A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

MS. Buchanan e. 18


Book of Hours, Use of Rome
Language(s): Latin and Middle Dutch

[Item 1 occupies quires I-II]

(fols. 1r-12v)


About one-third full, each month headed by a note on the length of the calendar and lunar months; major feasts (in red) include: Amand (6 Feb.), Basil (14 June), Remi & Bavo (1 Oct.), Eloi and his translation (1 Dec., 25 June), Nicasius of Rheims (14 Dec.); feasts in plain ink include: Milburga (23 Feb.), the translation of Augustine (28 Feb.), Adrian (4 Mar.), Patrick (17 Mar.), Quentin (Quintinus), in error for Quirinus (30 Mar.), Peter Martyr (29 Apr.), Gervase, in error for Servatius (Gervasii for Servacii) (13 May), Brendan (17 May), Dominic (5 Aug.), Clare (12 Aug.), Magnus (19 Aug.), Bertin (5 Sept.), Humbert (6 Sept.), Lambert (17 Sept.), Francis (4 Oct.), Quentin (31 Oct.), Livin (12 Nov.), Malo (15 Nov.), and Elisabeth of Thuringia (19 Nov.).

[Items 2–5 occupy quires III-V]

(fols. 13r-18v)

Hours of the Cross.

(fols. 19r-23r)

Hours of the Holy Spirit

Fol. 23v ruled, otherwise blank.

(fols. 24r-28v)

Mass of the Virgin.

(fols. 28v-32v)

Gospel Pericopes

(cf. MS. Buchanan e. 3; without the versicle, response, and prayer after John).

[Item 6 occupies quires VI-XI]

(fols. 33r-78r)

Hours of the Virgin, Use of Rome

With three lessons at Matins; Compline followed (fols. 77v-78r) by the hymn 'Salve regina ...' (pr. Wordsworth, Horae Eboracenses, 62), with a versicle and the usual prayer: 'Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui gloriose uirginis ...' (pr. ibid., 63; cf. MS. Buchanan e. 5, fol. 92r-v); fols. 51v, 63v, 67v, 78v, ruled, otherwise blank.

[Items 7–8 occupy quires XII-XIII]

(fols. 79r-88r)

The Seven Penitential Psalms.

(fols. 88r-94v)

Litany and collects

Rubric: Letania sanctorum

The litany, with its list of doctors and confessors ending with: Bernard, Francis, Louis, Eloi, Giles, Dominic, Livin, and Amand (11–18); followed by five collects (fols. 93r-94v)

Incipit: Deus cui proprium est
(pr. Corpus orationum, no. 1143)
Language(s): Latin
Incipit: Deus a quo sancta desideria
(pr. ibid., no. 1088a)
Language(s): Latin
Incipit: Ure igne sancti spiritus
(pr. Bruylants, Oraisons, no. 1168)
Language(s): Latin
Incipit: Fidelium deus omnium conditor
(pr. Corpus orationum, no. 2684b)
Language(s): Latin
Incipit: Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui viuorum dominaris

(pr. ibid., no. 4064)

Language(s): Latin

[Items 9–14 occupy quires XIV-XX]

(fols. 95r-130v)

Office of the Dead, Use of Rome.

(fols. 131r-136r)

Prayers to the Virgin

(fols. 131r-134r)
Rubric: Oratio de sancta maria
Incipit: Obsecro te

[masculine forms] (cf. MS. Buchanan e. 2)

Language(s): Latin
(fols. 134r-136r)
Rubric: Alia oratio de sancta maria
Incipit: O intemerata ... orbis terrarum. Inclina mater misericordie aures tue pietatis

[masculine forms] (pr. Wordsworth, Horae Eboracenses, 67–8; Wilmart, Auteurs spirituels, 488–90).

