Religion in Late Medieval Scotland
Learn through images about Religion in Late Medival Scotland and the Book of Hours of the Virgin Mary and St. Ninian.
About 450 images were chosen and digitalised from the Edinburgh University Library's extensive collection of manuscripts, incunabula and early printed books. They provide a remarkable insight into the daily religious life of priests, monks, nuns and lay women and men. Many of these sources were owned by the Scottish monastic orders, by prominent Scotsmen and some of the early printed books formed part of Clement Litill's library, donated in 1580.
This project was funded by the Principal's E-Learning Fund and linked to the Masters' course on 'People, Prelates and Purgatory in late medieval Scotland'. The team comprised Doctors Dawson, Grout, Murray and Paterson and was a joint enterprise between the School of Divinity and Edinburgh University Libraries. It was encouraged and assisted by our colleague, the late Dr John Higgitt, to whom the site is dedicated.
- J. Dawson Scotland Re-formed, 1488-1587 (New Edinbrugh History of Scotland Vol 6, Edinbrugh 2007).
- M Lynch Scotland: A New History (London, 1992).
- MS 33 Gradual, Low Countries, 15th century: this large liturgical volume in Latin contains 10-13 lines of music per page and has some illustrations. It was probably produced for the House of Canonesses at Windesheim in Holland. In the 16th century it was adapted for Unreformed Roman Use through insertions and erasures.
- MS 39 Book of Hours, English, mid-15th century: this is an illustrated late medieval manuscript Book of Hours of the Sarum Use
- MS 43 Book of Hours, French, c.1500 [Scottish connection]: this is an illustrated late medieval manuscript Book of Hours of the Sarum Use in Latin produced in northern France, possibly Rouen, for a Scottish owner c.1500.
- MS 50 Martyrology, Scottish, 16th century: this Latin Martyrology follows the Use of Aberdeen and was produced in the 16th century. The Kalendar is almost identical to the Aberdeen Breviary.
- MS 64 Dunkeld Antiphony, Scottish, mid-16th century: most of the compositions in this volume of music have been drawn from Continental sources during the 1540s. Despite its title, it was not directly linked to Dunkeld but did have connections with Robert Douglas, Provost of Lincluden collegiate church, Kirkcudbright
- MS 126 Kalendar, Scottish, late 15th century: the Kalendar shows Cistercian saints and includes some astronomical tables. The volume belonged to the Cistercian Abbey of Coupar Angus, 1482
- MS 150 Evangeliarum et constitutiones of Convent of Sciennes, Scottish, 16th century: this volume contains the Gospel readings and the Constitutions of the female Dominican Convent of St Katherine of Siena at Sciennes, Edinburgh. It was possibly the first manuscript acquired by Edinburgh University when it was received in exchange for the works of Bellarmine in 1593
- MS 169 Medica Secundum Scholam Salernitanan, English, late 15th century: this is a medical volume written in Latin 1481 and signed by the scribe, Robert Sherborne. Recipes were copied into the book by Franciscus Cox in English during the 17th century. It contains an illustration of a late medieval doctor and his patient.
- MS 170 Johannes Serapion Breviarum Medicum, French, 15th century: this is a manuscript of a 13th century medical text by John Serapion written in Latin and produced in France showing signs of Italian influence. It also contains medical notes from the 16th century probably in an Italian script. It has several illustrations of a medieval doctor teaching pupils and diagnosing disease by a patient's bedside.
- MS 186 Fordun's Scotichronicon, Scottish, 1510: this copy of the famous medieval Scottish chronicle the Scotichronicon was written in Latin on vellum. The chronicle circulated widely in manuscript within Scotland
- MS 205 Lectura super Logicalia, Scottish, late 15th century: this volume contains lecture notes on logic taken down at Louvain by Magnus Makculloch who was a clerk of the diocese of Ross and was patronised by Archbishop Scheves of St Andrews. It also contains student sketches and contemporary poems
- MS 208 Regiam Majestatem, Scottish, 16th century: this copy of the Scottish legal book the Regiam Majestatem also contains a range of other legal treatises. The manuscript is also known as the Colville MS because of its association with Alexander Colville who was Commendator of Culross, 1566-80
- MS 308 Hours of Virgin Mary, English, 15th century: this beautifully-illustrated manuscript Book of Hours of the Use of Sarum was produced in England during the 15th century and is associated with Otley, Yorkshire
- MS 312 Book of Hours, Flemish, late 15th century: this beautifully-illustrated manuscript Book of Hours of the Use of Rome was produced in Flanders in the late 15th century. Its small size made it ideal for holding in the palm of the hand for private prayer
- Laing Seal No 1385 [Laing Charter 434] Seal of Kelso Abbey, Scottish, 1539: this is the seal of the Tironensian monastery at Kelso, founded in 1128. It was used for official business, such as this charter of 30 October 1539, and displayed a central image of the Virgin Mary to whom the monastery was dedicated.
