Tag Archives: Gottschalk Antiphonary

Manuscript Road Trip: (Re)introducing the Gottschalk Antiphonal!

The Flight into Egypt, Walters Art Museum, MS W.188, f.112r

The Flight into Egypt, Walters Art Museum, MS W.188, f.112r

A few months ago, I wrote about the potential of Fragmentarium for cataloguing fragments and digitally reconstructing dismembered manuscripts. I concluded that post with the  aspirational note, “I really do think it’s time for Gottschalk to go digital,” in reference to the manuscript I reconstructed as part of my PhD dissertation at Yale in the early 1990s. That work was done using black-and-white photocopies, and, when published by Cambridge University Press in the year 2000, black-and-white photographs. Now, 750 years after the manuscript was written, the Gottschalk Antiphonal has finally gone digital! I am very pleased to introduce my Fragmentarium reconstruction of the Gottschalk Antiphonal, in glorious IIIF-compliant interoperable color:



Hello, Gottschalk!

I was inspired to add Gottschalk to Fragmentarium by my students’ work reconstructing other manuscripts and motivated to actually do it by my participation in a Fragmentology session at the recent International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Thousands of medievalists from all over the world flock to Kalamazoo every May for this annual conference, listening to and learning from one another, greeting old friends, conferring with colleagues. My session was chaired by Elizabeth Hebbard (Indiana Univ.) and included fragmentology presentations by Julia King (Univ. of Toronto), Kayla Lunt (Indiana Univ.), Dana Kovarik (Univ. College London), and Elena Iourtaeva (Harvard Univ.). All six of us are working on fragmentology projects. I noted in my presentation that the Swiss-German word for “fragmentology” is “Schnipseljagd” (fragment hunting), which makes all six of us Schnipseljägerinnen (“Fragment huntresses”). That might just be my new favorite word.


The Schnipseljägerinnen of Kalamazoo

In my presentation I discussed the fragmentology projects completed by my students at the Simmons School of Library and Information Science, and I debuted my digital reconstruction of the Gottschalk Antiphonal.


The Gottschalk Antiphonal, with Gottschalk’s distinctive script, neumatic notation, marginal tonary-letters, and purple-and-red penwork initials (BRBL MS 481.51.6v)

The Gottschalk Antiphonal was written and illustrated in the late twelfth century by the scribe/artist/monk Gottschalk of Lambach and was used at the Lambach abbey for several centuries. The manuscript is a choirbook for the Divine Offices recited throughout the day, preserving liturgy for specific days throughout the year. Because it is a choirbook, it includes interlinear musical notation: predating the development of the four-line-staff and Gregorian notation, the Antiphonal uses unheightened neumes in the St. Gall style, with tonary-letters (indicating something akin to the “key” of each chant) in the margins. Gottschalk’s distinctive artistic style permeates the manuscript, with penwork initials in purple and red.

By the fifteenth century, the musical notation and liturgy were centuries out-of-date, and, along with many other manuscripts, the obsolete antiphonal was dismembered to be used as binding scrap at the Lambach Abbey bindery. During World War II, the monks found themselves in need of a new wood lathe. To raise money for the purchase, they removed the antiphonal leaves and dozens of other fragments from the later bindings in which they had been repurposed, and sold them.

The fragments made their way en masse via a Swiss bookdealer to the New York firm of Hans P. Kraus, and from there to Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (BRBL) in 1965. By the time the leaves had been acquired by Kraus, however, the original provenance of the group had been forgotten. Fortunately, a scholar by the name of Kurt Holter had studied and described the fragments in situ at Lambach before the war. It was thanks to his published descriptions of the leaves that then-curator Robert G. Babcock and a team of graduate students (including myself) were, in the early 1990s, able to identify the Beinecke collection as having originated at Lambach. I was particularly intrigued by the seventeen antiphonal leaves and decided to make the manuscript the subject of my dissertation. In addition to the seventeen Gottschalk Antiphonal leaves at Yale (BRBL MS 481.51), there are two at Harvard’s Houghton Library (MS Typ 704 (5) and 704 (6)). We have already seen the leaf that toured the midwestern United States in an aluminum trailer before settling down at the St. Louis Public Library, and there are a few still in Austria (at a hotel in Badgastein, in the abbey of St. Paul im Lavanttal, and in Lambach itself, although the incunable flyleaves observed there as recently as 1998 have since vanished and are represented in the online reconstruction by my old black-and-white photographs).