Language(s): Latin
(fols. 136v-137v)


The first with a rubric in Middle Dutch

(fols. 136v-137v)
Rubric: Vanden heilighen sacrament
Incipit: Pange lingua gloriosi corporis misterium
Explicit: procedenti ab utroque comparsit laudatio
(Chevalier 14467), with a versicle and the prayer
Incipit: Deus qui nobis sub sacramento mirabili
(the latter pr. Bruylants, Oraisons, II, no. 393)
Language(s): Latin
Language(s): Latin and Middle Dutch
(fol. 137v)
Incipit: O salutaris hostia. que celis pandis hostium
Explicit: future glorie nobis pignus datur
(Chevalier 13680).
Language(s): Latin
(fols. 137v-142v)


Predominantly to Dominican saints, in Latin and Middle Dutch, with rubrics in Middle Dutch (most consisting of an antiphon, versicle and response, followed by a rubric 'Te benedictus' and a second antiphon, versicle and response, before the collect) to: (i) Dominic, (ii) Peter Martyr ('Van sinte pieter van melaene.'), (iii) Thomas Aquinas, (iv) Vincent Ferrer (canonised in 1455), (v) Catherine of Siena ('Van sinte kath' vand' predicaers') (canonised in 1461), (vi) Donatian ('Van sinte donaes. Archebijscop'), (vii) Elisabeth of Thuringia, the latter (fol. 142r-v) entirely in Middle Dutch:

Rubric: Van Sinte lysebette van dueringhen
Incipit: O werde vrauwe sinte lisabette Ionc pogedi ondeuweghe vreden
Explicit: Doet my beseffen. van huwen loone. Amen
Language(s): Middle Dutch
(prayers pr. in Corpus orationum are nos. (i) 1559, and (iii) 1562).
(fol. 143r-144r)

The Verses of St Bernard

Rubric: Incipiunt septem versus sancti bernardi abbatis
Incipit: O bone ihesu Illumina oculos meos

The verses in the same order as in MS. Buchanan e. 9, fols. 118v-119r, but omitting verse (vi) as listed there; followed (fols. 143v-144r) by a versicle, response, and the usual prayer:

Incipit: Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui ezechie regi iude
Explicit: misericordiam consequi merear. Per ...
Language(s): Latin
Language(s): Latin
(fols. 144r-145r)

Prayer to Christ

Rubric: Oracio deuota ad christum ihesum
Incipit: Da nobis quesumus omnipotens deus. velle. cogitare. facere.
Explicit: et perseuerancia mundicie. sine fine Amen
Language(s): Latin

fol. 145v ruled, otherwise blank.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: (Calendar) KL Februarius habet dies
Secundo Folio: (text, fol. 14r) Deus in
Form: codex
Support: Parchment; the fore-edge borders of fols. 13, 33, 42, 43, 52, 53, 79, 131 cut away (cf. under Provenance), and repaired with secondhand parchment (some of it ruled, e.g. fols. 42v, 43r); traces of paste and penwork decoration (e.g. fol. 52r) suggest that decoration from other manuscripts was pasted onto this parchment to decorate the otherwise blank borders, but this was later removed.
Extent: iii (a leaf of marbled paper, conjoint with the pastedown, followed by a bifolium of modern parchment) + 145 + iii (a bifolium of modern parchment, followed by a leaf of marbled paper, conjoint with the pastedown), with protective sheets of tissue bound in to face pages with decoration before fols. 13, 19, 24, 33, 42, 52, 56, 60, 64, 68, 74, 79, 95, 131.
Dimensions (leaf): 175 × 125 mm.
Dimensions (ruled): 93 × 60 mm.
Dimensions (written): 92 × 61 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in modern pencil: i-iii, 1–148 (the protective tissue interleaves are not foliated).


Mostly on quires of 8 leaves: I-II6 (fols. 1–12) | III-IV8 (fols. 13–28), V4 (fols. 29–32) | VI-X8 (fols. 33–72), XI6 (fols. 73–78) | XII-XIII8 (fols. 79–94) | XIV8–1 (7th leaf cancelled, after fol. 100) (fols. 95–101), XV-XIX8 (fols. 102–141), XX8–4 (5th to 8th leaves cancelled, after fol. 145) (fols. 142–145); no catchwords or quire/leaf signatures visible.


19 lines ruled in very pale red ink (fols. 15r-20v ruled with only 18 lines), between single vertical bounding lines extending the full height of the page, the top and bottom horizontal lines extending the full width of the page; no prickings visible. 18 lines of text per page (fols. 15r-20v with 17 lines per page).


Written in fine gothic bookhands, by probably three scribes, responsible for (i) fols. 1r-12v, (ii) fols. 13r-136r, and (iii) fols. 136v-145r, respectively.


Each scribe was apparently responsible for his own rubrics: pale red is used in the calendar (fols. 1r-12v), perhaps slightly deeper red for the headings of the main texts (fols. 13r-134r), and bright red for those from fol. 136v to the end.

