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

MS. Buchanan f. 2


Breviary (Bridgettine)
Language(s): Latin

[Item 1 occupies quires I-II]

(fols. 1r-10v)


About half-full, major feasts in red, feasts fully graded from memoriae and commemorations up to IX lessons and totum duplex; written continuously, so that most months do not start on a new page; each month headed by a note on the length of the calendar and lunar month in red, most pages with a note at the bottom on the length of the night and day, also in red; feasts in red include: Servatius, 'duplex' (13 May), Lambert, 'totum duplex' (17 Sept.), the canonisation of Bridget, 'totum duplex' (7 Oct.), Hubert, 'duplex' (3 Nov.); other duplex feasts, not in red, include: Gertrude (17 Mar.), the translation of Lambert (28 Apr.), the translation and nativity of Bridget (28 May, 23 July), Augustine, 'totum duplex' (28 Aug.), Remacle (3 Sept.), Madelberta (7 Sept.), Theodard (10 Sept.), Maternus (19 Sept.), the octave of Lambert (24 Sept.), the 'Triumphus' of Lambert (13 Oct.), Barbara (4 Dec.); these, and other feasts in the present manuscript, are almost identical with those listed in the descriptions of three other Bridgettine breviaries: by Leroquais, Livres d'heures, II, no. 287 (Paris, BnF, ms. n.a.l. 688); by Schutzner, Library of Congress cat., 198 (Library of Congress, MS. 30); and by the British Museum [now Library] Cat. of additions to the MSS. 1936–1945 (1970), 370–1 (Egerton MS. 3271); (on these three manuscripts see under Provenance); fol. 11r-v blank except for slight offsets from facing pages.

[Items 2–4 occupy quires III-XXIV]

(fols. 12r-166v)

Psalms 1–150

The ten-part divisions marked by large initials; with (fols. 138v-140v) the Athanasian Creed (Quicumque vult) between Ps. 118:32 and 118:33, preceded by a heading in blue (fol. 138r): 'Canticum Anastasii.' (sic).

(fols. 166v-179r)

The six ferial canticles, followed by the Benedicite, with (fol. 176v): 'Repeticio. Pro honore et gloria dignissime creature virginis marie matris dei ... commendare digneris virgo maria mater dei.', Te deum (headed 'Canticum ambrosii et augustini'), Benedictus, Magnificat, and Nunc dimittis.

(fols. 179r-184v)

Litany and collects

The litany including Lambert (24) among thirty-one martyrs; Hubert (9), and Severinus (19) among twenty confessors; Bridget of Sweden ('birgitta') (4), Elizabeth (6), Walburga (19), Gertrude (23), Dympna (28), Bridget of Ireland ('brigida') (30), and Ursula (31) among thirty-one virgins; the petitions (fols. 181r-183v) including

(fol. 182r)
Incipit: Ut ordinem nostrum beatissime virgini marie dedicatum tua inolita pietate exaltare et conseruare digneris

and four collects (fols. 183v-184v)

Incipit: Exaudi quesumus domine supplicum preces
(Corpus orationum, no. 2541)
Incipit: Ineffabilem misericordiam tuam domine
(ibid., no. 3129)
Incipit: Omnipotens eterne deus edificator et custos
(ibid., no. 3787)
Incipit: Pietate tua quesumus domine nostrorum solue uincula peccatorum omnium
Explicit: eternam concede. Per ...
(pr. A. Jefferies Collins, ed., The Bridgettine Breviary of Syon Abbey: from the MS. with English rubrics F.4.II at Magdalene College Cambridge (Henry Bradshaw Society, 96: Worcester, 1969), 151; differing from Corpus orationum, no. 4227).

[Item 5 occupies quires XXV-XXXVIII]

(fols. 185r-297v)

