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MS 35: Book of Hours , late 15th century

Identifier: MS 35

Scope and Contents

Book of Hours in Latin from the 15th century, of French origin. The Use is not identified, but is not Besançon or Clermont. It may be peculiar to the Abbey of S. Claude, Condat, to which both Kalendar and Litany particularly belong (see the local saints reported under their respective headings).

Golden Numbers: on fly-leaf. These are numbers assigned to each year in sequence in a 19-years cycle and are used in order to calculate the date of Easter. Each number is inscribed in a circle (or 'wheel').

Kalendar: starts on f. 1r. Contains commemorations of Saints and Martyr, and other festivities (the most important are written in red). Miniatures illustrate activities linked to the season and Zodiacal signs.

1 January: Saint Eugendus (in red; monk in the Abbey of Condat, which was then called Abbey of Saint Oyand in his honour; it later become the Abbey of Saint Claude); 8 January: Octave of Saint Eugendus, In Ca.; 3 February: Saint Anatolius (Scottish Bishop who became an hermit in Salins, near Besançon); 21 March: Saints Benedict of Nursia and Lupicinus, abbots in du. (in red; Lupicinus founded the Abbeys of Condat and Lauconne); 24 April: Robert Abbot and Confessor (Benedictine), iii lc. (in red); 11 May: Saint Mamertus (Bishop of Vienne), Saint Majolus Abbot (Abbot of the Benedectine Abbey of Cluny), iii lc. (in red); 2 June: Fotinus and Blandinus Martyrs (Blandinus probably refers to the husband of Saint Sadalberga of Laon, northern France) xii lc. (in red); 6 June: Saint Claude of Besançon, Archbishop (in red; Abbot of Condat), co. in albis; 13 June: Octave of Saint Claude, in camp. (in red), Saint Rambert Martyr (martyrised in the Jura mountains; his name can be spelled in many different ways,including 'Ragnebert', which is possibly the form used in this manuscript); 16 June: Saint Ferreolus and Ferrutio Martyrs (two brothers sent to evangelise the area of Besançon), xii lc. (in red); 1 July: Saint Domitian Abbot (Abbot and founder of the Abbey of Saint-Rambert-en-Bugey, Auvergne); 7 July: Saint Justus Monk (Monk in the Benedectine monastery of Condat), iii lc. (in red); 18 July: Octave of Benedict (Translation of Saint Benedict), in albis (in red); 27 July: Saint Desideratus Bishop (Bishop of Besançon); 31 July: Imiterius Monk (Monk at Condat); 11 August: Saint Taurinus bishop (Bishop of Évreux), in Dup. (in red); 20 August: Saints Philibert of Jumièges and Bernard of Clairvaux Abbots, xii lc. (in red); 22 August: Dedication of the Church of Saint Peter, in albo [sic] (in red; the church this festivity refers to has not been identified); 18 September: Saint Ferreolus Martyr, iii lc. (in red; Saint Ferreolus of Vienne, Roman tribune who refused to persecute Christians); 24 September: Saints Andochius, Thyrsus and Felix Martyrs (missionaries in the area of Autun), iii lc.; 25 September: Saint Lupus Bishop (Archbishop of Lyons), Ermenfridus (Monk at the Abbey of Luxeuil, founded a monastery in Cusances), Vandalenus (Franche-Comté); 28 September: Saint Annemond Bishop and Martyr (Bishop of Lyons; also spelt 'Annemundus'), iii lc. (in red); 3 October: Saint Simon Campanie Comitis (the Latin expression could be translated as 'Count of Champagne'; it could refer to Saint Simon of Crépy, a Benedectine of Saint Oyand between 1077 and 1082, although the latter was Count of Amiens rather than Champagne), xii lc.; 10 October: Translation of Saint Eugendus, in dup. (in red); 17 October: Octave of Saint Eugendus, in albis; 19 October: Aquilinus Bishop (Bishop of Évreux); 21 October: Dedication of the Church of Saint Eugendus, in albis; 29 October: Saint Theuderius Abbot (Founded a monastery near Vienne); 2 November: Sant Benignus Martyr (missionary and martyr in the area of Autun and Dijon), xii lc.; 16 November: Saint Eucherius Bishop (Bishop Lyons); 20 November: Saint Hippolytus Bishop (Bishop of Belley, Abbot of Saint Oyand), xii lc.; 27 November: Saint Maximus Bishop (Bishop of Riez), iii lc .

