Medieval Manuscripts in Law Book Bindings, no. 7

Fragment: Breviary (Germany)
Date: c. 1150-1200
Found in: Mascardi, Alderano. Communes i. v. conclusiones, ad generalem quorum cunque statutorum interpretationem acommodatae. Frankfurt: Wolfgang Richter, 1609.

The fragment of a breviary seen here was cut in half to make the cover for this book, and it remained in place for almost four hundred years, accented by decorative pieces of stamped leather. When a bomb exploded in the Law School in May 2003, the book got wet, causing parts of the cover to come unglued. When the book was repaired, the cover was removed completely, allowing us to see both sides of the fragment. What we find is a portion of the service for Lauds on the eleventh Sunday after Pentecost. The end of the reading (from Proverbs) is followed by the lesson (attributed to the theologian Bede around 700), and an antiphon based on the Gospel passage that forms the subject of that lesson (Luke 8:10-13). The neumes here are of the Messine variety, arranged on a four-line staff with the F-line in red.

   – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Thanks to Richard Rouse (UCLA) for clarifying the origin of the manuscript fragment, and to George Brown (Stanford University) for correcting the identity of the text and its attribution to Bede.

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

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