The Book of Hours was the most popular illustrated manuscript produced during the medieval age. It was a devotional text usually manufactured in a small pocket edition or smaller miniature that could be easily carried by its owner. The Benedictine monasteries first established a set cycle of prayers throughout the day. This was divided into eight segments, which were identified as hours, 1) Matins [pre-dawn], 2) Lauds [dawn], 3) Prime [6 a.m.], 4) Terce [9 a.m.], 5) Sext [Noon], 6) None [3 p.m.], 7)Vespers [dusk], and 8) Compline [Bedtime]. These small books contained devotional text, prayers to patron or favorite saints, the penitential psalms, and other contemplative readings. It was structured as follows: calendar, gospel lessons, hours of the virgin, hours of the cross or hours of the holy spirit, prayers to the virgin, penitential psalms, office of the dead, suffrage, and accessory text. The manuscript text was often produced in a workshop by one scribe and then decorated in a different workshop.
The leaf we have is a typical example of a 15th Century French illustrated miniature Book of Hours. It is from the Hours of the Virgin, probably from Sext (noon). It contains 14 lines of text on both pages. The verso side contains floral decorations on the left margin of the page. These decorations consist of gold leaves with blue and red flowers on hair-line stems. In the text there are 3 one-line capitals with gold lettering and 1 two-line capital with blue lettering decorated both inside and outside with gold. On the recto side, there are 5 one-line capitals and 1 decorated period at the end of a sentence. The text is from psalms 123 and 124.
absorbuisset nos. Torrentem pertransivit anima nostra: forsitan pertransisset anima nostra aquam intolerabilem. Benedictus Dominus: qui non dedit nos in captionem dentibus eorum. Anima nostra sicut passer erepta est: de laqueo venantium. Laqueus contritus est: et nos liberati sumus. Adiutorium nostrum in nomine Domini: qui fecitVerso side – Latin Text:
caelum et terram.[end of psalm 123]. Qui confidunt in Domino, sicut mons Sion: non commovebitur in aeternum, qui habitat In Hierusalem. Montes in circuitu eius, et Dominus in circuitu populi sui: ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum. Quia non relinquet Dominus virgam peccatorum, super sortem iustorum: ut non extendant iusti ad iniquitatem manus suas.Psalm 123