Hours of the Virgin: start on f. 13r. They are divided in: Matins (ff. 13r-25v), Laudes (ff. 26r-36v; recited upon rising together with 'Matins'), Prime (ff. 37r-43v; the first hour, around 6 A.M.), Terce (ff. 44r-48v; the third hour, around 9 A.M.), Sext (ff. 49r-53r; the sixth hour, around noon), None (ff. 53v-57v; the ninth hour, around 3 P.M.), Vespers (ff. 58r-62r; evening), Compline (ff. 62v-65v; recited before retiring to bed).

Hours of the Virgin in Advent: starts on f. 66r. The rubricated words Officium beate marie verginis dicendium tempore adventus domini ad vesperas antiphona at the bottom of f. 65v introduce this section.

Penitential Psalms: start on f. 69v. These seven Psalms (6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142) are particularly connected to King David, who allegedly composed them as an atonement for his sins (David therefore is normally represented at the beginning, as in this case).

Litany: starts on f. 76v. It consists in the hypnotic invocation of a list of saints; each invocation is followed by the answer Ora pro nobis (with the plural variation Orate when more than one saint is invoked). The list begins with Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison ('Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy'). It is followed by prayers.

Severals saints with connections with the area of influence of the Abbey of Condat appear in the litany. Martyrs: Photinus (Lyons), Irenaeus (Lyons), Ferreolus and Ferrutio (Besançon), Benignus (Dijon), Guibaud (Cambrai). Confessors: Justus, Lupicinus, Eugendus, Hippolytus, Claude (all of Condat), Taurinus [Évreux], Robert, Bernard, Philibert (all Benedictine). Virgins: Blandina and Consortia (Lyons), Radegunde (Poitiers).

Office of the Dead: starts on f. 84v. This office was intended as an intercession on behalf of the dead, in order to help them to reduce their term in Purgatory. A series of readings for this office are taken from the Book of Job and the sufferings of Job became an allegory for the trials endured by the penitent souls in Purgatory.

Prayers: three prayers follow one another from f. 103r. The first (f. 103r-103v) begins with Quis est Jhesus nisi salvator and ends with ad tuam sanctam misericordiam appello; the second (f. 104r-104v) begins with Ave Domine Ihesu Christe dulcissime verbum patris filius virginis agnus dei and ends with pax et dulcedo requies vera vita perhennis; the third (f. 105r-105v) begins with Saluto te sancta maria ea salutatione qua te salutavit gabriel angelus et archangelus and ends with et ut me velis exaudire sic te volo salutare.

Memoriae (or Suffrages): start on f. 106r. Each one of them is dedicated to a Saint or Martyr and consists of three short utterances (antiphon, versicle, response) and a longer prayer which normally contains details of the life of the Saint to whom each particular Memoria is dedicated. In this manuscript we find: Saint Barbara (f. 106r-106v), Saint Claude (f. 106v-107v), Saint Sebastian (ff. 108r-109r), Saint Anthony (f. 109v).

Obsecro te: starts on f. 110r. This is special prayer dedicated to the Virgin Mary, beginning with the words Obsecro te ('I beseech you'). It is normally present in Books of Hours.

Memoriae (or Suffrages) - continuation: Saint Blaise (ff. 112r-113r), Saint Christopher (ff. 113v-114r), Saint Joseph (ff. 114v-116r). The following Suffrages have been added later: Saint Apollonia (f. 117r-117v), Saints Alpheus, Philadelphus and Cyrinus (f. 118r).

Prayer for Priest at Mass: starts at the bottom of f. 121r, after two blank folios.


The hand is Gothic, good and uniform.


The ornamentation consists of burnished gold initials on blue and lake grounds, line-endings, floriated initials, Kalendar illustrations, and miniatures with borders. The borders are composed of blue and red or blue and gold acanthus scrolls, with flowers, fruit, birds, and grotesques executed either on plain vellum or dull gold. The pictures are extremely crude in drawing and colour, but the perspective of the landscape backgrounds is good. They suggest the influence of Rouen in details.


Miniatures of the Kalendar:

  1. January – Two men and a woman feasting (f. 1r). Aquarius: a cherub on a rock pouring water out of a jar (f. 1v).
  2. February – A man, warming himself, is served with bread and wine by a servant (f. 2r). Pisces: two fish in a river (f. 2v).
  3. March – A man pruning vines or trees (f. 3r). Aries: ram feeding (f. 3v).
  4. April – A young man with a flower and an hawk (f. 4r). Taurus: bull feeding (f. 4v).
  5. May – A young man and a maiden riding (f. 5r). Gemini: twins, half-length in a tree (f. 5v).
  6. June – Sheep-shearing (f. 6r). Cancer: River landscape, crab (f. 6v).
  7. July – Hay harvest, reaper with scythe (f. 7r). Leo: lion under a tree (f. 7v).
  8. August – Opening of wine cask (f. 8r). Virgo: maiden with laurel wreath and palm branches (f. 8v).
  9. September – Treading grapes (9r). Libra: scales (f. 9v).
  10. October – Sowing (f. 10r). Scorpio: scorpion suspended above landscape (f. 10v).
  11. November – Swineherd about to kill pig (f. 11r). Sagittarius: Centaur with bow and arrow (f.11v).
  12. December – A man heating the oven (f. 12r). Capricornus: white male goat caught in thicket (f. 12v).

