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Walters Ms. W.88, Book of Hours

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Shelf mark



Book of Hours

Text title
Book of Hours


This small Book of Hours, made for use in the diocese of Cambrai ca. 1300-10, is especially interesting for its profusion of humorous drolleries. Humans, animals, and hybrids are featured in the margins of each page of the book. Small scenes record a variety of activities, such as cooking, playing games, climbing, fishing, making music, and dancing. Heiner Gillmeister has argued that two of these scenes depict the earliest known images of tennis being played. These drolleries amused the faithful during their prayers, while showing scenes that work as metaphors for the soul fighting the vices. The original female owner seems to have been established in the diocese of Cambrai, judging from the use of the Office of the Dead. A number of signatures on the leaves at the beginning and end of the manuscript provide the book with a rich provenance. A priest in the sixteenth century wrote a message in code on fol. 1v asking that the book be returned to him if lost. Members of the ducal house of Savoy owned this book in the seventeenth century, as evinced by the gilt armorial shield of Charles Emmanuel II (1634-75), duke of Savoy, stamped on the covers.


First quarter 14th century CE


French Flanders (Cambrai?)






The primary language in this manuscript is Latin. The secondary language of this manuscript is French.

Support material


Thin to medium-weight parchment, well selected and prepared; severely cropped


Foliation: ii+202+i

Modern pencil foliation upper right corners, rectos


Formula: Quire 1: 2 (fols. 1-2); Quire 2: 14, lacking first folio (fols. 3-15); Quire 3: 8, lacking the first and eighth folios (fols. 16-21); Quires 4-7: 8 (fols. 22-53); Quire 8: 8, lacking the first folio (fols. 54-60); Quire 9: 8 (fols. 61-68); Quire 10: 8, lacking third folio (fols. 69-75); Quire 11: 8, lacking third folio (fols. 76-82); Quire 12: 8, lacking the first and sixth folios (fols. 83-88); Quire 13: 8, lacking third folio (fols. 89-95); Quire 14-17: 8 (fols. 96-127); Quire 18-23: 8 (fols. 128-175); Quire 24: 6, lacking the sixth folio (fols. 176-180); Quire 25-26: 8 (fols. 181-196); Quire 27: 6 (fols. 197-202)

Catchwords: One catchword in brown ink on fol. 188v, added in the sixteenth century

Signatures: None



7.4 cm wide by 10.8 cm high

Written surface

3.8 cm wide by 6.2 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 13
  3. Text ruled in dark brown ink; layout different in calendar: 6.4 x 6.1 cm written surface; 5 columns; 16 lines

