (Utrecht, UB, Ms. 405; fig. 53). Although the manuscript contains pen-flourished initials in an Utrecht style, it was brought to the parish church in Lopik, where it was used for years, as names of the benefactors of that church have been added to the book.[24] The addition of the names also marks a change in function for the book. By adding cumulative death information to the calendar, the corporate owner of this missal has turned it into a necrology. An added benefit was putting the names of the benefactors on the altar, where the missal was used. In effect, the priest performed the mass and said a blessing over the very inscriptions that stood for the benefactors.

Book owners frequently amended the calendar by adding names and events. For example, the owner of a book of hours made c. 1440–1460 in North Holland (Haarlem?) has a calendar to which a late-fifteenth- or early-sixteenth-century owner has added two entries to the calendar (Glasgow, UL, Ms. Hunter 186; fig. 54). That owner may have been Trijntijn Pietersdochter, who inscribed her name and statement of ownership three times on an unnumbered folio before the calendar: “Dit boek hoert to Trijntpieters,” and again “dit boeck hoort to Trijntijn Pieterdr. van Delft;” and again, “dit boek hoort tot Trijntijn Pieters dochter van sint Catherine (?) convent.” It is as if she were practicing her new skill of writing as much as asserting her existence and ownership of the book. She may have been the person who, under the rubrics of August in calendar (fol. 8r), added a feast in red to Aug 5: “Onse vrou ter witter snee” (Our Lady of the White Snow), which refers to a miracle of the Virgin in the snow in the middle of summer.

Some calendars structurally demanded later additions, such as memorial books, which consist of a calendar ruled with enormous spaces after each saint. One such book, which has a note of ownership indicating that it belonged to the Church of St. Dionysius in Reissum, contains death notices of people from the parish, written in a variety of hands. In this case the calendar serves as a perpetual reminder to say masses for the souls of those individuals on the anniversaries of their deaths (Utrecht, Museum Catharijneconvent, BMH h 127; fig. 55). It therefore represents a neatened-up version of the kind of calendar in Utrecht, UB 405, and this time the necrological function designed in the planning stage.

Because calendars were the sites of memory, they were frequently amended. A book of hours made in London ca. 1405 contains a calendar manipulated by an early owner named Nicholas (Cambridge, UL, Ms. Ee.1.14).[25] He had several additions made to the calendar in red: St. Wynwaloy (3 March, fol. 4r); the translation of the relics of his name saint, Nicholas (on 9 May, fol. 5r); and the dedication of the church of St. Mary in Bury St. Edmunds (4 October, 7v). Such particular calendrical additions, as well as the style of some of the other emendations, confirm that they were executed at Bury St. Edmunds around 1440. While these feasts have been added in a neat textualis of a professional scribe, he may have himself added a note at 27 November (8r): “my moder departyd to god.” When Nicholas brought the manuscript to Bury St. Edmunds, presumably fifteen years after the book was originally made, he therefore added texts to make the book appropriate for its new environment, with local saints, a nod to the new owner’s name saint, and a reminder to pray for his mother’s soul on the anniversary of her death. Later, I will detail more of the extensive changes he made to this book.

Changing a Text to Reflect Updated Circumstances

Owners could silently declare that the book, as received, was insufficient. Since their prayerbook was an object they spent considerable time with, and read over and over again, they knew the contents intimately. As my work on “Dirty Books” has shown, book owners picked and chose certain texts and ignored others.[26] Certain texts, such as the litany of the saints, were often locally determined, so that the contents would reflect regionally venerated saints. When prayerbooks changed hands, or moved physical location, their litanies could be out of kilter.


[LEFT]: Fig. 56 Opening in a book of hours, showing a litany with added saints. Special Collections of the Universiteitsbibliotheek van Amsterdam, Ms. I G 54, fol. 26v-27r. Image © Universiteitsbibliotheek van AmsterdamFig. 57
[RIGHT]: Folio in a book of hours, with morning prayers added as quire filler. Bruges, Stadsbibliotheek, Ms. 334, fol. 33v-34r. Image © Bruges, Stadsbibliotheek, all rights reserved.

Many cared deeply about the litany and read it to the point of heavilywearing the folios on which it was written. They must have therefore paid close attention to the saints’ names. Some were clearly not satisfied. That is the message that the owner of a book of hours has communicated by nearly doubling the number of saints in the litany by squeezing them onto the half-empty lines and the margins (AUB, Ms. I G 54; fig. 56). This scribe appears unsteady, possibly old or infirm. He or she has attempted to keep the saints in their established groups, by adding more confessors to fol. 26r, beginning with Franciscus and Dominicus and adding more female saints to the list of virgins on fol. 27r, beginning with St. Anne. Adding St. Anne dates the additions to the end of the fifteenth century or the beginning of the sixteenth, when this saint’s cult flourished.[27] This manuscript returns again below, as the owner also added quires to it.

While Southern Netherlandish manuscripts for English export present extreme cases of “wasted parchment” that the English recipients then filled up with personalizing prayers, these are not the only books that received such modifications. Manuscripts made in the Northern Netherlands also had blank leaves and spaces as a result of production with the modular method. The owner of a book of hours made in South Holland (now in Bruges, SB 334) saw the blank space at the end of the quire and used it to add a prayer to say when waking up in the morning (fig. 57). This marks a shift, at the end of the fifteenth century, from prayer texts organized around the canonical hours, to those organized around clock time. Urban votaries in particular lived by clock towers heard throughout the city; this shift served their needs.

Adding Text to Make a Book Appropriate as a Didactic Tool

Added words can reveal a manuscript’s former didactic context. As Michelle Brown has argued, the Holkham Bible Picture Book began as a series of quires bearing images only. Events to be portrayed seem to have been chosen by the artist based on degree of drama, action, and bloodshed. Only when the artist had constructed an entire non-verbal “cartoon”-like version of the Old and New Testaments did a scribe add text to the pages. This meant ruling the small areas—the bits of parchment in the interstices—in order to wedge in a text that would match the lively images. This manuscript is therefore unique in several regards, including its stratigraphy, beginning as it did with images. Nearly all other manuscripts begin with text, to which images are added. Adding the text to the interstices of the image-centered book changed the nature of the object and turned it into a didactic tool.

I believe that certain “picture Bibles,” including Rylands, French 5, were made for, or rather adapted for children.[28] This manuscript presents the biblical stories as full-page miniatures so that they are extra large, sharp, clear, schematic, and for all these reasons, well suited to instruction. But even if the images are clear, they are unintelligible to those who do not know the stories. An instructor, or confessor, has used the blank areas at the upper and lower margins to write short descriptions. The tituli provide the young learner with the names of the characters and the place names. Most subjects, such as Noah’s ark, seem to be those that might appeal to children (fig. 58).[29] “This is Noah’s ark,” the writer has added, though this is something that anyone who had already mastered the rudiments of the religion would know. Possibly to further entertain or engage a child, the teacher has also used pen and ink to add a bird.


[LEFT]: Fig. 59 Prayer added before calendar. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 135 K 17, fol. 1v-2r. Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands
[RIGHT]: Fig. 61 Christ before Pilate, full-page miniature with a scribble added before prime. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 135 K 17, fol. 77v-78r. Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands


[LEFT]: Fig. 60 Folio from the Hours of the Virgin, with a writing lesson in the margin. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 135 K 17, fol. 112r. Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The NetherlandsFig. 62
[RIGHT]: Folio in a book of hours, with an alphabet added to the otherwise blank area at the end of a quire. Cambridge, University Library, Ms. Dd.15.25, fol. 66v. Image © Cambridge University Library, all rights reserved.