Miniatures of the Hours:

  1. Matins (f. 13r) – Tree of Jesse, each of its seven branches showing a crowned king emerging from a flower, while the Virgin and Child, within a mandorla, emerge from the central stem.
  2. Lauds (f. 26r) – The Visitation.
  3. Prime (f. 37r) – The Nativity.
  4. Tierce (f. 44r) – The Angel and the shepherds.
  5. Sext (f. 49r) – The Adoration of the Magi.
  6. Noue (f. 53v) – The Presentation at the Temple.
  7. Vespers (f. 58r) – The Flight to Egypt.
  8. Compline (f. 62v) – Coronation of the Virgin. Virgin, within a sun-coloured mandorla, stands upon a silver crescent; two flying angels hold a crown above her head, while two others hold her cloak.
  9. Hours of the Virgin in Advent (f. 66r) – Annunciation.
  10. Penitential Psalms (f. 69v) – David kneels on the prostrate body of a man.
  11. Service of the Dead (f. 84v) – Job and his friends.
  12. Quis est Jhesus (f. 103r) – Christ's appearance to His mother at the tomb.
  13. Ave Domine Jhesu Christe (f. 104r) – Crucifixion.
  14. Salute te Sancta Maria (f. 105r) – Descent from the Cross. Saint John and the three Maries.
  15. Saint Barbara (f. 105r) – Saint with palm and tree in hand, tower beside her.
  16. Saint Claude (f. 107r) – Represented in an apparelled alb, and amice hardly visible, blue dalmatic embroidered with gold, cloth of gold chasuble apparently covered with roses, with a green Latin cross in the front, white precious mitre, and white gloves. His right hand is raised in blessing, in his left he holds an archiepiscopal cross. He blesses a figure rising from a grave.
  17. Saint Sebastian (f. 108r) – His martyrdom.
  18. Obsecro te (f. 110r) – Virgin and Child with kneeling angel.
  19. Saint Blaise (f. 112v) – His martyrdom.
  20. Saint Christopher (f. 113v) – Carrying the Holy Child.
  21. Saint Joseph (f. 114v) – Joseph and Mary, with the boy Jesus, go up to Jerusalem.


  • Creation: late 15th century

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to all. The manuscripts can be consulted in the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Main Library.


1 bound MS volume

Custodial History

Most of the names of saints which appear in the Kalendar and in the Litany belong to the Jura district and to the south of France, although there seems to be some connection also with Évreux and even with the Flanders. In addition to the large number of saints connected with the Abbey of Saint Claude in the Kalendar, Saint Claude himself appears in the Suffrages (ff. 106v-107v) and is represented in a picture as archbishop.

Two shields, bearing the arms of the original owners of the manuscripts, are inserted into many of the borders. One bears the arms of the Viry family: paly of six argent and azure a bend gules, for Viry; on the bend in chief a crescent gules (for difference). The other bears the arms of Viry and Des Clets quartered: quarter 1, 4, Viry; quarter 2, 3, gules on a cross or five mullets (6) azure, for Des Clets. Both houses are from Genevois, a former province of the Duchy of Savoie. Pierre de Viry appears as grandprior of Saint-Oyand in 1495, and he is mentioned after the death of Abbot Pierre Morel in 1510, although he was never abbot of the monastery, (see Benoit, Paul. Histoire de I'Abbaye et de la Terre de Saint-Claude. Montreuil-sur-Mer, 1892, vol. 2, pp. 225-6). An Etienne de Viry was 'chambrier' ('chamberlain') of Saint-Oyand in 1447 (see Benoit 1892, p. 150, 152). The the actual owners of the quartered coat has yet to be identified.

According to a note in his own hand, Laing bought the book at Sotheby's. It has the sale number 180.

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum

Binding: Modern, soft leather.

Collation: a12, b8-o8, p6 (3 and 4 blank) = 122.


21.27 cm x 14.92 cm


Secundo folio: illud et aridam.

Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 122, 19 lines to a page.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
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