State Library of Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 51 & 52 1993

Plate 9 (top left). A Fool before King David. Breviary. Melbourne, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne. f22v.
Plate 10 (top right). Annunciation. Breviary. Melbourne, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne, f 112.
Plate 12 (bottom left). Massacre of the Innocents. Breviary. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Laud, Misc. 3a.f44v.
Plate 13 (bottom centre). Circumcision of Christ. Breviary. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Laud, Misc. 3a.f49.
Plate 14 (bottom right). Ascension. Breviary. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Laud, Misc. 3a.f140.


Plate 11. John Baptist. Breviary. Melbourne, Bailliu Library, University of Melbourne, f 131v.
Plates 12, 13 & 14 have been used with the kind permission of Helen Hayes, University Librarian, The University of Melbourne.


The Sarum Breviary in the Baillieu and Bodleian Libraries

One of the treasures of the Baillieu Library of the University of Melbourne is a small fourteenth-century English Breviary of the liturgical use of Salisbury (Sarum) with a large number of illuminated initials and decorative borders embellishing its text.1 Of surviving Sarum Breviaries of the fourteenth century in spite of its small size (page: 100 × 68mm.; text area: 80 × 52mm.) it is among the most richly decorated. The Breviary is the book which contains the daily sequence of prayer (the Office) said by priests and those in the religious orders. This Breviary is of the liturgical use of Sarum used throughout the later centuries of the Middle Ages in all the dioceses of the province of Canterbury by all priests except those in the religious orders who followed the use of their own order. In other parts of England, the province of York and the diocese of Hereford, the Breviary text used was not of Sarum use but of that of York and Hereford. The move to standardise the Breviary texts for all the dioceses in the province of Canterbury began in the first half of the thirteenth century and by the time of the production c.1340–50 of the Breviary in the Baillieu Library this standardisation had almost completely been achieved. Although the Breviary is essentially a prayer book for priests it was not uncommon in the Middle Ages for devout members of the laity to possess one, and it cannot be excluded that the Baillieu Breviary may have belonged to a layman or woman rather than a priest.
The text of a Breviary comprises the daily programme of readings, prayers, hymns, canticles and psalms arranged according to the prayer hours of the day (Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline). A complete Breviary would contain the Calendar with its record of the feast days and saints' days of the liturgical year, the Temporal, which contained the offices for the year excepting those of the saints' days, the Sanctoral which contained the offices for the saints' days, and finally the Psalter. The last text is essential for the Breviary because the prayers, hymns, canticles and readings of the offices are structured around the reading of a number of psalms for each hour. The saints' days of the Christmas season are specially placed, not in the Sanctoral but in the Temporal.
The Baillieu Library Breviary contains the Psalter and the Sanctoral. It would be expected that a complete Breviary would also contain the Calendar and the Temporal, and that at some time the part now in Melbourne had been bound as a separate volume. Fortunately the other volume which contains the Temporal and the Calendar has survived and is in Oxford in the Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 3a.2 It has not been possible to discover when the two volumes parted company. They have identical style of illuminated decoration, dimensions of text area, numbers of lines per page (35) and the same ruling system to guide the scribe in his writing out of the text. Also the final page of the volume in the Bodleian Library has an offset of the Psalm 1 initial and border in the Melbourne volume, proving that the two manuscripts were once a single book.
The illumination in the Temporal provides historiated initials for the major feasts: Advent Sunday, God seated blessing (f. 3v); Christmas Day, the Nativity (f. 33v); 27 December, St John the Evangelist (f. 40); 28 December, Massacre of the Innocents (f. 42v); 29 December, Martyrdom of St Thomas of Canterbury (f. 44v); 1 January, Circumcision of Christ (f. 49); Easter Sunday, Resurrection of Christ (f. 121 v); Ascension Day, the Ascension (f. 140v); Pentecost Sunday, Pentecost (f. 145v); Trinity Sunday, the Holy Trinity (f. 150v); Corpus Christi, the Elevation of the Host at Mass (f. 153v); Feast of the Dedication of the Church, a Bishop asperging a church (f. 19 1v).
