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Les livres d’heures manuscrits conservés dans les collections publiques du Québec

A Matter of Life and Text : The Lives of a Fifteenth Century Florentine Book of Hours in the University of Ottawa’s rare books library

Brent Burbridge

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France, Québec

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  • 1 Ottawa, University Library, BX 2024 .A2 1450. I have given my common, dilapidated manuscript a name (...)
  • 2 J. Harthan, Books of Hours and their Owners, London, 1977, p. 31.

1While the vast majority of scholarship on Books of Hours focus on luxury manuscripts, concentrating almost entirely on the book’s artistic program and patronage, much less attention has been paid to the more workaday Books of Hours which were mass-produced for laity with the means and literacy to acquire and use them. The Morisset Hours1, a manuscript Book of Hours in the University of Ottawa’s rare books library, is such book, and despite its poor condition and total lack of illumination or miniation, it can reveal a great deal about its creation, ownership and cultural contexts if examined through a material culture approach. As Jonathan Harthan has stated, « In contemplating the superior specimens with their overwhelming richness of decoration, it is easy to forget the thousands of humble examples made for everyday use… One does not get far in understanding them by… concentrating on the best examples2. » This paper will attempt to construct a biography of this cultural artifact by bringing to bear as many clues as possible from within the codex itself, as well as by generalizing about the use of such texts within several of the cultural contexts spanning this object’s 550 year life.

  • 3 C. Gosden, and Y. Marshall, « The Cultural Biography of Objects », World Archaeology, 31, 1999, p.  (...)
  • 4 Ibid., p. 170.
  • 5 R. PERRY, «Objectification, Identity and the Late Medieval Codex», in Everyday Objects, éds. Tara H (...)
  • 6 The Biography of the Object in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy, dir. R. J. M. Olson, P. L. Reil (...)

2Just as the biographer of a person considers the subject from several perspectives in attempting to construct a complete picture, an examination of this historical object must also be multi-faceted, closely examining the book through paleographical, codicological, textual, social, economic and religious lenses. In short, it will be primarily a material, as opposed to textual, examination of the book, though textual evidence from the book will shed light on the codex’s own materiality. In the course of this paper, the biography of the Morisset Hours will move through five stages of the object’s existence for which there is evidence, referring constantly to both traditional methods of manuscript analysis as well as the manuscript’s shifting cultural contexts. In each cultural situation the analysis will be guided but not dominated by the material culture theoretical approach, whose guiding principle is the generation of meaning through the establishment of relationships between people and things over time. This approach « considers objects in their moments of production, exchange and consumption, setting each within its social contexts » and looking at « the way human and object histories inform each other3. » Also, this approach allows for the change in context over time : « meanings change and are re-negotiated through the life of the object4. » These basic tenets of analysis via the material culture approach make it clear that the generation of meaning is a two-way street, in which objects exert influence over and are also influenced by their contexts. A significant implication of this idea is that objects are not neutral or passive as they were long assumed to be – they have a demonstrable effect on their owners and surroundings, and therefore their relationship to their contexts is dynamic. In the case of the Morisset Hours, there is an additional layer of complexity as texts, primarily through their content, can have a demonstrative effect on their readers – sometimes on whole societies. While studying this Book of Hours from a material perspective must take into account the power of the text’s messages, the primary level of analysis will be on the interplay of the codex/object with its surroundings – on the signifying power of the object versus the text. In his essay on the late medieval codex, Ryan Perry sums up this approach : « It makes sense, in light of the materialist focus of codicological analysis… in light of anthropological accounts of materiality » to ask « what did the synthesis of book and text mean to medieval patrons », or for that matter anyone who came into contact with the text in question5 ? As this paper traces the book through its stages of life, the material/biographical approach will allow us to continually interpret it anew, demonstrating that « objects have their own lives », that they are used and reused, taking on roles other than that for which they were created6. This was certainly the case with the Morisset Hours.

  • 7 History from Things: Essays on Material Culture, dir. S. LUBAR and W. D. KINGERY Washington and Lon (...)

3One final advantage of the material approach is its facilitation of the inter-disciplinary approach to the understanding of other cultures, which is in keeping with the spirit of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Cultural Studies and Museology, all modern, non-traditional ‘disciplines’. Considering the biography of an object has its roots in the archaeological study of artifacts, but is augmented, for example, by the art historian’s and literary scholar’s sense of the aesthetic and appreciation for the relationship between creator and object, as well as the historian’s desire for documentary support and the anthropologist’s search for meaning in culture7. The biographical approach to historical objects therefore creates a flexible and dynamic inter-disciplinary space for analysis and the creation of meaning, which echoes the flexibility and uniqueness of late medieval Books of Hours themselves.

I. The Book as Tradeable Object (14th-15th Century Italy)

  • 8 « Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary » (Manuscript, Florence, Italy (?), Unknown (14th century). This (...)
  • 9 J. D. Farquhar, « Manuscript Production and Evidence for Localizing and Dating Fifteenth-Century Bo (...)
  • 10 E. Drigsdahl, « Introduction and Tutorial: Books of Hours », last modified 2007 : http://www.chd.dk (...)
  • 11 P. Kidd, « UCLA Rouse MS 32: The Provenance of a Dismembered Italian Book of Hours Illuminated by t (...)

4The Morisset Hours is a very basic devotional manuscript, an everyday object, and as such it has no pedigree or established provenance. The University of Ottawa library catalogue entry provides the following conflicting information: « 14th century Flemish devotional manuscript. 15th cent. Florentine manuscript8. » As with any biography, establishing the details of the subject’s birth is the first order of business. Flanders and northern France in the 14th and 15th centuries produced vast numbers of manuscript Books of Hours, from the most luxurious to the most common. Manuscripts from Spain to England have been traced back to the workshops of Bruges and other northern towns, and the reality that a Book of Hours could have been produced in one location for sale or use in another is one of the major hurdles scholars must overcome when trying to ascertain the origins of a Book of Hours manuscript. For example, Bruges was one of the major centres of manufacture and produced large numbers of Books of Hours for export to England, adding saints to the Calendars, Litany and Suffrages that would appeal to that foreign client base, and copying hours and offices of the Use of Sarum (Salisbury) or York into the books, which were the most prevalent liturgical uses for English worshippers9. These workshops also produced books tailored to other countries’ liturgical needs, adding offices in the uses of Rome or other liturgical traditions of Western Europe10. The processes and output of the northern European manuscript workshops are well-attested, but not as thoroughly for Italian Books of Hours11, at least not in the English or French scholarly literature.

  • 12 G. H. Putnam, Books and their Makers during the Middle Ages: A Study of the Conditions of the Produ (...)
  • 13 C. F. Buhler, The Fifteenth Century Book, Philadelphia, 1960, p. 19.

5Putnam, in his Books and Their Makers in the Middle Ages, gives a survey of Italian book production in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that lays the foundations for a case for the Florentine origins of the Morisset Hours. He says that circa 1440, about 25 years previous to the advent of printing to Italy in 1464, Florentine manuscript production was at its height, having succeeded Venice as the Italian centre for commercial manuscript production, and speculating that it may even have been « the centre of the trade for Europe12. » The reason for Florence’s pre-eminence in producing books was directly linked to the local demand for them : Florence was a cosmopolitan, educated city with a highly cultivated citizenship, developed intellectual life and mercantile culture. In short, its citizens had the literacy and inclination, as well as the financial resources, to become consumers of both Latin and vernacular texts. Buhler notes that “a typical vellum manuscript…in finished form and bound, cost between seven and ten ducats, equal to a month’s wages for the average official at the Neapolitan court13. » It is likely that a modest, mass-produced volume like the Morisset Hours would have cost less, and would have been within reach for many merchant-class and aristocratic Florentines, though may possibly have been the only book they owned.

