CHD Late Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts on the Web : Books of Hours

|The Artz Hours - (Oberlin College)| |Brandeis Libraries| |CEEC Cologne| |D&D Galleries| |KB Copenhagen| |KB The Hague| |Leiden University| |Morgan Library| |Université de Liège| |Syracuse University Library|

New: |Digital Scriptorium (Huntington Library)| |Leiden University| |KB The Hague| |National Library of Scotland| |Willamette Library|

To search the Web for good illustrations from illuminated manuscripts had been like a walk in the desert for many years. Since 1999, however, has the number of valuable sites been steadily increasing, and at the beginning of 2002 did the development go so fast, that it no longer is possible to keep track of all new sites.
A fair and bright future is awaiting scholars and students of medieval manuscript illumination.

The Royal Library in The Hague [KB The Hague] offers now the largest collection of quality illustrations from medieval manuscripts on the Internet.
An ultimate resource beyond imagination of every art historian.

CEEC Codices Electronici Ecclesiae Coloniensis
CEEC is a large digitalization project created for the international scientific community.
More than 200 manuscripts from the Erzbischöfliche Diözecan- und Dombibliothek and the University Library in Cologne are already online.

    CEEC include two complete books of hours:
  1. Cod.1576 Horae ad usum Romanum, Livre d'heures, France c.1480-1500
  2. Cod.1117 Getijdenboek, Dutch Book of Hours c.1500 (Zwarte-Ogen Masters)

Aberdeen University Library
The most ambitious site concerning a single manuscript: The Aberdeen Bestiary Project was accomplished in 2000 with the addition of a full facsimile of the manuscript, to illustrate the transcription and translation of the text (with introductions and comments). A marvellous scholarly achievement.
Their new project in 2002: The Burnet Psalter is not less impressive, with a full facsimile of the beautiful English/Flemish Psalter-Hours for Sarum use, c.1410-1420 (Aberdeen University Library Ms.25).

The Royal Library in Copenhagen offers since September 1999 a selection of complete digital facsimiles. A valuable source for detailed studies, which, beyond doubt, together with many other of the large digital projects, will revolutionize education all over the World when it has become generally known to students and teachers in art history, codicology and paleography (See below).
The Bodleian Library was also among the first to transfer it's long and proud tradition for a high scholarly standard to the Web, see below: The Bodleian Library Oxford. [The site has apparently been dormant since 2001].

Glasgow University Library offers some good pictures from exhibitions.
Christmas 2000 was celebrated with an exhibition of selected miniatures from the collection: Paradise Regained - images of Christ's nativity from manuscripts.
The informative exhibition: British Bookbindings: 16th-19th Century, is also worth a visit.

One of the later more advanced web exhibitions is Leaves of Gold from Philadelphia, with a good detailed introduction to medieval manuscripts for non professionals. Unfortunately are all the jpegs too small to show any details.

The Digital Scriptorium is an image database of medieval and renaissance manuscripts,
intended to unite scattered resources from many institutions into an international tool for teaching and scholarly research.
It was initially hosted at Sunsite Berkeley but after a few turbulent years, with ever changing url's, is the new official access (since May 2005)
from Columbia University, under supervision of Consuelo W. Dutschke, whose excellent Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Huntington Library (1989) has become one of the major digital assets on the site.
The many high resolution pictures (of outstanding quality) provided by the Huntington Library is a strong runner up on the web next to The Royal Library in the Hague (see below).
The editors do not encourage individual specified links to the site.
Go to the front page of the DIGITAL SCRIPTORIUM and click on SEARCH.
Here will you get immediate access to the various resources from the Huntington Library.
It will be of great help in the process if you already know the shelfmark of one of the manuscripts in the Huntington Library.
Otherwise can you always use an initial search term like "Annunciation" (107 hits) or "Calendar" (185 hits) etc., and get a list to select from for a start.
Please enjoy this unique resource, for as long as it remains open to the public. The jpegs are very fine.
(NB: It is possible to download the complete digital catalogue by Consuelo W. Dutschke in text format, highly recommended!).

There are more medieval manuscripts on the site in complete facsimile. Click on the KB logo above to find the full index of facsimiles (e-resources) from the Manuscript Department.

The Hague KB - Het Koninklijke Bibliotheek en Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum

Searchpage (Zoekscherm): Start Here (see the instructions below)
NB: A new more simplified searchfunction has recently ( Febr. 2004) been established from the Museum Meermanno site: choose the link "Interactieve presentatie Verluchte Middeleeuwse handschriften Meermanno en KB" on the welcome page.
A new and more userfriendly common portal has also recently been opened on the KB site: Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts

The KB site is constructed with an impressive display of programming skills. It is unfortunately not possible to link to individual manuscripts, due to the excessive lenght of the cgi-scripts required to reach the desired destination.

