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2. A Novel Function for the Calendar in Add. Ms. 24332

© Kathryn M. Rudy, CC BY 4.0 https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0145.02

The broken manuscript, with its calendar, revealed something important about how the beghards organised information; specifically, it showed how they exploited fungibility. It took several months to crack the secrets of the beghards’ calendar. Once I understood it, I realised that fungibility was a value that they applied in several areas of their book making, including how they used prints. They found new routes to efficiency by combining technologies (manuscript with print, as I showed in Chapter 1; and calendars with tables of contents, as I am about to discuss now). They invented new finding aids, which made it not only efficient to find prayers and texts in their manuscript in the early sixteenth century, but also possible for me to reconstruct the book in the twenty-first. The calendar yielded information that would help me piece together the broken manuscript.

This chapter about the table of contents forms a slight departure from the principal narrative in this book, about the cut-and-pasted print. It is particularly meant for those who are interested in information systems, the changing technologies of finding aids. As Mary Rouse and Richard Rouse have shown, finding aids and scholarly apparatus developed over the course of the twelfth century, with such tools as biblical concordances and alphabetical subject indexes.1 The beghards exploited a range of technologies to limit their labour, to avoid duplication, and to make prayers and information discoverable.

The calendar in Add. Ms. 24332, although admittedly an unlikely place to find clues about the beghards’ mental habits, is highly unusual and deserves some analysis. Whereas all medieval calendars serve as perpetual calendars, based on the annual repeated veneration of certain saints on certain days, this calendar has an added feature: someone has devised an extra function for it, by adding folio numbers to the 365 days, thereby turning the calendar into a table of contents. The calendar was so innovative and unusual, that it took some time to figure out its intricacies.

Calendars and the Principle of Interchangeable Parts

All late medieval calendars give the dominical letter, A–G, for each day of the year (which correspond to the seven days of the week and are reassigned each year, rendering the calendar perpetual), and list saints’ days, often with the most important local cults inscribed in red. What differentiates the calendar in Add. 24332 is that many of the saints’ names are followed by a Roman numeral. My first thought was that these Roman numerals might indicate the phase of the moon or help calculate movable feast days, for this information sometimes appears in medieval calendars.2 But that was not their function in this manuscript. Trying different angles of attack, I noted that saints listed in black have their Roman numerals in red, while saints in red have their Roman numerals in black, apparently for contrast. This suggested that the Roman numerals have something to do with the saints, rather than with celestial bodies. Furthermore, most of the numerals were between ccc and cccc: rather than serving any astrological function, they referred to folios. This concept made sense given that the manuscript was foliated at all, for the only reason to foliate a book would have been to key it to some indexing system, such as a contents table; otherwise, there would be no reason to impose such a reference system. This odd feature was one I had noted the very first time I had encountered a folio from the manuscript — the black and white photo representing the St Barbara roundel (discussed in Chapter 1), with its Roman numeral inscribed in the upper margin. The scribe, I speculated, had turned the calendar into a table of contents.

I tested the hypothesis. Under 17 September one finds an entry for St Lambert (Lambertus buscop), followed by the Roman numeral cccc xxij, and sure enough, there is a prayer to St Lambert on the verso of that folio (fig. 80). In the month of May, a Roman numeral corresponding to St Dymphna sends the reader to fol. ccc lxv, where the reader does indeed find a prayer and image for that saint on the verso (fig. 81). So far, so good. But then I tested my theory with 6 February, where one finds an entry for Amandus and Vedast, who were both bishops and confessors, followed by the Roman numeral cccc xxiiii. When I turned to that folio, I found a prayer to St Lambrecht on the recto, and the rubric for a prayer to SS Cosmas and Damian on the verso, with no mention of Amandus and Vedast whatsoever. Therefore, the system was more complicated that I had first thought, and I had yet to fully crack it.

Fig. 80  Calendar in the beghards’ book of hours for the end of September and beginning of October. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 9v–10r.

Fig. 80 Calendar in the beghards’ book of hours for the end of September and beginning of October. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 9v–10r.

Fig. 81  Calendar in the beghards’ book of hours for the beginning of May. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 5r.

Fig. 81 Calendar in the beghards’ book of hours for the beginning of May. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 5r.

I transcribed the whole calendar, including the Roman numerals, into a spreadsheet (which I later integrated into the Appendix). Calendar entries for Gordian and Epimachus (martyrs); Peter and Marcellinus (martyrs); Primus and Felicianus (martyrs); Vitus and Modestus (martyrs); Quiricus and Julitta (martyrs); Gervasius and Protasius (martyrs); John and Paul (martyrs), and finally, Cosmas and Damian all directed the reader to the same folio: cccc xxiiii. What this list of saints all have in common, as you no doubt will have noticed, is that they are all pairs of martyred saints who are celebrated together. When the indexer added the contents table to the calendar, he was indicating that the manuscript specifically did not contain prayers dedicated to each of these saints in the calendar, but only to Cosmas and Damian. Anyone who wanted to recite a prayer to those other saints needed only replace the names of Cosmas and Damian with those of, say, Gordian and Epimachus, while reading the prayer on folio cccc xxiiii. Therefore, the calendar either directs the reader to the prayers to a specific saint or to the next best possible substitute. The foliation and the table of contents not only saved the user time (because he could more easily turn to the folio with the desired passage or prayer), but they also saved the producer time (because he had only to inscribe one prayer to Cosmas and Damian, omitting prayers to seven other pairs of saints).