Office of the Virgin for each day of the week, with three lessons at Matins, and with variations for major feasts and seasons, as translated from Swedish into Latin for St. Bridget by Peter Olovsson (alias Peter the Venerable of Skänninge (d. 1378)): (fols. 185r-202v) Sunday; (fols. 203r-216v, rubric on fol. 202v) Monday; (fols. 216v-230v) Tuesday; (fols. 230v-243v) Wednesday; (fols. 244r-258v, rubric on fol. 243v) Thursday, starting imperfect at Ps. 57 (at '|| psalmus Si vere utique ...') due to the loss of a leaf before fol. 244; (fols. 258v-275v) Friday; (fols. 275v-291r) Saturday; with (fols. 291r-297v) variations for major seasons and feasts (substantially the same as pr. by Collins, op. cit., 13–131; and by Tryggve Lundén, ed., Den heliga Birgitta och den helige Petrus av Skänninge: Officium parvum beate Marie Virginis (Acta Universitatis Upsalensis; Studia Historico-Ecclesiastica Upsaliensia, 27–28: 2 vols., Uppsala, 1976), in Latin and parallel Swedish translation (the Latin on even-numbered pages): I, 2–139 (Sunday-Tuesday); II, 6–169 (Wednesday-Saturday)).

[Items 6–9 occupy quires XXXIX-XLII]

(fol. 298r-v)

Prayers to be said by the hebdomadaries

Rubric: Lectrix ad mensam in die dominica ter dic Domine labia mea aperies
Rubric: Ebdomadarie coquinarie ter ante altare
Incipit: Benedictus es domine deus meus
Rubric: Ebdomadarie coquinarie
Incipit: Deus in adiutorium meum intende

with rubrics indicating parts to be said by the 'chorus' and 'horista', and collects (cf. Library of Congress, MS. 30, fol. 147r-v (see Schutzner, op. cit., 199); and Liverpool, University Library, MS. F. 2. 2, fol. 132r-v (see Ker, MMBL, III, 273)).

(fols. 299r-307v)

Office of the Holy Spirit (pr. Lundén, op. cit., II, 184–209), starting imperfect in the capitulum before the hymn Veni creator (at '|| datus est nobis.', ibid., 184), due to the loss of a leaf before fol. 299.

(fols. 307v-317r)

Office of the Dead

Rubric: Pro fidelibus defunctis

Use of the Brigettines (pr. ibid., 210–35) followed (fols. 315r-317v) by eleven collects:

Rubric: Pro una defuncta
Incipit: Quesumus domine pro tua pietate miserere anime famule tue .N. [feminine forms]
(pr. Corpus orationum, no. 4843)
Rubric: Collecta pro parentibus
Incipit: Deus qui nos patrem et matrem

(pr. ibid., no. 1903)

Rubric: pro uno defuncto
Incipit: Omnipotens sempiterne deus cui nunquam sine spe misericordie
(pr. ibid., no. 3809)
Rubric: Pro congregacione
Incipit: Deus venie largitor
(pr. ibid., no. 2205, with 'et sorores' inserted after 'fratres', and 'beata maria semper uirgine' instead of 'beato illo patrono nostro', cf. MS. Buchanan e. 10, text item 6)
Rubric: Pro sacerdote
Incipit: Presta quesumus omnipotens deus ut anima famuli tui .N. sacerdotis
(similar to that pr. ibid., no. 4467)
Rubric: Pro benefactoribus
Incipit: Deus cuius misericordie non est numerus, suscipe propicius preces humilitatis nostre
(pr. ibid., no. 1178)
Rubric: Pro viuis et mortuis
Incipit: Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui viuorum dominaris
(pr. ibid., no. 4064)
Rubric: Animabus desolatis. collecta
Incipit: Miserere obsecro domine misereris animabus seruorum tuorum et ancillarum tuarum
Rubric: Collecta generalis
Incipit: Inclina domine aurem tuam ad preces nostras
(pr. ibid., no. 3116b)
Rubric: Collecta generalis
Incipit: Miserere quesumus domine clementer animabus omnium benefactorum nostrorum defunctorum
(pr. ibid., no. 3366)
Rubric: Collecta generalis
Incipit: Fidelium deus omnium conditor
Explicit: Per ihesu christe saluator mundi ... Requiescat in pace Amen.
(pr. ibid., no. 2684b).
(fol. 317v)

A short confession

Incipit: Confiteor deo omnipotenti et beatissime semper virgini marie beate birgitte beato augustino et omnibus sanctis dei
Explicit: virginem mariam beatam birgittam beatum augustini[sic] et omnibus dei[sic] et te patrem orare pro me
(fol. 317v)

A short prayer

Rubric: Ante vesperas
Incipit: Ave maria ... Indulgete nobis propter deum et piissimam matrem eius mariam
(pr. Collins, op. cit., 29).

