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Book of Hours Number 5


Book of Hours, Use of Rome, in Latin

C.1470-1500, SPAIN

Dunfermline Reid 5

Parchment. i-ii (parchment of c. 1470) + 203 + iii-iv (parchment of c. 1470)  


Ruling in purple ink on ff.1v–70v; Brown ink 71r-126v; Red and purple ink 127r-134v. Grid in pencil 135r-137v. Ruling in purple 138v-193v. Ruling in brown ink(?) 194r-203v. Eight to ten lines per page.


The book appears to be in quires, as collation notes, in light brown ink, run to f.128v, though most have been cut off through the first half of the book. Ff.1-69v have 8 lines of text. Ff.71r-75r switches to 9 lines; this is not a natural collation break but it is a natural break in the text of the Hours. Ff.75v onwards have 10 lines of text per page.


(1) Ff. 1r–17r and ff. 138r–172r contain an evenly sized and spaced Italian Gothic Rotunda in faded ink.

(2) Ff. 17r–129r and ff.199v–203r contain an Italian Gothic Rotunda which has thinner, unevenly spaced and wobbly strokes. The ink of this hand is consistently darker than the first hand, and not faded. This hand adds flicks over its ‘i’s.

(3) Ff. 129v–199r contain a fine Italian Gothic Rotunda, whose letters have sharper angles than the other hands, and whose ‘v’s and ‘x’s trail above and below the lines. The capitals have added spikes on the left-hand side. This hand also puts flicks over its ‘i’s.

Punctuation: Colons are used to indicate pauses in some psalms. Punctus for major pauses.


Pagination : A later hand, presumably Reid, has numbered all of the recto sides of the leaves.

Pricking : A bit of pricking on the right-hand ends of the ruling on f.128r.


Due to the small size, rubricated directions, and devotional prayers for Mass, the book appears to have been made for individual use at communal prayers.


The book has been rebound in brown leather-covered boards. The outside of both the front and back covers are stamped with a gold-tooled bishop’s crest. It cannot be said which bishop’s crest, however, as the symbols in a square in the middle of the crest have been rubbed or scratched out, but the bishop’s hat above and the cords at the side of the crest are still visible, as are the S and N below the square. A faint ‘x’ is scratched over both crests. Both covers have a gold-tooled border.


According to his inscription on f.i, George Reid acquired this manuscript from a Monastery at Messina, and believes it to be ‘possibly of Spanish origin or Neapolitan’. The bold red initials on ff.129v- 134v, at least, bear resemblance to Spanish initials of the time. Reid bought it for £5.10 and labelled it ‘MS/A’ on the lower right-hand corner of f.ir.


*1. f.ir. Note on where the book was acquired, written in a 19th century hand, almost certainly Reid’s. ‘Sicilian Horae from a Monastery at Messina – Possibly of Spanish origin or Neapolitan – Probable date C 1470 – £5.10 – MS/A’.  

2. ff.1r – 128r. Hours of the Virgin  

3. ff.128v – 129r. The ‘Anima Christi’

4. f.129v. The ‘Ave Vere Sanguis’ rubricated by ‘In elevatio[n]e calicis’.

5. ff.130r – 131r. The ‘Salve Sancta Caro’

6. ff.131v – 132v. The ‘Gloria’ rubricated by ‘ym[n]nus anglor[um]’.

7. ff.133r – 134v. The Nicene Creed.

8. ff.135r – 137v. ‘Initium eua[n]gelii s[ecundu]m ioanu[m]’ with suffrages.

9. ff.138r – 168r. The Penitential Psalms. 

10. ff.168v – 191r. A litany including Psalm 69 on 180v.

11. ff.191v – 199r. The Athanasian Creed.

12. ff.199v – 201r. Mass of the Blessed Virgin ‘Missa d[e] beata vigine’ [sic.].

13. f.201v. Luke 11:27-28, but it replaces the first words, ’Factum est autem, cum haec diceret,’ with In illo tempore. The passage is rubricated with ‘All[elui]a Seq[uen]tia s[an]c[t]i eua[n]ua[n]gelii [sic] s[anta]m luca[m] Gl[or]ia tibi d[omi]ne’.

14. ff.202r – 202v. Offeratory verse including the first half of the Ave Maria and followed by the Sanctus rubricated with ‘Offertoriu[m]’.

15. f.202v. The Agnus Dei.

16. ff.202v – 203r. Closing prayers of the Mass.



Ff.1r has a full-frame border about 25.4mm thick on three sides and 50.8mm thick on the bottom, although it has been cut off on the right and partially on the top sides. A gold shield takes up the height of the bottom border. It holds no heraldry but is illuminated and flanked by symmetrical illustrations of roses. The rest of the border is taken up with decoration typical of books of hours: strawberries, vines, thistles, and other illuminated flowers. The letters inside the border are all illuminated or rubricated, and these begin the Office of the Blessed Virgin. The D in ‘Domine’ sits in an illuminated square full of flowers.

F.138r has a border about 25.4mm thick on three sides but about 63mm on the bottom. All sides are similarly decorated with thistles and other flowers. The D of ‘Domine’ is illuminated and sits in a square of abstract-design of blue ink. Only the initial I in ‘Incipiunt’ and the o in ‘Domine’ are the only other illuminated letters on the page.


Ff.6r, 8r, 10v, 14v, 141r, 144v, and 151r contain initials which are two lines tall, similarly illuminated, placed in a square of abstract-design, and a border of vines and flowers runs vertically next to them. These begin psalms and Mass prayers.

Ff.104v F in Fundamenta, which begins Psalm 86, is three lines and its border takes a fourth.

Initials of the psalm verses and of the litany are one line tall and alternate red and blue.

Initials of responses to prayers are rubricated. 


This book seems to be the work of a scribe who is learning to produce books of hours, especially in the case of the less even hand. There are spelling mistakes throughout these sections, for example, f.26v has E erna instead of Æterna. The scribe also uses Dirige on f.66r which should say Dignare. Furthermore, in the second half of the book, he changes the style of his rubric. For example, f.66r has ‘P[salmu]s’ after Ad Dominum, the beginning words of the psalm, so that the rubric interrupts the psalm.

Furthermore, this book seems to have been meant for someone who was in the earlier stages of learning to pray the hours, as the Gloria on f.132r has exegetical explanations. These are placed within the text in red and in the first instance relate the prayer to the Holy Spirit but relate it to Mary after that. For example, after ‘Q[uonia]m tu solus sanctus.’, it says in red ‘Maria[m] sanctifica[ti]s.’

The only other instance I could find of the Ave vere sanguis Domini is in Lisbon, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal CIC 060, ff.7r–8r.

The F in Fundamenta on f.104v is two lines larger than normal and may be meant to draw special attention to this psalm, as this psalm emphasizes the way in which the Medievals thought of Mary. As Rachel Fulton Brown discusses in Mary and the Art of Prayer, in the Middle Ages, Mary was often identified as the tabernacle of the Lord and with the Holy City of the Heavenly Jerusalem because she, as the mother of Christ, was the dwelling place of God.

There is also a squashed bug or leaf on f.104r!


Rachel Fulton Brown, Mary and the Art of Prayer (New York, 2018), pp. 441.

Lisbon, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal CIC 060, ff.7r–8r: http://pemdatabase.eu/source/36335

Many  thanks to volunteer Abigail Johnston from the University of St Andrews who taught herself rare book cataloguing and found out so much more about George Reid's manuscript Books of Hours