Analogous logic is at work throughout the calendar/table of contents. For a prayer appropriate for a male saint who was martyred with a group of friends, the reader is directed to folio cccc xlv. Saints in that category include the 10,000 martyrs, the Seven Sleepers, the Seven Brothers, SS Cyriacus, Boniface, Kilian, and Ypolitus, each with his respective companions. This system therefore enabled the scribe to cut his labour considerably, inscribing one prayer instead of seven. Likewise, one finds on folio ccc xlix a prayer to the bishop St Ambrose, who provides the model for veneration of other sainted bishops — Valerius, Hilarius, Dierick, Blasius, and Gisbertus. The reader has only to change the names in his head while reading.

Anticipating the reader’s lack of familiarity with this new-fangled system, the scribe provided instructions for this calendar in a discursive passage on fol. ii (fig. 82):

fol. ii (modern foliation 14r): Jheronimus seet in eynre epistolen die hi voer sijnen calendier scrivet dat ghein dach binnen den iaer is sonder iaersdach, daar en sijn vijfdusent martelaren in ghedoet

St Jerome says in one of his epistles that he wrote for his calendar that there is not a single day during the year that does not have an anniversary, in which five thousand martyrs have been killed

Daer om laetse ons eeren mit alre devoecien ende eynicheit, mit psalmen, mit ymmenen, antiffen, versenen, responsen, ende coelecten, ende dancbaerheiden, met vasten, waken, ende wieren, ende haer leven te overdencken, ende nae te volgen, etc.

Therefore, let us honour with all devotion and praise, with psalms, with hymns, antiphons, verses, responses, and collects, and tokens of gratitude, by fasting, keeping vigil, and incensing, and by thinking about the life [of the martyr] and by following him, etc.

Eyn wisinghe om te vinden dat hier nae volcht in deesen boek

An index in order to find what follows in this book

Om die devocie te vervecken tot onsen lieven heer ende tot Maria, ende tot allen lieven heilighen, santen ende santinnen ende sonderlinghe daer wi devosie toe hebben, om di te eren soe volghen hier ghetijden, ghebeden ende colecten. Ende dat soect al nae dat ghetael der blader ende die niet en hebben op hen selven, dat nemt int ghemeyn [14v] of van eynighen heilighen die hem ghelijct, verwanlende den naem nae dien heilighen dien ghi eeren wilt.

To awaken the devotion for our dear Lord and to Mary and to all of the dear holy male and female saints, and especially to those to whom we have devotion, to honour them, there follow hours, prayers and collects. And look for it according to the number on the folio and [for] those who do not have one for themselves, take a general [prayer] or take one from a saint that resembles him, and just change the name to the name of the saint you want to honour.

Within the logic of fungibility, if the reader wants to honour a saint who does not have a prayer in the book, he may simply read the prayer to a different saint with a similar set of credentials, and swap the name. This means that the beghards were living with an entire ethos of substitution. This is also, as I showed in the previous chapter, how they treated the prints they deployed in the book — with a practical sense of approximation plus fungibility.

The beghards’ calendar demonstrates two things: that the manuscript was a space of technological experimentation (considering the calendar as technology), and that the beghards of Maastricht were not shy about altering the structure and contents of their prayerbooks in the name of efficiency, whether of manufacture or use. This calendar is not unlike the print itself: it is a time-saving technology introduced into an older type of book. On the one hand, the complexity of the calendar indicates the unwieldiness of late medieval devotions. But on the other hand, it shows that beghards were willing to create new adaptations to make their books more usable for prayer, among these the idea that, though saints’ days were specific, prayers (and the components of the book in general) could be used interchangeably, within some simple parameters. In short, they turned one indexing system (the calendar, which lays out saints’ feasts in twelve spreadsheets) into a different kind (a contents table).

Fig. 82  Explanation of the Table of Contents in the beghards’ book of hours. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. ii (modern foliation 14r).

Fig. 82 Explanation of the Table of Contents in the beghards’ book of hours. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. ii (modern foliation 14r).

Their newly deployed technology echoes one used elsewhere in the inchoate printing industry: a pair of prints now in Paris reveals that such interchangeability also took place at the level of the prints themselves. Specifically, printmakers used the same principle to adapt print matrices by having some removable plugs within the block. Such is the case with a pair of prints depicting female saints, Catherine and Mary Magdalene (figs 83a and 83b).3 The backgrounds of the two prints are identical. Close inspection reveals a disturbance around the torso of Mary Magdalene, which resulted from the unusual experiment in block-cutting represented here: the cutter must have made a background image with a recess where the virgins’ upper torsos would go. He could then swap just this component, thereby changing the attribute of the saint, and therefore her identity. Just the section of the matrix with the name, face, and identifying object has changed. This also explains why Mary Magdalene’s left hand appears in a strange position: it had to be worked into the matrix plug somehow. Polychromy has helped to distinguish the two images, so that their differences obfuscate their similarities.

Fig. 83a  St Catherine, hand-coloured woodcut print, Southern Germany or Swabia. Paris, BnF, Rés. Ea-5 (8)-Boîte (Schreiber 1317/Bouchot 136). Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Fig. 83a St Catherine, hand-coloured woodcut print, Southern Germany or Swabia. Paris, BnF, Rés. Ea-5 (8)-Boîte (Schreiber 1317/Bouchot 136). Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Fig. 83b  St Mary Magdalene, hand-coloured woodcut print, Southern Germany or Swabia. Paris, BnF, Rés. Ea-5 (8)-Boîte (Schreiber 1594/ Bouchot 139). Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Fig. 83b St Mary Magdalene, hand-coloured woodcut print, Southern Germany or Swabia. Paris, BnF, Rés. Ea-5 (8)-Boîte (Schreiber 1594/ Bouchot 139). Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Book Technologies and Social Networks