Like picture bibles, books of hours were sometimes adapted for children.[30] One fifteenth-century book of hours, copied in the diocese of Liège, had a modest program of decoration including single-leaf miniatures added at the major text openings (HKB, Ms. 135 K 17). The owner converted some of the blank space for didactic purposes. For example, the manuscript had a blank flyleaf. It was ruled as part of the calendar but originally left blank, possibly because it contains a large flaw in the parchment, which had been sewn. Its owner later used that folio to inscribe the Pater Noster, Ave Maria and Credo, the basic prayers of Christendom. These prayers, which were taught to children, turn the book of hours into a teaching tool (fig. 59). Someone has also assigned the letters a-m to the months, so that the letter a appears over January. Was the teacher trying to impart knowledge of the 12 months of the year along with the alphabet? Deeper in the same manuscript, the teacher has turned the book 90° and used the margin as a place to teach someone how to write. Specifically, the teacher has written a sentence in the margin, which the student has tried to copy (fig. 60). The writing lessons have gotten out of hand on fol. 77v, where the learner has scribbled in the lower margin (fig. 61). Like many fifteenth-century manuscripts, this has been preserved in a sixteenth-century binding, suggesting that it was heavily worn during its first 50 years of use, which warranted rebinding, but then was put on a shelf as an heirloom after the Reformation.

A South Netherlandish book of hours for Sarum use likewise had an owner who used it as a space for teaching (Cambridge, UL, Ms. Dd.15.25, fol. 66v-67r; fig. 62). He has copied out the alphabet in firm capitals on a bit of blank parchment in order to guide his students in practicing their forms. His student gets rather flustered mid-alphabet and abandons the project. No doubt the task was made even more difficult with the judging Christ leaking through the opposite page. This same impatient child may be the person responsible for adding pen drawings throughout the book, including several funny heads and a camel.

Adding Prayers

More than anything else, what owners most frequently added to prayerbooks was more prayers. Because it usually did not have a fixed text, a prayerbook could be ever-expanded to include any fashionable, or indulgenced texts, new prayers to reflect recently ratified feasts, or prayers belonging to growing cults. Like all additions, these reveal how the owner used the book, and often expose his desires and fears. They reveal steps owners have taken to keep their books relevant across time.

In a fifteenth-century copy of the “Contemplations of Walter Hilton,” preceded by “A comfortable tretyes to strengthyn and confortyn creaturys in the feyth specially hem that arn symple and disposyd to fallyn in desperacyon,” a fifteenth-century scribe has added a note to a blank folio at the beginning of the book. He writes: “Unto every man or woman that seyth this prayere folwyng: Benedictum sit dulce nomen Domini nostri Iesu Christi et gloriosissimae virginis Mariae matris ejus in eternum et ultra: Amen. Nos cum prole benedicat virgo Mariae: Amen. ar grauntyd iii yer of pardon tociens quociens of pope Clement the fourth atte the requeste of seynt Lowys kyng of Fraunce” (Cambridge, Parker Library, Ms. 268, fol. iiiv).[31] In other words, the scribe used the empty space at the beginning of the book to add a very short prayer for which the reader would earn an indulgence. Possessing prayers that would yield indulgences or promised to multiply existing indulgences motivated many book owners to amend their books, in margins, in blank areas, or on added sheets (as I will demonstrate below).

Not all added prayers promised indulgences; others promised bodily protection. An English book of hours introduced above (Cambridge, UL, Ms. Ee.1.14) had two blank leaves at the beginning of the quire containing the calendar. An owner or several owners have inscribed (or commissioned from a scrivener) various prayers for these precious pages. A professional scribe has been charged with the task of squeezing two longish prayers onto fol. 2r into the space (Cambridge, UL, Ms. Ee.1.14, fol. 1v-2r; fig. 63).


[LEFT]: Fig. 63 Opening in a book of hours, with prayers added by several English scribes. Cambridge, University Library, Ms. Ee.1.14, fol. 1v-2r. Image © Cambridge University Library, all rights reserved.
[RIGHT]: Fig. 64 First opening from a psalter-hours first made in 1275–1280 in Liège. ’s-Heerenberg, The Netherlands, Collection Dr. J. H. van Heek, Huis Bergh Foundation, Ms. 35. Image © The Huis Bergh Foundation

One is “O bone Ihesu…” and the other is the “72 names of Jesus,” in which each name is interspersed with a red cross. Of these, the former was understood to be amuletic, to protect the bearer from sudden death; the latter harks back to incantations to the “72 circumlocutions of Yahweh,” which were originally spoken because the name of God was too powerful to be uttered. The circumlocutions, and eventually the “72 names of Jesus,” were thought to be so powerful that they would ward off evil.[32] To fit these in, the scribe has ruled this page (and only this page) with very narrow lines. Marks of wear on the page, including a dark thumbprint at the bottom margin, indicate that these were among the owner’s favorite prayers.[33] Once he paid someone to add them, he justified his choice by reading it intensely.

In other cases it is not clear exactly why an owner desired a particular prayer, but he or she has added it in response to a particular image. Such is the case with a psalter-hours produced in 1275–1280 in Liège (fig. 64; ’s-Heerenberg, HB, Ms. 35, inv. no. 225).[34] It opens with the psalter. A full-page initial B, for “Beatus vir,” serves as a frontispiece. The Annunciation and Nativity are depicted in the two large loops of the B, and vignettes from the Old Testament in the corner roundels. In other words, it is organized around prefigurations at the edges, and redemption at the center. An early owner, as if responding to the Annunciation and Nativity, has inscribed a prayer in the lower margin, writing “Venite exultemus domino…,” Psalm 95, a song of triumph that Christians were supposed to read in the mornings. Perhaps the book’s user inscribed this at the front of the manuscript so that it would be handy first thing.

A book that is most altered is likely to be most heavily used. While people who have only one book are inclined to both use it and alter it, it is surely also the case that the act of altering the book kept it up to date, and therefore more likely to be relevant for longer. By the same token, the obverse is also true: the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, for example, was not altered (until an unscrupulous dealer broke it up much later), and likewise has no signs of use at all.[35] Perhaps she considered commissioning a lavish book of hours a devotional act in itself, one that did not necessitate actually reading it. In some ways I am really asking: How physical was the owner’s relationship with the book? To what degree was it part of the person’s daily habit? Did the book’s owner think of it as an interactive object that would respond to his needs? In the case of this example, the answers are largely negative. But that is far from the norm.


[LEFT]: Fig. 65 The Colnish Pater Noster added after the calendar. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 133 D 10, fol. 12v-13r. Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands
[CENTER]: Fig. 66 Trinity, full-page miniature in a book of hours, with an added inscription. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 133 D 10, fol. 147v-148r. Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands
[RIGHT]: Fig. 67 Adoro te (5-verse version) with more verses added in the margin. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 75 G 2, fol. 250v-251r. Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands

An added text is the one the reader desired the most, and often shows the most signs of wear. For example, HKB, Ms. 133 D 10, a book of hours, has a text added to the blank leaf after the calendar (fol. 15v-16r, fig. 65). The added prayer is the Colnish Pater Noster, a highly physical prayer directed toward (an image of) Christ Crucified. Some copies of the prayer instruct the votary to read particular segments into the wounds of Christ. Votaries may have performed this prayer while holding an image, such as a small sculpture of the body of Christ, and uttering the spoken text into the represented hands and feet. This text was rarely provided with a miniature, so one should imagine the supplicant performing this prayer with an image that is external to the book. Dirty fingerprints at the bottom of the page indicate that the owner spent considerable time with this text.[36] In the same manuscript, the fingerprints again reveal that she or he has paid particular attention to the image of and prayer to the Trinity (fig. 66). He or she has also written what appears to be a motto under the image, as if asserting a presence there. Again, he or she pays the greatest attention to these self-augmented parts of the book. The augmentation both constructs and reflects the reader’s relationship to the text and to the book.

