Missal (Use of Beauvais)

Missalis Belvacensis


Canberra, The Australian National University Library

General Information

Title Missal (Use of Beauvais)
Material Parchment
Place of Origin Northern France
Date of Origin 13th century
Script, Hands

Written sine pedibus in a fine professional hand. Notation is written on four-line red staff.

Original Condition

Page Height at least 275 mm
Page Width at least 196 mm
Number of Columns 2
Number of Lines 41 – 42

No foliation. Some of the other surviving leaves have catchwords.


The 'Broken Books' project by Lisa Fagin Davis to reconstruct the Missal has located 111 (of a possible 308) leaves to date (https://brokenbooks2.omeka.net/exhibits).

Book Decoration and Musical Notation


Three 2-line and one 1-line initials ornamented in gold and colours (blue and pink) heightened with white penwork. The large initials have graceful long descenders with interlaced terminals and foliate extensions. Two 2-line initials with geometric penwork in black ink.

  • Musical Notation Square musical notation on a 4-line stave. As is characteristic of antiphons and responsorial chants, there are more musical notes than syllables of text, so the syllables of the text are widely stretched over numerous notes. Viewed in isolation the syallables are virtually unintelligble.
  • Content

    • Content Item
      • Text Language Latin
      • Content Description

        The text of these pages includes the latter section of the Mass for the fourth Sunday after Easter (including the Credo, Offertory, Secret, Preface, Communion and Postcommunion) and the Introit of the Mass for the fifth Sunday after Easter.


        ...tunc accesserunt et tenue.

        Uado ad eum qui me misit. 'Credo in unum Deum'

        Jubilate Deo uniuersa terra.
        Jubilate Deo universa terra.
        Psalmum dicite nomini eius.
        Uenite et audite, et narrato uobis omnes qui timetis Deum quanta fecit dominus anime mee. Alleluia.

        Deus qui nos per huius sacrifitii ueneranda commercia unius summe quam diuinitatis participes effecisti
        uoluisti, presta, quesumus, ut sicut tuam cognoscimus ueritatem, sic eam dignis moribus assequamur. Per.
        Te quidem omni tempore.

        Dum uenerit paraclitus, spiritus ueritatis, ille arguet mundum de peccato et de iusticia et de iudicio. Alleluia. Alleluia.

        Adesto nobis Domine, Deus nostrum, ut per hec que fideliter sumpsimus et purgemur a uitiis, et a periculis omnibus exuamur. Per.

        V. Domina post Pascha
        Uocem iocunditatis annuntiate et audiatur. Alleluia.
        Nuntiate usque ad extremum terre
        liberauit dominus populum suum. Alleuia. Alleluia.



    This leaf comes from the third volume of a three-volume Missal that was written for use in the liturgy of Beauvais. It was given to Beauvais Cathedral by a former canon, Robert de Hangest, shortly before his death on 3 November 1356 so that he would be commemorated every year on the date of his death. The Missal formed part of the Cathedral Library for several centuries. It is recorded in the inventory compiled by Godfrey Hermant (1617-1690), a canon of Beauvais Cathedral ("Missale Roberti Hangesto; en beau vélin et belles miniatures").

    During the Napoleonic period (1789 and 1792) the Missal and other works and relics held by the Beauvais Cathedral were removed. The three volumes of the Missal were probably separated at this time. The first and second volumes have yet to surface, however, the third volume has a long history of ownership.


    The first documented owner of the Missal after it was removed from the Beauvais Cathedral Library was François Didier Petit de Meurville (1793-1873), a French aristocrat and owner of a luxury fabrics manufacturing business in Lyon. He did not have the Missal long. Beset by financial troubles, in 1843 he sold the considerable art and rare book collection he had amassed. It is uncertain precisely who bought the Missal at this sale, however, if not immediately, then soon after, it entered the library of another Lyon bibliophile, Henry-Auguste Brölemann (1775-1854), and remained with the family for several generations until 1926 when Blanche Bontoux (1859-1955) sold it at Sotheby's (lot 161) on 5 May 1926. The Missal was then acquired by William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951). It was sold from his collection in October 1942 to the Gimbel Bros department store in New York, and within the same month sold again to rare book dealer Philip C. Duschnes (1897-1970). He apparently broke the manuscript and sold a large portion of it to Otto F. Ege (1888-1951). Ege included  leaves from the Missal in 42 specimen sets of medieval manuscript leaves he compiled in the 1940s that were sold under the title "Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts". The Beauvais Missal leaves are listed as no. 15 of the 50 exemplars.

    This leaf, from one of Ege's broken specimen sets, was offered for sale in the Maggs Bros catalogue European Miniatures and Illumination & Calligraphy also early writing from Egypt. Bulletin No. 11. London (November 1982). Cat. no. 43, illustrated plate XX. The Friends of the Australian National University Library purchased the leaf at the end of 1981, in advance of the publication of the catalogue. The leaf is marked 'Sold' in the catalogue. The association with Ege is noted in the description: "Otto F. Ege Collection".

    The leaf was purchased by the Friends for the purpose of commemorating Lady Ella Mary 'Molly' Huxley (d. 1981). It was framed in a glass display cabinet, along with three other medieval manuscript leaves, gifted to the Australian National University Library in 1982.

    • Memorandum (dated 17 September 1981) by University Librarian Colin Steele stating that an order had been placed for the purchase of "a 14th century manuscript leaf from a Missal of Beauvais with musical notation and another leaf of French oraisons from the same period".
    • Correspondence (dated 7 October 1981; 27 October 1981) from Australian National University Vice-Chancellor Anthony Low (1927-2015) to Justice R. A. Blackburn (1918-1987) approving the launch of an appeal "to make gifts of funds to the University so that illuminated vellum leaves might be purchased and placed in the University Library" in memory of the late Lady Ella Mary 'Molly' Huxley (d. 1981).


    Other available descriptions

    • Maggs Bros., European Miniatures and Illumination & Calligraphy also early writing from Egypt. Bulletin No. 11. London (November 1982)
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    • Catalogue de la collection formée par M. Didier Petit a Lyon (Paris: Dentu, 1843)
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    • Otto F. Ege, Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts, Western Europe XII-XVI century, c1940
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