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: (Calendar) v c vij
Secundo Folio: (text, fol. 13r) in celis
Form: codex
Support: Parchment.
Extent: An original pastedown + i (modern paper) + 317 + i (modern paper) + an original pastedown.
Dimensions (leaf): 158–61 × 107–9 mm.
decoration cropped in all outer margins
Dimensions (ruled): 101–4 × 68–70 mm.
Dimensions (ruled): 101–3 × 80–4 mm.
Dimensions (written): 97–100 × 70–6 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in modern pencil: i, 1–318; older markings number fols. 299r-303r from '4' to '12', and fols. 298v, 303v, and 304r as '(I)', '(III)', and '(IV)' respectively.


Mostly on quires of 8 leaves: I6–1 (4th leaf cancelled, leaving a stub after fol. 3) (fols. 1–5), II6–1+1 (3rd leaf cancelled, leaving a wide stub after fol. 7; 7th leaf an inserted blank, fol. 11) (fols. 6–11) | III-XIV8 (fols. 12–107), XV8–1+1 (2nd leaf cancelled after fol. 108, leaving a wide stub, and replaced with fol. 109; see the Note, below) (fols. 108–115) | XVI8 (fols. 116–123), XVII8–1+1 (8th leaf cancelled after fol. 130, leaving a wide stub, and replaced with fol. 131; see the Note below) (fols. 124–131), XVIII10–1 (10th leaf cancelled, after fol. 140) (fols. 132–140), XIX-XXII8 (fols. 141–172), XXIII6 (fols. 173–178), XXIV6 (fols. 179–184) | XXV10 (fols. 185–194), XXVI-XXXI8 (fols. 195–242), XXXII8–1 (2nd leaf missing, after fol. 243) (fols. 243–249), XXXIII-XXXVI8 (fols. 250–281), XXXVII8–1+1 (7th leaf cancelled after fol. 287, leaving a wide stub, and replaced with fol. 288) (fols. 282–289), XXXVIII8 (fols. 290–297) | XXXIX8–1 (2nd leaf missing, after fol. 298) (fols. 298–304), XL8 (fols. 305–312), XLI4–1 (4th leaf cancelled, after fol. 315) (fols. 313–315), XLII2 (fols. 316–317) | the lower pastedown appears to have been the fourth leaf of a quire of six: three very narrow stubs of the first half of the quire survive, and parts of the fifth and sixth leaves are visible under the pastedown. CATCHWORDS are largely cropped, but traces occasionally survive, in small, less formal script, in pale brown ink (e.g. fols. 202v, 265v, 273v).


19 lines ruled in brown ink, between single vertical bounding lines extending the full height of the page, the litany in two columns with double vertical ruling lines each side of each column, extending the full height of the page; the calendar with 21 lines ruled in purple, with 6 verticals, 5 of them extending the full height of the page; prickings are frequently visible in the lower margin, and occasionally at the fore-edge.18 lines of text per page, the calendar with 20 lines of text per page.


Written in a good, regular, gothic bookhand


Headings in red (occasionally in blue, e.g. fols. 140v, 175v), with guides occasionally visible in the gutter margin in cursive script (e.g. fols. 140v, 141r, 306r); capitals, when not painted, touched in red; marginal colour notes in plummet for two-line initials, apparently in the vernacular: 'b' for blue (i.e. blauw?), 'r'(?) for red (i.e. rood?) (e.g. fols. 4r, 5r, 25r, 28v).

Three (of an original four?) large fourteen- (fols. 131r, 185r) or twelve-line (fol. 12r) painted initials, containing foliage and flowers, on a patterned gold ground; each with a four-sided gold and painted border of stylised and naturalistic foliage and flowers (fol. 185r also with fruit):

  • (fol. 12r) Psalm 1. Initial B[eatus]; the lower border with two gold heart shapes joined by interlace decoration.
  • (fol. 131r) Psalm 109. Initial D[ixit] (Pächt & Alexander, 1, pl. XVII, no. 247).
  • (fol. 185r) Office of the Virgin. Initial T[rinum]; the lower border with the letters 'b l' (or 'b i'?) joined by interlace decoration (see also under Provenance).

An offset on fol. 243v suggests that a similar initial with a full border may have originally decorated the start of the Office for Thursday, for no apparent reason.

One might expect that the removal of the first leaf of the Office of the Holy Spirit was on account of its being decorated, but there is little visible offset on fol. 298v which might support this.