Likewise, the owner of a heavily worn prayerbook showed particular interest in the folios that were augmented (HKB, Ms. 75 G 2, fig. 67). This manuscript has a calendar for the bishopric of Liège that includes an entry for the dedication of the Church of Tongeren (7 May) in red, suggesting that the manuscript came from a convent in or near that city. Female pronoun endings indicate that the owner was probably a woman. She may have come from an Augustinian convent, as Augustine appears first among the confessors in the litany, while Mary Magdalene is first among the Virgins. One possibility is that she belonged to the Canonesses Regular of St. Catharine (Sinte-Katharijnenberg/Magdalenezusters) in Tienen, which is very close to Tongeren. She has augmented her book of hours with some unusual prayers, including a prayer to the Virgin’s body parts, the Hours of St. Catherine, and the Hundred Articles of the Passion, which circulated almost exclusively in monastic houses. The manuscript also has a number of added images, which I have discussed elsewhere.[37] It also has a number of annotations in the margin, particularly around the Adoro te.

This prayer, the Adoro te, was one of the most heavily indulgenced texts of the late Middle Ages. It came in several versions, including a shorter version with just five verses, each one beginning with the letter O. Toward the end of the fifteenth century, versions with 7, 9, 10, or even 11 verses circulated. These longer versions were copied with rubrics promising ever-greater indulgences. Her original book had the five-verse version of the Verses of St. Gregory, carrying an indulgence for 20,000 years, but she augmented this with what appear to be four additional verses in the margins. In most instances, the longer versions carried a much greater spiritual reward than the 5-verse version. The additions, however, are impossible to read, as she handled this text so voraciously that she rubbed the words away through use. Indeed, she employed her manuscript so heavily that she left her dark, shiny black fingerprints on nearly every folio. But by the time the owner had rubbed the words away, she had probably memorized them. In the process of using the text, she obliterated it from the page and impressed it onto her mind.

Many prayers were added to the interstices of prayerbooks during the last decades of the fifteenth century and the first decades of the sixteenth. A large number of these supply indulgences. For example, a book of hours with spectacular and unusual illuminations associated with Spierinck has been made modularly, with the full-page miniatures on separate singletons (HKB, Ms. 133 H 30; fig. 68).[38] Filling more than one quire, the Hours of the Virgin finishes on fol. 55r in the middle of the page (fig. 69). There were several blank pages left in the quire, however, and the scribe has filled two of them by inscribing the indulgenced prayer, Adoro te, in its Dutch translation (fig. 70).

Fig. 69 End of the Hours of the Virgin, with blank parchment at the end of the quire. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 133 H 30, fol. 54v-55r. Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands

This prayer carries an enormous indulgence of “xx” or “xc” dusent iaer, that is, 20,000 or possibly 90,000 years (the Roman numeral is unclear). The scribe has left the next page—that before the following module—blank (fig. 71). Thus, even though the Hours of the Virgin does not relate directly to the Adoro te, the scribe used the invitation of the blank parchment to add it. While the text was added as an afterthought, and is discontinuous with the text that precedes it, it appears to have been written by the same scribe. Thus, additions can occur at any time: immediately after the core text is written, or years later. It appears, also, that two layers of border decoration were executed in this book. They compete on the page, as on fol. 55v (above). One painter ornamented the page with bands of decoration above and below the text. But it seems that the owner was not satisfied with this degree of decoration, and ordered more highly-gilded and painted decoration on the side margin. Added decoration of this sort is the next category of change to the book.


[LEFT]: Fig. 70 Adoro te, in its Dutch translation, used as quire filler. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 133 H 30, fol. 55v-56r. Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands
[RIGHT]: Fig. 71 A blank opening at the transition between text and image. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 133 H 30, fol. 56v-57r. Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands


[LEFT]: Fig. 72 Prayer to St. Francis and his stigmata added to the back of the Crucifixion miniature in the Gouda Missal. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 135 H 45, fol. 101r. Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands
[RIGHT]: Fig. 73 Feasts added to the end of the Gouda Missal, including one (the first one) dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 135 H 45, fol. 215v-216r. Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands

Liturgical books could also receive additional prayers. For example, the Gouda Missal (HKB, Ms. 135 H 45) was made in several campaigns of work beginning in 1450–55.[39] Franciscan men in Gouda used and possibly commissioned the manuscript, which contains, for example, a Franciscan calendar, with feasts in red that include St. Bernardinus (May 20); the Translation of St. Francis (May 25); St. Anthony abbot (June 13); St. Clare (Aug. 12); and St. Francis (Oct. 4). A note of ownership appears on the inside front cover: “Pro conventu fratrum minorum in gouda diocesis traiectensis,” which indicates that the book belonged to the house of Franciscan minderbrothers in Gouda. They owned the book, used it hard, and adjusted it in several ways. Among their additions is a prayer on fol. 101r, which is the otherwise blank back of the full-page Crucifixion miniature (fig. 72). This prayer praises St. Francis for receiving the stigmata, the “sign of the crucified body of our lord,” imprinted into his own body in recognition of his merits and virtues. Although the fifteenth-century minderbrother could have inscribed this prayer anywhere in the codex, he chose to do so on the membrane that shares and image of Christ crucified. Praise for his patron is as close their model as possible, just a few microns of parchment away. St. Francis is literally the flip side of Jesus: they are of the same flesh.

At the very end of the manuscript some blank, ruled parchment remained that proved inviting to the Franciscan scribes (fig. 73). Into this space a later (but still fifteenth-century) scribe has used the opportunity to squeeze in texts for several feasts. To do this, he has had to write in script less than half the height of the original text, and to abbreviate it extensively. The first added feast is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, a controversial feast that was championed by the Franciscans. As published in bulls of 1476 and 1477, Pope Sixtus IV extended an indulgence to those who celebrated this Office. This feast was probably inscribed at the end of the Gouda missal after 1476, and is a further indication that the male Franciscans in Gouda used the book and were responsible for the augmentations as they updated an older missal and retained its relevancy. They also added some extra texts for the feasts for the Nativity of Christ and the Epiphany to augment the existing text; to the feasts of St. Agnes and to St. Ursula with her Eleven Thousand Virgins, and to the dedication of a church. As the church and its feasts expanded, so did this book. (It is a manuscript to which I will return below, as it also has some other, more complex augmentations.)

Augmenting the Existing Decoration


[LEFT]: Fig. 74 Incipit of the psalter with a border painted in an eastern Netherlandish style. Special Collections of the Universiteitsbibliotheek van Amsterdam, Ms. V H 26, fol. 1r. Image © Universiteitsbibliotheek van Amsterdam
[CENTER]: Fig. 75 Folio with a major psalm division, with an initial S decorated in two campaigns of work. Special Collections of the Universiteitsbibliotheek van Amsterdam, Ms. V H 26, fol. 64r. Image © Universiteitsbibliotheek van Amsterdam
[RIGHT]: Fig. 76 Division within psalm 119, with penwork decoration added in North Holland. Special Collections of the Universiteitsbibliotheek van Amsterdam, Ms. V H 26, fol. 124v. Image © Universiteitsbibliotheek van Amsterdam

AUB, Ms. V H 26 is a psalter made in the eastern part of the Northern Netherlands in the middle of the fifteenth century. When the manuscript was written, it was embellished with both pen flourishes and some painted decoration, so that the first folio has a gilt and painted border in an eastern Netherlandish style (fig. 74), and some Psalms received a six-line decorated initial with pen-flourishes in an eastern style, such as the one on fol. 64r (fig. 75). At the end of the century, someone apparently brought the manuscript to North Holland and had decoration added to it, so that several folios, including 64r, also have painted decoration in a North Holland style applied to the other margins. This folio looks highly unusual because the added painted decoration does not emanate from the initial, but fills the other three borders.

