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Book of Hours

Horæ Beatæ Mariæ Virginis

Vellum leaf from an illuminated Medieval Manuscript
France; Middle 15th Century
Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script
10.5 by 7 cm

Books of Hours, beautifully written, enriched with burnished gold initials, and adorned with miniature paintings, were frequently the most treasured possessions of the devout and wealthy layman. They were not only carried to chapel but were often kept at the bedside at night. Oaths were sworn on them. Books of this small size, two and one-half by three and one-half inches, are comparatively rare. The craftsmanship in this example imitates and equals that in a volume of ordinary size, about five by seven inches. Recently these small "pocket" editions have been given the nickname "baby manuscripts." In general, the miniature Books of Hours contain only that section of the complete volume which deals with the prayers to be read or recited at the canonical hours; namely, matins, vespers, nocturns, and those for the prime, tierce, sext, nones, and complin. Indulgences were often granted for the faithful reading or recitation of these prayers.
Keywords: 1400s, Book of Hours, decoration, formal, France, gothic, initials, script

Manuscripts | Cary Collection