6To return to the question of origin, establishing a birth place for the Morisset Hours requires a close analysis of the codex itself, including its codicological, paleographical and textual features. The book currently has no covers and is composed of 220 folia of parchment of inconsistent colouring arranged into 26 gatherings. There is staining throughout, especially in the gutter, likely from water. There is also extensive scraping and one deep rust-coloured stain (8v) of approximately 13mm in circumference which has bled through, staining folia 6v to 15r inclusive. Most gatherings consist of 8 folia though some have up to ten or as few as four, with at least three 9 folia quires with ‘singletons’ pasted in. There are several misbound gatherings, which will be discussed later, as well as several missing at the front of the manuscript, including the entire calendar and likely also the Gospel Lessons, Obsecro Te and O Intemerata. The Morisset Hours is a small book, its folia measuring 70mm in width and 101mm in height. The several misbound gatherings confirm that the binding is not original. While the manuscript has no illumination or miniation, it does contains at least two examples of a vine, leaves and grapes along the gutter-edge which appears to have been applied with a roller and ink (ff. 32v and 37v). This Book of Hours’ program of devotions is difficult to establish due to missing and misbound gatherings. However, it currently contains the following devotions, in order : Hours of the Virgin, Hours of the Cross, Hours of the Passion, Office of the Dead, a fragment of the Gospel of John (in a totally different hand, ff. 192v-193v, see figure 1), the Litany of the Saints and the Seven Penitential Psalms.

  • 14 J. James, « Latin Paleography », in Medieval Studies: An Introduction, ed. J. M. Powell, 2nd ed., S (...)
  • 15 A. Derolez, The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books: From the Twelfth to the Early Sixteenth Ce (...)
  • 16 The following books contained plates and illustrations of scripts used for comparison : Derolez, Th (...)
  • 17 The fragment of the Gospel of John at folia 192v-193v is the exception, being inscribed in a much m (...)
  • 18 Derolez, Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books, p. 102-103.
  • 19 B. Bischoff, Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages, tr. Dáibhi Ó Cróinín and David Ganz (...)
  • 20 Ibid., p. 130.
  • 21 Derolez, Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books, p. 108-109.
  • 22 Derolez, Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books, p. 34.

7With respect to the paleography of the book, the text is arranged in a single column of twelve lines, with the lines of horizontal ruling 5mm apart. The text is one of many versions of textual Gothic used in the later middle ages across Europe between approximately 1200- 150014, being especially dominant in Bibles, liturgical and para-liturgical manuscripts, including Books of Hours15. Because of this, Gothic scripts were not only aesthetically pleasing and au courant, but also signifiers of authority – signalling that the message of the text was to be heeded. Comparisons of the Morisset Hours with multiple samples of Gothic texts16 suggests that the Morisset Hours’ script17 is a neat but not exemplary instance of Southern Textualis Formata, often referred to as ‘Italian Rotunda’, a style of Gothic script used primarily in Italy, but also in Spain, Portugal and southern France. Italian Rotunda is characterized by rounded and compressed forms, in contrast with the often much more angular and vertical architecture of northern textual Gothic18. Bischoff even states that « non-Italian textura allows, in its strictest forms, no round strokes whatsoever19. » A closer analysis of some telltale characters confirms this. Above all, the ‘d’ with a rounded ascender and slightly upward curve at termination, appearing almost uncial ; ‘a’ with a triangular lobe and ultra-thin hair line ; ‘g’ with a long, rounded, even wavy descender ; and the Tyronian ‘et’ in the form of a ‘7’ without the crossing bar typical of northern styles. Of particular interest and peculiar to the Italian style is the ‘z’, which looks very similar to the modern French ‘ç’20, as evidenced in the eighth line of folio 207v  : Scē çenobi = Saint Zenobius (figure 2). Finally, the ‘biting’ of rounded forms where the contrary curves of successive letters coalesce21, such as the ‘de’ or ‘pe’ combinations are also common in this variety of Gothic script. All these traits are typical of the Rotunda style that was most prominent in Italian workshops and which was not typically used in Flemish or northern French production centres. One final piece of paleographical evidence is the placement of the catchwords at the end of the quires : according to Desrolez it was typical of manuscripts produced in Italy to place the catchwords in the middle of the lower margin, as with the Morisset Hours (figure 2), whereas northern production tended to place them to the lower right. It must be conceded, however, that while the paleographical evidence for Italian production is strong, it is not conclusive. There are features of the Morisset Hours’ script such as the bifurcated ascenders of the letter ‘b’, ‘l’ and instances of a non-uncial ‘d’ which Desrolez characterizes as typically northern22.

8The paleographical evidence suggests an Italian birth for this Book of Hours, and an analysis of the text strengthens the case. First and foremost, the only other language used in the book besides Latin is Italian. There are several places where rubrics are inscribed in the vernacular (figure 3), which is typical of Books of Hours in the later fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, though scribes in manuscript production facilities regularly copied scripts in languages they did not know into books for export. However, what would have originally been blank pages in the book have been filled with handwritten notes in Italian at a later date. While these two examples of textual evidence cannot prove that a book was made in certain place, they do add weight to the case for a manuscript produced for and used by Italians.

  • 23 I have come to this conclusion based on the list of uses from the website of the CHD Institute for (...)

9A final, if far from conclusive indicator is the ‘use’ of the text. The use refers to particular liturgical preferences identified with a specific place or religious order (e.g., Use of Paris, Carthusian Use, Use of Sarum, etc.). The use can usually be determined from the incipits to the Hours of the Virgin or the Office of the Dead. The most common is the Use of Rome, which can be found in prayer books from across late medieval Europe, though it appears to have been the exclusive liturgical use for books produced in or for Italy – except for the occasional book which follows the use of a religious order, such as the Dominican Use23. The Morisset Hours contains the following incipit (folio 176v) to the Office of the Dead which indicates the Use of Rome : « Domine labia mea aperies et os meum annuntiabit ». This is another piece of evidence that is not conclusive, as the Use of Rome was the most common and widespread use in Europe, but which does not contradict the theory of Italian – if not Florentine – origins.

  • 24 L. M. J. Delaissé, « The Importance of Books of Hours for the History of the Medieval Book », in Ga (...)

10There is a third type of textual evidence that helps to more precisely locate the intended market for the book, and likely also its locus of production : the saints included in the book’s Suffrages of the Saints. As the earlier section on codicology states, the manuscript currently has no covers and is missing its calendar, which is almost always the first section of a Book of Hours. The calendar, along with the Litany of the Saints are useful aids in determining the locus of original ownership of horae, if not their locus of production, as the inclusion of certain local saints may provide strong indications of where and by whom the book was to be used. Of the three key indicators noted above, the Morisset Hours in its current form contains only the Litany of the Saints, but of all the textual sources the hagiographic content may be the most revealing element in the process of localization24.

  • 25 R. C. Trexler, Public Life in Renaissance Florence, New York, 1980, p. 423.
  • 26 Numerous litanies from Flemish Books of Hours also list Cosmas and Damian. For example, 2 out of 8 (...)
  • 27 Trexler, Public Life in Renaissance Florence, p. 1.
  • 28 Ibid., p. 58.

11The Morisset Hours litany contains most of the same saints listed in Books of Hours from across Europe : early Popes (Linus and Fabianus), early martyrs (Laurentius and Stephanus) as well as evangelists and apostles, but three saints stand out as potential indicators of this book’s potential buyers and perhaps its place of origin, too. On folio 207r appear the saints Cosmas and Damian, whose cult was heavily patronized by the Medici family and whose chapels and altars were numerous in late medieval and early Renaissance Florence25. The most famous of these is Fra Angelico’s San Marco altarpiece, commissioned by the Medici, which depicts episodes in the lives of the twin physician saints. This high level of patronage and the accompanying prestige resulted in the saints’ universal recognition and widespread veneration in Florence, and comprised an important thread in the local socio-religious fabric. However, even saints so closely associated with Florence can still occasionally be found in the litanies of Books of Hours from Flanders and elsewhere26. It is only when the page is turned to folio 207v that one of the two uniquely Florentine saints is listed : St. Zenobius, who was the city’s first bishop of Florence and is the patron saint of the bishop of Florence. Zenobius’ cult was elevated to a communal, city-wide status in the early fourteenth century, about a hundred years prior the Morisset Hours’ approximate time of production27. Finally, on the last page of the litany, misbound as folio 214v, is listed St. Reparata, whose relics have lain in Florence « from early times » and who, according to legend, saved Florence from an onslaught by the Goths in the sixth century28. Zenobius and Reparata are both saints peculiar to Florence’s communal history, without ties to other cities or countries, and whose presence in this Book of hours’ litany can be safely interpreted as a strong indicator that this book was meant for sale in Florence. The inclusion in the litany of such locally celebrated saints also strengthens the argument for production of the manuscript in or near Florence in a workshop using Italian techniques (the Rotunda script and centrally placed catchwords) and the Italian language (rubrics and later personal notes). These particular saints, along with St. John the Baptist and St. Barnabas were, according to Trexler, « civic saints » of Florence who were closely associated with the Florentine political élite and whose cults were underwritten by them. Their feast days would have been major public occasions when their miraculous protective acts and beneficence to the city would be recalled, stirring feelings of civic unity and pride.