By adding painted flourishes the new decorator has shifted the hierarchy of decoration across the entire manuscript. According to the original plan, only the first folio received painted decoration, and the psalms at the major divisions received large initials with pen flourishes. In order to rationalize the new regime, the manuscript has apparently undergone a second round of decorative augmentations. Namely, the major Psalm divisions were heightened to receive colorful painted decoration, and the divisions within the psalms also received decoration, so that, for example, the modest initial marking a chapter division within psalm 119 was given pen flourishing in one margin in a North Holland style (fig. 76) (caph defecit in salutare tuum). In other words, these initials were also elevated as the hierarchy shifted when the manuscript was redecorated ca. 1500 in North Holland.

A similar story describes what happened with a psalter and lay breviary now in Oxford’s Bodleian Library (Ms. Broxb. 89.10; fig. 77).[40] Oddly, the manuscript was copied on paper and only the first two folios are on parchment. It was made in North Holland and has penwork decoration typical of that region, extending from the initials. For example, fol. 193r, which is the incipit for the Hours of Easter, has an eight-line L with North Holland penwork emanating from it. This same kind of penwork appears around fol. 169r, with the Hours of Christmas (fig. 78).[41] Multiple bright colors including purple and green, applied with broken symmetry, characterize penwork from this region. This type of original penwork fills only the left margins of these pages.

These two folios also reveal another, competing kind of decoration, which an artist has applied to those borders not already filled by penwork decoration. On fol. 193r, the painted borders are arranged around a gold and painted baguette, with “bunches of twigs” painted designs, another decorative form typical of North Holland. On fol. 169r, the painted decoration is not anchored to a baguette. On neither folio is the painted decoration anchored to the initial. This is a clue that the decoration was not original, for in Netherlandish manuscripts border decoration always emanates from the initial. But this added decoration cannot approach the initial, because that space was already filled by penwork (although I will show examples below in which the artist applying the supplementary decoration simply paints over the top of the existing penwork).

I suspect that what happened to this manuscript is that the entire manuscript was copied on paper for a person in a monastery (for monastics alone form the audience for breviaries). It was written and decorated with penwork in Haarlem. It contains a calendar for the bishopric of Utrecht but with St. Adalbert (June 25), the patron saint of Haarlem. (Haarlem was situated within the bishopric of Utrecht.) Furthermore, the manuscript was made in a Franciscan milieu, for St. Francis is not only mentioned first among the confessors in the litany, but he is called “o gloriose vader Franciscus.” Likewise, St. Margaret (called “o gloriose moeder sancta Margrieta”) is mentioned first among the Virgins. The book may therefore have been made for (and by) the Tertiaries of the convent of St. Margaret in Haarlem.

Once the manuscript was completely copied on paper and decorated with Haarlem penwork, however, why then were the two lonely parchment folios added to the beginning? I suspect that this decision indicates yet another process of augmentation, in which the scribe, shortly after the manuscript was finished, was instructed to add a full-page miniature of David with his harp (fig. 79).[42] It is not clear whether the owner already had this at hand, or whether she commissioned the image just for this book. The former seems more likely, since the folio is not quite the right size for the book, and the binder needed to wrestle this piece of parchment into the binding. Consequently, the justification is off, and the image slips partly into the gutter. In order to add this leaf on parchment, the scribe may have removed the first paper folio of the psalter and then recopied it on parchment. The paper incipit folio may have been replaced with a parchment one because parchment takes paint better than paper does. A colorful parchment incipit would give the opening visual coherence, with the full-page miniature on the facing page. Perhaps it was when the full-page miniature was added to the beginning of the book (and this is all speculative) that the painter also raised the level of the hierarchy of decoration across the manuscript, so that folios with a decorated initial would take four sides of decoration instead of just one. In short, the addition of the David miniature may have provided the impetus for the scribe and painter to make adjustments throughout the book, raising its overall level of sumptuousness, before bringing it to the binder. The manuscript is still in its late fifteenth-century binding, panel-stamped with an image of the blessing Christ. This suggests that the tampering occurred in the fifteenth century, not later.

Late medieval book owners continuously exploited the possibilities for expanding and decorating their books. In a book of hours with elaborate, column-wide initials, a book owner added more decoration to the text pages when full-page miniatures were introduced (HKB, Ms. 131 G 3; fig. 80).[43] The manuscript could have been considered complete with just the initials, but the owner has added full-page miniatures to preface them. This book of hours with illuminations attributed to the Bible Masters of the First Generation, who are called the Gethsemane Master and Master Azor. These masters were apparently active in Utrecht around 1430. The manuscript contains 208 folios and is written in littera textualis in Middle Dutch, with an Utrecht calendar, and several full-page miniatures. As the online catalogue description points out, “all border decoration in Utrecht style (elongated green leaves, tri-petals).”[44] However, an inspection of the major text openings reveals that the story is more complex than the catalogue description would make it seem.

For one thing, there is considerable variation of style across these openings, suggesting that the various texts were actually made by different teams, and brought together for assembly. Furthermore, different hands, which are rather rough and sloppy, have inscribed the various texts. This evidence suggests that different scribes in fact wrote the modules. These scribes, however, had not been trained to write in a disciplined, corporate style, as the sisters in the convents of St. Ursula and St. Agnes had been. I suspect therefore that this manuscript was either copied in a convent with less regimented training, or was copied by professionals working together in a loose relationship.

Secondly, the catalogue description does not mention the book’s complicated stratigraphy. When the book’s owner added full-page miniatures to the openings, this necessitated additional changes to the book, as owners sought to preserve the visual continuity across the entire opening. Borders of green leaves and gold balls came with the miniatures. When the owner added the paintings, he or she had the facing text pages augmented with that same kind of decoration, which frames the frame, so that there is a sense of visual continuity across the full opening. This situation I will discuss below, in a chapter dedicated to changes that required rebinding. Here, however, I want to point out that the decorator has added a layer of ornamentation around both the miniatures and the facing text pages in order to unify them visually. When the Annunciation was added, the decorator added analogous embellishments (“elongated green leaves, tri-petals”) to the outer border of the facing text page, even though this page already had full and complete border decoration executed in gold and body color. The same scenario occurred at the opening for the Hours of the Eternal Wisdom (HKB, Ms. 131 G 3; fig. 81).[45] When the owner added the full-page miniature, he or she also had the text folio paged with the typical Utrecht decoration so that it would match. At the opening for the Hours of the Holy Cross, the person who added the full-page miniature did not have enough space around the facing text folio to add the extra layer of decoration, so this fol. 118r was left un-augmented (fig. 82).[46] However, there was plenty of room around the incipit page of the final opening with full-page miniature, so this page did receive the green leaves. A noticeably different hand copied the final major text in the manuscript, prayers for the sacrament, suggesting that the production was a group effort with the modular method by scribes who had mastered the corporate style with varying degrees of success (fig. 83).[47] This text did not originally receive a historiated initial, suggesting that the planner (or scribes) were not anticipating a full-page illumination to face this text, which would demand (according to the hierarchy of decoration established earlier in the book) that full-page illuminations accompany historiated initials. When the full-page miniature was added, the facing folio had to be fully embellished. In this way, decoration not only ornaments the word of God, but it helps to smooth over the seams of a production assembled from disparate components.

An owner who had a physical relationship with his book was likely to update it by making physical emendations to it, and was also likely to handle it often, as part of a daily habit. HKB, Ms. 131 G 3 was handled repeatedly. That this book was heavily used is evidenced by the grime ground on the margins and the poor state of some of the miniatures. Its owner(s) used the book so heavily that the binding wore out, and it had to be replaced with its current blind stamped brown leather in the sixteenth century. It is possible that this represents not the book’s second binding, but its third.

