Medieval manuscripts in Dutch Collections
Medieval manuscripts in Dutch Collections

Instructions for the use of the database

Basic Search (Search fields in order of appearance)

You can make use of the autocompletion function to search a specific author, subject, or title. If you want to search for e.g. all titles starting with "book of", you can simply type the text, ignore autocompletion by clicking outside the screen and choose "search"

Place, institution and shelf mark

Choose the place, the institution where the manuscript is kept or the shelf mark.

E.g.: type in Amsterdam to retrieve all manuscripts kept in an institution in Amsterdam

or: type in BPH to see all manuscripts kept in the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica (in Amsterdam).

Abbreviations have been used for all collections and sub-collections. A list of abbreviations can be found here.

or: to search for a specific manuscript within an institution use " " to make the search successful; e.g. type “BPH 12” to get directly to this manuscript.

or: use an asterix * in case you’re not sure how to spell a word; e.g. bien* for bienboec

Producer (author, co-author and translator/adaptor)

The names of the authors have been standardised and have not been entered as they appear in the manuscript in order to overcome variations that could impede search ability. The main source for the standardized names was Personennamen des Mittelalters [1], but because this is an English database, the English names prevailed. Results of accepted scholarship on the identities of medieval authors are also incorporated (e.g.. the identification of Petrus Naghel as the Bible translator of 1360). A list of standardised names can be found here.

Names of monarchs and other well known individuals appear in the form most familiar to English speakers; the English preposition "of" will also be used (but not exclusively) in preference to various Latin/other vernacular forms: David of Augsburg, not David von Augsburg or David Augustensis and William of Auvergne, not Guillaume d’Auvergne or Guilelmus Arvernus. Names of Arabic philosophers are cited in the form used in the Latin West, and commonly known to most scholars of the Middle Ages: Averroes (not Ibn-Rushd); Avicenna (not Ibn-Sina).Other authors will be refered to in the language consonant with their region of origin or chief activity. As a result, the names of Dutch authors were not translated: Jacob van Maerlant (not James of Maerlant), Jan van Ruusbroec (not Ruysbroeck) and Willem de Biechtvader.

If an 'author' identified himself or has been accepted under a pseudonym, that pseudonym will be used: John Mandeville. When the real name of the author is known as well, both will be recorded (Soccus/Conrad of Brundelsheim). “Pseudo” will be used for authors of those texts attributed during the Middle Ages to a real, and usually well known author, but now recognized as having been written by someone else: Pseudo-Richard of St. Victor. When a manuscript gives one of these well known names, but the real identity of the author of the text is accepted in scholarly literature, both names are recorded (pseudo-Augustine of Hippo, being Caesarius of Arles).

To retrieve more hits, truncate the name by typing in only the first few letters, followed by an asterix *.

E.g.: typing Ol* leads you both to Olivier de Langhe, Olivier de la Marche, Olympius Nemesianus and Oliver of Paderborn

[1] Personennamen des Mittelalters: PMA ; Namensformen für 13.000 Personen gemäß den Regeln für die Alphabetische Katalogisierung (RAK) = Nomina scriptorum medii aevi = Personal names of the middle ages. Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Red. Bearb. Claudia Fabian. - 2. erw. Ausg. - München, Saur, 2000.


All titles have been standardized to prevent lost results due to spelling inconsistencies. The main sources were Richard Sharpe’s List of Identifications and Anonymous classics.

'Real' titles, that is, titles given by the author, have not been translated, while 'descriptive' titles, that is, those given by later cataloguers, have been translated into English. Furthermore, Latin titles were standardized: Commendatio animae (not Commendacio animae).

If a title which was entered originally was written in another language, this is noted in the annotation field (e.g. Uniform title: Rechtssumme / Johannes von Freiburg; Annotation to the content: German translation of Johannes von Freiburg’ s Summa Confessorum by Bruder Berthold). But it is also possible to search in the title field for all variations of a single text: e.g. if you are searching for the Facta et dicta memorabilia by Valerius Maximus and you type these words into the title field, you will get not only the original text but also the same text in different languages (so both Facta et dicta memorabilia and Faits et dits mémorables).

E.g.: Bakkersmissaal or Bakers missal

E.g.: Eerste Historiebijbel which also can be found under the title History bible

If you are searching for a specific title, use “  “ to get the correct results.


The descriptions list either the exact date that can be found in the manuscript itself or the date accepted in the secondary literature. The manuscript’s date of the origin appears in the database in Arabic numerals, while imprecise dates are descriptive.

Start year: as a four-figure number, enter the earliest year to be included in your search.