To browse the pictures from some of the 165 books of hours can you go through the following steps:

    Instructions for use:
  1. Call the Searchpage
  2. Type "Book of hours" in the field Title, and click Search
  3. A display of 165 found matches will appear, ranged after shelfmarks
  4. Make your choice, and click on the shelfmark of the desired manuscript
  5. A new page will appear with a short description of the manuscript
  6. Click on the link "Images and Text" at the bottom of the description
  7. The first five illustrations from the manuscript will appear as thumbnails in a window with fancy Javascript functions and floating frames allowing you to call for enlargements of the single pictures.
  8. To browse the next five pictures with selected details: click on the small blue arrow in the upper right corner of the screen.
  9. Please notice: remember the spaces in the shelfmarks. The search "133M131" will return the answer "No match found", but with '133 M 131' will you arrive at a beatiful typical early book of hours from Utrecht.
Other relevant manuscripts can be found under the cathegories Psalter and Prayerbook.
Clicking on the iconographical links will send you on an exciting voyage into comparative art history, choose Browse by Subjects.
[Unless you are looking for a specific manuscript already known to you, is it recommendable to have a good reference catalogue available, like:
Brandhorst & Broekhuisen: De verluchte handschriften en incunabelen van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek, 1985.]

    National Library of Scotland
  • The Murthly Hours Paris c.1280-1290 (Important document for the understanding of the early history of Books of Hours)

D&D Galleries in Somerville offers a full facsimile of a Books of Hours sold recently. A modest manuscript from Rouen, made in the third quarter of the 15th century for local use. As it is the only Hours of Rouen use available on the web today have I made extensive transcripts for the benefit of students: D&D Galleries did also offer a high-quality facsimile after the full-page miniatures in the so-called "Black Book of Hours" (Schwarzes Gebetbuch, Vienna Cod.Vind. 1856, see the Preliminary guide. Unfortunately has the pictures been removed from the server early in 2005, and the links are no more operative. Students must now revert to the printed edition for another decade, until the copyright will expire.

The Pierpont Morgan Library did receive a generous grant to establish online facsimiles from the manuscripts: Charles E. Pierce, Jr., Director of the Morgan Library, announced in June 2000, that the Library had received a $1-million grant from the Homeland Foundation, Inc. for a project under way with Princeton University's Index of Christian Art to catalogue and digitize the Library's entire collection of medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts. The manuscripts will be available in Internet-accessible databases. Scholars will be able to view Morgan manuscripts on the Internet through the Index of Christian Art while visitors to the Library's Web site will be able to browse the same data and images in CORSAIR, the Library's on-line catalogue. The scheduled date for completion of the project is 2005, but images and records are made available on the Index of Christian Art database as they are created.

    The site offers in May 2005 several thousand small jpegs of low resolution
    (approximately 330x500 to 360x600 pixels). For most manuscripts does this unfortunately mean that text on the pages remain illegible until further.
  1. For each manuscript is there one selected picture of higher resolution (c. 1220x1860 pixels)
    Sufficient in size to give students an idea of the style and technique of the illuminator.
  2. There is a link from the About the Project page to a list of manuscripts for which images now are available through:
    From here, users can choose individual manuscripts to view.
  3. Of particular interest to visitors on the CHD site is the large number of illustrations from manuscript M.183 Psalterium Leodiense (Late 13th cent. Psalter-Hours from Liège with Calendar, Cursus B.M.V. and Litany. Last illustrated page is fol.285v).

Choix de miniatures des manuscrits
de l'Université de Liège

A number of high-quality jpegs (1024x1536 pixels) from the best books of hours in the Wittert Collection. Click on the picture to connect.

Leiden University Universiteit Leiden: Literatuurgeschiedenis

Complete facsimile of a Dutch book of hours illuminated by the Master of Catherine of Cleves, with transcripts and comments:
Meermanno-Westreenianum Ms. 10F50
    Getijdenboek van de Meester van Catharina van Kleef
    Den Haag, Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum Ms. 10 F 50
  1. Kalender f.1
  2. Getijden von onser lieuen Vrouw f.14
  3. Seven Boetpsalmen en litanie f.55
  4. Getijden van de Eeuwige Wijsheid (Henricus Suso) f.70
  5. Getijden van het Heilig Kruis f.92
  6. Getijden van de Heilige Geest f.121
  7. Vigilie van 9 lessen voor de doden f.148
  8. Gebed over de zeven woorden van Jezus aan het kruis f.184

The Artz Hours Online Digital Facsimile by Morgan Franck and Jonathan Kay.

Syracuse University Library, Department of Special Collections (Syracuse, New York)
Medieval Manuscripts
Willamette Library Heures à l'usage de Tournai

    Octavo Edition
  1. Commercial offer of a CD-Rom with a digital facsimile of a Renaissance manuscript from The Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection in The Library of Congress. (30$US ISBN 1-891788-25-6)
  2. Book of Hours, France 1524 - Horae ad usum Romanum, 226 pages.
  3. Excellent comments by Christopher de Hamel and transcript of the text by Glenn Gunhouse.
  4. All jpegs (125 doublepages in several degrees of magnification) are available online for private download.
  5. Click on the picture above to be connected to Octavo Editions own index to the online facsimile [URL:]

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© 2000-2004 Erik Drigsdahl & CHD Center for Håndskriftstudier i Danmark
Last update 24/04/2002 - moderated 12/07/2005; a few of the broken links repaired 17/09/2007; Contact