Drawing or Painting Images Directly onto Bound Parchment

Book owners occasionally commissioned professional painters to add imagery to books that were already complete. Such a set of added paintings appears in the margins of a typological Life of Christ in Middle Dutch (Leiden, UB, Ms. Ltk 258). It was copied by a single hand on paper in North Holland, probably in Haarlem, around 1470.[48] This book may have been made by or for the tertiaries of St. Margaret in Haarlem. A few small illuminations—which depict the incarnation of Christ and the Three Magi—have been added to the margins of its 207 folios.


[LEFT]: Fig. 84 Folio from a typological Life of Christ in Middle Dutch, with an added marginal painting representing the Annunciation. Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Ms. Ltk 258, fol. 8v. Image © Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek
[CENTER]: Fig. 85 Folio from a typological Life of Christ in Middle Dutch, with an added marginal painting representing the Nativity. Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Ms. Ltk 258, fol. 14r. Image © Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek
[RIGHT]: Fig. 86 Folio from a typological Life of Christ in Middle Dutch, with an added marginal painting representing the Magi. Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Ms. Ltk 258, fol. 20r. Image © Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek

Although the scribe did not plan these illuminations, a painter (possibly an amateur) has added them to the margins, after the fact. The painting representing the Annunciation, for example, does not quite fit into the space of the margin. Likely tracing from a model of a fixed size, the artist slid the model to this position, and placed it so that the Virgin’s head sticks up through the columns of text (fig. 84).

Further along in the book, the artist has painted another vignette in the margins, this time turning the bottom margin into Bethlehem and the side margin into the hills where the shepherds pasture their sheep (fig. 85).[49] Again, the artist may have been tracing a model, and even adjusted the position of the infant Jesus upward. If the infant were on the same horizontal as the Virgin’s knees, his mandorla-shaped form would have created trapped white space, which is anathema to designers then and now. By moving the baby up to the level of her hands, he fills what would have been white space (but he disconcertingly appears to be levitating).

Likewise, the artist has added an image of the Three Magi, each bearing his gift, to the relevant text in Ltk 258 (fig. 86).[50] He or she has tried to orient them to the text column, but they defy a major principle in manuscript design: that all decoration should emanate from an initial. Floating in space, the Magi are untethered to the letter. These features underscore the ad hoc nature of the images, which were not planned from the start. It is extremely odd visually to have loose images floating in marginal space and not anchored within frames. Their presence suggests that the owner was desperate to visualize them on the page, to make the incarnation and the recognition of Christ’s divinity visual features of the book, rather than just mental illusions built by text in the mind.

Owners sometimes made amateur drawings on the blank parchment. As I have described above, manuscripts made in the Southern Netherlands for export to the British Isles were constructed with a form of the modular method that resulted in large blank areas of parchment. One such manuscript, now in Cambridge, had an owner who could not resist the opportunity to add his own tronies to the page (Cambridge, UL, Ms. Dd.15.25; fig. 87). They seem to interact with the professional painting on the other side of the membrane, which is leaking through. By adding his gruesome faces to the back of the image, he can comment on the scene without defacing it.

Fig. 87 Blank space on the back of a full-page miniature in a book of hours, with added doodles. Cambridge, University Library, Ms. Dd.15.25, fol. 40r. Image © Cambridge University Library, all rights reserved.

In another book of hours, a nun floats in the space of a sparsely populated calendar; evidently this much blank parchment was too much to bear (HKB, Ms. 76 G 22; fig. 88).[51] Nun and crucifix are made in different styles, as if to suggest that the crucifix is a picture of a picture. With the exception of pointing fingers that draw attention to passages of text, added drawings rarely appear in finished manuscripts. I suspect that this is because a bound manuscript curves in its binding rather than lying flat, and thus creates a quite difficult object to draw on. Whoever added this drawing, possibly an Augustinian nun herself, did so on a blank area of parchment near the beginning of the book. She drew on the right side, and I suspect that she was right-handed and was able to hold the book down flat with her left hand while she drew.

In fact there are relatively few examples in which a painter in the fourteenth or fifteenth century added imagery to the blank areas of an already-bound book. In this period, a new cultural habit circulated, namely, painting images on loose leaves and inserting them into the book after they had dried. This was an even more efficient way to fill empty space.

Adding Physical Material Superficially

So far the additions I have discussed have not added mass to the book but have taken advantage of empty spaces within the book as received. Owners could also add certain kinds of physical material to the bound book without needing to rebind it. Such additions are superficial, on the surface. Below I revisit physical additions but consider those that did require rebinding and are not on the surface, being instead worked into the structure of the book and integrated into its binding. The motivation for adding superficial physical material was largely to incorporate badges, sheets of paper, parchment or cloth that were ready-made and could thereby extend the book’s function as a maker of meaning and a holder of memory.

Attaching Parchment Sheets to Blank Areas of the Book

It is difficult to paint or draw on bound sheets, because one has to negotiate the gutter, the curvature of the book block, the tendency of the folios to buckle, and the soft cushion that a stack of parchment leaves makes. Book owners could more easily add drawings and paintings to their books by pasting or sewing in images made separately and executed on a flat, hard surface. Votaries often attached images to blank areas of their books. This was a way of preserving small sheets that were otherwise loose and vulnerable. Loose images must have been in circulation throughout the fifteenth century, and a fraction of them landed in manuscripts that became storage chests for small flat things. Small images were given as gifts, or formed objects of reciprocal gifting with or between convents. Images exchanged in such a way must have triggered specific memories for their owner, who cared enough about their preservation to secure them into a treasured manuscript that would certainly outlive the owner.

That may have been the motive behind the inclusion of a small drawing depicting the Virgin in sole pasted into a book of hours made in Ghent, probably in the second quarter of the fifteenth century (Ghent, UB, Ms. 2750; fig. 89). This simple pen drawing may have been traced from a model and given away as a spiritually valuable gift. It is difficult to date with precision, but may have been made around 1470, 20 to 50 years after the manuscript was made. Its recipient was apparently the owner—possibly the second or third owner—of the book, which was probably made in Ghent. Like other scrapbookers, this book owner may have been making a mark in the book and changing its function. Not having the appropriate prayer in the manuscript, the owner of the book of hours from Ghent therefore stuck it in where it would fit.


[LEFT]: Fig. 89 Opening in the Van der Vlaest Hours from Ghent, at the end of terce and the beginning of sext, with a drawing on parchment sewn onto a blank area. Ghent, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Ms. 2750, fol. 55v-56r. Image © Universiteitsbibliotheek Ghent
[CENTER]: Fig. 90 Opening in a book of hours, with a blank folio before vespers that formerly had a rectangular object sewn onto it. Nijmegen, Radboud Universiteit, Ms. 283 fol. 91v-92r. © Radboud Universiteitsbibliotheek
[RIGHT]: Fig. 91 Opening in a prayer book, with a blank folio before a rubric that formerly had an object glued to it. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 75 G 2, fol. 220v-221r. Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands

Close inspection reveals that at one time manuscripts were even more full of added images than they presently appear, since just as things made their way into the book they made their way out as well, whether through hard use or opportunistic excision. Such is the case with a book of hours written possibly in Utrecht or the eastern part of the Northern Netherlands in the first quarter of the fifteenth century (Nijmegen, RU, Ms. 283; fig. 90). Nearly every canonical hour begins on a fresh recto; this left many surfaces of blank parchment. This was filled up with sewn-in and pasted objects, including large rectangular things, possibly prints or parchment paintings, to preface every new hour. These, however, have all been removed. For example, before vespers of the Hours of the Cross, one finds a blank, ruled page bearing holes at the top, bottom, and left side revealing that a rectangular object was formerly stitched there. That the person wielding the needle could not add stitches to the right side indicates that the book was already bound when the object was added. Furthermore, a frame of dirt around this rectangular ghost object indicates that the image was added early in the book’s life, after which it received considerable wear. Other holes throughout this manuscript (for example, on folios 8, 61, 76, 91v) reveal that an early owner enthusiastically filled up as many of the blank spaces as possible. This manuscript was manipulated in other ways, as well, as I discuss later.