Eight- or nine-line 'puzzle' initials in red and blue, with reserved designs, enclosing and surrounded by penwork in red and purple inks, extending into the margins, partially filled with blue, green and yellow, at major divisions of the Psalms: Ps. 26 (fol. 36v), Ps. 38 (fol. 52r), Ps. 52 (fol. 66r), Ps. 80 (fol. 97v), Ps. 97 (fol. 113v) and the start of the Offices for Monday to Saturday (fols. 203r, 216v, 230v, [leaf for Thursday missing before fol. 244,] 258v, 275v); similar six- or seven-line initials at the other major divisions of the Psalms: Ps. 51 (fol. 65r), Ps. 68 (fol. 79v), and Ps. 101 (fol. 116r), but with the body of the initial in blue only; three-line initials, many with reserved designs, alternately in red with purple penwork, or blue with red penwork, to psalms, the start of each hour from Lauds to Compline in the offices, lessons, etc.; plain two-line initials, alternately red or blue, to hymns, collects, the KL monograms in the calendar, etc.; plain one-line initials, alternately red or blue, to verses and other minor textual divisions; line-fillers in red and blue in the litany.

[Addendum (12 April 2000). Dr. Anne Korteweg kindly informs me that the puzzle initials have a penwork style known as 'rivers', and that the simple initials have a stiff variety of these 'rivers': see Korteweg, ed., Kriezels, p. 154 and nos. 153–4.]

On decorated manuscripts from Mariënwater see A. van Veenendaal, 'Gedecoreerde handschriften van Mariënwater', in In Buscoducis 1450–1629. Kunst uit de Bourgondische tijd te 's-Hertogenbosche: de cultuur van late Middeleeuwen en Renaissance, 2, ed. A. M. Koldeweij (Maarssen, etc., 1990), 497–500, 613; and de Beer, 'Noord-Brabant', esp. 154–6, 160–2 nos. 151–5.


The structure of quires XV and XVII deserves brief comment. The stub of the cancelled leaf between fols. 108 & 109 is wide enough to preserve traces of script and decoration, and therefore shows that this leaf had been written on both sides, and decorated on the recto with a three-line initial in red, pen-flourished in purple, like the initial which now replaces it in the same position on fol. 109. Elsewhere, the pen-flourishing of three-line initials overlaps one-line initials, demonstrating that the latter were executed first. This suggests that, exceptionally, the leaf must have been cancelled and replaced not only after the (whole?) book had been written, but after at least two stages of its decoration were also complete.

The stub between fols. 130 & 131 preserves traces of script, evidence of its having been written on the verso (and therefore also on the recto) before being cancelled. The leaf which now replaces the cancelled leaf, fol. 131, is the last leaf of the quire, and contains the major decorated initial to Psalm 109; this suggests that the scribe did not leave enough space for the initial when he/she first wrote out the text of Psalm 109, but that this mistake was noticed and rectified before he/she started to write the following quire.


Early 16th-century(?) stamped leather binding in the style commonly attributed to the the van Gavere family of binders of Ghent. Originally sewn at four sewing-stations (double cords or split straps?); bound in brown leather over bevelled wood boards; each cover with a rectangular blind-stamped panel surrounded by framing fillets and consisting of two narrow vertical rectangles, separated by a zig-zag design with three-petal flowers in the interstices, each rectangle containing four angels facing inwards, blowing trumpets, within foliate scrolls with bunches of grapes, all surrounded by the text 'veni.creator.spi(ri)t(u)s | mentes tuorum visita imple | :superna:gracia: | que tu creasti pectora' (Chevalier 21204) starting at the top left, in gothic letters, with floral designs at each corner, and a palmette motif separating each word on the left and right sides; the spine with simple horizontal lines in the top and bottom compartments; two pairs of brass clasp fittings at the fore-edge (fastening from bottom to top), traces of the leather straps remaining; with original pastedowns, the lower pastedown ruled as for the main textblock. Resewn on four straps (visible between fols. 131 & 132), without endbands; rebacked, with the earlier spine leather relaid; modern laid paper flyleaves, that at the back with part of a watermark: 'Ch[...]' in English 'black-letter' style. The upper pastedown has a stub before fol. i, in the gutter fold of which one can see the original sewing-stations, which correspond approximately to the present sewing; that the book has been re-sewn, however, is shown by the fact that this stub, in its present position, would have prevented the offset of the 'KL' monogram on fol. 1r onto the upper right corner of the pastedown, so the stub must originally have been hooked around the first quire; in addition the singletons appear to be sewn on modern laid paper guards.