The illumination in the Psalter is of the eight historiated initials of the first psalms of Matins for each day of the week and the first psalm of Sunday Vespers: Psalm 1, King David seated harping (f. 1); Psalm 26, David kneeling, pointing to his eyes (f. 11); Psalm 38, David kneeling, pointing to his mouth (f. 16v); Psalm 52, a fool before King David (f. 22v); Psalm 68, Jonah coming out of a whale (f. 28); Psalm 80, David playing bells (f. 35v); Psalm 97, two clerics singing at a lectern (f. 42); Psalm 109, the Holy Trinity (f. 49v).3 These subjects had long been established as appropriate for these psalms and relate to the opening verses of their text. For Psalm 1 David, as author of the Psalms, is shown at the beginning of his work. For Psalms 26 and 38 the illustration follows the opening words of the text: for Psalm 26 “The Lord is my light and my salvation” symbolised by the David pointing to his eyes, and for Psalm 38 he points to his mouth to symbolise the opening words “I said: I will take heed to my ways: that I sin not with my tongue”. For Psalm 52, “The fool said in his heart: There is no God”, the initial shows a jester with his bauble standing before a king. For Psalm 68, the salvation of Jonah from the whale illustrates the opening words “Save me O God: for the waters are come in even unto my soul”, and for Psalm 80, the king playing bells relates to the first two verses which refer to music “Rejoice to God our helper: sing aloud to the God of Jacob. Take a psalm and bring hither the timbrel: the pleasant psaltery with the harp”. Psalm 97 has two singing clerics to illustrate the opening words, “Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle”. Finally Psalm 109, “The Lord said to my Lord; Sit thou at my right hand” has the subject of the Holy Trinity with the Son seated by the Father with the Holy Spirit between them.
The Sanctoral contains the Offices for the saints' days throughout the year. Only the most important of these normally received an initial with a depiction of the saint. The Baillieu Library part of the Breviary has the following: 30 November, St Andrew, the Martyrdom of St Andrew (f. 77): 8 December, the Conception of the Virgin Mary, her parents, Joachim and Anne embracing (f. 84v); 25 March, the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel comes to Mary (f. 112); 24 June, the Nativity of St John Baptist, St John Baptist standing with a medallion of the Iamb of God (f. 113); 29 June, Saints Peter and Paul, the saints stand with their attributes, the key and the sword (f. 136); 10 August, St Laurence, the saint stands holding the gridiron on which he was martyred (f. 157v); 15 August, the Assumption, the Virgin Mary is carried up to heaven in a mandorla held by two angels (f. 162v); 8 September, the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, St Anne holding the baby Mary (f. 173); 29 September, St Michael, St Michael fighting the dragon (f. 185); 25 November, St Katherine of Alexandria, St Katherine holding the symbol of her martyrdom, the wheel (f. 213v). One page which almost certainly would have had another figure initial has been removed from the manuscript, that of the feast on 2 February of the Presentation of the Christ Child in the Temple (the Purification of the Virgin Mary).
Relatively few Sarum Breviaries of the first half of the fourteenth century have survived, about twenty in all. Of these only a few have extensive figure and ornamental decoration as does the one in the Baillieu Library, and none are of the period c.1340–50 which is its likely date. Those having figure decoration are the Penwortham Breviary of c.1310–20 (London, British Library MS Add. 52359), the Longleat Breviary of c.1316–22 (Longleat, Coll. Marquess of Bath MS 10), the Stowe Breviary of c. 1320–25 (London, British Library MS Stowe 12), Edinburgh, University Library MS 26 of c. 1330, Edinburgh, University Library MS 27 of c.1320–30 and New York, Pierpont Morgan Library MS M.329 of c.1310–20.4 Several others have quite extensive ornamental illumination but no figure work. Of those listed the Stowe and Longleat Breviaries have the most figure illustration and the Penwortham and Pierpont Morgan the least. Contemporary illuminated English Breviaries made for monastic houses are those made for the Benedictine Abbeys of Chertsey and Hyde (Winchester).5 That for Chertsey, which only survives in a fragmentary state, is the most elaborately decorated of all.
Some of these Breviaries can be related in their format and general characteristics to the
Baillieu/Bodleian Breviary. The closest in size are the two Breviaries in the University Library, Edinburgh (MS 26) and the Pierpont Morgan Library, and a Psalter fragment probably originally from a Breviary, (Syracuse, University Library, George Arents Research Library MS Uncat. 1).6
The two-column text format of the Bodleian/Baillieu Breviary is used for these books, and it is also found in the larger format Penwortham, Stowe and Longleat Breviaries. On f. 9v of the Bodleian part of the Baillieu/Bodleian Breviary is a praying secular figure, probably the owner or donor of the book, and a similar figure carrying a scroll and with an armorial shield occurs in Edinburgh, University Library MS 26. The ecclesiastical visitation records of the fourteenth century indicate that such Breviaries were often the property of parish churches rather than being personally owned by the priests.7 They were probably in many cases given to the parish church by the local “lord of the manor”, usually a member of the minor nobility who was involved in patronising his local church by provision of liturgical books for the use of the priest. This is confirmed in the more elaborately decorated Longleat Breviary, which also includes the canon prayer of the Mass and the texts for Masses for the main feasts of the year sometimes found as supplementary texts in Breviaries of the time, and which seems to be a donation of the Bohun family to the parish church of Kimbolton (Huntingdonshire). The Penwortham Breviary also has in its decoration armorials of the families of Despenser, Warenne, Fitzwilliam, Constable and Ferrers.