An even more dramatic case appears in HKB, Ms. 75 G 2, fol. 221v-222r, a prayerbook encountered above (fig. 91). The recto side of the opening presents a rubric indicating that the votary who reads the accompanying prayer with devotion in her heart would see a vision of the Virgin on her deathbed. Dark fingerprints on this opening reveal that this was among the owner’s most beloved and intensely read prayers. Glue stains indicate that an object—most likely an image of the Virgin that would help prime the reader for her deathbed—had formerly been stuck to the page, but was worn off through use.

A Netherlandish prayerbook now in Heidelberg (UB, Cod. Sal. VII,4d) confirms an algorithm of use: the more marks of wear it has, the more likely that it has undergone changes in form and content. It has text pages heavily darkened from use, to the point that some of the script is worn off. Fol. 67v, which is now blank, has a rectangle of negative dirt, indicating that it once had an object stuck to it, mostly like an image (fig. 92).[52] This also points to a problem with glue on parchment: it rarely sticks forever as does glue on paper.


[LEFT]: Fig. 93 Opening in a prayer book with an added rubrics inscribed on a separate sheet of parchment that has been slipped in behind the quire. Special Collections of the Universiteitsbibliotheek van Amsterdam, Ms. I G 35, fol. 37v-38r. Image © Universiteitsbibliotheek van Amsterdam
[RIGHT]: Fig. 94 Parchment sheets with extra prayers pasted into the back inside cover of the Gouda missal. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 135 H 45, back inside cover. Image © Koninklijke Bibliotheek—the National Library of The Netherlands

Owners could also slip in small sheets, securing them around a quire, without having to rebind. This was the technique used by the owner of a prayerbook—which was assembled out of a group of booklets—who used such sheets to smooth over the transition between assembled parts (AUB, Ms. I G 35; fig. 93). Assembling them into a coherent whole required some adjustments. For example, she has crossed out a partial text on fol. 37v: because the end of the text was missing, the beginning was not worth reading. Fol. 38r starts with a new prayer, but the owner wanted to add a rubric to it, so has written it on a separate scrap of parchment and looped it behind the quire. This sheet is small so that it fits behind the quire, just above level of the first sewing. It is held into the binding by friction alone. (In fact, this book therefore proposes an elegant solution to the problem faced by the fifteenth-century scribe in the Perth manuscript, analyzed above.)

Book owners could also paste in sheets with texts, if there were blank spaces that would accommodate them. A number of different kinds of augmentations appear in the Gouda Missal, made 1450–55 (HKB, Ms. 135 H 45) introduced above. As I have shown, a later scribe wrote extensive texts for celebrating feast days added directly to the blank quire ends. Furthermore, owners have pasted onto the back cover several sheets of parchment bearing prayers (fig. 94). In this position, against the hard boards of the cover, they would not bend, strain the glue and fall off. Short prayer texts, all written in Latin, fill these added sheets. The larger of the two pasted sheets was previously folded, indicating that it had a career as an autonomous entity before entering the manuscript. Several prayers dedicated to St. Anne appear on the scrap, but they are inscribed in two different hands. Because devotion to St. Anne became extremely popular in the 1490s, she is one of the most common subjects for added prayers.

Adding Other Objects to Blank Parchment

Medieval owners of books—especially of books of hours—used them to store small devotional objects, such as pilgrims’ badges, metal souvenirs from having taken the Eucharist, gifted loose images, and any other flattish objects that they wanted to remember, store and associate with a devotional context. Another item they sewed in was curtains. Sewing curtains into books added opulence and value to manuscripts made, for example, at the Ottonian courts.[53] Small pieces of precious imported silk, made with subtle patterns woven according to unfathomably time-consuming procedures, could be stitched into a book both to protect the image below it and also to add the ritual of its unveiling to the procedures of reading the book.

Very few actual curtains survive in fifteenth-century books, but what does survive are the thousands of needle holes in parchment, in the marginal area above miniatures, which signal that someone once sewed a curtain there. To take one of dozens or hundreds of possible examples: Cambridge UL, Ms. Ii.6.2, fol. 12v has a row of telltale holes above the pink canopy (fig. 7). With a cloth of honor hanging behind his head, and a physical curtain hanging in front of his face, Christ was encased in curtains, which could be parted each time the viewer wanted a glimpse of the man. In fact every full-page image in this modest manuscript has such sewing holes, indicating that it was once aflutter with curtains. There seems to be an inverse correlation between the quality of the miniatures and the likelihood that an English owner would sew a curtain over the top, as if the owners were lending additional dignity to their images to capture for them some of the glory associated with imperial splendor, when in fact they were made by workshop hacks. Sewing in curtains is yet another procedure from the earlier Middle Ages that fifteenth-century book owners adopted and developed. But they changed the meaning of the gesture when they began making such curtains commonplace, rather than reserving them for only the most ornate display volumes.


My discussion above has systematically treated the techniques that book owners had at hand when they wanted to adjust the contents of their books. They added texts and images both formally and informally, which is to say, they made scrawls and doodles in their bound books, but they also commissioned professionals to add inscriptions or to make images or to inscribe texts on separate leaves, which could then be attached to the book with glue, thread, or mere friction. Other items, such as loose paintings, found a home in books in a symbiotic relationship: the leaves embellished the books, while the books protected the leaves. Many of these additions reveal the changed circumstances of the book, such as a change in ownership, or a new devotion. With such alterations the book becomes a witness before God for manumission and other legal documents, and it becomes a treasure trove in which a series of owners can store and remember small things. Everyone wanted to get in on the new devotion, even if it meant altering the book physically. Physical changes to the book became changes in the owner’s relationship—including physical relationship—to that book, as the new additions created new spaces of worship or intensified the owner’s ability to manifest devotion.

In many cases, the placement of these additions contributed to their meaning. Glosses make most sense next to the texts they explicate. Owners added prayers in response to particular images. People made inscriptions on the backs of particular images, in order to bring the words as close as possible to the figures represented on the other side of the parchment membrane. Owners wanted to assert their ownership either at the very beginning or the very end of the book, thereby commanding the entirety. Thus, many inscriptions are positionally charged.

Other additions were made as space permitted. Owners had an interest in adding desired texts and images to the front of the book, not only because there was often space available for doing so, but also because the front was a privileged position. As most books of hours were put together with the Hours of the Virgin at the front, and the Vigil for the dead at the back, with the Penitential Psalms in the middle, they frame a world-view bookended by conception (the Annunciation) and death, with sinning and guilt in the middle. People were drawn to the front end of this array.

This part has considered images and texts written into available space, as well as pre-existing pieces of inscribed parchment that have been affixed to the book later, occasionally with needle and thread, but usually with glue. Gluing objects in added to the page’s stiffness, and there was a limit to the amount of stuff that could be glued in before the book would not properly open. The way to add multiple parchment sheets was not to glue them in, but to take the book out of its binding and sew them along its spine.