End year: as a four-figure number, enter the latest year to be included in your search.

There are two options: you can either search for a certain period of time.

E.g.: 1200 (start year)-1300 (end year)

Or else search for a specific date: e.g. 1232

date after: 1232

date before: 1233

Manuscripts dated from the middle of the 14th century were entered 1340-1360; manuscripts dates from the late 13th or early 14th century were entered 1290-1310; manuscripts dated between the 9th and the 11th century were entered 0900-1100.


Extended Search (Search fields in order of appearance)


In this field all kind of information on the texts is catalogued.

E.g. This is the so called short redaction of the text

Also, this field is used to list all the texts in one manuscript, and to provide information on the number of manuscripts on a composite manuscript.

E.g. Contains: Ab urbe condita / Livy - Biography of Livy - Epitoma de Caesaribus / pseudo-Aurelius Victor - Epitoma rei militaris / Vegetius

E.g. 2 parts


Incipit and explicit are only given, when a text was unidentified


Choose the language from the pick list.

The results of this field not only contain manuscripts in the original language but might also yield manuscripts which were translated into this language (e.g. if you search for Latin, the results might include manuscripts which were originally written in Latin but also manuscripts which were translated from another language into Latin).


See also producer(s) (above). A standardised list of names can be found here.

Browse by category and keyword

Categories and keywords

The list of categories and keywords is meant as a resource to search for manuscripts with respect to their content and/or form. Of course it is not possible to capture all the aspects of a text by one or two keywords. The attributed keywords can only help the user to broaden his search and to achieve better results.

Use the list to find the desired topic.

The categories are:

Artes: all texts which are non-fiction; texts of the artes liberales, artes mechanicae and artes magicae

Literature: narrative literature (e.g. epics, chivalric literature, etc.)

Religious texts: instructions for a religious life (this also concludes instructions for religiosi): e.g. book of hours, prayer books; mysticism, ars moriendi

Bible: this category contains bible books, gospels, bible commentaries etc.

Liturgy: Rites, observances, or procedures prescribed for public worship. At the core of Christian liturgy are the mass (the celebration of the Eucharist) and the divine office. E.g. evangelary, ceremonial

Preaching: contains sermons, homilies, conferences, etc.

Medieval theology/philosophy: doctrine, confessions, sacraments, etc.

Classical literature/philosophy: contains texts from the antiquity

Historiography: narrative sources, historiography: annals, chronicles, heraldry, etc.

Law and regulations: statutes, privileges, decretals, but also corpus iuris civilis, institutiones, etc.

Administration: statues, governmental instructions, taxes, etc.

Person as keyword

In this field you can search for persons mentioned in texts. A list of names can be found here.

E.g.: Bede; for texts concerning Bede’s death



Here you can search for the material from which the manuscript was made or choose from the pick-list.

E.g.: paper; parchment

It is also possible to search for manuscripts in which both materials were used.

E.g.: paper and parchment; paper (and parchment) [for manuscripts where only a few pages of parchment were used].

The results will yield the material, followed by the number of folios.

E.g.: Paper and parchment, 230 ff.

If the manuscript was not foliated but rather paginated, this will be mentioned between brackets.

E.g.: Parchment, 162 ff. (paginated 1-324)

Script type

In this field it is possible to search for all manuscripts with a certain script. For more information on medieval script types in the database use the pick list.

E.g.: littera humanistica


The scribe can be both a person or an institution. A list of standardised names can be found here.

E.g.: Gherijt Jansz

E.g. Benedictines, male, Münster in St Gregorienthal


This field allows you to search for manuscripts with a specific binding. Use the pick list to achieve the best results. In some cases you will find a photograph of the binding.

E.g.: medieval binding, post-medieval binding, 16th-century binding


The binder can be both a person or an institution. A list of standardised names can be found here.

E.g.: Johannes Guillebert

E.g. Canons Regular of St. Mary & the Apostles, Utrecht

Origins and provenance

Country/region and Place (City)

These fields allow you to search for the place of origin of the manuscript. This might also yield manuscripts with multiples places of origin or with an uncertain place of origin. Use the pick list to find the country/region your choice. You also can use the field place (city) to diminish your results.

E.g.: Netherlands or Amsterdam


In this field you can choose a collection within an institution or library. You will get all manuscripts which are situated in this collection.

E.g.: Collection Vossius (which is located in the university library of Leiden)

Medieval owner(s)

This field contains medieval (and 16th-century) owners, both private persons and institutions. A list of standardised names can be found here.

Koninklijke Bibliotheek - Nationale bibliotheek van Nederland