  • 29 Desrolez, Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books, p. 31. He notes that some manuscript producers t (...)

12All of this evidence suggests that the Morisset Hours was produced on a large scale (by medieval standards) for the élite of that city. We can only hope that the bookseller was able to parlay his integrated manufacturing enterprise and appeal to local religiosity into a substantial rainy day fund, because by 1500 most traditional librarii had been put out of business by the printing press29. But by this time, our book’s life was well into its next stage, having transitioned from its birth as object for sale to what most consider its primary intended use : as a devotional aid to its owner, though it was also much more.

II. Book as Devotional Aid and Signifier of Wealth and Piety

  • 30 E. Duffy, Marking the Hours: English People and their Prayers1240-1570, New Haven, CT, 2006, p. vii (...)
  • 31 Harthan, Books of Hours and Their Owners, p. 31.
  • 32 There is debate over how much Latin the average lay reader might have known. Some authors such as K (...)
  • 33 R. S. Wieck, Time Sanctified: The Book of Hours in Medieval Life and Art, New York, 1988, p. 33.
  • 34 British Library, http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/GlossB.asp, updated 2012 ; acce (...)
  • 35 Delaissé, « The Importance of Books of Hours », p. 204.
  • 36 K. Smith, Art, Identity and Devotion in Fourteenth Century England: Three Women and their Books of (...)
  • 37 R. Kieckhefer, «Convention and Conversion: Patterns in Late Medieval Piety», Church History, 67, 19 (...)
  • 38 G. B. Ladner, God, Cosmos, and Humankind: The World of Early Christian Symbolism, Berkeley, 1995, p (...)
  • 39 A. Bennett, « Making Literate Lay Women Visible: Text and Image in French and Flemish Books of Hour (...)
  • 40 Ibid., p. 130.

13Eamon Duffy states that Books of Hours were « the indispensable devotional accessory of well-to-do lay people in the late Middle Ages30. » Jonathan Harthan echoes this idea : « the main purpose of Books of Hours was to provide every class of the laity from kings and royal dukes down to prosperous burghers and their wives with personal prayer books. All literate people, and even some who could not read, aspired to own one31. » As is well known, the later middle ages saw the convergence of a new spirit of devotionalism among the laity along with a surge in vernacular and Latin literacy, which allowed for private reading and reflection on texts in the home or other extra-ecclesial spaces32. Roger Wieck notes that « for the first time since classical antiquity the most common book being produced was intended to remain in non-clerical hands33. » This growth of personal piety largely practiced in private domestic space is reflected in the development of the Book of Hours itself, as it emerged out of the Church’s Breviary and Psalter. The private recitations of the prayers in Books of Hours were a « clear expression of lay people’s desire to imitate the prayer life of the religious34. » In fact, the first popular lay prayer books were reduced versions of the Psalter, to which other prayers were added over time35. Eventually, around the 13th century in Italy, what we now know as a Book of Hours emerged, with an even further reduced Psalter, and the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary at its core36. The late middle ages of the 13th-15th centuries were increasingly focused on the spiritual potential of the material world—and this is reflected in new material manifestations of their spirituality, such as the cult of the Eucharist, saints’ relics, pilgrimage to holy shrines and rosary beads37. Mary, as the mother of God, figured prominently in the clerical Breviary from which the Book of Hours grew, which goes some way to explaining the centrality of the Office of the Virgin. But perhaps more importantly to the medieval mind, Mary was a mediator between humanity and God, a link between the material and spiritual worlds, the human being who had brought pure spirit into the world at the Nativity and who lovingly ushered it out of this world as she devotedly remained at the foot of the cross until the death of the incarnate God. Further positioning her as a pivot between the material and spiritual realms, Mary was also believed to have been so pure and in close communion with God, that she was assumed into heaven, body and soul, without having to wait for the resurrection38. Certainly in France and Flanders, but likely throughout Europe, the fervour of the Virgin’s cult in the 13th century « had a direct causal effect on the popularity » of Books of Hours39. The Book of Hours, with Mary at its heart, was a material accessory for a spiritual life that was more and more concerned with the physicality of life and worship. It was also a mode of devotion used mostly by women40. While the Morisset Hours is a very typical example of horae from the late medieval period described above, it unfortunately reveals almost nothing to the naked eye as to how it was used by its owner in a devotional context. There are no pages more worn than others that would indicate the owner’s devotional preferences—for the saints or for the Virgin, or the Psalms, for instance. There are no surviving marginal annotations that would give us direct links to the innermost thoughts and beliefs of the person praying through this object. Therefore, this analysis must be generalized, just as with so many other everyday medieval objects without specific provenance.

  • 41 Harthan, Books of Hours and Their Owners, p. 35, describes how horae served medicinal or therapeuti (...)
  • 42 Ibid., p. 14. While I could identify these essential and secondary texts, I could not necessarily i (...)
  • 43 Wieck, Time Sanctified, p. 198-224.
  • 44 Harthan, Books of Hours and their Owners, p. 39.

14First and foremost, the Morisset Hours was a devotional aid, mass-produced for the upper echelons of society, though not illustrated. As previously discussed, most scholarship on Books of Hours concentrates on the illuminations, usually examining their function as a spur to devotion, prayer and spiritual reflection. This is especially true in those manuscripts in which the patron and user, usually a woman, is depicted reading or praying with the Book of Hours in her hands. As for the Morisset Hours’ textual composition, it contains most of what Harthan, quoting Abbé Leroquais, identifies as the essential components of horae : the Office of the Virgin, Penitential Psalms, Litany of the Saints and the Office of the Dead. There are two ‘essential’ sections missing from the manuscript : the calendar, which was likely the first section but is now gone, and the Suffrages of the Saints. If the Morisset Hours originally contained Suffrages, we can only wonder if Cosmas and Damian were included, as this may have provided some evidence of the use of saints as a means to achieve civic unity—but also as healers, a subject that will be discussed later in this paper41. The Morisset Hours also contains several of the « secondary » texts, according to Leroquais’ system, including the Hours of the Passion and the Hours of the Holy Cross42. The inclusion of the Hours of the Passion of Our Lord is a particularly unusual inclusion in this Book of Hours. In the Appendix to Time Sanctified, Wieck provides brief descriptions of each of the 137 manuscript Books of Hours in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore upon which he based his study. These Books of Hours were produced and used in France, the Low Countries, Germany, Italy, Spain and England. Only 12 of these (approximately 9%) contain the Office of the Passion43. While the textual/devotional components present in a Book of Hours can indicate the general devotional preferences of a book maker’s target clientele, it does not tell us anything specific about how a particular book was actually used by its owner, and there is no physical evidence discernible from the Morisset Hours to inform an analysis of usage. One possible explanation is that the book was simply not used very often. If it was a gift, as many Books of Hours were, the recipient may not have been an enthusiastic user. Another potential explanation is that the family may have had more than one horae, the Morisset Hours being the least used among them. However, this does not fit this object’s generalized identity : it is an example of the type of book that would have been thumbed on a day to day basis (by a pious user) who might have wanted to preserve a more luxurious copy44.

  • 45 Ibid., p. 33.
  • 46 Perry, « Objectification, Identity and the Late Medieval Codex », p. 315.

15Based on the codex itself, and what we know about late medieval piety, a general identity of the original owner is beginning to form  : likely an educated Florentine merchant or government official who, if he or she were devout, would have prayed the offices privately at home on a daily basis, though the Morisset Hours’ lack of wear may indicate that the owner was not. If the owner were also conscious of social status, they would have used a highly portable book like the Morisset Hours to publicly display their piety and literacy, even bringing it with them to church and openly praying from it, an example of conspicuous consumption and spiritual ostentation that was not at all out of place in late medieval urban society45. The acquisition and public display of one’s books could be part of a « process of naturalizing social identity though material things », especially among the newly wealthy or upwardly mobile. As has been discussed above, this one object, the horae, is able to communicate a multifaceted identity, alerting viewers that the owner is literate, wealthy (or at least among the landed or mercantile class) and pious. This is an efficient tool of identity creation and projection, and a relatively exclusive one46.