1    Folio of a child’s ABC, with expunctuation, made in the Southern Netherlands, ca. 1450–1500. New York, Columbia University, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Plimpton Ms. 287, fol. 1r.;smode=basic;text=plimpton 287;docsPerPage=1;startDoc=1;fullview=yes

2    Writing over an erasure. Cambridge, University Library, Ms. Ii.6.2, fol. 93r.–00002/179

3    For a full manuscript description, search the Digital Scriptorium ( with the term “X096.C286.” Consulted 25 May 2016. Folio with decoration and a correction glued on. New York, Columbia University, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, X 096.C286, fol. 1r.;smode=basic;text=X096.C286;docsPerPage=1;startDoc=1;fullview=yes

4    Likewise, Cambridge, Trinity College, Ms. O.4.16, an English Psalter made ca. 1250–1275, includes pasted-in decorations cut out of other manuscripts. See Paul Binski, “The Illumination and Patronage of the Douce Apocalypse,” The Antiquaries Journal 94 (2014), pp. 1–8, n. 13.

5    Weekes, Early Engravers and Their Public, pp. 121–43. Lamentation, printed engraving, hand-colored with an inscription in Middle Dutch. London, British Museum Department of Prints and Drawings, inv. no. 1846,0709.49.

6    Reverse of the Lamentation, with hand-written prayer text. London, British Museum Department of Prints and Drawings, inv. no. 1846,0709.49v.

7    Marc Drogin, Anathema! Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses (Totowa: Allanheld & Schram, 1983), collects many examples.

8    The inscriptions read: “Diet bock hoert toe Diewer Goes. Diet vint die brnttet weder ter recten hant;” and “Dit bock hoort toe IJosina van Sijdenburch aensien doet ghedencken sijt gheduerich ijn liefden vierich.” For a fuller description of the manuscript and further literature, see Hanneke van Asperen, Pelgrimstekens op Perkament: Originele en nageschilderde bedevaartssouvenirs in religieuze boeken (ca 1450-ca 1530) (PhD thesis, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, 2009), no. 46, pp. 327–28.

9    A. S. Korteweg, Catalogue of Medieval Manuscripts and Incunabula at Huis Bergh Castle in ’s-Heerenberg (’s-Heerenberg: Stichting Huis Bergh, 2013), cat. 70, pp. 122–26.

10    Layman with a money bag (the original donor?) and two women in contemporary garb witnessing the elevation of the Eucharist. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 135 G 10, fol. 123v.

11    Kathleen M. Ashley, “Creating Family Identity in Books of Hours” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies Volume 32, no. 1 (2002), pp. 145–66, discusses books of hours as loci for family memory. She posits reasons different from mine for the book of hours taking up this role. Anne-Marie Legaré, “Livres d’Heures, Livres de Femmes: Quelques Examples en Hainaut,” Eulalie 1 (1998), pp. 53–68, with a series of case studies, shows how women passed books of hours down the maternal line. Several of her examples postdate the medieval period and probably represent manuscripts that were being used not as vehicles for prayer but for storing family history.

12    On this point, see Geneviève Hasenohr, “L’Essor des bibliothèques privées aux xive et xve siècles,” in Histoire des Bibliothèques Françaises, Vol. 1: Les Bibliothèques Médiévales du vie Siècle à 1530, ed. André Vernet (Paris: Éditions du Cercle de la Librairie, 1989), pp. 215–63, esp. 229–30.

13    Duffy, Marking the Hours; Ashley, “Creating Family Identity in Books of Hours,” pp. 145–66.

14    Michelle Brown, The Lindisfarne Gospels: Society, Spirituality and the Scribe, British Library Studies in Medieval Culture (London: British Library, 2003), pp. 55–56. See also David Anthony Edgell Pelteret, Slavery in Early Mediaeval England: From the Reign of Alfred until the Twelfth Century, Studies in Anglo-Saxon History (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1995), esp. pp. 131–33. Manumission document added to Gospel of Matthew. London, British Library, Royal Ms. 1 B VII, fol. 15v.

15    Nicholas Orchard, The Leofric Missal, vol. v, pp. 113–14 (Woodbridge; London: Boydell Press for the Henry Bradshaw Society, 2002).

16    For gospel books used as objects for swearing testimony, see: Eyal Poleg, “The Bible as Talisman: Textus and Oath-Books,” in Approaching the Bible in Medieval England, Manchester Medieval Studies (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), pp. 59–107.

17    J. P. Gumbert, Manuscrits datés conservés dans les Pays-Bas; Catalogue paléographique des Manuscrits en Écriture Latine portant des Indications de Date; T. 2. Manuscrits d’Origine Néerlandaise (xive-xvie siècles), et Supplément au Tome Premier (Cmd-Nl 2), 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 1988), no. 774; Korteweg, Kriezels, Aubergines en Takkenbossen: Randversiering in Noordnederlandse Handschriften uit de Vijftiende Eeuw, p. 119; H. L. M. Defoer et al., The Golden Age of Dutch Manuscript Painting, 1st ed., Exh. Cat. Rijksmuseum Het Catharijneconvent, Utrecht and the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York (Stuttgart: Belser Verlag, 1989), p. 78.

18    For an overview of the canon images by these masters, see Hanns Peter Neuheuser, “Die Kanonblätter aus der Schule des Moerdrecht-Meisters,” Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 64 (2003), pp. 187–214.

19    The inscription reads: Inden iaer ons heren m.cccc.lxxiii hebben samentliker hand ghekoft to sunte Anthonijs altaer dyt missael. Testamentoers seligher gedachten hen allen bulkens vicarious des altaers. Ende die ghemein ghilde broeders van sunte Anthonijs. In vorwarden dat men dit missale to genre tijt noch om ghenen noeden verkopen ofte versetten sal, mer den behoerliken dienst des altaers daer uut daghelikes te betalen.

20    Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, 1st ed. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 2000).

21    Psalter from Amiens, possibly the Abbey of St. Fuscien, late thirteenth century, with comments added shortly thereafter in the otherwise empty space of col. 1. New York, Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum, Ms. M.796. For an image, see John Plummer, Liturgical Manuscripts for the Mass and the Divine Office (New York: Pierpont Morgan Library, 1964), no. 47, pp. 38–39, plate 17.

22    For the contents of the medieval liturgy, based on autopsy of specific manuscripts, see the Medieval Music Database, housed at Latrobe University (Australia),

23    Grinning waving figure added to a calendar, in a missal for the use of Beauvais, made in the early twelfth century, with the drawing added later. Paris, Bibl. Sainte-Geneviève, Ms. 95, fol. 5v-6r.

24    Gisela Gerritsen-Geywitz, “Kaarsvet en Kerkwijding,” in Rapiarijs: Een Afscheidsbundel voor Hans van Dijk, ed. S. Buitink, A. M. J. van Buuren, and I. Spijker (Utrecht: Instituut De Vooys voor Nederlandse taal- en letterkunde, 1987), pp. 45–47.

25    Binski, Zutshi, and Panayotova, Western Illuminated Manuscripts: A Catalogue of the Collection in Cambridge University Library, no. 191, pp. 180–81.

26    Rudy, “Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of Use in Medieval Manuscripts Using a Densitometer.”

27    Many fifteenth-century missals have a feast of St. Anne added to them at the end of the fifteenth or beginning of the sixteenth century. Another such example is BKB, Ms. 15073, a missal probably copied in Utrecht in the second quarter of the fifteenth century, with illumination by the Masters of Otto van Moerdrecht. The added Mass of St. Anne has been attached to a bit of blank parchment at the end of the Temporal and before the beginning of the Sanctoral (fol. 151v). For St. Anne, see Sint Anna in De Koninklijke Bibliotheek: ter Gelegenheid van de vijfenzestigste verjaardag van Anne S. Korteweg (Amsterdam & The Hague: Buitenkant & Koninklijke Bibliotheek, 2007), with further references.

