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Van der Weyden, Descent from the Cross
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Notre Dame University Library MS 67

Described by: Ryan Perry, from analysis of the manuscript in Notre Dame Rare Books Room.
Revision Date: June 1st, 2010


A Mirror to Devout People, 2nd quarter C15?

Condition of the MS

Very good condition.

Number of Items


Title(s) of Pseudo-Bonaventuran Text(s)

The Mirror to Devout People (Speculum Devotorum)


    "Gostley sustre in Ihesu criste I trowe it be noght 3it from your
    mynde þat when we spake laste to gidre I behight yow
    a meditacion of þe passion of our lorde .` þe whiche pro-
    mys I haue noght putte fro my mynde . bot by dyuers
    tymes by þe grace of our lorde I haue perfourmed / hit als I myght", fol. 1r.

    Above the text in a small hand contemporary with the scribes is "Assit principio sta[_] maria meo".



Secundo Folio

meditacions folowyng were bot a symple man and of no reputacion


    " And þus I ende þis sym-
    ple booke . praynge yow here . or ony other deuoute seruante of god
    þat is by his grace of god to rede þis booke or ony parte þer of /
    for charyte to sey . þe same prayer þat I askede in þe firste cha-
    ptile of þis booke . and also aboute þe myddes . to þe worshype
    of þe holy trynyte . one euerlastynge verrey and almyghty god//
    To whome be all worship ioye and preysynge nowe and with
    oute ony endynge. A . M . E . N . ~", fols 107v-108r.

Languages of the MS

English with shorter Latin items

Detailed Description of Contents


Estimated Date of Production


Writing Support

Parchment, of generally good quality; bound in white leather (doeskin, according to Patterson) over wooden boards; there are the remains of two brass clasps.


ii + 127 fols + i (flyleaves early).

Dimensions of Page and Writing Space

  • Leaf Size: 300 x 210 mm (approx.)

  • Writing Space: 205-10 x 135-140 mm (approx.)


1-158; 168 -1 (8 removed, with no loss of text). Quire signatures continue between the work of scribes A and B (B begins the Craft of Dying on A's final quire, on the verso side of fol. 109 (the quire ends on fol. 112).


1 column, 27 lines throughout; frames and lines ruled in brown ink; a marginal column has been used in order for chapter numbers (arabic) to be penned in the table of contents; lines extend beyond the writing frame to the edge of the leaf where there is a side note; this suggests that the quires were ruled against an exemplar, rather than en-masse in preparation for copying; pricking visible throughout.

Rubrication/ Ordinatio

  • Initials: Ornate illuminated initials will be discussed in Decoration. Chapters generally begin with 4-line blue initials with red pen-work sprays and infilling (although the infilling and sprays are always in differing shades of red; chapter 1 begins with a 3-line initial and no initial has been supplied at the opening of chapter 2 (nor any space left for a capital); 1-line blue initials introduce the chapters in the table of contents;
  • Titles, Headings, Rubrics: Chapter headings in red, as are Latin phrases and side notes (invariably but in Latin); chapter numbers are penned in Latin in the margins red paraphs mark subdivisions in the text. There are minor differences in rubrication during scribe B's stint, with letters at the beginning of sentence regularly touched with red, the application of red virgules and punctus marks, and a distinctive variety of paraph mark.
  • Other: During scribe A's stint the catchwords appear in scroll cartouches, with inner frames in brown and red ink, and almost always marked with lozenge shapes (with a dot within) at either end of the scroll. This lozenge motif also occurs as part of the AMEN concluding the Mirror for Devout People and 'O Intemerata', and also occurs beside item 4. This would appear to be a strong clue that the ornate gothic script that marks these Latin items is the work of scribe A. During scribe B's stint catchwords are contained in a simple red-ink tray.



Number of Scribal Hands

  • A: fols 1-109r.

  • B: fols 109v-126r.

