Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection


Missale Lugdunense (Lyons) (Lyons: Petrus Ungarus, 16 Apr. 1500)

Missale Lugdunense (Lyons)

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Most illuminated manuscripts produced in the Middle Ages were liturgical books and prayer books, such as service books, Missals, Books of Psalms or Books of Hours. A number of the manuscripts ordered and produced for the aristocracy and the prelacy were elaborately decorated with miniatures painted by leading artists. In the incunabula period, in order to reproduce the style of the illuminated manuscripts, a large number of liturgical books and prayer books were printed with many wood engravings and hand-coloured border decorations. The present work is one such printed book, which clearly shows the attempt to imitate an illuminated manuscript, even though it is only a common missal for the Lyons Mass printed in folio. The present missal is one of the so-called 'noted missal' types, which contain not only the standard elements of common missals (i.e. a calendar and the words to be spoken at Mass), but also musical notation – covering 9 pages, in this case. In the present copy, the rubrics are printed in red, and on most pages the rules and borders are handwritten in red. The first page is in-filled with a handwritten border decoration (similar in style to 15th-century French Books of Hours) in which naturalistic motifs such as birds, plants and raspberries are intertwined; it has an illuminated initial containing a portrait of Solomon. At the bottom of the border, the owner's coat of arms is also depicted. In addition to these decorations, the present copy has two pages in-filled with large, hand-coloured wood engravings representing the 'reigning Christ' and the 'Crucifixion'(fols cv-cir), respectively, and a further 31 illuminated initials depicting Christ's life. Although hand-coloured wood engravings are not rare in early 16th-century printed liturgical books and Books of Hours, the present volume has especially richly decoration.

The printer of this work was Peterus Ungarus, whose name suggests that he came from Hungary. He is known to have been active in Lyons from 1482.

At the end of the Keio copy there are ten or more blank leaves, which are in-filled with papal bulls, and invocations and psalms written in a 16th-century hand. A note is inscribed on the title page in a 17th-century hand, saying 'Pro Sacello B. Magdalence Ecclesiae Lugd.' ['the Mary Magdalene chapel of Lyons cathedral'], which suggests that this copy was actually used in Lyons, where it was published. On the other hand, the 17th-century English binding suggests that it was brought to England quite soon after it was produced. On the verso of the upper-cover can be seen a printed ownership stamp belonging to Thomas Weld-Blundell (d. 1887). The Welds were a traditional Catholic family living in Lulworth, Dorset, and their relatives, the Blundells – whose name was inherited by Thomas Weld-Blundell – were also an old Catholic family, living in Lancashire. Thomas's uncle, Thomas Weld (1773-1837), was a Cardinal whose own father, Thomas Weld of Lulworth (1750-1810), was a devout man who helped Catholics escaping to England from the confusion of the French Revolution; he established Stonyhurst College for exiled Jesuits, and he also founded a Trappist monastery at Lulworth. It is apparent that the Keio copy has long been in the possession of traditional, pious Catholic families.

The present copy seems to be very rare, because according to the ISTC (Internet version), there are only 4 copies in the cathedral library at Lyons (only 2 copies of which are perfect) and 1 copy in the cathedral library at York.

  Bibliographia Liturgica: Catalogus Misalium Ritus Latini Ab Anno M.CCCC.LXXIV Impressorum, ed. by W. H. Jacob Weale and H. Bohatta (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1928), no. 548

(TM; trans. by MiT)


Place of Publication
Petrus Ungarus


Date of Publication

17th-century English armorial binding, speckled calf, gilt spine and edges; the book with marbled edges.

Bibliographical Notes


IJL2 277
Acquisition Year

1. Lyons, Chapel of St. Mary Magdalena (a17th-century inscription ‘Pro Sacello B. Magdalence Ecclesiae Lugd.' on title page). 2. Thomas Weld (1773-1837; bookplate). 3. Otto Schoeffer.