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Castle hours #2, use of Rouen, 1425 - 1475

Identifier: MS 20


This is a mid-fifteenth century book of hours from France, use of Rouen.

Table of contents: Calendar in French for Rouen and Amiens; later inserts in lettre bâtarde; Gospel Pericopes; Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, use of Rouen; Penitential Psalms and Litany; Short Office of the Cross; Office of the Dead, use uncertain; Fifteen Joys of the Virgin


  • Creation: 1425 - 1475


1 volumes

Language of Materials



Custodial History

Written and illustrated in Rouen in mid-fifteenth century, as suggested by the style of the decoration and the miniatures, probably for the trade; note the monochrome initials, the compartmentalized Evangelists, the calendar, the litany, and perhaps the Office of the Virgin. Three unidentified sale notices for other, unrelated manuscripts are pasted inside the front cover. Early provenance unknown. Owned by Ethelinda Schaefer Castle.

Other related names

  1. Castle, Ethelinda Schaefer, former owner
  2. Castle, Ethelinda Schaefer, donor

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Given by Ethelinda Schaefer Castle by bequest to Bryn Mawr College in 1971

Related Materials

A digitized version of this manuscript can be found online at:

Physical Description

Fols. 13r-14r later inserts in lettre bâtarde.

Parchment support.

Early eighteenth-century gold-tooled calf.

ii+125+ii; 158 x 105 mm bound to 166 x 122 mm.

Single column, sixteen lines, ruled in red ink with single vertical bounding lines.

Gothic--textualis quadrata script.

Eight full-page miniatures above three or four lines of text with arched gold borders on four sides, borders in outer margin throughout, three-line illuminated initials beginning most sections, two- and one-line illuminated initials beginning all verses, calendar entries beginning with illuminated initials; The Hours of the Virgin only include full-page miniatures of the annunciation for Matins and of the Nativity for Prime; other full-page miniatures include the four evangelists for the gospel lessons, King David for the penitential psalms, a Crucifixion for the Short Office of the Cross, Pentecost for the Office of the Holy Spirit, a burial scene for the Office of the Dead, and the lamentation of the Virgin for the Joys of the Virgin; calendar entries begin with illuminated initials and there are three-line illuminated initials beginning most sections and two- and one-line illuminated initials beginning all verses.

The simple colors throughout: rose, melon, pale blues, pale greens, light browns and grays with only a touch of gold, provide a foil for the dramatic symmetry of the composition in these illustrations, suggesting a skillful and sophisticated artistry for this book. Each illustration is surrounded by borders on four sides, independent of initials. The borders, all different, are of two basic types, either a solid color border with fruit, flowers and acanthus leaves or a border divided into a geometric patterns of different colors filled with either flowers, fruit or acanthus leaves. The Obsecro te, the Intemerata, and the remaining leaves of the Hours of the Virgin are surrounded by a border of blue and gold acanthus leaves, and blue, pink, red and green fruit, flowers and leaves surround the text; 3-line initials similar to those described accompany the text. In addition many other pages have outside margin borders of a similar design that run the length of the text; 2-line initials blue with white penwork on a gold ground embellished with red and blue flowers add to the decoration of these pages. 1-line gold initials on blue and pink ground with white penwork outlined with black begin all verses; line fillers in the same design end most verses. Rubrics (often in French) in red throughout.

Modern foliation in pencil, upper right recto.

Find It at the Library

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