The Calendar of the Baillieu/Bodleian Breviary is graded for secular use and is that of Sarum but with the inclusion of the Translation of St Wulfstan on 7 June which is one of the supplementary feasts celebrated in the diocese of Worcester.8 The possible link of the book with the Worcester diocese is supported by the closeness of its Litany to that of a Psalter, Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Lyell empt. 4, whose Calendar text has supplementary feasts of that diocese.9 The litanies are not, however, sufficiently identical to be certain of a destination in the Worcester diocese for the Baillieu/Bodleian Breviary. Whatever part of England the book was destined for, it is fairly certain that it would have been produced at either London or Oxford, the leading centres of production of illuminated manuscripts in the middle years of the fourteenth century.10
In general terms the style of the illumination of the Breviary suggests that it was made by artists familiar with French illumination but who also were aware of contemporary developments in Italian art. These artists, working in a variety of related styles, form part of a complex and poorly understood period of change in English illumination in the years c. 1340–70. The Baillieu/Bodleian Breviary can be linked with a group of books which have been dated in the period 1340–55: the Egerton Hours (London, British Library MS Egerton 2781), the Vatican Hours (Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana MS Vat. Pal. Lat. 537), the early part of the Smithfield Decretals (London, British Library MS Royal 10.E.IV), and a fragmentary Hours in Liverpool, University Library MS F.3.14.11 These related manuscripts are larger in scale than the very small Breviary which results in more firmly delineated forms and faces in their figures. This group of manuscripts is characterised by the use of bright colours, in particular a vivid orange, by simple stylised ivy leaf forms in the borders contrasting with the more naturalistic forms that had been used by illuminators in the earlier years of the century, and by three dimensionality of architectural forms and painterly modelling of the drapery and faces of the figures.
Some of the artists of the group used iconographic and stylistic models from a much earlier period. This is most obvious in the Vatican Hours of c.1350–60 which in aspects of both iconography and style shows a debt to the Queen Mary Psalter (London, British Library MS Royal 2.B.VII) of c. 1310–30.12 For the dating of this mid-century group of manuscripts a sparsely decorated but precisely dated book is significant. This is John of Acton's Septuplum cum commentario (Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College MS 282/675) written by Edmund Multon, also its first owner, and having a colophon saying that it was finished in 1355.13 It has only one miniature at the beginning
of the text which has some stylistic similarity to that of the Baillieu/Bodleian Breviary and other members of the group. Further evidence for dating for another member of the group would be a 1354 illuminated charter of indulgence of the New Charterhouse, London.14 This charter, which was certainly illuminated in London, is close in style to the Egerton Hours.
Further evidence for dating of the group is the occurrence in some of the manuscripts of the group of new fashions in clothing which have been shown to come into England during the 1340s. A feature of the new fashion is a tight fitting garment with buttoned doublets, narrow waists and a low-slung belt.15 The Breviary does not show all the features of the new fashions which may suggest a date in the early 1340s or c. 1350 at the latest. The colouring includes purple contrasted with a strong orange and light pink-brown highlighted with white. This palette and the leaf forms in the borders can be paralleled with some manuscripts of an earlier period c. 1325–45 such as the Herdringen Psalter (Schloss Herdringen, Fürstenburgische Bibliothek MS 8) and the Hungerford Hours (divided between various collections).16 In this group the leaf forms in the borders which come to be characteristic of the mid-century group first appear.
The combination of these pieces of evidence suggests the Baillieu/Bodleian Breviary may be of the early 1340s in a transitional phase to the mid-century group of which the Egerton and Vatican Hours are the prime examples. It has been suggested that the style of the Baillieu/Bodleian manuscript may derive out of the large workshop of artists operating in the period c. 1310–35 whose major work was the Queen Mary Psalter.17 The view that this workshop is the sole source of the style is not acceptable, but there certainly are elements of both border decoration and figure style which do parallel those in some manuscripts of that workshop: e.g. the diamond-shaped junctions on the border bars in the Sherbrooke Missal (Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, MS 15536E), the Psalter of Richard of Canterbury (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library MS G. 53) and in the first Psalter of Queen Philippa (London, Dr Williams' Library MS Ancient 6).18 In the late phase of the “Queen Mary Psalter style” some artists of the workshop have renewed influence from Parisian illumination of the period shortly after the death of the leading Parisian illuminator Jean Pucelle in 1334.19 This leads to new ornamental border forms and changes in colour palette, such as the introduction of pale purple washes, and these features are developed further in the group around the Egerton and Vatican Hours. Artists who later worked in these manuscripts may have begun their careers as minor decorators in late “Queen Mary Psalter style” manuscripts.20