Style of Hands

  • A: A cursive Anglicana with prominent Secretary features, particularly in the open unlooped version of 'w' that becomes much more common in the second half of the C15; usually pens a single compartment 'a' but occasionally pens double-compartment form; long 's' is normally used at initial and medial positions, with a cigar-shaped descender topped by a small hook, sigma 's' occurs in terminal positions and sometimes in initial positions; looped 'd'; figure-of-eight 'g', but uses a horned 'g' with an open descender on a few occasions; normally dots 'y'; often concludes words with a thin otiose stroke that descends below the base line; pens a variety of punctuation marks, with punctus elevatus usually concluding paragraphs and a punctus dot used as comma and full stop.
    Scribe A is possibly also responsible for the beautifully executed Textura script used in the Latin items following the Mirror for Devout People; one idiosyncratic feature is the use of spidery thin s-shaped marks above 'i', and the continued habit of concluding words with a thin otiose stroke descending below the base line.

  • B: This scribe shares a number of features with scribe A including the unlooped 'w' form, but in general this a looser and less well executed script; distinctive features include the preference for double-compartment 'a', the tendency to use sigma-s in the initial and terminal positions (although long-s is used in initial positions too), the use of the virgule and double virgule rather than punctus dot and punctus elevatus, the frequent use of a falling backwards 'e' in terminal positions, and the use of an un-dotted 'y'. Nevertheless, there are enough similarities in the hands to suggest some shared scribal learning.

Estimated Date of Hands

Both hands would appear to belong to the second quarter of the C15.

Scribal Annotation

"Examinatur" is visible a number of the times in the book at the end of quires, suggesting a supervisor has checked the book against an exemplar. There are corrections in the book that may have been enacted in response to the supervision.

Notable Dialect Features

Sample of Dialectal forms from A Mirror to Devout People, and checked against Craft of Dying:

again: a3eyne, a3ein

against: a3eynst [ayeinest]

church: chirch(e)

but: bot

eye: ye

eyes: yene

her: hir

use of 'y-' prefix, eg. 'y borne', 'y tornede' etc.

them: hem

ye: yhe

any: ony

then: þan

there: þare, þere, þeir

they: þei, þai, they

their: here

these: thies

her: hir

not: noght, not

yet: 3it, 3itte

muche: myche, mykyll, mykil, mykel [miche, moche]

sister: sustre, sistre, syster

work (noun): werk(e), wirk, wyrk

will (vb): woll [scribe B 'will(e)]

gave: 3affe

give: 3eue, 3if

length: lenthe

if: if, yoffe, 3iffe, 3if [yf, if]

together: togidre

flesh: flessh

buried: beryede

would: wolde

say: sey, seyth

died: diede

twelfth: twelfeth

year: 3ere, yhere

Localisable on Google Earth
(click markers to view sample dialect forms)


Annotation and Marginalia



  • "Cost vis viiid:", front flyleaf iiv.

  • ""Siue dormio siue vigilio siue aliquid facio semper illa: vox nouissima tuba sonat in auribus surgite mortui & venite ad iudiciu . Hieron"; beneath this the name "George Worthington" (see Christie's Catalogue) has been crossed out; penned in a humanistic hand, poss. C16-17, front flyleaf iiv.

  • See Names for the remains of several C16 deeds.

Names recorded, signatures, ex libris marks

  • Front pastedown: Bookplate of the Marbury Library, "Bookcase 8, no. 220"; Bookplate of W.A. Foyle , Beeleigh Abbey.

  • The name "George Worthington" (see Christie's Catalogue) has been crossed out with cross-hatching; front flyleaf iiv.

  • Fol. 127v: "randyll bill is a wytnes to thys [several indecipherable sentences] thys be delyverred to wyllyam neusam ofe Nuporat [porte?] Chap man an grase his wyfe suffer the sad Sir Wylliam neusam an graes hys wife to by an sell all manner of wars that be"; this hand is also prob. responsible for the deed on the rear flyleaf, C16.

  • Rear flyleaf ir: "to all ciristyn peple to whom this pasport writyn shall come to be sene [wil or?] under staned we the justis of peces and of the quorom of etc."; prob. by the hand of the previous deed, C16.

  • On the rear pastedown is the remains of 3 lines of Latin text in a poss. C15 hand


It appears that a leaf of some description (an indulgence perhaps?), c. 175 x 130 mm was once pasted on top of the rear pastedown. The pattern left by the glue would suggest that the leaf was paper.

References and Other Resources

Paul Patterson Vincent Gillespie A.S.G. Edwards Digital Scriptorium: Entry for University of Notre Dame MS 67. The Library of William Foyle. Part I: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts: Tuesday 11 July 2000, Lot 73 (pp. 221-223). London, England: Christie, Manson, and Woods, 2000 .