  • 47 Duffy, Marking the Hours, p. 30.
  • 48 Harthan, Books of Hours and their Owners, p. 34.

16The possibility that the text was meant to be carried into public spaces, in combination with its small size, makes the Morisset Hours an example of a vade mecum, a book that was made to be ‘brought along’. Many such books were originally designed with a leather carrying case called a chemisette, which protected the book during travel and could also have been attached to a woman’s belt. Because the Morisset Hours’ original binding was lost hundreds of years ago, there is no way to tell whether it was ever equipped with a pouch, belt or tether—that is, equipped for mobility and public use. A number of paintings and manuscript illuminations exist that depict such configurations. In Jan van Eyck’s famous Altar of the Holy Lamb (1432) in Ghent, the Virgin Mary herself prays from a Book of Hours in a leather carrying case, and in a miniature from the Hours of Mary of Burgundy the book’s namesake reads from a horae wrapped in its chemisette as the Virgin mother and Christ child look on47. We have already noted that most users of Books of Hours were women and that many began the devotional stages of their lives as gifts. The most common occasion to give such a gift was on the occasion of marriage, being usually given by the husband to his new wife. If the woman and her household preserved the book until her death, the book would very often be bequeathed to another member of the family in a will. This very typical pattern of gifting and bequeathing indicate that in the late medieval social context Books of Hours were not only precious objects in their own right, but important familial possessions48. It also indicates that the relationship between the family and the book developed and grew over time. This helps to explain why family-related information is so often recorded in horae.

  • 49 Duffy, Marking the Hours, p. 67.

17Finally, Duffy provides one more role for Books of Hours during their heyday. He describes the case of an illiterate 15th century English servant who steals then tries to hawk their master’s book for extra cash49, demonstrating that a Book of Hours could still be viewed as a tradable object by some : even after its production and sale its value as a commercial, tradable object endured. Thus, the Book of Hours’ simultaneous role as family treasure and ever-potential commodity, depending on whose gaze it fell under, foreshadows future identities of the Morisset Hours that will be subsequently discussed. While the late 15th and 16th centuries saw the decline of the Book of Hours as a devotional aid, its life continued with new roles and attributions of value unforeseen by either its creators or original owners.

III. Book as Repository of Family Lore

  • 50 Duffy, Marking the Hours, p. ix.
  • 51 ‘Surviving’, because there are several instances of personal notations being scraped away or blotte (...)

18In his study of the marginalia in Books of Hours50, Duffy describes the various types of personal material added to the blanks spaces in the text : notes recording births, deaths and marriages ; additional prayers in the vernacular ; charms, cures and recipes ; notes on financial transactions ; as well as holy pictures and souvenirs from pilgrimages. While Duffy surveyed dozens of horae from the late medieval English context, the relationship between owners and their Books of Hours— among the most personal and intimate of possessions—would appear to be consistent across Western Europe. The Morisset Hours contains several of the features listed by Duffy and Harthan which clearly show that this Book of Hours had become a repository of personal reflections and family lore unrelated to the original devotional text. To be sure, other horae have marginal glossing revealing the user’s thinking about the text, but the Morisset Hours’ surviving notations do not51. Instead, in the book’s current state, the personal notations are absent from the margins of the devotional text and confined to pages that were once entirely blank, forming a sort of separate but interwoven archive of miscellaneous but essential information in the unused spaces between what had become forgotten or outmoded devotions.

  • 52 K. M. Ashley, « Creating Family Identity in Books of Hours », Journal of Medieval and Early Modern (...)

19The ‘modular’ process by which popular medieval texts were produced often left blank pages at several points in the book, as a scribe finished his section with a leaf or two to spare in its last gathering. Also, Books of Hours were often sold with blank pages intentionally provided so the user (or a hired scribe or decorator) could add personal prayers, miniatures or family coats of arms at a later time. Either one is a plausible explanation for the empty spaces interspersed with the Morisset Hours’ standard prayers. Many of these once blank pages have been filled by the various notations of its owners between the manuscript’s likely time of purchase around 1450, and 1693 – the final date inscribed on folio 93v. There are, among other things, family history, a medicinal/magical ritual, paraphrasing of scripture and personal reflections which may have served as statements of warning to current and future family members. The writers of these notes chose specific scripts for their purposes : some little more than scribbles for the purpose of jotting down practical information and instructions ; some notes employing hierarchies of script and built-up capitals to impress upon readers the importance and perhaps the authority of the ideas and histories being communicated. Interestingly, there are also a range of religious beliefs co-existing in the text by this point : the quasi-clerical prayers of the Book of Hours proper ; a magical healing charm incorporating Christian and folk-magical elements ; and a warning against the empty pronouncements of the ancient philosophers. By the mid-sixteenth century, Books of Hours had fallen out of fashion as devotional texts, but this one had clearly been reinvented as a space for the recording and transmission of ideas, beliefs and family history ; indeed this may have become its primary purpose, with the canonical hours, Offices and Litany serving as a backdrop of vague authority or tradition. This process of appropriation follows the same pattern described by Kathleen Ashley in her survey of Burgundian horae52. Following are brief descriptions of four examples of the personal notations from the Morisset Hours. These notations contain clues that, while they may not precisely identify the owners of this book, give modern scholars an indication as to the type of people who owned it in the late 17th century : the Tavoro family of Florence.

  • 53 For transcriptions and translations of all four notations see Appendix.

20Folios 91r to 94v are a series of ruled but originally unused leaves at the end of the last quire of the Office of the Holy Cross fascicle. Within these six leaves are four distinct notations on four separate leaves in what appear to be four distinct cursive hands. The first of the blank leaves (folio 91v ; figure 4)53 contains a quote from Psalm 52:1 : « Dixit stultus in corde suo / Non est Deus », which the writer believes to be a snippet of ancient Roman or Greek philosophy. This quotation is inscribed in a thick hand and carefully spaced and centered. Below it is the writer’s personal admonition to future readers, warning them against the « empty pronouncements of the ancient philosophers », in a thinner and less formal script. The initial of the first word, Vane, is built-up like the two-line initials in the Book of Hours text proper, and the notation is followed by an elegant flourish in three registers. In this brief notation there are a few important items to draw out. First, the writer has employed a hierarchy of scripts and a built up capital to bring a traditional and authoritative form to the page. Second, a literate member of Florentine society has not only mistaken a pericope from the Psalms for ancient philosophy, but he has condemned that ancient philosophy. Finally, the writer’s use of the word punto (‘not at all’) is a conspicuous Tuscanism and helps us to locate the book and its owner.

21The second notation is on folio 93r and is mostly comprised of a paraphrase of two biblical texts in Latin, one from Psalm 7:2 (« My God to you I have hoped / From those who persecute me ») and one from Luke 2:10 (« I announce to you great joy / that today is born to you / the Saviour of the World »). Between the two Biblical passages is a two-line section of Italian which translates as « The last word of the innocent prisoner ». Disjointed as these sections may seems, there is a logic in the progression of the texts, as it begins with a plea for deliverance from persecution, then the identification of a prisoner in the language of the writer himself, and then closes with the announcement of the advent of the Saviour, who will redeem the entire world—presumably including the writer/prisoner. This reference to persecution and the need to be delivered from enemies is especially interesting, as on the next leaf (93v ; figure 6) is the chronicle of a Tavoro family member who is forced to seek sanctuary in two of Florence’s most famous churches.

  • 54 C. M. CIPOLLA, Fighting the Plague in Seventeenth Century Italy, Madison, 1981, p. 51. Also helpful (...)

22Folio 93v conveys several episodes of the Tavoro family history, a name which may correspond to the town of Tavola which lies several kilometres north of Florence, halfway to Pistoia54. This theory is supported by language in the text itself, as it describes how Giovanni Antonio Tavoro came down [i.e. travelled north to south] to the city. The original full-page note, which again employs a hierarchy of scripts, is translated below :

  • 55 Thanks to Mark Jurdjevic, Professor of History at York University, and Christina Perissinotto, Prof (...)

23« Giovanni Antonio Tavoro came down to me, Nicola Tavoro, in the year of our Lord 1691 taking refuge at San Giovanni ; in 1692 took refuge in the convent of Santissima Annunziata ; in 1693 took refuge in the same55. »

  • 56 Bischoff, Latin Palaeography, p. 77.