Also a manuscript somewhat isolated in style which is apart from the Queen Mary Psalter workshop can be seen as another possible source for the border style of the Baillieu/Bodleian Breviary. This is the second Psalter of Queen Philippa, the wife of Edward III (London, British Library MS Harley 2899) perhaps of the 1330s.21 It may be by the queen's illuminator Robert who died at some time between 1343 and 1350.22 The borders have formal sprays of unnaturalistic leaves growing out of the bar borders which are similar to the Breviary. The two books differ in that the Breviary artist combines with this ornament the daisy buds so characteristic of earlier English border decoration.
On the basis of figure style and ornamental decoration, although no single manuscript offers exact parallels, the Breviary can be related to manuscripts of the period 1330–50 and probably dates from the latter part of that period. The links that have been suggested between these manuscripts are not strong enough to suggest a single workshop but perhaps mutual influences from groups of artists working in the same city. It is fairly certain that this centre must be London where by 20 May 1357 ordinances freeing scribes and illuminators from service on sheriff's inquests indicate that they had been recognised as a body of some significance.23 The type of foliage and design format of borders in the Baillieu/Bodleian Breviary and the Egerton and Vatican Hours form the basis of a London style which is seen in mature development in the large workshop which operated in London in the last third of the century, and whose main work is the Litlyngton Missal made for Westminster
Abbey in 1384 (London, Westminster Abbey MS 37).24 The importance of the Breviary is as a work of the period in the 1340s after the main Queen Mary Psalter workshop had ended its activity and before the major London works of the mid-century, the Egerton and Vatican Hours, were produced.
Comparison of the iconography of the Baillieu/ Bodleian Breviary with the other English Breviaries of the first half of the fourteenth century shows a similar selection of feast days to be given illuminated decoration in the Temporal to the two Sarum Breviaries in the Edinburgh University Library, although each of the three has a slightly different selection of feasts for figure illustration. Also in Edinburgh, Univ. Lib. 27 several of the feasts which in Baillieu/Bodleian have figure initials have large ornamental illuminated initials in their stead. The Longleat Breviary had more feasts with figure initials but a large number of these initials have been excised from the manuscript. The most extensively illustrated of all is the Stowe Breviary which has fourteen figure initials to the Temporal. Both Longleat and Stowe have figure illustrations, for example, for some of the Sundays after Trinity Sunday.
The choice of figure initials for the Sanctoral also compares with the other fourteenth-century Sarum Breviaries. In several of these manuscripts pages or initials have been cut out so it is not always possible to be certain of their full set of illustrations, save to assume that the reason for cutting out those pages and initials was because they were illuminated with figures. It is normal for all the feasts of the Virgin Mary to receive figure illustration: Conception, Purification, Annunciation, Nativity, Assumption. St Andrew's feast, the first in the Sanctoral, always receives illustration as does that for the Nativity of St John Baptist. The Stowe Breviary with at least twenty-four figure initials for the Sanctoral is the most profusely illustrated, and the Longleat Breviary had at least twenty although many have been removed.25 The number of initials in the Baillieu Sanctoral is similar to that of Edinburgh, Univ. Lib. 27 but the selection is not quite identical. Unusual in all but the more extensively decorated manuscripts such as the Stowe and Longleat Breviaries is the inclusion of illustrations for Saints Peter and Paul, Laurence and Catherine in the Baillieu Breviary.
Our understanding of the developments in English Breviary illustration and of the changes in figure style and ornament of fourteenth-century illuminators must always be fragmentary. The hypotheses put forward in this article concerning the dating and connections with other manuscripts are based on a complex web of fragile pieces of evidence and visual parallels. There is still much research to be done on English illumination of this period and future work may enable a more precise and accurate definition of this small but important book among the medieval manuscripts in the libraries of Melbourne.
Michael Michael and Nigel Morgan