The beghards in Maastricht invented the systems of superimposing a table of contents over a calendar and using substitutions to reduce scribal labour. This is one event in a long development of information technologies belonging to the history of the book. Indeed, they may have learned about this system of organising information because, as I have discussed, they had a bindery, and therefore saw all kinds of book technologies passing through their studios. In particular, the beghards would have been part of several networks, including a network of other Franciscans who were also book producers and users. As with any social network, the beghards shared ideas over a wide geographical swathe, where the various houses (primarily in cities, since Franciscans are primarily urban) form the nodes. Along these network lines are traded ideas about book technology as well as books themselves; texts; prints; gifts; approaches to decorating books; leather, oak boards, and other supplies used in binding manuscripts; and services (including but not limited to copying, decorating, binding, teaching, correcting). Because the beghards in Maastricht had a bindery, they also must have been a large node in a network for bookish exchanges, as people sent them new books and old, falling-apart books for (re)binding. In using prints in manuscripts, and in using the calendar as a contents table, they were copying (and extending) ideas exploited by others Franciscans who must have been in their network.

Organising information has an intricate history that is bound up with the history of the book itself. The codex is a structure for holding information and making it retrievable. In these tasks the codex far outstrips the roll, as it allows the user to tabulate various kinds of information and to cross-index. Although early medieval secular administrators invented some structures for tabulating and retrieving information, the devices facilitating such finding functions were rather limited until the central Middle Ages, when finding aids became more numerous and varied.4 Scholastic cultures of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in particular prompted the advancement of finding aids.5 For example, thirteenth-century Paris bibles have running headings indicating the book and chapter of the Bible, so that the reader may know where he is in the book and find any text easily.6

Early tables of contents in Netherlandish manuscript (with accompanying foliation) appear in books of sermons, as this would enable preachers to find material for sermons more easily. Such is the case of the Limburg Sermons (The Hague, KB, Ms. 70 E 5), composed around 1300, as Wybren Scheepsma has discussed.7 This manuscript had been in the convent of Tertiaries of the Convent Maagdendriesch in Maastricht, and came to the Royal Library as part of the Maastricht Collectie.

One can easily see why someone would want to index sermons in this way: no one would read a book of sermons from cover to cover but, rather, to retrieve a particular sermon for a particular purpose. It is not coincidental that such book technologies as foliation accompany the rise of the preaching orders.

In a secular context, given the nature of their content, histories and chronicles were often given tables of contents. As with all reference works, a reader might dip into relevant sections. Jacob van Maerlaent, one of the first vernacular poets of Middle Dutch, even wrote a rhyming table of contents as a preface to his Nature Bloemen. One can imagine that a courtly audience would appreciate an aural performance of the new technology in advance of hearing particular sections read aloud.8

Jan van Emmerick embraced new forms of information organising, and he imposed such structures on several of the manuscripts he played a part in writing, such as the beghards’ cartulary (Maastricht, RHCL, 14.D015, inv. no. 6). In 1500, only the first few folios of the book had been inscribed, and the rest of the 92-folio book was blank, but then Jan started working on it. He started a table of contents, and then foliated it with roman numerals, furnishing all of the blank pages — all 93 of them — with numbers, even though when he was using it, it was still close to an empty, blank book. He was foliating the future.

Contents tables are a rarity in books of hours because they were not part of the standard apparatus for this genre of book: people navigated their books of hours primarily through the hierarchy of decoration, and with spatial clues. It is doubly rare for an original table of contents to survive, because they are made separately; the few that were made were especially vulnerable during rebinding. Apart from Add. 24332 and one closely related example I shall discuss shortly, I know of no other books of hours with contents tables and only a few prayerbooks that are foliated but have lost their tables of contents.9 An example of the latter is The Hague, KB, Ms. 135 E 36, a book of hours in Latin and Dutch assembled over the course of decades from c. 1400 until c. 1450 and now in a binding from c. 1500. Parts of the manuscript are in different styles, some from the Southern Netherlands or northern France, some from the Eastern Netherlands, and some miniatures probably from Utrecht.10 One of the segments comprising this convolute bears original foliation in red ink (fig. 84).

Fig. 84 Book of hours with original foliation reading lvii (although it has lost its table of contents). The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 135 E 36, fol. 45v–46r. http://manuscripts.kb.nl/zoom/BYVANCKB%3Amimi_135e36%3A045v_046r

It has been integrated into the dense marginal decoration of the recto side of each leaf. On fol. 46r, for example, a paraplegic beggar rests on a pair of makeshift wooden clogs while urgently ringing bells to get attention. Inadvertently, he calls attention to the number lvii just above his head. Unfortunately, parts of this manuscript have been lost, and the contents table that presumably once ordered these folio numbers has not survived.

As tables of contents do not usually appear in prayerbooks, the presence of one in Add. 24332 requires some explanation and contextualisation. It reveals something about the late medieval organisation of information, the spread of ideas, and the intellectual milieu of the book’s makers. Although unprecedented for a book of hours, the concept of turning a calendar into a table of contents was also not new. Some other types of books — besides books of hours — contain perpetual calendars, and therefore provide opportunities for such tables. One example is the Golden Legend, Jacobus de Voragine’s compilation of miracle stories, assembled in the thirteenth century and recopied throughout the late Middle Ages. Originally, the stories were arranged in order of the liturgical calendar, so that the book could be read from cover to cover and the readings would correspond to the sequence of the saints celebrated during the year. Therefore, copies of the manuscript were often made with a calendar preceding the text.