24There is no way of knowing whether the Tavoro family was the original owner of this Book of Hours, or why Giovanni Antonio had to take refuge three times in the churches of Florence. If family members were in trouble and the best place of refuge was a church, it may indicate that the family had fallen on hard times. The notation employs a conspicuous hierarchy of scripts, a technique traditionally used in manuscript production to formalize page layout, emphasize important headings and lend a sense of authority and significance to texts56. It is curious that the recorder of these unpleasant episodes in the family history should employ such techniques, possibly lending credence to the idea that the family, or at least this family chronicler, had read books which used this technique, or possibly just observed it in the Latin epigraphs inscribed on stone monuments around Florence. Presumably it was Nicola who inscribed these events into the Book of Hours, and his use of a hierarchy of scripts is most likely not to highlight the eminence or authority of his relative Giovanni Antonio the fugitive, but to communicate to contemporary and future readers the importance of these events for the Tavoro family – though we don’t know if they were political, religious or financial in nature. The answer may lie hidden in the scraped parchment and smudged ink of folio 90r on which, under an ultraviolet lamp, only a capital ‘T’ (identical to the one in the name Tavoro from the previous page) and the year 1690 or 98 are legible.

25On folio 94r (figure 7) is a healing charm for use against liver ailments. The charm, inscribed in the scratchiest and most difficult to read hand of the four, prescribes that the following ritual and orations be performed twice daily over the infirmed :

26« You will do this three times, in the morning and the evening, and you would say five Pater Nosters and five Ave Marias and say the oration followed by making the sign of the cross with the herb vervain. You should say it in this way : ‘liver destroyed and disturbed, the [illegible] to the hope of God and the saints Cosmas and Damian, the holy virgin and the holy spirit.’ »

  • 57 R. Kieckhefer, « The Specific Rationality of Medieval Magic », The American Historical Review, 99 : (...)
  • 58 J. Stannard, « Magiferous Plants and Magic in Medieval Botany », in Herbs and Herbalism in the Midd (...)
  • 59 Ibid., p. 40.
  • 60 Harthan, Books of Hours and Their Owners, p. 35.
  • 61 K. L. Jolly « On the Margins of Orthodoxy: Devotional Formulas and Protective Prayers in Corpus Chr (...)

27Richard Kieckhefer states that « the idea of occult powers and processes within the natural order was firmly established… from antiquity through the early modern period »57, a belief held by popular and élite alike. Even some ecclesiastics believed in, or were at least not opposed to, the use of magical processes involving the use of magiferous plants, which had been provided by God for man’s use, as long as they did not undermine the authority of the church58 and God’s power was invoked to catalyze the occult properties of the plant59. Therefore, the presence of the charm in a Book of Hours is not surprising – the use of natural magic in healing was an accepted practice in a Christian society. There may also be a connection between the inclusion of healing charms and Books of Hours themselves. The inclusion of a medicinal charm in a Book of Hours would also be consistent with Harthan’s observations regarding the connection of horae to healing60 and Jolly’s study of Corpus Christi College MS 41 (a chronicle which also includes homilies, prayers and liturgical material) in which she concludes that the inclusion of such charms is not unorthodox : « the inclusion here of medicinal and protective formulas is not unique or unusual61. »

  • 62 Duffy, Marking the Hours, p. 83. Here he is discussing Cambridge University Library manuscript Ii 6 (...)
  • 63 Ibid., p. 93.
  • 64 J. Stannard, « Botanical Data and Late Medieval 'Rezeptliteratur' » in Herbs and Herbalism, p. 393.
  • 65 Stannard, « Magiferous Plants and Magic in Medieval Botany », p. 39.

28Duffy notes a charm in an inexpensive fourteenth century manuscript Book of Hours produced in Flanders that is similar in some ways to that of the Morisset Hours62. This charm is also hand-written on a blank page of the manuscript in the vernacular language of the user, specifies repetition of the Ave Maria and invokes the power of the sign of the cross and the Trinity. However, the English charm is apotropaic in nature ; it is meant to ward off or prevent various types of fever. The Morisset Hours’ charm is a ritual to heal someone who is already suffering from a liver ailment. Either way, Duffy states that « prayers of this kind, straddling the dividing line between magic spell and petitionary prayer, were very popular in the later Middle Ages » with all classes of people. They were found in numerous Books of Hours he surveyed, including the personal prayer book of Henry VII’s mother63. However, the ritual of the Morisset Hours incorporates one element that the English ritual does not : the use of a magiferous plant, vervain. According to Stannard, vervain’s wondrous properties overlap two established categories of plantae magicae : those which possess inherent healing powers or occult properties and those which – under certain circumstances – acquire properties they do not normally possess. In this charm, vervain has likely been chosen due its long history of magical and medicinal associations. Vervain was a very common herb in classical and medieval herbology and magic, would have been available in abundance in early modern Tuscany, and was often used in combination with Christian prayers which ‘released’ its magical properties64. It was used in early Gaul for fortune telling, winning friends and as a cure-all ; and in the later Middle Ages for epilepsy, promoting ease in child birth, and was also put around a horse’s neck to ensure the rider’s safety. Perhaps most interestingly, vervain was also carried on one’s person to guarantee the wearer’s Christian orthodoxy.65 The ritual recorded in the Morisset Hours also calls upon the intercessory powers of those two now familiar physician saints, Cosmas and Damian, who almost certainly bore, in the minds of the owners of the book, a double efficacy : the intercessory power of their cult in Florence, and their miraculous healing powers related to their identities as physicians. The notation provides one further very practical detail which suggests that this charm was actually used. Following the instructions for performing the ritual, the writer instructs future readers that « the herb you will get from Martene », likely a person (as opposed to a place) and possibly a local healer or dealer in herbs, who knew when and under what circumstances to harvest the vervain so as to maximize and not destroy its magical potential.

29The inclusion of this charm in a family’s Book of Hours is interesting for at least two reasons. It shows that even the educated and urban people of an early modern, possibly mercantile household had not lost their connection to or belief in folk traditions, and were willing to combine them with orthodox sacramental gestures and prayers that had the power to drive away evil. This book also tells us that even though this family may have been able to afford the services of a physician, they continued to practice magical healing rituals—possibly because they were convinced of their efficacy, but possibly to hedge their bets as they received medical treatment from less celestial physicians than Cosmas and Damian

  • 66 Cipolla, Fighting the Plague in 17th Century Italy, p. 3.

30To put this manuscript’s life-so-far into context, it had over time transitioned from a Florence at the height of its cultural and economic power in the late medieval and early renaissance periods, to the economically depressed and plague-riddled seventeenth century66. If the book had been a means to spiritual improvement in the 15th and 16th centuries during its period of original use(s), then by the late 17th or early 18th century its merits as a tradable object may have become foremost in the minds of its owners. Alternatively, Ashley’s theory of cultural appropriation should be considered. It argues that Books of Hours were regularly used as locations for the inscribing of family history due to their past significance (holy book) which imbued its current function (repository of family lore) with a different kind of authority. Whether commodity or family repository, the manuscript had by the late 1700s transitioned out of its ‘devotional’ stage of life.

IV. The Book as Tradeable Object (Part II : Resale)

31Sometime after the last datable notation in the text (1693), this Book of Hours shows obvious signs of physical modification. The edges of the pages were brutally cropped, resulting in the loss of some foliate decoration and a number of lines and letters of cursive notations nearest the margins (figure 7). In addition, the manuscript shows substantial evidence of several cursive notations being scraped away or intentionally obscured – in effect cleaned from the pages of the Book of Hours. Finally, the quires of the book were mixed up, likely during the process of rebinding. Why ? The most likely explanation is yet another significant transition in the life of this object : from repository of a family’s history, ideas and lore, to an object for resale.

  • 67 Duffy, Marking the Hours, p. 24.

32There are several locations in the text where scraping or other means of erasing some personal notations are evident. However, based on the survival of so much other cursive, personal material, we can say that whoever was responsible for these erasures was selective – they had criteria by which they identified words or whole lines of notation for deletion. Because these fragments of text are no longer legible and we have no record of what used to be in those now smudged or blank spaces, it is impossible to say what the redactor was so eager to eliminate, and why. On folio 93v, for instance, the dates 1692 and 1693 have been smudged badly, yet all the surrounding text, including the date 1691 remain intact, suggesting the dates 1692 and 1693 were targeted for deletion (figure 6). Likewise, on folio 93r, the ninth line of the notation has been eliminated, while the eight lines above have not been touched. What was on the ninth line ? It is only a single word, possibly a name of the ‘prisoner’ referred to in the text or the writer of the notation. The only common denominator is the desire to eliminate particularity – of time and of ownership, taking the book out of a specific human and temporal context. This pattern of erasure is consistent with Duffy’s description of the scraping away of a previous owner’s marks to make the manuscript suitable for a new familial milieu67.