Offset of a Gottschalk Antiphonal leaf (BRBL Zi +1525, inner rear cover) (image rotated and inverted)

In 2016, an offset of a leaf of the Gottschalk Antiphonal was found in an incunable belonging to the Beinecke Library. The mirror-image remnant was left behind when the actual leaf was peeled off of the wooden board, where it had been used to secure the leather turn-ins on the back cover. Ironically, the volume had been at the Beinecke for decades by the time I wrote my thesis there, but it was only during a recent survey of the bindings by Elizabeth Hebbard (Indiana Univ.) that the offset was photographed and identified. The leaf was originally consecutive with one of the leaves at Harvard, and I have added an inverted and rotated image of the offset to my Fragmentarium reconstruction. I hope that more leaves will come to light someday. If they do, they can easily be added to the twenty-nine leaves currently appearing in the Fragmentarium shared canvas.

And here’s a sidenote for the liturgists among you (if you’re not interested in a deep dive into the structure of medieval liturgical manuscripts, you should skip the next few paragraphs). Every time I’ve returned to the Gottschalk Antiphonal over the years, I’ve found myself wondering if I really did put the leaves in the right order. There are no folio numbers, after all, so only the content can determine the correct sequence. In the case of the Gottschalk Antiphonal, the correct order of leaves isn’t always obvious.

The order of the leaves is debatable because in the early Middle Ages, there was no consistent organizational system for liturgical manuscripts. They tended to be organized calendrically, but some manuscripts intermingled the movable feasts like Easter with the dated feasts like Saints’ days (see Hughes, p. 243, ms B60 for one such example). This system was a bit messy, since it necessitated interspersing set feasts with those that could move. In the later Middle Ages (starting in the thirteenth century or so), a more orderly system developed that untangled the two types of feastdays. As a result, later liturgical manuscripts are almost always divided into two sections known as the Temporale (the movable feasts whose dates are set relative to Easter, plus a few set feasts like Christmas and Epiphany) and the Sanctorale (saints’ feasts in calendrical order, e.g. St. Valentine on February 14). Both sections usually begin in late November, with the beginning of Advent for the Temporale and Saint Andrew (30 November) for the Sanctorale. The Sanctorale is usually followed by the Commons, generic liturgy for particular classes of saints like Virgin Martyrs or Popes.

BRBL 481.51.8r

Initial Q in Gottschalk’s distinctive style (BRBL MS 481.51.8r)

The Gottschalk Antiphonal is of the earlier variety that mingles Temporale and Sanctorale. For example, a now-lost leaf that was formerly bound into an incunable in the Lambach Abbey library includes liturgy for the Sunday during the Octave of Epiphany (part of the Temporale, even though Epiphany has a fixed date) as well as the liturgy for St. Paul the First Hermit (a Sanctorale feast on January 10) and St. Hilary of Poitiers (January 13). Depending on the day of week on which Epiphany fell in a given year, St. Paul or St. Hilary’s feastdays might have landed before, on, or after the Sunday that occurs during the eight days following Epiphany. This intermigling of Temporale and Sanctorale means that it’s not entirely obvious where in the year the manuscript begins or how leaves with Sanctorale feasts relate to calendrically-nearby Temporale feasts. But you have to start somewhere, and because most manuscripts begin with the first Sunday of Advent, it seemed logical to begin the Gottschalk Antiphonal there. And so BRBL MS 481.51.1, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, begins my reconstruction (Sundays 1-3 are not extant). From that point, the leaves are in roughly calendrical order, from Advent to Christmas (December), Epiphany season through Lent (January – March), Easter season (March – April), the Summer Sundays and autumn feasts (May – November), ending with St. Lucy (13 December) and St. Thomas the Apostle (21 December). I feel confident about this sequence in part because the office of St. Thomas is immediately followed by the first Common office, for Evangelists (BRBL MS 481.51.17).

