Catalogue of French-language manuscripts KB

Catalogue of French-language Medieval Manuscripts in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek [Royal Library of the Netherlands] and Meermanno-Westreenianum Museum, The Hague
Compiled by Edith Brayer, Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes, Paris

On microfiche

With a printed guide and introduction by Anne S. Korteweg, Curator of Manuscripts, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague

The catalogue
In the early 1950s the well-known Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes (IRHT) in Paris sent its staff researcher Edith Brayer on a mission to describe and analyze medieval manuscripts in the French language held by various libraries in Europe. One of her stops was The Hague, where in 1954 and 1956 she spent months studying, analyzing and describing the relevant manuscripts in the collections of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library ) (112) and the Meermanno-Westreenianum Museum for the History of the Book (19). The manuscripts originated in France, the southern Netherlands (Belgium) and in one case England. Her efforts resulted in a catalogue in French of some 1,500 typed pages kept in the Section Romane of the IRHT and never before published in any form.
In addition to the manuscripts of the two collections above, she further described some 90 transcriptions of medieval French manuscripts made at the end of the eighteenth century by G.J. Gérard (1734-1814), also held in the Royal Library. The historian Gérard was secretary of the Academy of Sciences and Letters in the southern Netherlands (present-day Belgium) and librarian of the famous Burgundian Library in Brussels. Over the years he had made many transcriptions of manuscripts held in that library, in the library of the Chambre des Comptes in Lille and in private collections. Some of these manuscripts can still be traced in the Royal Library in Brussels and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, but for others Gérard's transcription is all that remains.

Contents of the catalogue
The descriptions in the catalogue consist of:
• an extensive codicological analysis of the manuscript, with collation and description of the decoration and miniatures
• an extensive analysis of the text, with transcription of the rubricated chapter and section headings
• transcriptions of important passages, such as prologues, incipits and explicits, and in the case of manuscripts with poems, sonnets, etc. extensive transcriptions of these as well
• an overview of the history of the manuscript
• an overview of the most important literature on the manuscript
The microfiche edition also contains a complete list compiled by Anne S. Korteweg, Curator of Manuscripts of the Royal Library in The Hague, of all the miniatures found in the illuminated manuscripts to supplement the descriptions made by Mademoiselle Brayer. In addition an article by Mlle Brayer is included that she published in the Bulletin d'information de l'Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes from 1964, in which she analyzed the French texts of some 40 Books of Hours (prayer books for lay people normally written in Latin in France and the southern Netherlands, but usually also containing a number of texts or prayers in French). With the inclusion of this article all the work done by Mlle Brayer in The Hague has been brought together and this important documentation system has been made available to aid scholars in their research.

Printed guide
The microfiches are accompanied by a guide written in English by Anne S. Korteweg, with short-title descriptions of all the manuscripts from the collection of the IRHT, supplemented by some 20 manuscripts for which no description is available, thus providing a complete overview of all the medieval manuscripts in French held by both institutions in The Hague. Furthermore, additional information on the provenance of the manuscripts has been included as well as the most recent bibliographical references, indices of shelf marks, authors and titles, scribes, illuminators, bookbinders, and former owners.