A Middle Dutch copy of the Golden Legend, made by a male Franciscan tertiary in Amsterdam, has a contents table layered over the calendar: The Hague, KB, Ms. 73 D 9 (fig. 85). Copies of the Golden Legend are usually so large that they are split into two halves, and the relevant halves of the calendar also distributed logically. This enormous copy contains only the second half of the year, the so-called ‘summer part’, with readings corresponding to saints’ days from July to December. As one would expect, the calendar/contents has been made on a separate quire (folios IIr–IIIr), but written at the same time and by the same hand as the rest of the manuscript. Brother Peter, the scribe of this Golden Legend, signed his name in a colophon on folio cclix.11 He notes that he was a member of the monastery of St Paul in Amsterdam (confusingly also called the Sint-Georgiusklooster), within the Third Order of St Francis, and he also dates his work 1450. He made the book for the female tertiaries of St Margaret either in Amsterdam or Haarlem. Brother Peter therefore may have first invented the use of the calendar as a table of contents; I know of no earlier examples.

Fig. 85  Calendar in a Golden Legend turned into table of contents: months of November and December, Amsterdam, 1450. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 73 D 9, fol. IIIr.

Fig. 85 Calendar in a Golden Legend turned into table of contents: months of November and December, Amsterdam, 1450. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 73 D 9, fol. IIIr.

Analysing the month of November reveals just why the contents table was useful. All Saints’ Day (1 November), directs the reader to folio clxii, and All Souls’ Day (2 November) follows logically on the next folio (clxvii), where the reader will find readings relevant to those feasts. But the feast day after that, celebrating Eustachius ende sine ghesellen (Eustace and his companions), directs its reader to folio ccxxviii, out of calendrical order. The reason for this concerns the text’s distant origin. When the Golden Legend was compiled in France in around 1260, the individual stories were copied in the order that they would be celebrated in the calendar; however, the sequences of local saints changed per region and were different in other regions. For example, Willibrort (9 November) and Lebuin (13 November), two saints especially revered in the Northern Netherlands, were venerated on different days from those in the French prototype. In the calendar/table of contents in KB 73 D 9, the folio numbers corresponding to these saints are therefore out of sequence with the other saints venerated in November. Even more telling is the group of saints under 31 December, not because they were all to be fêted on New Year’s Eve, but because these names corresponded to saints whose Lives were included in earlier (French) redactions of the Golden Legend: these saints were not especially venerated in the Northern Netherlands, and therefore did not have feast days in the Dutch calendar. These stragglers include ‘Margaret who is called Pelagius’ (Margareta die hiet Pelagius) and Hugh of St Victor. The latter was a twelfth-century theologian and writer but was never canonised or venerated in any way. He was the main proponent of the Victorines. This category of misfits also included one more entry that the copyist had to include somewhere: a chronicle beginning with Pope Pelagius (Cronike beghinnende van Pelagius die paeus), copied at the very end of the Golden Legend, on folio ccxlix. All these texts are relegated to 31 December, because there was no organic place for them in a Northern Netherlandish calendar, but they had to go somewhere.

One more technical point illuminates how scribes produced contents tables. On folio 179r of the Golden Legend, the Roman numeral overlaps the penwork (fig. 86), which means that the foliation was done after the decoration. For the Golden Legend, foliation was the penultimate step and adding the folio numbers to the calendar was the final step. This fact is important for my interpretation of the Add. 24332.

Fig. 86  Folio in a Golden Legend showing original foliation in the upper border, Amsterdam, 1450. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 73 D 9, fol. 179r.

Fig. 86 Folio in a Golden Legend showing original foliation in the upper border, Amsterdam, 1450. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 73 D 9, fol. 179r.

Significantly, these ideas about organising and indexing information seem to have originated and been transmitted in Franciscan circles. This preaching order, after all, was working in cities among people who were merchants, who had a high degree of numeracy, and who were organising information to maximise profits. Beghards in Maastricht made Add. 24332 about 50 years after their Franciscan brethren copied the Golden Legend in Amsterdam; in Maastricht they applied the same thinking to their book of hours, when they superimposed a table of contents on the existing calendar. Despite the logic of combining these two different indexing systems, the idea never really took hold in other places, although the Franciscan beghards of Maastricht continued to use and develop these ideas into the sixteenth century.

These examples demonstrate that there were in fact manuscripts with original foliation and tables of contents before the beghards applied these ideas to Add. 24332 in 1500, but they applied them to a different kind of manuscript, the book of hours. In addition to the calendar, which indexes the folio numbers of the texts containing prayers to saints listed in the calendar, the beghards also wrote a separate table of contents. It appears on fol. 15r, after the calendar (fig. 87). The texts that the book contains, as well as its organisation, finding aids, and other meta-textual components, reveal much about the intended audience.

The Table of Contents in Add. 24332, Transcribed and Translated


Original folio


Ten yersten dat pater noster, ende den Ave Maria ende den Credo


(First) Pater Noster, Ave Maria, Credo

Alsmen dat hl sacrament op heffet

vi, vcxii, vcxv

Prayers to say during the elevation of the host

Die benediste ende gracie


Benediction and grace before meals

Den Confiteor


The Confiteor

Den miserere, deprofondis, salve


Psalms 129 & 130, the Salve Regina

Ghebet totten hemelschen vader


Prayer to God

Ghebet tot Joachim ende Anna

xxiii, xxiiii, xxv

Prayer to Mary’s parents

Eyn groet tot Maria


Greeting to Mary

Dat roesenkrensken


Rosary devotion

v grueten tot Maria x doechden

xxxviii, xliii

Five greetings to Mary’s virtues

Eyn ander roesenkrensken


Another rosary

v vervrouwen van Maria


Five Joys of Mary

v grueten totten v wonden ons heeren


Five greetings to the Five Wounds of our Lord

Eyn offeringe op alle gebeden


An offering to all prayers

Die cruisgheteijden cort ende scoen


The short and beautiful Hours of the Cross

Die vii ghetijden vanden hl gheist

The Seven Hours of the Holy Spirit








clxiii [etc]














