Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the Medieval Manuscript Fragments Collection
Mss 175  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (104.63 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material
  • Glossary

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Medieval Manuscript Fragments Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 10th century - ca. 18th century
    Date (bulk): (bulk 12th century - 14th century)
    Collection Number: Mss 175
    Extent: 6 linear feet (4 oversize boxes, 1 map cabinet drawer)
    Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special Collections
    Santa Barbara, California 93106-9010
    Physical Location: Vault (Boxes 1-4) and map case 22, drawer 1 (Box 5)
    Abstract: Collection of medieval manuscript fragments from religious texts and scholarly notebooks.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions


    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    Medieval Manuscript Fragments Collection. Mss 175. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Purchase and donation, various dates. See item descriptions for details.

    Administrative History

    These medieval manuscript fragments have been collected by the Department of Special Collections for decades; additions are made sporadically through donation and purchase.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection contains single leaves (folia), double leaves (bifolia), and fragmentary pieces thereof from religious texts and scholarly notebooks written between the 10th century and the 16th century in a number of countries, including Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands. The collection also contains two early modern leaves which resemble medieval manuscript work, probably Spanish or Spanish colonial in origin. With the exception on one leaf from a prayer book in middle Dutch, all of the materials are in Latin. In 1987, Christine Rose described some of the fragments in the UCSB Libraries' journal Soundings ("Medieval MS Fragments at UCSB Library," Soundings, XVIII, no. 24 (1987): 35-59). Some of her comments have been incorporated into this finding aid at the item level.
    Materials have been arranged according to original document type into three series: Bibles, Scholastic Notebooks, and Service and Devotional Books. The arrangement within each series is chronological. Oversize fragments -- those larger than a 615 mm x 510 mm (24.25" x 20") flat box -- are stored in Special Collections map case 22, drawer 1.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Manuscripts, Medieval

    Related Material

    The Department of Special Collections holds a number of complete medieval codices, which have been cataloged and are available through Pegasus, the library's online catalog.



    The following definitions are taken from Michelle P. Brown's Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms (Malibu, Ca.: J. Paul Getty Museum , 1994).
    An antiphonal, also called antiphoner or antiphonary, contains the sung portions of the Divine Office. Such books are often large in format, so that they could be used by a choir, and included decorated and historiated initials, depicting saints and key events of the liturgical year. Hymns are usually contained in a separate volume. Originally, the antiphonal may have included chants sung in the mass, but its use became restricted to the Divine Office during the Carolingian period, and the gradual became the principal choir book for the mass. The contents of the antiphonal are generally arranged in accordance with the temporale, sanctorale, and Common of Saints in liturgical order.
    Bifolium (pl. Bifolia)
    A sheet of writing support material (generally parchment during the Middle Ages) folded in half to produce two leaves (i.e., four pages). A number of bifolia folded together to form a quire.
    Book of Hours
    A book, also called a primer or horae, for use in private devotions. Its central text, the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin (or Hours of the Virgin), is modeled on the Divine Office and represents a shorter version of the devotions performed at the eight canonical hours. The text, known from the tenth century, was originally read only by ecclesiastics; it entered into more popular use by the end of the twelfth century, often being attached to the psalter, the book more commonly used for private devotions before the emergence of the book of hours.
    A service book containing the texts necessary for the celebration of the Divine Office. A breviary is often adorned with decorated or historiated initials, and more luxurious copies may contain miniatures depicting scenes of the performance of the office. From the eleventh century on, the various volumes used during the Divine Office (psalter, antiphonal, lectionary, collectar, martyrology, and others) were combined to form the breviary, which was initially used only by monks, but was popularized (in slightly abridged form) by the Dominicans and Franciscans in the thirteenth century.
    The calendar sections of illuminated medieval manuscripts most often precede liturgical and devotional texts.
    Choir Book
    A service book containing the parts of the mass or the Divine Office sung by the choir.
    A gradual is the response and versicle to the Epistle reading that constitutes a part of the mass. The name derives from the practice of singing the gradual on the steps of the raised pulpit. More commonly, however, the term refers to the principal choir book used in the mass.
    A book containing homilies (discussions of biblical passages, usually from the Gospels), arranged according to the ecclesiastical year.
    A book, also called a hymnary, containing metric hymns sung in the Divine Office and arranged according to the liturgical year. The hymnal could be included in a psalter or antiphonal as a separate section. Its contents were eventually incorporated into the breviary.
    Also called a folio, a leaf is a sheet of writing material, one half of a bifolium. The front and back of a folio are referred to as the recto and verso, respectively.
    A service book containing the texts necessary for the performance of the mass (including chants, prayers, and readings), together with ceremonial directions. The prayers and other texts recited by the priest were originally contained in the sacramentary, which was used together with the gradual, the evangelary, and the epistolary for the performance of high or solemn mass.
    A volume containing readings for use in the liturgy.
    The psalter is the Book of Psalms. Medieval manuscripts of the Psalms were often used in liturgical as well as private devotional contexts and often contained ancillary texts such as a calendar, Canticles, creeds, a litany of the saints, and prayers. Psalters designed for use in the performance of the Divine Office often contain other relevant texts, such as the Hours of the Virgin. The psalter was the principal book for private devotions before the emergence of the Book of Hours in the thirteenth century. The Psalms also formed a major part of many medieval prayer books from the ninth century on.
    Quires are the "gatherings" or "booklets" of which a book is formed. Quire numeration, which began in the late antique period, consists of numbers written on a quire (usually on its finial verso) to facilitate arrangement during binding.
    Service Book
    A book used in the performance of the Christian liturgy.