  • 68 K. M. Rudy, « Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of use in Medieval Manuscripts using a Densitometer (...)
  • 69 Kidd, « UCLA Rouse MS 32: The Provenance of a Dismembered Italian Book of Hours », p. 282. The poss (...)

33Trimming of margins and scraping away of personal notations were both common preparations for putting a manuscript up for sale. In effect, this was a process of cleaning up the object for prospective customers or a dealer. The outer margins of the manuscript would have been trimmed in order to eliminate ratty-looking corners and the dirt and grime that accumulated around the edges where fingers held, rubbed and turned the pages. Some manuscript Books of Hours have even been stained by repeated kissing of a particular page by a devoted reader68. The presence of water stains throughout the book raises the possibility that the trimming of the pages was an effort to eliminate these, at least the ones around the edges ; many more exist along the gutter and elsewhere69. Trimming was also a preliminary step to rebinding. Whatever the reasons for it, the trimming of the Morisset Hours appears to have been a sloppy business, perhaps being undertaken by a Tavoro family member or other person not in the antique book trade. As can be clearly seen on many of the pages, the top edge of the page is crooked when compared with the ruling of the top line of the writing area. Thinking back to the manuscript’s highly efficient production milieu—one of the most respected centres of book production in Europe—we can be almost certain that the book in its original form had a top line of ruling that was parallel to the top edge of the page. After the brutal cropping of the edges, the crookedness is obvious.

  • 70 Harthan, Books of Hours and Their Owners, p. 37.

34As mentioned above, the trimming of margins was most likely done in conjunction with the rebinding of a book, as new covers and a spine which fit the new dimensions of the pages would be required. Harthan notes that few Books of Hours have survived with original covers70. It was therefore likely that the Morisset Hours was rebound (and misbound) following the trimming of the edges. An examination of the gatherings and catchwords of the book as we now have it shows several gatherings in the wrong order (see figure 1 for example). It is possible that the person who removed the original binding did not take care to keep the original order of gatherings, and thoughtlessly rebound them in the wrong sequence. It is possible that the binder lacked knowledge of Latin so that it was not obvious to him that the first page of a gathering did not logically follow the last page of the previous one. But the catchwords would have indicated to any attentive craftsman what gathering was supposed to come next, so we must conclude that the binder either did not care about, notice the presence of, or understand the function of the catchwords. In addition, there would have been very obvious indications that something was wrong, such as a break in a unique textual format like the Litany of Saints – a list of saints which, in the rebound sequence of gatherings, inexplicably stops in one place and then continues on later, with a gathering full of prayers, versicles, antiphons and responses interrupting what should have been a continuous list.

35More than just indicating sloppiness, the trimming and rebinding signal a significant change in the relationship of the object to its cultural context. The ability to follow the text through its program of devotions was no longer important and likely the manuscript had moved much closer to contemporary popular views of such artifacts : as an exotic remainder from a now distant past, valued for its notional antiquity and aura of medieval holiness. Following the harsh physical modifications to the book described above, we have no evidence of its subsequent ownership, location or provenance. As an unremarkable and non-illuminated manuscript, it took an unknown path from 17th century Florence to the University of Ottawa. According to librarians and archivists at the university, there is no known documentation related to this book and how it came into the university’s possession, though more than one speculated that it may have come via the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), the founding order of the University of Ottawa, which was established in 1848 and originally known as the College of Bytown. The OMI was founded in France in 181671, about 123 years after the last datable entry in the Morisset Hours, and would provide a logical bridge between Catholic early modern Europe and the University of Ottawa72. If the Morisset Hours was not owned by the Oblates in the 18th – 20th centuries, its plainness and lack of illumination or luxury decoration may have been its salvation, as during this period many of its more luxurious counterparts were dismembered or cut to pieces, their illuminations sold to collectors and the rest likely discarded73. In these new contexts, the book’s illustrations had become its most valuable feature ; its sacred texts and significations of little or no consequence. Collectors who frame single, illuminated manuscript pages do so for the aesthetic appeal, perhaps the feeling of connection to the distant past, or to signify to others one’s cultural knowledge or material wealth. Interestingly, these are very similar general intentions to those of many owners of Books of Hours in the late medieval period, though it is highly unlikely that many 19th or 20th century collectors could fully grasp the parallels to the religious showmanship of their 15th century counterparts.

Conclusion

  • 74 Vide supra, n. 68.
  • 75 Rudy, «Dirty Books».

36In any examination of this Book of Hours’ current milieu, the material culture approach demands that we ask the same basic questions of the object as we did in the beginning : how is it currently valued ? What are its primary characteristics ? What is its relationship with its owners and users ? It has already been noted that analyzing historical objects and trying to draw meaning and relationships from them is akin to the archaeological process. Archaeology has brought numerous technologies to bear to make ancient objects speak. Manuscript analysis also has these tools at its disposal, and they may be able to reveal much more about how this book was used and where it has been. For instance, the densitometer alluded to earlier in this paper74 can measure the darkness (i.e., the grime) of a reflecting surface75. Page by page measurements of dirt and oil built up on manuscript pages could reveal which folia of the Morisset Hours had been used, rubbed, kissed and handled most, thus revealing which parts of the book were most meaningful or important to its users.

  • 76 M. Antonetti, « Exploring the Archaeology of the Book in the Liberal Arts Curriculum », in Teaching (...)
  • 77 M. Dimunation, « "Red Wine and White Carpets": What We Didn’t Learn in Library School, or When the (...)
  • 78 J. Schuessler, « Peering into the Exquisite Life of Rare Books », New York Times, July 23, 2012, El (...)

37« Handling an old book may be the closest you will ever come to holding hands with your intellectual predecessors76. » This quote from an eminent rare books librarian and bibliographer is echoed by one of the great curators of the Library of Congress’ Rare Books and Special Collections Library Division, who said that through contact and knowledge of old books and documents « we share a personal destiny with the world of the past77. » Both these scholars recognized the potential for a book carefully examined to transport the scholar to another place—at least intellectually, and perhaps also emotionally. The materiality of a Book of Hours can bring us closer to those who used it, by focusing on the physical as well as the textual evidence—as the current Chief of the Library of Congress’ Rare Books Division has stated, « a book is a coalescence of human intentions—there’s a lot more to read than just the language in the book78. » The Morisset Hours is now part of a contemporary university rare books collection, having transitioned over the course of 550 years from an aid to private devotion to an aid to public scholarly study. Florentine craftsmen, merchants, priests and fugitives have handled it, annotated it, prayed through it, bought and sold it and been inspired by it. It has had an eventful past, holds family history and magical charms and been physically transformed by subsequent owners. As we consider this Florentine codex today, it is not only a vehicle for a medieval text but is now valued as a physical link back to the medieval period. Just as with its first owners, it is still poured over with great care and kept safe by its contemporary custodians. But, to extend the metaphor of the ‘biography’ (perhaps too far), the Morisset Hours has become like a senior citizen shut up in an old folks’ home—it is frail, broken and kept safely away from the general hubbub of the rest of the library. Ostensibly this is to protect it, but if the purpose of a university’s special collections is to provide access to materials that can bring researchers and students into closer contact with the past, perhaps it is time to rebind it one more time so that it may live again. Throughout this paper the value of the material object has been a continuous theme, as over time its shifting value propositions had a direct bearing on its use and its relationship with its material, spiritual and societal contexts. Its current and enduring value as a material and textual artifact is its ability, in the hands of an interested researcher or student, to connect us to the past in a multifaceted way.

Appendix : Transcription and Translation of Select Cursive Notations in Latin and Italian

38Folio 91v

39Transcription (figure 4)

40Dixit stultus in corde suo / non est Deus. / Vane opinioni degli antichi filo / sofi, i quali punto non am / metteuono l’esistensa di Dio.

41Translation

42The fool says in his heart there is no God.