Die vij ghetijden van onse vrouwen

The Seven Hours of Our Lady

Die metten






Die vij salmen


The Seven Penitential Psalms



Litany of the Saints










Die vigili


Vigil for the Dead







Eyn ghebet op di ghetiden


A prayer to the hours

Van aeflaet te verdienen


On indulgences to earn

Bernardus gebet voerden hl +


Prayer of St Bernard before the Holy Cross

xiiij grueten tot onsen here


Fourteen greetings to Our Lord

Dri deprecor

cc lxxxi

Three Deprecors

Die vij ghetiden van Maria liden


The Seven Hours of Mary’s Suffering

Eng gebet tot onsen [heer]


A Prayer to our Lord

Dri pater noster


Three Pater Nosters

noch dri

cc xc

Three more Pater Nosters

Hier volghen die ghebeden vanden heilighen ende sonderlinghe vanden heilighen diemen wiert ende sommige vernoemde heiligen

Here follow the prayers for the saints and especially for the saints that one venerates and some named saints.

As its contents table lays out, this book might be appropriate for a number of audiences, including children and those new to reading. Although tables of contents are rare in prayerbooks, one exception is The Hague, KB, Ms. 133 F 2, which is an instructional manual made for a child in Ghent in the mid-sixteenth century.12 Such finding aids and didactic explanations (‘how to use this book’) are associated with materials made for children.

Fig. 87  Table of contents in the beghards’ book of hours. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 14v-15r.

Fig. 87 Table of contents in the beghards’ book of hours. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 14v-15r.

A Book for Children

Several clues about the function and original audience of the manuscript are provided by its contents: it was a book for school children or young learners. The manuscript begins with the Pater Noster, Ave Maria, and Credo (formerly folio v, fol. 26r; fig. 88), along with the other items listed at the top of the Contents, all of which are texts that were used to teach reading and at the same time inculcate new learners with tenets of the faith.13 A neophyte reader would have been able to parse the Latin texts without the hurdle of abbreviations, because the scribe wrote these texts in full, itself a further indication that they functioned here as teaching texts. They do have heavily abbreviated Middle Dutch rubrics, suggesting that they were geared towards readers who had already mastered some degree of vernacular literacy but did not yet know Latin.

Fig. 88  Folio in the beghards’ book of hours, with the Pater Noster, and beginning of Ave Maria. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 26r.

Fig. 88 Folio in the beghards’ book of hours, with the Pater Noster, and beginning of Ave Maria. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 26r.

To help the novice reader more, several of the texts near the beginning of Add. 24332 are given in bilingual editions. As the Contents indicates, the Confiteor begins on folio xii (fol. 33v). Remarkably, the Latin prayer text is interlineated with a rubricated Middle Dutch translation of the prayer.14 These interlineated texts were probably used as teaching aids, and Franciscan ones at that: St Francis is mentioned in the Confiteor. Other bilingual texts that the Franciscan teachers deemed appropriate include ‘Die benedicite’ (The Benediction, fols 27v–28v), a prayer to the sacrament, ‘Totten avontmael des ewichs’ (To the eternal evening meal, fol. 28v), and a prayer to be read at collation, ‘Alsmen colaci drinct’ (fol. 33r). Here colaci (collation) may refer to a custom of reading in the refectory together with a caritas (drink) on Saturdays. These prayers appear on folios ruled so that Latin words appear in large black letters and vernacular words in smaller red ones. Finally, the Pater Noster, Ave, and Credo are then supplied in the vernacular, beginning on fol. 65r, as if providing a translation of the most basic prayers for the faith were an afterthought, and its inclusion necessary to ensure that learners got it right. These basic prayers and bilingual teaching texts are confined to quires near the beginning of the codex.

In fact, few bilingual instructional books survive from the late Middle Ages. One of these is a book of hours written in Latin in red, with phrase by phrase translations in English in black (Glasgow, Hunterian Museum, Ms. H512, fols 32v and 33r; fig. 89). This book likewise begins with the Pater Noster, Ave Maria, and Credo, which further mark its function as a book for teaching children the rudiments of reading and the faith. The Glasgow manuscript also contains vernacular religious poetry, on which the rubricator drew lines to connect the rhyming lines in the stanzas, no doubt to make manifest the rhyming structure of the prayer. In a different, earlier manuscript, the Maastricht beghards had used a similar approach to teach: they copied two Lives of St Servatius (the patron of Maastricht) into a single manuscript now preserved in Leiden University Library (Ms. BPL 1215).15 One copy is in Latin prose and the other in Middle Dutch verse. Although they do not present a line-by-line translation, the tandem set seems to form a study book for students, as the contents themselves, plus some circumstantial evidence, suggest. A note on the final flyleaf written in fifteenth-century script indicates that Hendrick Lenssen owned the book; he was a teacher in the beghards’ school. The beghards engaged in a variety of teaching practices and must have used various volumes to do so. Techniques deployed in their books reveal, for example, that they wrote instructions to the users, provided simultaneous translations, and, in the case of Add. 24332, peppered their books with attractive printed images.

Fig. 89  Opening in an English book of hours, in English and Latin, and with red lines to mark rhyming lines of poetry. Glasgow, University Library, Ms. Hunter, H512, fol. 32v-33r.

Fig. 89 Opening in an English book of hours, in English and Latin, and with red lines to mark rhyming lines of poetry. Glasgow, University Library, Ms. Hunter, H512, fol. 32v-33r.

How to use a book is one of the lessons on offer. The scribe was apparently aware that tables of contents were a rarity in medieval books, and that the book’s user might require instructions. Studying the unusual table of contents in Add. 24332 reveals the book to be the product of combining multiple innovations for a particular purpose.