- Laing MS III 210 Manuscript version of John Knox's History of the Reformation, Scottish, 2nd half 16th century: the four volumes of this version were composed largely between 1559-64 and revised from 1566-71 and they contain the section of the History [Books 1-4] written by Knox himself.
- Laing MS 483.2 Scottish Metrical Psalter, Wode's Part Books, Tenor Part, Scottish, 2nd half 16th century: the Wode Part Books are a musical setting in four parts of the Scottish Metrical Psalter printed in 1564. It was commissioned by James Stewart, earl of Moray, and compiled between 1562-92 by Thomas Wode [or Wood], a former monk of Lindores who had joined the Reformed Kirk. For other illustrations see the Scottish Metrical Psalter [Wode's Part Books].
Information on the 15th-century printed materials which are sources for Religion in Late Medieval Scotland.
- Inc. 22 [Dd. 34 .20] Juan de Torquemada Questiones 1487 [Scottish connections]: this volume was signed by Archbishop Scheves of St Andrews [d. 1497] and donated to the Edinburgh Dominicans and later formed part of Clement Litill's library. It was printed in Strasburgh c 1487
- Inc. 223 [Dd. 1. 24] Sarum Breviary, French [Scottish connections]: this volume was printed in Rouen by Martin Morin for Jean Raichard in 1496. This is the only recorded copy and once belonged to John Crawford, a prebendary of the collegiate church of St Giles, Edinburgh, who presented it to the Chapel of St John the Baptist which he founded in 1511.
Information on the 16th-century book sources for Religion in Late Medieval Scotland.
- Dd. 2. 33 Hamiltons Catechism, Scottish, 1552: this volume was printed in St Andrews in 1552. Its publication was authorised by Archbishop John Hamilton of St Andrews and the Provincial Church Council that was held in that year. It was written in the Scots language and designed to be read from the pulpit to instruct the laity in the basic tenets of the Catholic faith, such as the sacraments, creed and so on.
- Dd. 2. 49 John Jewel Apology for the Church of England 1561 [Scottish connections]: a year after the Scottish Reformation, this volume was presented by the English ambassador to Scotland, Thomas Randolph, to Lord James Stewart [later Regent Moray] immediately after the book had been printed in London. The book was written to justify the Elizabethan religious settlement of 1559. The gift was part of the attempt to form a closer alliance between Scotland and England based on a shared Protestant faith and mutual friendship.
- Dd. 3. 11 Pagini Isagogae 1542 [Scottish connections]: this volume was printed in Cologne in 1542 by Johannes Kempensis. It belonged to the Edinburgh Franciscans as Brother Alexander Arbuckle records.
Scottish Book of Hours
The project also includes the digital version of the Book of Hours of the Virgin Mary and St. Ninian. The original manuscript was tightly bound in a brown calf Scottish binding dating from c 1692. It tells us a great deal about religion in late medieval Scotland and the Scotts. It has considerable historical value because it was an 'ordinary'.
The manuscript was almost certainly produced for a Scottish owner because of the dedication to St Ninian of Whithorn, who was regarded as the bringer of Christianity to Scotland and was one of the national saints of late medieval Scotland.
- J. Dawson Scotland Re-formed, 1488-1587 (New Edinbrugh History of Scotland Vol 6, Edinbrugh 2007).
- E. Duffy, Marking the Hours (New Haven, Yale UP, 2006).
This volume contains all the essential texts found in a Book of Hours:
- Kalendar [Starting f.1]: Part of the Kalendar [1r-6v] is included listing the saints' days for each month. It is common practice in Books of Hours for important church festivals to be written in gold or red with lesser saints days and festivals in black. The Kalendar is written in a different hand to the rest of the manuscript and may be from another book.