43The empty opinions of the ancient philosophers who did not at all admit the existence of God.

44Folio 93r

45Transcription (figure 5)

46Deus meus ad te speravi / persequentibus me / ultima parola del prigioniero / innocente / anuntio vobis gaudiam magnum / quia natus est vobis hodie / Salvator Mundi.

47Translation

48My God, to you I have hoped from those who persecute me the last word of the innocent prisoner, I announce to you great joy that today is born to you the Saviour of the World.

49Folio 93v

50Transcription (figure 6)

51Giovanni Antonio / Tavoro / disceso á me Nicola / Tavoro anno domini 1691, / refugiato á S(an) Giovanni / anno domini 1692, / refuggiato nel convento / della Sa(ntissima)Ann(unziata) / anno domini 1693 refu / giato idem.

52Translation

53Giovanni Antonio Tavoro came down to me Nicola Tavoro [in] the year of our lord 1691, taking refuge at San Giovanni in 1692, took refuge in the convent of Santissima Annunziata [in] 1693 took refuge in the same.

54Folio 94r

55Transcription (figure 7)

56[first line badly obscured by trimming of top edge] / li farà 3 volte cioé la matina / La sera, é si dicevo 5 P(atri Nostri) e 5 A(ve Mariae) / et si dice l’oratione seguite / con far la croce con l’erba vevuer / si dice di questa maneira / fegato inguastato é conturbato lo f… / Alla sperata de Dio con i S(anti) / Cosomio é Damiano é la Santissima / trinitá P(ater) f(ilius) é spirito santo / † det(ta) herba si ha da Martene á [illegible word] / Ad… / di questa maniora 3 volte / [two further lines of illegible script].

57Translation

58[Illegible…] You will do this three times in the morning and the evening, and I would be saying five Pater Noster and five Ave Maria, and say the oration followed by making the sign of the cross with the herb vervain. You should say it in this way liver destroyed and disturbed, the f… to the hope of God and the saints Cosmas and Damian, the Holy Virgin [and] the Holy Spirit. The herb you will get from Martene at… … to… … in this manner three times…

Illustrations

Figure 1 : Folia 192v-193r. Fragment of the Gospel of John in different hand.

Figure 1 : Folia 192v-193r. Fragment of the Gospel of John in different hand.

Figure 2 : Folio 207v-208r. Litany of the Saints, including Saint Zenobius (Scē çenobi) followed by misbound quire.

Figure 2 : Folio 207v-208r. Litany of the Saints, including Saint Zenobius (Scē çenobi) followed by misbound quire.

Figure 3 : Folio 65v. Rubric in Italian with four line decorated capital below.

Figure 3 : Folio 65v. Rubric in Italian with four line decorated capital below.

Figure 4 : Folio 91v.

Figure 4 : Folio 91v.

Figure 5 : Folio 93r. Note erasure, possibly of personal name, bottom right.

Figure 5 : Folio 93r. Note erasure, possibly of personal name, bottom right.

Figure 6 : Folio 93v. Tavora family history ; note attempts to obscure or erase dates.

Figure 6 : Folio 93v. Tavora family history ; note attempts to obscure or erase dates.

Figure 7 : Folio 94r : Medicinal charm to cure a liver ailment. Top line of text has been rendered illegible by trimming of the pages.

Figure 7 : Folio 94r : Medicinal charm to cure a liver ailment. Top line of text has been rendered illegible by trimming of the pages.
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Notes

1 Ottawa, University Library, BX 2024 .A2 1450. I have given my common, dilapidated manuscript a name only for ease of reference and the discussion transitions between Books of Hours in general and the Book of Hours being studied, which resides in Morisset Library’s Rare Books collection. This convention is usually reserved for lavish books with established provenance.

2 J. Harthan, Books of Hours and their Owners, London, 1977, p. 31.

3 C. Gosden, and Y. Marshall, « The Cultural Biography of Objects », World Archaeology, 31, 1999, p. 169.

4 Ibid., p. 170.

5 R. PERRY, «Objectification, Identity and the Late Medieval Codex», in Everyday Objects, éds. Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson, Farnham, UK and Burlington, VT, 2010, p. 310.

6 The Biography of the Object in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy, dir. R. J. M. Olson, P. L. Reilly and R. Shepherd, Malden, MA, 2006, p. 147.

7 History from Things: Essays on Material Culture, dir. S. LUBAR and W. D. KINGERY Washington and London, 1993, p. ix.

8 « Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary » (Manuscript, Florence, Italy (?), Unknown (14th century). This citation is imported directly from the UofO library catalogue.

9 J. D. Farquhar, « Manuscript Production and Evidence for Localizing and Dating Fifteenth-Century Books of Hours: Walters MS. 239 », The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery, 45, 1987, p. 48.

10 E. Drigsdahl, « Introduction and Tutorial: Books of Hours », last modified 2007 : http://www.chd.dk/tutor/index.html This website lists 86 different uses found in Books of Hours.

11 P. Kidd, « UCLA Rouse MS 32: The Provenance of a Dismembered Italian Book of Hours Illuminated by the Master of the Brussels Initials », in Medieval Manuscripts, their Makers and Users: A Special Issue of Viator in Honor of Richard and Mary Rouse, dir. H. A. Kelly, Turnhout, Brepols, 2011, p. 281.

12 G. H. Putnam, Books and their Makers during the Middle Ages: A Study of the Conditions of the Production and Distribution of Literature from the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Close of the Seventeenth Century, New York, 1962 (vol. 1), p. 240-241. Putnam cites two examples for why Florentine producers serviced far flung clients, in addition to the low production costs and geographical range of its merchants’ business trips: Hungarian patrons sought copies of rare manuscripts they knew existed in Florentine libraries, whereas Neapolitan clients felt that their local scriptoria produced books of inadequate quality.

13 C. F. Buhler, The Fifteenth Century Book, Philadelphia, 1960, p. 19.

14 J. James, « Latin Paleography », in Medieval Studies: An Introduction, ed. J. M. Powell, 2nd ed., Syracuse, NY, 1990, p. 28.

15 A. Derolez, The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books: From the Twelfth to the Early Sixteenth Century, Cambridge, 2003, p. 30.

16 The following books contained plates and illustrations of scripts used for comparison : Derolez, The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books, passim ; M. Brown, A Guide to Western Historical Scripts: from Antiquity to 1600, Toronto, 1990, passim ; and James, « Latin Paleography », p. 30-38.

17 The fragment of the Gospel of John at folia 192v-193v is the exception, being inscribed in a much more angular hand.

18 Derolez, Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books, p. 102-103.

19 B. Bischoff, Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages, tr. Dáibhi Ó Cróinín and David Ganz, Cambridge, 1990, p. 130.

20 Ibid., p. 130.

21 Derolez, Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books, p. 108-109.

22 Derolez, Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books, p. 34.

23 I have come to this conclusion based on the list of uses from the website of the CHD Institute for Studies of Illuminated Manuscripts in Denmark’s website, cited above, which presents an exhaustive list of uses. Most of the 86 identified uses come from specific bishoprics in northern France and the Low Countries. See http://www.chd.dk/use/index.html, last updated 2007 ; accessed 28 November 2013.

24 L. M. J. Delaissé, « The Importance of Books of Hours for the History of the Medieval Book », in Gatherings in Honor of Dorothy E. Miner, dir. U. E. McCracken, L. M. C. Randall, and R. H. Randall Jr., Baltimore, MD, 1974, p. 224. Other more general indicators often discussed are the liturgical use(s) of the Hours of the Virgin and the Office of the Dead, as well as the artistic indicator of the ‘school’ of the illuminations and miniatures.

25 R. C. Trexler, Public Life in Renaissance Florence, New York, 1980, p. 423.

26 Numerous litanies from Flemish Books of Hours also list Cosmas and Damian. For example, 2 out of 8 digitized Books of Hours from the Harvard College Library website list Cosmas and Damian, all of them from northern Europe. See Harvard College Library site “Picturing Prayer: Books of Hours in the Houghton Library, Harvard University”: http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=picturingprayer, last updated 2012; accessed 13 Nov 2012.

27 Trexler, Public Life in Renaissance Florence, p. 1.

28 Ibid., p. 58.

29 Desrolez, Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books, p. 31. He notes that some manuscript producers tried to carry on by producing more illuminated and highly decorated luxury manuscripts for wealthy collectors. Buhler (p. 16), notes that sometimes these luxury manuscripts produced after printing had become widespread were actually copied from incunables, a process known as artificialiter scribere.