If the contents table forms one new finding aid in prayerbooks, then the abundant prints are another. The Franciscans set out to make the most navigable manuscript they could. In Add. 24332 the prints, as all imagery and decoration in manuscripts, can be considered as finding aids, since the presence of a print signposts a text related to the figure or event depicted in the print. Prints are usually (but not always) pasted at the beginning of a section; in that way, they help the reader find the beginning of the passage and therefore enhance the function of the contents table by providing a second quick visual way of finding information within the dense manuscript. Prints were an adaptable and cheap way to make the book a more effective tool.

Jan van Emmerick

There is an especially organised mind behind the construction of Add. 24332, who guided several people that worked on it. One of these people appears in the section beginning on folio 27v, which is a peculiar bilingual text: it consists of common prayers written in Latin in black letters, with an interlineated translation in smaller red script (fig. 90). This section, which continues til fol. 37r, was designed for teaching students to read Latin, and consists of prayers to read before meals, in addition to the Confiteor.16 Unusually, the Confiteor makes particular mention of St Francis: the beghards created opportunities to insinuate their patron into lessons and prayers. The same hand that made the interlineal translations also foliated the manuscript at the top recto of (nearly) every folio, partly wrote the table of contents, inscribed the letters into the calendar and added many saints, either in red or in a slightly watery brownish ink. This scribe was not only involved in teaching students how to read, as evidenced by this bilingual text, but also how to use a book, if one is to judge by his adapted calendar. This is the hand of Jan van Emmerick, a Franciscan beghard first mentioned at the beginning of Chapter 1. Despite my best effort to resist this, I have fallen into the pit of the nineteenth-century cult of the genius by attributing greatness to one of the figures in this monastery whom I can identify.

Fig. 90  Opening in the beghards’ book of hours: the beginning of the benediction, with interlineal rubricated translation. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 27v-28r (modern foliation).

Fig. 90 Opening in the beghards’ book of hours: the beginning of the benediction, with interlineal rubricated translation. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 27v-28r (modern foliation).

A number of manuscripts from the Maastricht Franciscans ended up with the Minderbroeders in Weert in the heart of Limburg. After I left the Netherlands, my opportunities to visit out of the way museums dwindled, but eventually one did arrive. In June 2016 I delivered the keynote lecture at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam at a conference about the uses and transformations of early printing (fig. 91). There I presented this project and afterwards took a train to Weert to study the group of books given by the Franciscans to the Gemeentemuseum Jacob van Horne. As the museum is not equipped for readers, the curator set me up in their main exhibition space, where, surrounded by manuscripts, I became part of the exhibition (fig. 92).

Fig. 91  Symposium at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, June 2016.

Fig. 91 Symposium at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, June 2016.

Fig. 92  Weert, Gemeentemuseum Jacob van Horne, Museum interior in 2016.

Fig. 92 Weert, Gemeentemuseum Jacob van Horne, Museum interior in 2016.

Jan van Emmerick signed his name in some of the manuscripts on which he worked. He was probably born around 1440, joined the beghards around 1460, and worked in the scriptorium of the beghards’ house when he was in his twenties. He probably started out as a scribe, and copied many manuscripts in the 1460s and 70s, a few of which survive. One of his signed books is a copy in Middle Dutch of David van Augsburg’s Profectus religiosorum, now in Cambridge.17 Jan wrote part of this manuscript, and signed and dated it (1466) on folio 204r: ‘Hier eyndet dat ander boeck van profecten. Ende is volscreven inden jaer ons heren doen men screef .M.CCCC ende lxvi, op sinte peters ende pouwels avont per manum fratris iohannis test natus de embrica presbiter’. That same year, 1466, he copied Hendrik Herp’s Spiegel der volcomenheit.18 Thus, he could copy both Latin and vernacular books. He also finished writing manuscripts that others had begun, such as a prayerbook with texts by Jordanus van Quedlinburg: in 1473 Jan van Emmerick wrote folios 113r–266v of that manuscript, then signed and dated the colophon on folio 266v: This book was finished in the year of our lord 1473 in the month of August on St Sixtus’s day.19 One of the most important manuscripts he copied in this period was a great Latin missal, now in Stonyhurst, Lancashire. He signed and dated this manuscript (1472) in a colophon on the final folio.20

There are no known manuscripts copied by his hand dating from the 1480s or 90s, when Jan van Emmerick was in his thirties and forties. Perhaps he worked as a corrector during this period. Perhaps he taught in the school that the beghards ran, teaching reading in Latin and the vernacular to pupils, and perhaps he ran the bindery. As is evident from his distinctive handwriting, Jan corrected a Middle Dutch Leven van Jezus (Life of Christ) copied by him, the Servaas copyist, and Adam de Beecke in 1459 and 1466, as mentioned in Chapter 1.21 He corrected other manuscripts copied by the Servaas copyist, such as one now in The Hague, KB, as well as an undated Middle Dutch translation of the Letters of Jerome22 and an undated Middle Dutch translation of Cassianus’s Collationes patrum.23 He often worked in conjunction with the ‘Servaas copyist’, who was certainly also a beghard in Maastricht and who copied the Servaas codex now in Leiden, mentioned earlier. For example, Jan’s hand can be seen at work in the margins of The Hague, KB, Ms. 133 D 29, folio 92r, a Middle Dutch translation of the Epistles of Paul. Assuming that Jan van Emmerick was born around 1440, he was about 60 years old at the time he participated in writing Add. 24332. What is extraordinary is that, even at this advanced age, he was willing to dive into the new technology of printmaking to enhance his manuscript.