Typ 704 6r

Virgin Saint (Harvard Univ., Houghton Library, MS Typ 704 (6) recto)

This placement suggests that the calendrical sequence ends in December and supports the idea that it began with Advent season. However, this theory is complicated by the fact that Advent season itself would have encompassed the Saints of December such as Lucy and Thomas. Gottschalk’s solution to this complexity appears to have been to simply avoid mingling the Sanctorale with Advent. For example, BRBL MS 481.51.2, liturgy for the week after the Fourth Sunday of Advent, provides ONLY Temporale liturgy and does not give any hint of Sanctorale feasts, even though that week could have included Saints from late December such as Lucy or Thomas. Instead, Gottschalk inserted the Saints of Advent season at the end of the manuscript, when the calendar circled back around to December. With only 29 leaves recovered out of perhaps as many as one hundred, however, it is certainly possible that additional evidence may result in adjustments to this sequence. Because Fragmentarium uses a drag-and-drop feature to sequence images, it will be quite simple to add or re-order leaves if necessary. The clip below demonstrates this backend functionality.


It is worth noting that images of the two leaves at Harvard were imported directly into the Fragmentarium reconstruction using a persistent IIIF url. The other images were uploaded to the Fragmentarium server as individual JPGs. That’s part of the magic of both Fragmentarium and of IIIF, the International Image Interoperability Framework.

Typ 704 5v

Angel of the Annunciation (Harvard Univ., Houghton Library MS Typ 704 (5) verso)

IIIF is the key to fragmentology. If an institutional repository serves its images using IIIF, each individual imagefile will have a persistent IIIF url that can be used to mirror the image directly into a shared-canvas viewer such as Mirador or, in the case of Fragmentarium, Open Sea Dragon. This means that the images are truly open access and can be shared, imported, and manipulated without duplicating, downloading, or uploading the imagefile itself. When the Fragmentarium shared canvas is opened or refreshed, the IIIF images are “mirrored” into the canvas directly from the host server, freed from the host’s viewer or database. The image also has its own metadata established by the home institution that “travels” with it into the shared canvas. If you want to learn more about IIIF and the Mirador viewer, by the way, check out the three-day workshop at the Beinecke Library on 10-12 July 2018 that I will be co-teaching with Stanford University’s Ben Albritton. The deadline to apply is June 1, and more information is available here.

Gottschalk AntiphonaryWhen I first studied the Gottschalk Antiphonal in the early 1990s, I did it with scissors and paste and black-and-white photocopies on the floor of my living room. It is truly thrilling to see it in glorious IIIF-compliant interoperable color in Fragmentarium. I hope that the reconstruction will complement the liturgical, art historical, and musicological study in my book, bringing this beautiful example of twelfth-century music, liturgy, and decoration to a new generation of students and scholars.



Davis, Lisa Fagin. The Gottschalk Antiphonary: Music and Liturgy in Twelfth-Century Lambach (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)

Davis, Lisa Fagin. Fragmentarium. Multiple, Dispersed Virtual Reconstructions, Gottschalk Antiphonal <http://fragmentarium.ms/overview/F-75ud> (accessed 21 May 2018)

Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to their Organization and Terminology (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995)


Filed under Fragmentology, Medieval Manuscripts

Manuscript Road Trip: A New Year in New Haven

The Flight into Egypt, Walters Art Museum, MS W.188, f.112r

The Flight into Egypt, Walters Art Museum, MS W.188, f.112r

The history of medieval manuscripts in the United States begins in New Haven, Connecticut, at Yale University. Beinecke MS 27 is not only the  first medieval manuscript recorded in the Yale collection but is thought to have been the first illuminated manuscript brought to the New World. The manuscript – an illustrated copy of Vincent of Beauvais’ Speculum humanae salvationis – was given to Yale in 1714 by none other than Eli Yale himself. In the three centuries since, the Yale collection has grown into one of the largest in the U.S. Today, the luminous Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library holds more than 1,500 pre-1600 manuscripts in four main collections: the Beinecke MS series (a growing collection currently comprising 1,162 manuscripts) and the Marston, Mellon, and Osborn collections (three private collections that were later acquired by the library). In addition, Japanese collector Toshiyuki Takamiya has recently deposited his important collection of Middle English manuscripts at the Beinecke. Keep an eye on curator Ray Clemens’ blog for news and updates.

working map

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, from the outside...

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, from the outside…

Many of the Beinecke manuscripts are described in detail in the four-volume Catalogue of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (Binghamton, N.Y. : Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1984-2004) by Barbara Shailor et al. Shailor’s work has served as a model for manuscript scholars world-wide. In much the same way, the Beinecke’s electronic records are models for institutions seeking to make their collections available in a digital format.

There are three access points for each manuscript on the Yale site, all of which are linked to one another:

...and inside.

…and inside.

