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Missal, Use of Rouen, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum

[Normandy (almost certainly Rouen), first decades of fifteenth century]


Large 8vo, 210 x 137mm, 305 leaves (plus a modern vellum endleaf at each end), wanting 2 leaves from the Calendar (those remaining for May/June, July/August, September/October and November/December), a quire after eighteenth gathering, and a leaf or so from end, collation: i4, ii-xvi8, xvii6 (but with continuous text), xviii-xxiv8, xxv7 (last a blank cancel), xxvi-xxxix8, some traces of original foliation (partly trimmed away and mostly visible at end, with last leaf as fol. “cccxix”), catchwords, double column of 32 lines in a fine late gothic bookhand, pale red rubrics, music on occasional leaves in 4-line red staves, small initials in burnished gold on blue and pink grounds heightened with white penwork, larger initials in same colours and enclosing sprays of coloured foliage, all on burnished gold grounds and terminating in sprays of rinceaux foliage with coloured fruit buds and gold leaves, most leaves marked up in upper right hand corner for relevant feasts of liturgical year in less formal contemporary hand, major text breaks with very large initials in same with text frames formed from coloured and gold bars, with sprays of coloured acanthus leaves at their corners and midpoints, remaining sections of full or three-quarter decorated borders filled with rinceaux foliage with flower heads and gold leaves. First 94 leaves cut down with outer vertical blank borders trimmed away, small rodent damage to outer edge in one place (but with little affect to edges and no affect to text), old water damage in places with some cockling and signs of shine-through (making some leaves hard to read), edges slightly trimmed with losses to outer blank edges of borders, some scuffing and discolouration to end leaves and important openings (presumably from having lain open on an altar at these points), in green vellum over pasteboards


Manuscripts from Normandy are far from common, and those so securely localisable during their initial wanderings even less so. This volume contains a Calendar (fol. 1r); the Temporal Masses for the entire year according to the use of Rouen (“secundum rothom’”) from advent onwards (fol. 5r), including the Canon of the Mass (fols. 122v and 124r) and a Litany. This is followed by the Sanctoral (fol. 193r; “in ecclesia rothomag’”) and votive masses, ending imperfectly with Masses for the Nativity.


Almost certainly written and illuminated for use in Rouen in Normandy in the opening decades of the fifteenth century. The Calendar has one of the patron saints of the region: St. Samson of Dol (28 July), as well as a number of saints and entries whose presence points strongly to Rouen: SS. Mellonius (22 October, in red and named “Roth’ arch’”, ie. archbishop of Rouen [Latin: Rotomagus]), Romanus (23 October, also in red and named “Roth’ arch’”), Evodus (8 October and translation in July, and named “Roth’ arch’” on both occasions), Ouen of Rouen (24 August and translation in May), Gildard and Medard, bishops of that city (8 June) and an entry in early December concerning the relics of the cathedral there. The volume appears to have moved with an early and perhaps the original owner to either Liseux (or just perhaps Bayeux) within decades of being created. The entry for May contains a near-contemporary addition of a feast of St. Regnobert, the seventh-century bishop of Bayeux, and legendary founder of four churches in Caen. This cannot be the saint’s main feast as that is on 24 October, but must commemorate the translation of his remains from the Church of Saint-Exupère de Bayeux to the Church of Saint-Victor-d’Épine in the diocese of Lisieux (a subsidiary of Bayeux) in 846.