- Fifteen Oes 7r: the Oes of St. Bridget, or Fifteen Oes, are fifteen meditations on the Passion of Christ composed by St. Bridget, each beginning with O Jesu or a similar invocation.
- Hours of the Virgin 'Secundum Usum Anglie' 15v: formally known as the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Hours of the Virgin form the central part of all Books of Hours. They are a series of standard prayers and psalms arranged to be recited according to the canonical hours of Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. The use of monastic hours for lay devotional practice began in the 13th century and reached its height in the 15th century when large numbers of Books of Hours were produced for wealthy lay people.In this manuscript they are arranged according to the Secundum Use Anglie with the addition of St Ninian and St Bride to the Memoriae at Lauds.
- Prayer: Domine Ihesu Christi fili dei vivi miserere. 62r: a prayer to Jesus Christ inserted into the manuscript.
- Salve Virgo and Salve Regina 62v: the prayer Salve Virgo takes its name from the initial words of the Latin prayer in honour of the Virgin Mary:
- Prose of the Virgin 67r: text inserted into the manuscript: Ave gloriosa virginum regina.
- Obserco te 67v: taking its name from the opening Latin words, Obserco te, "I implore thee", this is a prayer to the Virgin Mary for help. In some Books of Hours the owner of the book appears kneeling in an illustration at this point. This is one of two standard prayers to the Virgin frequently found in Books of Hours, the other is, O intemerata "O matchless one" [not included in this volume].
- Prose of the Virgin 71r: text inserted into the manuscript: Gaude cui Symeon senex prophetavit.
- Suffrage of St Apollonia 71v: suffrages or Memorials of the Saints are often well illustrated in Books of Hours. They consist of a short antiphon, verse, response and prayer. They usually open with prayers to the Trinity, Virgin Mary, St Michael, St John the Baptist, the Apostles and then move on to saints with local significance, in this case St Apollonia of Alexandria.
- Hours of St Ninian 72v: the presence of the Hours of St Ninian is evidence of this manuscript's Scottish provenance. They begin, D. J. C. filii dei vivi qui beato niniano praedilecto confessori tuo.
- Prayers 75v: prayer inserted: Domine Deus omnipotens... Da michi amule tue Victoria; Domine Jhesu Christie fili Dei vivi qui pendens in cruce.
- Suffrage of St Peter and Prose 76r: suffrages or Memorials of the Saints - see under Suffrage of St Apollonia.
- Prayer of Bede on the Seven Words 76v: devotion to the last seven words of Christ from the Cross began in the 12th century and meditation on them was seen as a remedy for the seven deadly sins.
- Penitential psalms 79v: the seven Penitential Psalms are Psalms 6, 31/32, 37/38, 50/51, 101/102, 129/130 and 142/143 [Numbers vary according to the version of the Bible]. Together with the Hours of the Virgin and the Service of the Dead, they form the three core texts found in Books of Hours.
- Gradual psalms 90v: there are fifteen Gradual Psalms 119-133/120-134. The name comes from the usual Hebrew inscription which is translated in the Vulgate as canticum graduum. In modern usage they are sometimes referred to as the psalms of ascent and are thought to be those recited by pilgrims ascending to attend festivals at the Temple in Jerusalem.
- Litany 93v: the Litany of the Saints is an important text in a Book of Hours and usually follows the Penitential Psalms. This form of prayer is thought to date back to the earliest days of the church. It is a cry for help which begins with three cries for mercy, Kyrie eleison, Christi eleison, Kyrie eleison which are followed by calls upon the Holy Spirit, Virgin Mary, the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael and many other saints.
- Service of the Dead 101v: is one of three basic texts usually included in Books of Hours. The other core texts are the Hours of the Virgin and Penitential Psalms. The service is composed of the prayers said by the clergy during the vigil at the bier of the deceased. Lay people used these prayers to commemorate the dead and to shorten the stay of their loved ones in Purgatory. They were said on the night before burial or the anniversary of a death. They could also be recited daily as a reminder of one's own mortality, or as a protection against dying suddenly and unprepared.
- Prayer in Scots verse 128v: an inserted prayer to the Virgin Mary, written in Scots.
- Commendation of Souls 129v: a series of psalms recited after the Office of the Dead.
For a complete description see C. R. Borland A descriptive catalogue of the Western Medieval manuscripts in Edinburgh University Library (Edinburgh, 1916).