1) Descriptions: Shailor’s descriptions can be keyword-searched here.

2) Digital surrogates: Complete digital surrogates can be accessed here and downloaded as PDFs.

3) MARC records: a complete list of MARC records for early manuscripts can be retrieved in ORBIS, Yale’s library database, by using the subject heading “Manuscripts, Medieval–Connecticut–New Haven.

Finally, most of the manuscripts can be found in Digital Scriptorium, with more being added to the database regularly.

A note about the MARC records (feel free to skip the next two paragraphs if MARC-speak puts you to sleep). If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that I have strong opinions about how best to use MARC for early manuscripts, and how NOT to. In my virtual travels around the country, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring local OPACs and have learned a lot about best-practices. Yale’s MARC records have been carefully crafted by database specialists, MARC technicians, and manuscript scholars working together to design modified AMREMM records that are clear, thorough, discoverable, and exportable. The 650 field “|a Manuscripts, Medieval  |z Connecticut  |z New Haven,” a custom field whose use in this way may be anathema to some MARC cataloguers, is in fact the key to discoverability, as it allows users to easily retrieve a complete list of early manuscripts. I highly recommend using something similar for your own records.

At the same time, Yale’s MARC records have been designed to cross-walk smoothly into Digital Scriptorium’s hierarchically-structured database, allowing Yale (and others following this model) to export records to Digital Scriptorium with minimal re-keying. In addition to a 1-to-1 relationship between certain MARC and DS fields (e.g. MARC 245 = DS “Title”), the real key to this process is the consistent use and formatting of MARC’s catch-all 500 fields. Working with Digital Scriptorium, Yale’s database gurus have established a closed set of trigger-words (Binding, Watermark, Ownership, Script, etc.) that, when used in a 500 field and immediately followed by a colon, tell the Digital Scriptorium cross-walk algorithm what to do with the metadata that follows. If you are interested in learning more about synching your MARC records and images with the DS database and becoming part of Digital Scriptorium, read these guidelines and contact Digital Scriptorium Executive Director Consuelo Dutschke.

Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University

Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University

But back to New Haven. It wouldn’t be right to sing the praises of the Beinecke’s collection without sharing some of its treasures. I was a graduate student at Yale from 1988 – 1993 in the Medieval Studies program and worked for several years as the Assistant to the Curator of Pre-1600 Manuscripts, at the time Robert G. Babcock. This is where I developed my love for manuscript fragments, as I was given the job of cataloguing and conserving several hundred of these little wanderers. The project turned into Volume IV of the Beinecke Catalogue and led to the discovery with Dr. Babcock that many of the leaves in the collection had originally come from the Benedictine Abbey of St. Kilian in Lambach, Austria.

Lambach Abbey

Lambach Abbey

This discovery provided me with a dissertation topic as well as the opportunity to assist with an exhibition and the accompanying catalogue. Needless to say, I feel very fortunate to have had such a splendid introduction to the world of medieval manuscripts. The Beinecke collection is varied and extraordinary, with ancient fragments perfect for teaching paleography, mysterious codices whose secrets are yet to be unraveled, important and rare literary exempla, and stunning works of art.

BRBL MS 404, f. 7r

BRBL MS 404, f. 7r

Here are a few highlights from the Beinecke collection. I have to lead with MS 404, otherwise known as The Rothschild Canticles.

BRBL MS 404, f. 44r

BRBL MS 404, f. 44r

This spectacular manuscript, written in France at the turn of the fourteenth century, illustrates the Song of Songs and other texts with mystical and complex full-page illustrations. It has been reproduced in facsimile and studied by several scholars, most notably Jeffrey Hamburger.

Another notable late thirteenth-century French manuscript is BRBL MS 229, an Arthurian romance in Old French. In the detail below, we see Sir Lancelot riding off with “The Damsel” in the upper compartment of the miniature, while the Knights of the Round Table do battle below.

BRBL MS 299, f. 75r

BRBL MS 229, f. 75r

BRBL 229 f. 75 detail

Lancelot and the damsel leave the hermitage; the knights of the Round Table in battle with the knights of Baudemagus (BRBL MS 229, f. 75 detail)

MS 425 is a gorgeously illustrated Missal from France, ca. 1470. It was illuminated, at least in part, by the great Jean Colombe and three other artists. After the calendar, the manuscript opens with the Masses for Advent, illustrated by a half-page miniature of The Entry into Jerusalem with smaller miniatures in the margins depicting a priest saying Mass and various scenes from the life of Christ.