Sixteen historiated initials, each six-lines high (except those on fols. 56r and 60r which are five-line), each accompanied by a full border (see below):

  • (fol. 42r) Hours of the Virgin, Lauds. Visitation.
  • (fol. 52r) Prime. Nativity; the Virgin and Joseph adoring the Child; Joseph holding a candle.
  • (fol. 56r) Terce. Annunciation to two Shepherds; the border with a wolf(?) with a sheep in its jaws.
  • (fol. 60r) Sext. Adoration of the Magi.
  • (fol. 64r) None. Presentation in the Temple.
  • (fol. 68r) Vespers. Massacre of the Innocents; with only one mother and her nimbed infant; the border with a half-length soldier wielding a sword.
  • (fol. 74r) Compline. Flight into Egypt; with the Fall of the Idols in the background (Cardon, fig. 169).
  • (fol. 95r) Office of the Dead. Funeral Service; a bier before an altar, with mourners to the left, one holding an open book, and clerics singing at a lectern to the right.
  • (fol. 131r) Obsecro te. Pietà, with another figure (Mary Magdalen or St. John ?) supporting Christ's head; the Cross in the backbround.
  • (fol. 136v) Hymn. Two angels holding the Host in a monstrance on an altar cloth.
  • (fol. 139r) Suffrage. St. Thomas Aquinas (his face damaged) holding and pointing to an open book.
  • (fol. 139v) Suffrage. St. Vincent Ferrer holding a book, the cover with a large gold cross.
  • (fol. 140v) Suffrage. St. Catherine of Siena (her face damaged), with a crown atop her halo, a twisted wreath about her head, holding a heart in her hand.
  • (fol. 141r) Suffrage. St. Donatianus, holding a cross-staff and a wheel set round with candles (Pächt & Alexander, 1, pl. XXVI).
  • (fol. 142r) Suffrage. St. Elisabeth of Thuringia, wearing a crown, holding another crown in each hand.
  • (fol. 143r) Verses of St. Bernard. St. Bernard, holding a crozier and the chain of a demon, on which he stands.

The borders of stylised and naturalistic foliage on a plain parchment ground, often containing animals, birds, human-headed grotesques (e.g. Cardon, fig. 169), etc., some apparently inspired by the subject of the adjacent initial (see above), and including a finely-dressed woman feeding a squirrel on a leash (fol. 19r), a youth playing a lute, emerging half-length from foliage (fol. 33r), a mermaid combing her hair and looking in a mirror (fol. 60r), and two birds with entwined necks, holding interlocked rings in their beaks, and a grotesque with a male human head, looking at its own tail, which terminates in a female human head (both on fol. 95r).

Six-line initials in red or blue, infilled with painted flowers and foliage on a gold ground, the whole within a square field in red or blue with a gold edge, and full borders, at the start of the Hours of the Virgin and Penitential Psalms (fols. 33r, 79r-both with their fore-edge margin cut away; see under Physical Description); similar five-line initials and full borders at the start of the Hours of the Cross and of the Holy Spirit, and the Mass of the Virgin (fols. 13r, 19r, 24r; fore-edge border of 13r cut away, see below); a similar three-line initial with partial borders at the start of the O intemerata (fol. 134r); three-line initials in gold on red and blue grounds with white tracery, with ivy-leaf sprays, to the KL monograms in the calendar; a similar three-line initial at the final prayer (fol. 144r); similar two-line initials to psalms, hymns, lessons, etc.; one-line flourished initials alternately in gold with blue penwork, or blue with red penwork (often with the penwork jutting sharply out into the margins when they occur at the edge of the text area) to verses and other minor textual divisions; line-fillers in blue and gold, especially in the litany.

The decorative hierarchy, and common Flemish practice, suggest that it was originally intended to insert a full-page miniature before fol. 33, and it is also likely that miniatures were intended for the start of each of the other major texts; but there is no clear physical evidence that such miniatures were ever inserted.

The decoration has been attributed to the artist Willem Vrelant: documentary evidence indicates that he was born in Utrecht, was active in Bruges as a miniaturist from 1445, and died in 1481. (See Dogaer, 98–105, and Bousmanne, passim, for a discussion of Vrelant's school and a list of books attributed to it, including the present manuscript).


