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Music manuscript c1500

A medieval manuscrip in Latin with notes in Flemish, manuscript on vellum, South Netherlands, c.1500

236 leaves written in black ink in a large Gothic script, with nine large historiated initials and large decorative initials in blue ink, with elaborate penwork decoration in red ink. Contemporary blind-stamped pig skin binding with metal bosses, rebacked in the nineteenth century.

This music manuscript is designed for use by a choir singing a service. It contains nine settings for the major church festivals, each introduced by a historiated initial letter: 1. God speaks to Zechariah - Advent; 2. the nativity; 3. the circumcision of Jesus; 4. the baptism of Jesus; 5. the women at the tomb - Easter; 6. Ascension; 7. Pentecost; 8. the Trinity; 9. The Eucharist ‘ecce panis.’

The border to accompany the women at the tomb contains two heraldic shields, one with an abbot’s or bishop’s crozier, indicating the original owner. In addition, there are many shorter liturgical pieces each introduced by a decorated initial. The text is Latin throughout, with notes in Flemish at the beginning of some sections. The music has a four-line stave with minimal notation except to indicate some longer notes. The score shows evidence of having been used for services: some lines have been changed or corrected and there are occasional annotations.

The manuscript retains its original binding with heavy bosses and incised decoration. It was rebacked and repaired at the Bodleian Library sometime in the later nineteenth century.


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