fols. 1r - 202r:
  1. Title: Book of Hours
  2. Hand note: Textura semiquadrata
  3. Decoration note: One full-page historiated initial, a single extant example at Compline of perhaps seven originally in Hours of the Virgin; marginal drolleries on each folio; enlarged decorated initials throughout, including "KL" in calendar and secondary text divisions, in gold, red, rose, and blue with white detailing (2-3 lines); smaller gold initials (1 line) for minor divisions throughout; rubrics in red; text in black ink
fols. 1r - 3r:
  1. Title: Original endleaves
  2. Contents: Fols. 1v-2v: owners' entries
fols. 3v - 15v:
  1. Title: Calendar
  2. Contents: Calendar in French, three quarters full, graded in red and dark brown; possible destination for Valenciennes in Hainaut; notable saints include: Wasnulf (Oct. 1), Benedict (Mar. 21), Geri, bishop of Cambrai (Aug. 11), Thomas Becket (Dec. 29); sixteenth-seventeenth century addition on fol. 9r: "10000 martyrs;" fol. 15r: fifteenth-century hand writes a prayer to Christ, "Iesu benigne qui aulam virginis elegeras..."
  3. Decoration note: Drolleries in bottom margins
fols. 16r - 107r:
  1. Title: Hours of the Virgin
  2. Incipit: Domine labia mea aperies
  3. Contents: Text imperfect; fol. 16r: Matins, lacking page after fol. 21; fol. 54r: Lauds; fol. 76v: Prime; fol. 89v: None; fol. 100v: Compline
  4. Decoration note: One full-page initial; larger initials (3 lines) and smaller initials (1 line) for major and minor divisions of the text, respectively; drolleries throughout
fols. 107r - 116v:
  1. Title: Litany
  2. Rubric: Incipit letania
  3. Incipit: Kyrie eleison
  4. Contents: Fols. 107r-110r: Litanies; apostles, evangelists, innocents: Peter to Mark; martyrs, including Hippolytus, Romanus, Dionysius, Maurice, Eustace; confessors, which include Silvester, Martin, Nicholas, Romanus, Remigius, Augustine; and the virgins Mary Magdalene, Mary Egyptian, Catherine, Fides, Margaret, Columba, Benedicta, Karitas; fols. 110r-111v: petitions; fols. 111v-116v: two Collects, invocation to Virgin and St. John Evangelist citing female suppliant
  5. Decoration note: Drolleries on each folio; larger initials (3 lines) and smaller initials (1 line) for divisions of the text
fols. 116v - 120v:
  1. Title: Devotional sequence
  2. Rubric: Hec sunt quinque gaudia gloriose virginis a beato edmundo Cantuariensi archiepiscopo composita cum sequenti collecta qui .xl. dies indulgentie impetravit a domino papa omnibus ea devote in honore eiusdem virginis gloriose recitantibus qui cotidie ea dixerit cotidie predictam indulgentiam obtinebit
  3. Incipit: Grande virgo mater Christi
  4. Contents: Fols. 116v-117v: Five joys of the Virgin attributed to St. Edmund of Canterbury; fols. 117v-118r: Prayer to Mary; fols. 118r-120v: Prayer of invocation to the Holy Spirit
  5. Decoration note: Drolleries on each folio; larger initials (3 lines) and smaller initials (1 line) for major and minor divisions of the text, respectively
fols. 121r - 179v:
  1. Title: Office of the Dead
  2. Incipit: Dilexi quoniam exaudiet
  3. Contents: Office of the Dead for use of Cambrai; fols. 121r-177v: Vespers without the opening page, and Psalm 114 in full; fols. 177v-179v: Collects for priests, individual, father and mother, and souls of the dead
  4. Decoration note: Drolleries on each folio; larger initials (3 lines) and smaller initials (1 line) for major and minor divisions of the text, respectively
fols. 180r - 196v:
  1. Title: Devotional sequence
  2. Rubric: Oratio ad sanctam Mariam
  3. Incipit: Sancta Maria mater domini
  4. Contents: Fols. 180r-v: Prayer to the Virgin (ends imperfectly), fols. 181r-184v: Prayer to the Virgin attributed to Philip the Chancellor of Paris (act. 1217-36); fols. 184v-188v: Melody to the Virgin written by Adam of St. Victor, Augustinian (1177-92); fols. 189r-191v: Melody to the Virgin written by Philip the Chancellor of Paris; Sequence to the Virgin written by Guibert of Tournai, Franciscan (d. 1270)
fols. 197r - 202r:
  1. Title: Prayers to Christ
  2. Contents: Fols. 197r-201r: Prayers concerning the passion of Christ; fol. 202r: palindromic square in roman capitals: "Sator/arepo/temet/opera/rotas"
  3. Text note: Fols. 198r, 201r-202r: signatures of Johannes Bodardus
  4. Hand note: Prayers written in sixteenth-century cursive minuscule; Roman capitals for the poetic composition


fol. 12r:

  1. W.88, fol. 12r
  2. Title: Woman leads horse drawing harrow
  3. Form: Marginal drolleries
  4. Text: Calendar: September

fol. 14v:

  1. W.88, fol. 14v
  2. Title: Man and woman baking
  3. Form: Marginal drolleries
  4. Text: Calendar: December

fol. 25r:

  1. W.88, fol. 25r
  2. Title: Men playing ball and racket game
  3. Form: Marginal drolleries
  4. Text: Hours of the Virgin: Matins

fol. 40v:

  1. W.88, fol. 40v
  2. Title: Men playing hockey
  3. Form: Marginal drolleries
  4. Text: Hours of the Virgin: Matins

fol. 52r:

  1. W.88, fol. 52r
  2. Title: Monkeys singing
  3. Form: Marginal drolleries
  4. Text: Hours of the Virgin: Matins

fol. 59v:

  1. W.88, fol. 59v
  2. Title: Tennis game
  3. Form: Marginal drolleries
  4. Text: Hours of the Virgin: Lauds
  5. Comment:

    According to Heiner Gillmeister, this, and the other on fol. 70r, are the earliest known images of tennis being played.

fol. 70r:

  1. W.88, fol. 70r
  2. Title: Tennis game
  3. Form: Marginal drolleries
  4. Text: Hours of the Virgin: Lauds
  5. Comment:

    According to Heiner Gillmeister, this, and the other on fol. 59v, are the earliest known images of tennis being played.

fol. 100v:

  1. W.88, fol. 100v
  2. Title: Initial "D" with the Resurrection
  3. Form: Historiated initial "D," 10 lines
  4. Text: Hours of the Virgin: Compline

fol. 115r:

  1. W.88, fol. 115r
  2. Title: Men climbing
  3. Form: Marginal drolleries
  4. Text: Melodia beatae virginis

fol. 129r:

  1. W.88, fol. 129r
  2. Title: Man and woman cooking
  3. Form: Marginal drolleries
  4. Text: Office of the Dead: Psalm 5

fol. 136r:

  1. W.88, fol. 136r
  2. Title: Dancing monkeys
  3. Form: Marginal drolleries
  4. Text: Office of the Dead: Job 10:1

fol. 169r:

  1. W.88, fol. 169r
  2. Title: Man playing harp and dog dancing
  3. Form: Marginal drolleries
  4. Text: Isaiah 38:12

fol. 186r:

  1. W.88, fol. 186r
  2. Title: Monkeys playing chess
  3. Form: Marginal drolleries
  4. Text: Melody of the Virgin written by Adam of Saint Victor

fol. 193r:

  1. W.88, fol. 193r
  2. Title: Men playing tennis
  3. Form: Marginal drolleries
  4. Text: Sequence to the Virgin written by Guibert of Tournai

fol. 194v:

  1. W.88, fol. 194v
  2. Title: Man pushing a chariot with dog
  3. Form: Marginal drolleries
  4. Text: Devotional sequence of Philip of Saint-Victor


The binding is not original.

Seventeenth-century brown morocco; front and back cover stamped with gilt armorial shield of Charles Emmanuel II, duke of Savoy, 1634-75, with collar of the Order of the Annunciation; gilt fillet frame with fleurons at corners; spine near-flat with gilt fleurons; gilt edges


Made for the use of diocese of Cambrai, ca. 1300-10; female owner suggested by portrait of a woman praying before Christ resurrected on fol. 100v

Philippe Boudard, canon regular at Augustinian foundation of Saint-Pierre, Tarentaise, Savoy 1543; signed on fols. 1v and 3r: "Johannes boudardus canonicus regularis sancti Petri Tarentasiensis Iohan(?) philippe boudard"; the same name is repeated throughout fols. 197-202r: "Johannes Philippe Boudard"; on fol. 201r, beside signature of Philippe Boudard: date "1543"

Jehan Cedati, Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Grenoble, sixteenth century; his request to return the book if lost written in code assigning the numbers 1 to 5 to the vowels a to u on fols. 1v-2r: "Ces presentes heures sont a messir Jehan Cedati prestre de noustre Dame de Grenoble et qui les trouvea leu rende"

Owned by a member of the ducal house of Savoy, seventeenth century; cross of Savoy in shield on fol. 198r; armorial shield of Charles Emmanuel II, duke of Savoy, 1634-75, on binding

Rebound by Léon Gruel, Paris, end of the nineteenth-early twentieth century; Gruel's slip on front pastedown: "No. 1300"

Henry Walters, Baltimore, purchased from Gruel before 1931


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


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Chaucer's World, compiled by E. Rickert and edited by C.C. Olson and M.M. Crowillus. New York, 1948; illustration opposite p. 27, after p. 28, 346.

Janson, H.W. Apes and Ape Lore in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. London: Studies of the Warburg Institute, 1952; pp. 171, 187, 188 (n. 10), 189 (n. 23, 25), 190 (n. 32), 192 (n. 46), 193 (n. 60), Pl. XXXIXc.

Randall, Lillian M.C. Images in the Margins of Gothic Manuscripts. Berkeley and Los Angeles: Berkeley University Press, 1966; p. 38 and pasisim, figs. 138, 189, 237, 343, 450, 469, 476.

Verdier, P. "Woman in the Marginalia of Gothic Manuscripts." In The Role of Women in the Middle Ages, 121-160. Papers of the Sixth Annual Conference for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, State University of New York at Binghamton, 6-7 May 1972. Albany, NY, 1975; p.134 (n. 76).

Schulize-Busacker, E. "Eléments de culture populaire dans la littérature courtoise." La culture populaire au moyen âge. Etudes présentés au quatrième colloque de l'Institut d'études médiévales de l'Université de Montréal 2-3 April 1977. Montreal, 1979; p. 93, illustration.

Smith, S. "'Game in myn Hood': The Tradition of a Comic Proverb." Studies in Iconography 9 (1983); p. 5, fig 2.

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Wendersdorf, K.P. "The Symbolic Significance of Figurae Scatologicae in Gothic Manuscripts." Word, Literature, and Picture, edited by C. David. Kalamazoo, 1984; p. 7, fig. 21, cover.

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Wieck, Roger S. Time Sanctified: The Book of Hours in Medieval Art and Life, exhibition catalogue. Baltimore, MD: Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery, 1988; pp. 51, 54, 158, 208: cat. no. 80, figs. 21, 25.

Gillmeister, H. Kulturgeschichte des Tennis. Sonderausgabe fur den Deutschen Tennis-Bund. Munich, 1990; pp. 25-26, figs. 11a, b.

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Principal cataloger: Randall, Lilian M.C.

Cataloger: Valle, Chiara

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Emery, Doug; Noel, William; Schuele, Allyson; Sedovic, Katherine; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.; Wiegand, Kimber


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.