The manuscript has been fully described in M. M. Manion and V. F. Vines. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in Australian Collections, London. 1984. no. 43.


O. Pächt and J. J. G. Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Oxford, 3, Oxford, 1973, no. 642. The connection between the two manuscripts had been realised by Manion and Vines, op. cit. who cite further observations by Dr Michael Michael.


The Psalm numbering and text is according to the Vulgate Bible: The Holy Bible: Douay Rheims Version, Baltimore, 1899 (repr. 1971).


For descriptions of these Breviaries see: L. F. Sandler, Gothic Manuscripts 1285–1385, Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles. 5, London, 1986. nos. 52 79: D. H. Turner. “The Penwortham Breviary”. British Museum Quarterly 23, 1964, pp. 85–8; L. F. Sandler, “An early fourteenth-century English Breviary at Longleat”, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 39. 1976, pp. 1–20; C. R. Borland, Descriptive Catalogue of the Western Medieval Manuscripts in Edinburgh University Library, Edinburgh, 1916. There is no published description of the New York manuscript.


Sandler, Gothic Manuscripts, nos. 62, 64 and J. R. Graver, Indiana University Bookman, 17 (June 1988), pp. 11–13 for further discovery of leaves of the Chertsey Breviary.


Text areas and lines of text: Edinburgh, Univ. Lib. 26 (88 × 57 mm. and 36 lines); Pierpont Morgan M. 329 (98 × 65 mm.); Syracuse, Univ. Lib. (86 × 59 mm. and 34 lines). For the Syracuse manuscript see B. Watson, “The illumination of an English Psalter: a preliminary assessment”, The Courier (Syracuse University Library) XIV/4, 1977, pp. 3–21.