28    Neither Robert Fawtier, La Bible Historiée Toute Figurée de la John Rylands Library (Paris: Pour les Trustees et gouverneurs de la John Rylands library, 1924), in his monograph on the manuscript, nor Hull, “Rylands Ms French 5: The Form and Function of a Medieval Bible Picture Book,” pp. 3–24, in her analysis of the function of this manuscript, propose that it was tailored to the needs of teaching children.

29    Dove returning to Noah’s ark with an olive branch, folio with large miniature and added inscription, in a picture bible made ca. 1250. Manchester, Rylands Library, Ms. French 5, fol. 14r.

30    On teaching medieval children, see: Nicholas Orme, Medieval Children (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001); Roger S. Wieck, “Special Children’s Books of Hours in the Walters Art Museum,” in Als Ich Can: Liber Amicorum in Memory of Professor Dr. Maurits Smeyers, ed. Bert Cardon, et al., Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts = Corpus van Verluchte Handschriften (Leuven: Peeters, 2002), pp. 1629–39; Kathryn M. Rudy and René Stuip, “‘Martin Fights in July, and He Strikes St. Vaast with the Font.’ A Cisiojanus and a Child’s Alphabet in Oxford, Bodleian, Ms Rawlinson Liturgical E 40,” Cahiers de Recherches Médiévales et Humanistes / A Journal of Medieval and Humanistic Studies 19 (2010), pp. 493–521; Roger S. Wieck, “The Primer of Claude de France and the Education of the Renaissance Child,” in The Cambridge Illuminations: The Conference Papers, ed. Stella Panayotova (London: Harvey Miller, 2007), pp. 167–72; Kathryn M. Rudy, “An Illustrated Mid-Fifteenth-Century Primer for a Flemish Girl: British Library, Harley Ms 3828,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 69 (2006), pp. 51–94.

31    M. R. James, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1912), cat. 268, pp. 24–25.

32    For amuletic prayers and manuscripts, see Willy Louis Braekman, “Enkele zegeningen en krachtige gebeden in een Vlaams devotieboek uit de vijftiende eeuw,” Volkskunde LXXIX (1978), pp. 285–307; Braekman, Middeleeuwse Witte en Zwarte Magie in het Nederlands Taalgebied: Gecommentarieerd Compendium van Incantamenta tot Einde 16de Eeuw (Gent: Koniklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde, 1997); Kathryn Rudy, “Kissing Images, Unfurling Rolls, Measuring Wounds, Sewing Badges and Carrying Talismans: Considering Some Harley Manuscripts through the Physical Rituals They Reveal,” eBLJ (The Electronic British Library Journal) special volume: Proceedings from the Harley Conference, British Library, 29–30 June 2009 (2011); Don C. Skemer, Binding Words: Textual Amulets in the Middle Ages, Magic in History (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006); Jean Vezin, “Les Livres Utilisés comme Amulettes et comme Reliques,” in Das Buch als Magisches und als Repräsentationsobjekt, ed. Peter Ganz, Wolfenbütteler Mittelalter-Studien (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1992), pp. 101–15.

33    Rudy, “Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of Use in Medieval Manuscripts Using a Densitometer.”

34    Korteweg, Catalogue of Medieval Manuscripts and Incunabula at Huis Bergh Castle in ’s-Heerenberg, cat. 62, pp. 112–13; Judith Oliver, Gothic Manuscript Illumination in the Diocese of Liège (c. 1250-C. 1330), vol. 2–3, Corpus van Verluchte Handschriften uit de Nederlanden = Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts from the Low Countries (Leuven: Peeters, 1988), I, pp. 27, 54–55, 159–160; II, pp. 293–94, no. 41.

35    For images, see

36    Densitometer data reveal that this was one of the most handled texts in the book (HKB, Ms. 133 D 10), with a sharp spike at fol. 16. For the empirical results, see Rudy, “Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of Use in Medieval Manuscripts Using a Densitometer.”

37    Ibid.

38    For this artist see Klaas van der Hoek, “The North Holland Illuminator Spierinck: Some Attributions Reconsidered,” in Masters and Miniatures: Proceedings of the Congress on Medieval Manuscript Illumination in the Northern Netherlands (Utrecht, 10–13 December 1989), edited by K. van der Horst and Johann-Christian Klamt, pp. 275–80 (Doornspijk: Davaco, 1991). Opening of the Hours of the Virgin, with a full-page miniature depicting the Annunciation. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 133 H 30, fol. 16v-17r.

39    Ina Kok, “Een Houtsnede in een Handschrift,” in Manuscripten en Miniaturen: Studies aangeboden aan Anne S. Korteweg bij haar afscheid van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek, ed. J. A. A. M. Biemans, et al., Bijdragen tot de Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse Boekhandel (Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 2007), pp. 231–42, analyzes the woodcut prints made directly on the ruled parchment; Kathryn Rudy, “The Birgittines of the Netherlands: Experimental Colourists,” in Printing Colour 1400–1700: Histories, Techniques, Functions and Reception, ed. Elizabeth Upper and Ad Stijnman (Leiden: Brill, 2014), pp. 82–90, discusses the technological shift from manuscript to print with respect to HKB, Ms. 135 H 45.

40    Hours of Easter, with decoration made in two campaigns of work: penwork from North Holland, and decoration supplemented with painted leaves. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Broxb. 89.10, fol. 193r. Broxb. 89.10?q=broxb. 89.10

41    Hours of Christmas, with two campaigns of decoration: penwork from North Holland and decoration supplemented with painted leaves. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Broxb. 89.10, fol. 169r. Broxb. 89.10?q=broxb. 89.10

42    David with his harp, facing the incipit of the psalter, with painted decoration typical of Haarlem. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Broxb. 89.10, fol. 17v-18r. Broxb. 89.10?q=broxb. 89.10

43    Annunciation, and incipit of the Hours of the Virgin. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 131 G 3, fol. 13v-14r.

44, consulted 25 April 2016.

45    Christ as Salvator Mundi, and the incipit of the Hours of Eternal Wisdom. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 131 G 3, fol. 79v-80r.

46    Christ carrying the cross, and the incipit of the Hours of the Holy Cross. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 131 G 3, fol. 117v-118r.

47    Christ sitting on the cold stone, and the incipit of prayers to be said for the sacrament. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 131 G 3, fol. 157v-158r.

48    J. A. A. M. Biemans, Middelnederlandse Bijbelhandschriften: Verzameling van Middelnederlandse Bijbeltekstencatalogus, Verzameling van Middelnederlandse Bijbelteksten (Leiden: Brill, 1984), no. 168; and Gumbert, Manuscrits Datés Conservés dans les Pays-Bas, T. 2 (Cmd-Nl 2), no. 477 (where he suggests that the copyist of Ltk 258 may be identical with that of HKB, Ms, 78 J 63).

49    Folio from a typological Life of Christ in Middle Dutch, with an added marginal painting representing the Nativity. Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Ms. Ltk 258, fol. 14r. (and search for “Ltk 258”).

50    Folio from a typological Life of Christ in Middle Dutch, with an added marginal painting representing the Magi. Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Ms. Ltk 258, fol. 20r. (and search for “Ltk 258”).

51    Nun praying before a crucifix, pen drawing with prayer, added to a calendar. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 76 G 22, fol. 3r.

52    Opening in a prayerbook that formerly had an object pasted to the verso folio. Heidelberg, Universitätsbibliothek, Cod. Sal. VII, 4d, fol. 67v-68r. See

53    Christine Sciacca, “Raising the Curtain on the Use of Textiles in Manuscripts,” in Weaving, Veiling, and Dressing: Textiles and Their Metaphors in the Late Middle Ages, ed. Kathryn M. Rudy and Barbara Baert, Medieval Church Studies (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), pp. 161–90.