The binding has been noticed by Duff and Prideaux, and mentioned by Gibson; the binding panel is apparently identical with one represented by a rubbing in the Victoria and Albert Museum, described in Weale, Bookbindings in the National Art Library, II, 181 no. 370 ('Flanders. Ghent. Van Gavere'); and one until 1914 in the Louvain Universitaatsbibliothek, on a printed book of 1520, described and illustrated in L. Indestege, 'Paneelstempels met musicerende engelen op Vlaamse boekbanden uit de late Middeleeuwen', in Dr. L. Reypens-Album: opstellen aangeboden aan Prof. Dr. L. Reypens s. j. ter gelegenheid van zijn tachigste veraardag op 26 februari 1964 ed. Albert Ampe (Antwerp, 1964), 173–85, at 182–3 'Type VIII', afb. 8. Through the kindness of Dr. Rowan Watson a photocopy of the V&A rubbing is available at the Bodleian.


Origin: Netherlandish, Diocese of Liège, Bridgettine nunnery of Mariënwater ; 15th century, last quarter

Provenance and Acquisition

Made for the Bridgettine nunnery of Mariënwater, at 's Hertogenbosch (founded 1434): the calendar is of Liège (having four feasts of Lambert as well as other Liège saints), and Bridgettine (having three feasts of Bridget, all highly graded); the only Bridgettine house in the diocese of Liège was Mariënwater (about which see Tore Nyberg, Birgittinische Klostergründungen des Mittelalters (Bibliotheca Historica Lundensis, 15: Lund, 1965), esp. ch. V, 'Die Niederlande').

Unidentified 18th/19th-century owner: inscribed in black ink in the top left corner of the upper pastedown 'No. 12.' (the same hand wrote 'No. 19.' in the same place in London, BL, Egerton MS. 3271; and 'No. 31.' in Bodleian, MS. Lat. liturg. e. 4, on both of which see below).

D.-C. (Dirk Cornelius) and J.-J. (Jan Jacob) van Voorst, Amsterdam, before 1859: almost certainly the manuscript described as lot 113 in the auction catalogue of the books and manuscripts of D.-C. and J.-J. van Voorst, sold in Amsterdam by Frederik Muller, 27 Jan. 1859, lot 113. The catalogue states (p. 13) that the Books of Hours, lots 111–141, '... proviennent pour une grande partie du monastère de Brigittines S. Marien water près de Bois-le-Duc [i.e. 's Hertogenbosch], fondé en 1434'; the brief description of lot 113 is close to the present manuscript in its reported date, contents, size, number of leaves, type of decoration, and binding. Three other Bridgettine Breviaries from Mariënwater, lots 111, 122, and 126 in this sale, are now Washington, D.C., Library of Congress, MS. 30; Paris, BnF, ms. n.a.l. 688; and London, BL, Egerton MS. 3271; lot 124 was resold in London at Sotheby's, 1 December 1987, lot 38, and is now Schoyen Collection, London and Oslo, MS. 39; and lot 140, another Bridgettine MS., is now Bodleian, MS. Lat. liturg. e. 4.

M. A. van der Linde, before 1864: in the auction catalogue of his library, sold in Brussels by G.-A. van Trigt, 7–16 April, 1864, lot 202 [I am grateful to Ulla Sander Olsen for this reference].

Unidentified 19th-century continental owner(s) and/or bookseller(s); inscribed in pencil, above the centre of the upper pastedown: 'XIVe Scle' (presumably this owner did not know that the book came from Mariënwater, or else did not know that the house was founded in the 15th century); the upper pastedown inscribed in pencil '280' (? - the final digit obscured by the remains of a pasted-in piece of paper, now removed); the lower pastedown inscribed in pencil: 'me.-' in the upper right corner, and '72..f' (perhaps a price in francs) below this.

Raguin, bookseller, Paris (see Introduction); the lower pastedown inscribed in pencil: 'bms. ok' in the upper left corner.

Rt. Hon. T. R. Buchanan (1846–1911), probably acquired after 1874, but before 1891 (when it was exhibited at the Burlington Fine Arts Club)

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 (12 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. 15

Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.