See for example A. Watkin, Archdeaconry of Norwich: Inventory of Church Goods temp. Edward Ill, Norfolk Record Society, XIX, pts, I, ii, 1947–8, passim.


For a comparative chart of the development of Worcester diocese Calendars see N.J. Morgan, “Psalter illustration for the diocese of Worcester in the thirteenth century”, Medieval Art and Architecture at Worcester Cathedral, British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions 1. 1978. pp. 91–104. esp. pp. 100–1.


Piicht and Alexander, op. cit., no. 550.


See M. A. Michael. “Oxford. Cambridge and London -towards a theory for grouping Gothic manuscripts”, Burlington Magazine 130. 1988, pp. 107–15.


For descriptions see Sandler. Gothic Manuscripts. nos. 101. 115. 116 and N. R. Ker. Medieval Manuscripts in British Lihraries. Ill, Lampeter-Oxford. Oxford. 1983. pp. 299–301. For other leaves from the Liverpool manuscript and suggestion of its Oxford connection see L. Dennison “Some unlocated leaves from an English fourteenth-century Book of Hours, now in Paris”, in N. J. Rogers (ed.). England in the Fourteenth Century. Proceedings of the 1991 Harlaxton Symposium. Stamford. 1993.


See on the Vatican Hours relationship to the Queen Mary Psalter Bihlioteca Apostolica Vaticana. Liturgie und Andacht im Mittelalter, Exhibition, Cologne. Erzbis-chöfliches Diözesanmuseum, 1992. p. 241.


M. B. Parkes. English Cursive Bookhands. London. 1979. pl. 19 (the illumination not illustrated): P. Robinson. Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts in Cambridge Libraries. Cambridge, Woodbridge, 1988, no. 243.


Illustrated in Burlington Magazine 129. p. 670. fig. 18.


See S. M. Newton. Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince. Woodbridge. 1980.


See Sandler. Gothic Manuscripts, no. 81 and M. A. Michael. “Destruction, reconstruction and invention: the Hungerford Hours and English Manuscript Illumination of the early fourteenth century”, in P. Beale and J. Griffiths (eds.). English Manuscript Studies, 1100–1700 2. Oxford. 1990. pp. 33–108.


Manion and Vines, op. cit., p. 100.


Sandler. Gothic Manuscripts, nos. 57. 65. 74. figs 143. 158–60. 183 and L. Dennison. “An Illuminator of the Queen Mary Psalter Group: The Ancient 6 Master”. Antiquaries Journal 66. 1986. pp. 287–314.


e.g. an Aristotle. Paris. Bibliotheque Nationale MS lat. 17155: a Bible. Cambridge. University Library MS Dd.1.4: an Apocalypse. Oxford. Lincoln College MS lat. 16: Nicholas Trevet. Chronicle. Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Rawl. B.178, On these see Sandler. Gothic Manuscripts. nos. 70. 72. 75 and Pächt and Alexander, op. cit., I. no. 596. The type of Pucelle workshop illumination which may have influenced these artists would be the Bible Historiale. Geneva. Bibliothèque publique et universitaire. MS fr. 2: F. Avril, Manuscript Painting at the Court of France. London. 1978. pi. 14.


Examples of such collaboration would be a Sarum Hours in a Private Collection in Paris and part of the Breviary. Edinburgh. University Library MS 26: see M. A. Michael, op. cit., p. 41.


Sandler, Gothic Manuscripts, no. 110.


For Robert see a forthcoming article by Michael Michael on named illuminators in England: M. A. Michael. “English Manuscript Illuminators 1190–1450: A Survey from Documentary Sources” in J. Griffiths (ed.), English Manuscript Studies 1170–1700 4. Oxford. 1993 (in press).


C. P. Christianson. A Directory of London Stationers and Book Artisans 1300–1500. New York, 1990. p. 22. Oxford remains a possible alternative candidate for the place of production.


Sandler. Gothic Manuscripts, no. 150.


Sandler. “Fourteenth Century English Breviary”, pp. 15–20 for a full description.