Gradual, Dominican Use, 13th century

1 v. 34.0 x 24.5 cm


13th century
Summary note
France or Low Countries. Parchment, i (unfoliated leaf of the Gradual, once pasted down to its former binding) + 175 fols. + 1 (34.0 x 24.5 cm), 1-1412, 1512-5? (lacks seemingly 5 leaves, with a gap between 2 and 3, and one after 7); 10 large illuminated initials (2-3 staves each) in gold (shell), blue, rose, green, and other colors (following the incorrect foliation in the manuscript): 1v, 14r, 16r, 80r, 93v, 96r, 123v, 143v, 145r, 148r; written space, 24.5-25.0 x 16.0 cm, ruled in blind and purple lines for 9 lines of 4-line staves in red, with square notation and accompanying text, text in black ink in a very regular Textualis bookhand, later foliation (16-17th century) in black ink in upper right corners, which begins incorrectly, omitting 1 (designated fol. i in this description) and repeating fol. 141). Rubrics in red, calligraphic versals touched in red, alternating flourished 1-line penwork initials in red and blue, most with penwork extensions spanning the height of the page in the margins. The initials are on diapered backgrounds with tendriled vine and ivy foliage, often incorporating images of dragons. Occasional sewing repairs of the parchment (e.g. fol. 55). Some staining and occasional repairs (mostly using paper-fragments from early printedf books in Latin), few holes caused by ink corrosion, annotations in the margins ranging from 14th- to 17th- or even 18th-century additions, including occasional guide letters.
  • (1) fols. i recto-2v, Gloria patri and Asperges. Incipit: "Gloria Patri et filio et spiritui sancto. Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper et in secula seculorum amen..."
  • (2) fols. 2v-122v, Temporal, from Advent. Incipit: "Dictum in aduentum dominicum officium. Ad te leuaui animam meam..." Ends with the dedication of a church.
  • (3) fols. 122v-151r, Sanctoral, from St. Andrew to St. Catharine. Incipit: "In uigilia andree apostoli officium. Dominus secus mare galile..."
  • (4) fols. 151r-173v, Common of the Saints, ending with the Common of a Confessor. Proper of the Mass of St. Catherine of Alexandria; Psalm 118: 78, 80). Incipit: "In communi vnius, uel plurimorum apostolorum. Mihi autem nimis honorati sunt amici tui deus nimis..."
Binding note
Binding: Parchment gilt over wooden boards, with crescent-and-star motif on the spine. Endbands with red and green silk secondary sewing. England, ca. 1915. Spine title: "GRADUALE. M.S. SEC. XIII."
This Gradual was originally produced for a Dominican convent in northern France or the southern Low Countries in the second half of the 13th century. The Litany and the Common of the Saints includes a number of saints that were particularly venerated by the Dominicans such as St. Dominic (the translation of his body has its own feast day, cf. fol. 136v), St. Catherine of Alexandria, while others were added by a later hand, such as Antoninus of Florence, Raymond of Penyafort, Thomas Aquinas (added by a 14th-century hand) and Catherine of Siena. Agnes of Montepulciano and Hyacinth of Poland were canonized only much later, either in the late 16th or early 17th centuries, which indicates that the monks kept the litany up to date for centuries. The spelling of the names of the younger saints suggests that the manuscript was in the possession of a monastery in the French-speaking world ("Antonine," "Bernarde," "Hyacinte") at the beginning of the 18th century. Saints included in the litany and prayers such as St. Peter Martyr (fol. 134r), canonized in 1253, and the "omission" of the feast of Corpus Christi, which was officially installed from 1264: Fol. 102v has an addition in the lower margin in a contemporary hand, referring to the feast of "Corpus Christi", which gives us a likely terminus ante quem for the production of the manuscript. "Corpus Christi" was first celebrated in the diocese of Liège in 1246. It became more widely spread in the course of the 14th century and is celebrated after the Trinity Sunday. Later hands added more saints, which were canonized only in the 15th century and later, so that we have proof that the manuscript was constantly in use throughout the centuries. The Gradual was in the library of the British collector Allan Heywood Bright (1862-1941), who added his bookplate ("ex libris A.D. 1912") to the front pastedown. The manuscript is accompanied by a letter of 10 January 1915 from Edward Samuel Dewick (1844-1917) to Henry Yates Thompson (1838-1928), in which Dewick identifies the manuscript as a Dominical Gradual, France or the Low Countries, ca. 1300. Dewick also prepared a brief description on a separate sheet of paper, pointing to evidence of Dominican festivals. Thompson then wrote to Allan Heywood Bright to pass along Dewick's opinions and add that it was from northern France or Flanders (corrected to "the Low Countries"), ca. 1280. Thompson adds, "It was certainly a creditable purchase at 20 GBP, and recommends that it be rebound. The Gradual and other medieval manuscripts were consigned to auction by one of Heywood Bright's grandchildren, living in Herefordshire. The manuscript was sold at Christie's London on 16 July 2014, Yates, Thompson and Bright: A Family of Bibliophiles (sale 1584), lot 4. In 2017, the Princeton University Library purchased the manuscript from Sokol Rare Books, London.
Source acquisition
Purchase, 2017. AM 2017-146.
Other format(s)
Also available in an electronic version.
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