BRBL MS 425, f. 6r

BRBL MS 425, f. 6r

MS 375, an early sixteenth-century Book of Hours, is also sumptuously illustrated, with full gilt borders on every page, fifteen full-page miniatures, and twelve calendrical illustrations. The letters E, F and G appear in the margins throughout, presumably initials related to the original (and still unidentified) owner. The manuscript has a noble provenance, having passed through the hands of Marie-Caroline de Bourbon, Duchesse de Berry (1798-1870) as well as Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845 – 1934). 

BRBL MS 375, f. 51v/52

BRBL MS 375, f. 51v/52

The Beinecke also holds hundreds of single leaves and fragments. I’ve written quite a lot in this blog about the practice of twentieth-century American bookdealers breaking manuscripts apart to increase their profit margins. But thousands of manuscripts were broken up centuries ago in Europe, not for resale but for reuse. Parchment was a valuable resource, requiring the slaughter of livestock and the subsequent loss of future income and resources. When possible, bookbinders would repurpose old, obsolete, or imperfect manuscripts by taking them apart to use their leaves as binding structures (palimpsests as well, but that’s another story). These stowaways traveled across the Atlantic tucked safely inside their new homes. Many of these binding fragments were later removed to be preserved as worthy collectibles in their own right. Untold numbers are still hiding in early bindings.

The story of Beinecke MS 481.51 and its journey to the United States is the story of North American manuscript fragments in microcosm. These seventeen leaves belong to the Gottschalk Antiphonal, the subject of my dissertation. Gottschalk, whom we met a few weeks ago at Princeton, wrote and illustrated his eponymous antiphonal at the Lambach abbey in the fourth quarter of the twelfth century. By the fifteenth century, the musical notation and liturgy were centuries out-of-date, and, along with many other manuscripts, the obsolete antiphonal was dismembered to be used as binding scrap. During World War II, the monks found themselves in need of a new wood lathe. To raise money for the purchase, they removed the antiphonal leaves and dozens of other fragments from the later bindings in which they had been repurposed, and sold them.

The Gottschalk Antiphonal (BRBL MS 481.51 8r, detail)

The Gottschalk Antiphonal (BRBL MS 481.51 8r, detail)

The fragments made their way en masse via a Swiss bookdealer to the New York firm of Hans P. Kraus, and from there to Yale in 1965. By the time the leaves had been acquired by Kraus, however, the original provenance of the group had been lost. Fortunately, a scholar by the name of Kurt Holter had studied and described the fragments in situ at Lambach before the war. It was thanks to his published descriptions of the leaves that Babcock and I were able to identify the Beinecke collection as having originated at Lambach. In addition to the seventeen Gottschalk Antiphonal leaves at Yale, there are two at Harvard’s Houghton Library (MS Typ 704 5 and 704 6). We have already seen the leaf that toured the midwestern United States in an aluminum trailer before settling down at the St. Louis Public Library, and a few others leaves can be found in Austrian collections. Altogether, I know of about two dozen leaves of the Gottschalk Antiphonal.

But the story doesn’t end there. Currently, Liz Hebbard, a PhD student at Yale, is working at the Beinecke conducting a survey of its incunable binding fragments. She has already found dozens of early leaves being used as covers, pastedowns, and binding stays. Other bindings show evidence of early leaves having been  removed, as in the image below from incunable Zi +1525 in which a leaf was pasted inside the back cover to secure the leather cover’s turn-ins. The leaf was peeled off at a later date, leaving behind an upside-down inverted offset. Based on my recent examination of the offset, I have identified the missing fragment as a previously unknown (and currently untraced) leaf of the Gottschalk Antiphonal. It is an extraordinary co-incidence that this incunable should have once housed a paste-down Antiphonal leaf, as it arrived at Yale by a completely different path than did the other leaves.

BRBL Zi +1525 (inner back cover)

BRBL Zi +1525 (inner back cover)

The same image, inverted and rotated

Detail. Compare this script with Gottschalk's, above.

Detail, inverted and rotated. Compare this script with Gottschalk’s, above.

Those of you who are familiar with the Beinecke collection may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned what is perhaps the most (in)famous manuscript of all. Just wait ’til next week…

voynich detail

See you next time…


Filed under Medieval Manuscripts, Uncategorized