The beghards were piling organisational and finding aids into this book. Some were material, some conceptual. Some involved glue, others involved complicated instructions. Finally, another set of residues points to another system for idea retrieval. Specifically, the page with St John on Patmos (e-fig. 32)24 reveals yet another way in which the beghards enhanced the book’s usability. They did not stop with the table of contents, the foliation, the extensive application of prints: this page originally had a tab for easy finding when the book was closed. Like the rest of the book, the tab was made of paper. Although it has not survived, its stain on the page in the outer margin are clear. Using any means possible, the book’s scribes set out to make the textual contents attractive and easy to find. In fact, gluing in these tabs utilised some of the same materials and techniques that were used in combining manuscript and print: cutting specific shapes with a knife, and gluing them into a precise location. This finding aid made it possible to navigate the book with one’s fingertips.


In addition to its emphatic use of prints, the manuscript is interesting because it has tools for organising and indexing the information found within the codex, namely, an unusual calendar with finding aids, a table of contents, and a list of activities for which indulgences are granted. The beghards who made the book were innovators not only in the sourcing and use of prints but also in the imposition of information retrieval systems. Some of these systems bear a structural resemblance to printing itself: performing an action once in order to produce multiple benefits. Just as a printer could cut one matrix of, say, St John the Evangelist, and yield 250–400 copies of that print, here the scribes were writing one prayer to, say, a female virgin with companions, which they could deploy for many different situations. Moreover, the beghards could use multiple copies of the same print, and make slight adjustments to it by trimming slightly here, or adding an attribute there, to change the identities of the pictured saint. All these examples explore ways to squeeze more efficiency out of a system.

By recognising these flexible systems, one can see that the manuscript reveals much about fifteenth-century category formation and classification systems, just as the contents of the BM boxes reveal something of the nineteenth-century mentality, and the current online catalogue of the BM is based on those nineteenth-century models of intellectual organisation that it inherited. But, in fact, the ingenious systems present in the codex only become visible when the entire codex is treated as a whole system, with its folios, foliation, prayers, (adjusted) prints, table of contents, and instructions. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.

Add. 24332 is a book of hours, nominally, with many other texts that seem to meet a specific pedagogic need: to teach a neophyte reader how to read (beginning with the Pater Noster), how to recognise saints and their attributes, how to appreciate the Franciscan saints in particular, and, more abstractly, how to use a book. All this learning would have taken place in the Franciscans’ house on the Witmakersstraat. Connecting their house on their small street were rivers and roads that led to printmakers, who supplied the beghards with their new wares, and to other Franciscan houses. The beghards of Maastricht had access to this labour-saving system of information management, I believe, because they belonged to a network of Franciscans who traded books and ideas. And the brothers on the Witmakersstraat made themselves essential in these processes by offering their services as book makers and as bookbinders. Their importance continued in the sixteenth century, as the next chapter chronicles.

1 The Rouses’ fundamental studies of medieval finding aids are: Richard Rouse, ‘Cistercian Aids to Study in the Thirteenth Century’, in Studies in Medieval Cistercian History II, ed. J. R. Sommerfeldt (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1976), pp. 123–34; M. A. and R. H. Rouse, ‘Statim invenire: Schools, Preachers and New Attitudes to the Page’, in Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century, ed. R. L. Benson and G. Constable (Cambridge, MA, 1982), pp. 201–25, repr. in their Authentic Witnesses: Approaches to Medieval Texts and Manuscripts (Notre Dame, Ind: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991), pp. 191–219; M. A. and R. H. Rouse, ‘The Development of Research Tools in the Thirteenth Century’ also reprinted in Authentic Witnesses: Approaches to Medieval Texts and Manuscripts (Notre Dame, Ind: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991), pp. 221–55; M. A. and R. H. Rouse, ‘La naissance des index’, in Histoire de l’édition française, I: Le livre conquérant: Du Moyen Âge au milieu du XVIIe siècle (Paris, Promodis, 1983), 77–85; M. A. and R. H. Rouse, ‘Concordances et index’, in Mise en page et mise en texte de livre manuscript, ed. H.-J. Martin and J. Vezin (Paris, Éditions du Cercle de la Librairie. Promodis, 1990), pp. 219–28. Although alphabetization is older, scholars from the twelfth century onward had a particular passion for making alphabetized lists. For example, an Italian bat book of the thirteenth century lists medical recipes from ‘Antidotum asclepiadeum’ to ‘Ziriofilos minus’ for which see J. P. Gumbert, Bat Books: A Catalogue of Folded Manuscripts Containing Almanacs or Other Texts. Bibliologia: Elementa ad Librorum Studia Pertinentia, 41. (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), p. 38. See also Lloyd W. Daly, Contributions to a History of Alphabetization in Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Brussels: Latomus, 1967).

2 For Netherlandish calendars, see Eef. A. Overgaauw, ‘Saints in Medieval Calendars from the Diocese of Utrecht as Clues for the Localization of Manuscripts’, Codices Manuscripti 16 (1992), pp. 81–97.

3 Lepape and Rudy, Les Origines de l’Estampe, pp. 62, 66, cat. 28–29.

4 On early finding aids, see Adam Kosto, ‘Statim invenire ante: finding aids and research tools in pre-scholastic legal and administrative manuscripts’, Scriptorium 70 (2016), pp. 285–309.

5 In addition to the items by the Rouses listed above in fn 96$, see M. B. Parkes, ‘“Folia librorum querere”: Medieval Experience of the Problem of Hypertext and the Index’, originally published in 1995, and republished in Pages from the Past: Medieval Writing Skills and Manuscript Books, ed. P. R. Robinson and R. Zim (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012), item X, pp. 23–50; Emily Steiner and Lynn Ransom, eds, Taxonomies of Knowledge: Information and Order in Medieval Manuscripts (Philadelphia, PA: The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, University of Pennsylvania Libraries, 2015).

6 Paul Saenger gave a series of three lectures presented on 14, 15, and 17 April, 2008 in the Rosenwald Gallery of the Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania on ‘The Latin Bible as Codex’.