Sewing not clearly visible; bound probably in the first half of the 19th century, probably in England, in 'tree-calf' over pasteboards tooled with a gilt twisted-wreath border pattern within an outer frame; the spine without raised bands, but divided into six compartments by gilt ornament, with traces of a paper label at the bottom; red and white endbands; brick-coloured marbled pastedowns and conjoint flyleaves; one blue silk bookmark; the edges of the leaves gilt; fol. 1r is discoloured and marked, suggesting that the upper board of a previous binding may have been detached for some time.


Origin: Flemish, Bruges ; 15th century, third quarter, probably after 1461

Provenance and Acquisition

Unidentified original owner: the calendar, litany, and style of decoration suggest that the book was made in Bruges, and the inclusion of a suffrage to Catherine of Siena (canonized in 1461) provides a terminus post quem for its production. The suffrages to Dominican saints, and their presence in the calendar, suggest that the original owner may have been a member of the Dominican Third Order. Deposits of paste on fols. 1r, 12v, and 145r may have been caused by the insertion of votive images.

Unidentified 19th-century English owner(s) and bookseller(s): inscribed in pencil (fol. i verso): '15 ornamented Pages of which 10 contain | miniature Paintings [?] (7 pages are cut) | 7 miniatures without other ornaments'; it appears that an ownership(?) inscription has been erased at the top right of fol. ii recto. Various booksellers are presumably responsible for the pencil notes on fol. i verso: 'G 9893', upper left and: 'ti/.', bottom left; and the the pencil pricecode: 'xa/u'(?) in the top left corner of fol. 148r; the bottom gutter corner of fol. 147v inscribed in pencil 'L' or 'I.' (?); another erased price(?) in pencil is in the upper right corner of fol. 148r.

William Stuart (1798–1874), of Tempsford Hall, Bedfordshire, and Aldenham Abbey, Hertfordshire (on whom see John Burke, A genaeological and heraldic history of the commoners of Great Britain and Ireland ..., I (London, 1833), 427–8); with the bookplate of Aldenham Abbey glued to the upper pastedown (cf. Gambier Howe, Franks bequest, III, no. 28457 or no. 28458), depicting the exterior elevation (similar to the illustration in the Hertfordshire VCH, II (1908), 426) incorporating the words 'ALDENHAM ABBEY' in very small capitals, and printed 'Case..... Shelf..... | Room.....', the first two spaces inscribed in pencil 'Chantrey' and 'Pedestal' respectively, the third space inscribed in ink 'Library'. It is perhaps likely that this William Stuart, son of William Stuart (1755–1822), Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of all Ireland, was responsible for the mutilation of some leaves, as recorded in a pencil inscription: 'German Missal Fine as to | Border & Initials 1433. [this number/date perhaps not coeval with the rest of the inscription] | Several of the Borders are withdrawn | on account of their voluptuous Images' (fol. ii recto).

William Stuart (1825–93), of Tempsford Hall, Bedfordshire, and Aldenham Abbey, Hertfordshire, son of William Stuart (b. 1798); sold at Sotheby's, 17 June 1875, lot 88; bought by Arthur for £3 12s.; Sotheby's are presumably responsible for the pencil number '595', encircled, on fol. i verso (see Introduction).

Thomas Arthur, London bookseller: the manuscript was in his Catalogue, pt. 76 (Nov. 1875), item 73, priced £5 15s. 6d. [I am grateful to Claudine Lemaire of the Bibliothèque royale Albert Ier, Brussels, for supplying me with a photocopy of the relevant pages of this catalogue]; the bookplate (see above) inscribed in pencil with the catalogue item number and price: '73', ',5–15[-6 (erased)]', 'Aldenham Collection', and Arthur's price-code: 'x/sa/-' (i.e. £3 12s; see above).

Rt. Hon. T. R. Buchanan (1846–1911), November 1875: the gutter margin of fol. ii recto with a pasted-in cutting from Arthur's catalogue (see above), inscribed by Buchanan 'Arthur | Nov 75'; a note in pencil on fol. i verso concerning the Flemish origin of the manuscript was added perhaps during Buchanan's ownership.

Given to the Bodleian by his widow,Mrs. E. O. Buchanan, in 1941.

Record Sources

Adapted from Peter Kidd, Medieval Manuscripts from the Collection of T. R. Buchanan in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Oxford, 2001)

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (19 images from 35mm slides)


    Printed descriptions:

    S. J. P. van Dijk, Latin Liturgical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. 4: Books of Hours (typescript, 1957), p. 284

Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.