30 E. Duffy, Marking the Hours: English People and their Prayers1240-1570, New Haven, CT, 2006, p. viii.

31 Harthan, Books of Hours and Their Owners, p. 31.

32 There is debate over how much Latin the average lay reader might have known. Some authors such as Kathryn Smith write confidently about lay Latinity, while others such as Adelaide Bennett speculate that most readers’ knowledge of Latin was based mostly on the highly formulaic and repetitive Latin of the liturgy, which most minimally educated people would have understood. See references to Smith and Bennett below.

33 R. S. Wieck, Time Sanctified: The Book of Hours in Medieval Life and Art, New York, 1988, p. 33.

34 British Library, http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/GlossB.asp, updated 2012 ; accessed 24 October 2012.

35 Delaissé, « The Importance of Books of Hours », p. 204.

36 K. Smith, Art, Identity and Devotion in Fourteenth Century England: Three Women and their Books of Hours, London, 2003, p. 2.

37 R. Kieckhefer, «Convention and Conversion: Patterns in Late Medieval Piety», Church History, 67, 1998, p. 38.

38 G. B. Ladner, God, Cosmos, and Humankind: The World of Early Christian Symbolism, Berkeley, 1995, p. 183.

39 A. Bennett, « Making Literate Lay Women Visible: Text and Image in French and Flemish Books of Hours, 1220-1320 », in Thresholds of Medieval Visual Culture: Liminal Spaces, dir. E. Gertsman and J. Stevenson, Woodbridge, UK, 2012, p. 125.

40 Ibid., p. 130.

41 Harthan, Books of Hours and Their Owners, p. 35, describes how horae served medicinal or therapeutic purposes, mostly through the invocation of a specific saint against a particular malady or afflicted body part.

42 Ibid., p. 14. While I could identify these essential and secondary texts, I could not necessarily identify others – partly due to the misbound quires discussed earlier. An excellent list of incipits for all the various sections of Books of Hours can be found on the website for the Institute for Studies of Illuminated Manuscripts in Denmark, cited above.

43 Wieck, Time Sanctified, p. 198-224.

44 Harthan, Books of Hours and their Owners, p. 39.

45 Ibid., p. 33.

46 Perry, « Objectification, Identity and the Late Medieval Codex », p. 315.

47 Duffy, Marking the Hours, p. 30.

48 Harthan, Books of Hours and their Owners, p. 34.

49 Duffy, Marking the Hours, p. 67.

50 Duffy, Marking the Hours, p. ix.

51 ‘Surviving’, because there are several instances of personal notations being scraped away or blotted out. This feature of the Morisset Hours will be treated in the next section.

52 K. M. Ashley, « Creating Family Identity in Books of Hours », Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 32 : 1, 2002, p. 145-165.

53 For transcriptions and translations of all four notations see Appendix.

54 C. M. CIPOLLA, Fighting the Plague in Seventeenth Century Italy, Madison, 1981, p. 51. Also helpful is the map inset text on p. 52.

55 Thanks to Mark Jurdjevic, Professor of History at York University, and Christina Perissinotto, Professor of Italian at the University of Ottawa for their assistance with the transcriptions and translations.

56 Bischoff, Latin Palaeography, p. 77.

57 R. Kieckhefer, « The Specific Rationality of Medieval Magic », The American Historical Review, 99 : 3, 1994, p. 814-16.

58 J. Stannard, « Magiferous Plants and Magic in Medieval Botany », in Herbs and Herbalism in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, dir. R. KAY and K. E. STANNARD, Aldershot, 1990, p. 35.

59 Ibid., p. 40.

60 Harthan, Books of Hours and Their Owners, p. 35.

61 K. L. Jolly « On the Margins of Orthodoxy: Devotional Formulas and Protective Prayers in Corpus Christi College MS 41 », in Signs on the Edge: Space, Text and Margin in Medieval Manuscripts, dir. S. L. Keeler and R. H. Bremmer Jr., Leuven / Dudley, 2007, p. 144.

62 Duffy, Marking the Hours, p. 83. Here he is discussing Cambridge University Library manuscript Ii 6. The folia discussed in this paper are 108v-109r.

63 Ibid., p. 93.

64 J. Stannard, « Botanical Data and Late Medieval 'Rezeptliteratur' » in Herbs and Herbalism, p. 393.

65 Stannard, « Magiferous Plants and Magic in Medieval Botany », p. 39.

66 Cipolla, Fighting the Plague in 17th Century Italy, p. 3.

67 Duffy, Marking the Hours, p. 24.

68 K. M. Rudy, « Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of use in Medieval Manuscripts using a Densitometer », Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art, 2 :1-2, 2010, http://www.jhna.org/index.php/past-issues/volume-2-issue-1-2/129-dirty-books.

69 Kidd, « UCLA Rouse MS 32: The Provenance of a Dismembered Italian Book of Hours », p. 282. The possibility that water damage may have incented the rather violent trimming of the Morisset Hours pages was suggested by this article.

70 Harthan, Books of Hours and Their Owners, p. 37.

71 The Canadian Encyclopedia, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/oblates-of-mary-immaculate/, accessed 28 Nov 2012.

72 The pontifical charter which had been granted to the University of Ottawa was transferred to St. Paul University in 1956 along with the Faculty of Theology and the involvement of the OMI. If the oblates were responsible for the gift of the Book of Hours to the University of Ottawa, it is probable that the gift was made pre-1956. See article « Oblates in the West » from the University of Alberta website (http://oblatesinthewest.library.ualberta.ca/eng/impact/uofottawa.html, accessed 28 Nov 2012).

73 See Harthan, Books of Hours and Their Owners, p. 38, and KIDD, «UCLA Rouse MS 32: The Provenance of a Dismembered Italian Book of Hours», p. 279-292 passim for examples of the cutting and dismemberment of luxury Books of Hours.

74 Vide supra, n. 68.

75 Rudy, «Dirty Books».

76 M. Antonetti, « Exploring the Archaeology of the Book in the Liberal Arts Curriculum », in Teaching Bibliography, Textual Criticism, and Book History, ed. A. R. Hawkins, Brookfield / London, 2006, p. 19.

77 M. Dimunation, « "Red Wine and White Carpets": What We Didn’t Learn in Library School, or When the Dog and Pony Goes Bad », in Rare Books and Manuscripts, 7 : 2, 2006, p. 75.

78 J. Schuessler, « Peering into the Exquisite Life of Rare Books », New York Times, July 23, 2012, Electronic Edition (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/24/books/rare-book-school-at-the-university-of-virginia.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0), accessed 14 December 2012.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1 : Folia 192v-193r. Fragment of the Gospel of John in different hand.
URL http://memini.revues.org/docannexe/image/594/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 108k
URL http://memini.revues.org/docannexe/image/594/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 108k
Titre Figure 2 : Folio 207v-208r. Litany of the Saints, including Saint Zenobius (Scē çenobi) followed by misbound quire.
URL http://memini.revues.org/docannexe/image/594/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 168k
URL http://memini.revues.org/docannexe/image/594/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 184k
Titre Figure 3 : Folio 65v. Rubric in Italian with four line decorated capital below.
URL http://memini.revues.org/docannexe/image/594/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 212k
Titre Figure 4 : Folio 91v.
URL http://memini.revues.org/docannexe/image/594/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 176k
Titre Figure 5 : Folio 93r. Note erasure, possibly of personal name, bottom right.
URL http://memini.revues.org/docannexe/image/594/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 160k
Titre Figure 6 : Folio 93v. Tavora family history ; note attempts to obscure or erase dates.
URL http://memini.revues.org/docannexe/image/594/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 188k
Titre Figure 7 : Folio 94r : Medicinal charm to cure a liver ailment. Top line of text has been rendered illegible by trimming of the pages.
URL http://memini.revues.org/docannexe/image/594/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 201k
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Brent Burbridge, « A Matter of Life and Text : The Lives of a Fifteenth Century Florentine Book of Hours in the University of Ottawa’s rare books library », Memini [En ligne], 17 | 2013, mis en ligne le 26 février 2015, consulté le 18 août 2017. URL : http://memini.revues.org/594 ; DOI : 10.4000/memini.594

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Brent Burbridge

Université d’Ottawa

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