7 For many examples, see Wybren Scheepsma, De Limburgse Sermoenen (ca. 1300): De Oudste Preken in het Nederlands, Nederlandse Literatuur en Cultuur in de Middeleeuwen (Amsterdam: B. Bakker, 2005), translated as Wybren Scheepsma, The Limburg Sermons: Preaching in the Medieval Low Countries at the Turn of the Fourteenth Century, Brill’s Series in Church History (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2008).

8 Although Joyce Coleman writes about aurality in England and France, her conclusions are also valid for the Netherlands. See her Public Reading and the Reading Public in Late Medieval England and France (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

9 Another manuscript prayerbook with original foliation that emerged in the course of this study, is Add. 31002, for which see Chapter 3.

10 For a study of manuscripts assembled from components, sometimes from different times and places, see Kathryn M. Rudy, Piety in Pieces: How Medieval Readers Customized Their Manuscripts (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2016), https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0094; https://www.openbookpublishers.com/product/477

11 Under the entry for August, the scribe has noted ‘Int iaer ons heren m cccc ende lx starf Aed Dirc Claeser wijf’. The colophon on fol. cclix indicates that it was copied by Brother Peter from the Tertians of St Paul (‘Dit boec heeft ghescreven broeder peter priester des convents st pouwels vander derder oerden st Franciscus. Ende tis gheeindet int iaer ons heren m cccc ende l in die maent augustus op st Bernaerts dach. Biddet om gods willen voir den scriver’. See Margriet Hülsmann, ‘Gedecoreerde Handschriften uit Tertiarissenconventen in Amsterdam en Haarlem: Boekenbezit versus Boekproductie’, Ons geestelijk erf 74, nos. 1-2 (2000), pp. 153–80.

12 M. H. Porck and H. J. Porck, ‘Eight Guidelines on Book Preservation from 1527: How One Should Preserve All Books to Last Eternally’, Journal of Paper Conservation 13:2 (2012), pp. 17–25.

13 For manuscripts made for children, see Kathryn A. Smith, ‘The Neville of Hornby Hours and the Design of Literate Devotion’, The Art Bulletin 81, no. 1 (1999), pp. 72–92;

Nicholas Orme, Medieval Children (New Haven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 2001); Roger S. Wieck, ‘Special Children’s Books of Hours in the Walters Art Museum’, in Als Ich Can: Liber Amicorum in Memory of Professor Dr. Maurits Smeyers, ed. by Bert Cardon, Jan van der Stock, Dominique Vanwijnsberghe and Katharina Smeyers. Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts = Corpus van Verluchte Handschriften, pp. 1629–39 (Leuven: Peeters, 2002); Kathryn A. Smith, Art, Identity, and Devotion in Fourteenth-Century England: Three Women and Their Books of Hours (London: British Library and University of Toronto Press, 2003); Kathryn M. Rudy, ‘An Illustrated Mid-Fifteenth-Century Primer for a Flemish Girl: British Library, Harley Ms 3828’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 69 (2006), pp. 51–94.

14 For interlineal glosses, see Malcolm Beckwith Parkes, ‘Folia librorum quaerere: Medieval experience of the problem of hypertext and the index’, originally published in 1995 and republished in his Pages from the Past: Medieval Writing Skills and Manuscript Books, ed. Pamela R. Robinson and Rivkah Zim (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012), Chapter X, pp. 23–50, and Plates I-VIII, esp. pp. 25–26, with further references.

15 Geert Warnar, ‘Servatius in School’, Omslag: Bulletin van de Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden en het Scaliger Instituut 3 (2010). For further bibliography, visit the Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta BNM website https://bnm-i.huygens.knaw.nl/ and search for ‘BPL 1215’.

16 Anne Rudloff Stanton, ‘The Psalter of Isabelle, Queen of England 1308–1330: Isabelle as the Audience’, Word & Image: A Journal of Verbal/Visual Enquiry 18, no. 4 (2002), pp. 1–27. also discusses a bilingual manuscript that was clearly intended for learning Latin.

17 Cambridge, HUL, Ms. Lat. 268. Manuscript on parchment, 223 ff, 205 x 145 (150 x 95) mm, 1 column with 27-29 lines. Seymour de Ricci, Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, 3 vols. (New York: H. W. Wilson, 1935–1940), p. 1017; Jan Deschamps, Middelnederlandse Handschriften uit Europese en Amerikaanse Bibliotheken: Tentoonstelling ter Gelegenheid van het Honderdjarig Bestaan van de Koninklijke Zuidnederlandse Maatschappij voor Taal- en Letterkunde en Geschiedenis, Brussel, Koninklijke Bibliotheek Albert I, 24 Okt.-24 Dec. 1970: Catalogus, 2nd edn (Leiden: Brill, 1972), pp. 204, 214, 216; Stooker and Verbeij, no. 870.

18 Weert, Minderbroeders, p. 10.

19 ‘Dit boec waert gheeent inden Jaer ons heren Mcccc lxxiii inden maent augusti op sinte Sixtus dach’. Weert, Minderbroeders, Ms. 12.

20 Stonyhurst, Great College, Ms. 4, fol. 295v: ‘Item Missale istud scriptum est in conventu fratrum tercii ordinis sancti Francisci opidi traiectensis per manus fratris iohannis presbiteri de embrica. ad summe individueque trinitatis honorem. Anno M° cccc° lxxii°’. See N. R. Ker et al, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969–2002), pp. 374–76.

21 Weert, Minderbroeders, Ms. 9.

22 Brussels, Bollandists’ Library, Ms. 494.

23 Weert, Minderbroeders, Ms. 11.

24 Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting St John on Patmos. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.670. https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx?searchText=1861,1109.670