Medieval manuscripts in Dutch Collections
Medieval manuscripts in Dutch Collections

Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden, Bijzondere Collecties/Special Collections

c. 1500
Witte Singel 27
2311 BG Leiden
Phone: +31 (0)71 527 2857
Fax: +31 (0)71 527 2836

P.O. Box 9501
2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands
Visiting hours:
Monday through Friday: 09.30 – 16.45 hours
Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden, Bijzondere Collecties/Special Collections
How to reach us?

From Leiden Central Station it’s a 15 minute walk. Or take bus 39, 48 (bus stop Noordeinde) or 28 (bus stop Witte Singel / Paterstraat).

Number of manuscripts in the collection(s)

c. 1800 volumes (of which c. 330 contain Greek),  several hundred fragments

Printed catalogues

The manuscripts acquired before 1741 are described in the general catalogues of Leiden University Library printed in 1595, 1597-1603, 1612, 1623, 1636, 1640, 1674 and  1716 (with a supplement in 1741). In the 19th and 20th centuries the manuscript holdings were described in separate catalogues and inventories. The Leidendescriptions in MMDC contain abbreviated references to the following catalogues:

  • Cat. 1716 — Catalogus librorum tam impressorum quam manuscriptorum Bibliothecae Publicae Universitatis Lugduno-Batavae. Ed. W. Senguerdus, J. Gronovius & J. Heyman. Lugduni Batavorum 1716. — [The supplement from 1741 has consecutive pagination 501-534].

  • Cat. 1887 — Catalogus der bibliotheek van de Maatschappij der Nederlandsche letterkunde te Leiden. Vol. I: 1ste afd. Handschriften. Bew. door H.C. Rogge met suppl. bew. door S.G. de Vries; 2e afd. Drukwerken 1ste ged. Bew. door L.D. Petit (Leiden 1887).

  • Cat. Boeren 1970 — P.C Boeren, Catalogue des manuscrits des collections d'Ablaing et Meijers. Lugduni Batavorum 1970 (= Codices Manuscripti, 12).

  • Cat. Boeren 1975 — P.C. Boeren, Codices Vossiani Chymici. Leiden 1975 (= Codices manuscripti, 17).

  • Cat. compend. I (1932) — Catalogus compendiarius continens codices omnes manuscriptos qui in Bibliotheca Acaemiae Lugduno-Batavae asservantur. Pars I (Leiden 1932).

  • Cat. compend. IV (1937) —Catalogus compendiarius continens codices omnes manuscriptos qui in Bibliotheca Acaemiae Lugduno-Batavae asservantur. Pars IV. Codices manuscripti ex collectionibus societatum in usum eruditorum in bibliotheca depositis (Leiden 1937).

  • Cat. Geel 1852 — J. Geel, Catalogus librorum manuscriptorum qui inde ab anno 1741 bibliothecae Lugduno Batavae accesserunt. Lugduni Batavorum 1852.

  • Cat. Lieftinck 1948 — Codicum in finibus Belgarum ante annum 1550 conscriptorum qui in bibliotheca universitatis asservantur. Pars. 1: G.I. Lieftinck, Codices 168-360 societatis cui nomen Maatschapij der Nederlandse letterkunde. Lugduni-Batavorum 1948 (= Codices manuscripti, 5).

  • Cat. Molhuysen (1910a) — [P.C. Molhuysen], Codices Scaligerani (praeter Orientales). Lugduni-Batavorum 1910 (= Codices manuscripti, 2).

  • Cat. Molhuysen 1910b — [P.C. Molhuysen], Codices Vulcaniani. [Leiden] 1910 (= Codices manuscripti, 1).

  • Cat. Molhuysen 1912 — [P.C. Molhuysen], Codices Bibliothecae Publicae Latini. Lugduni Batavorum 1912. (= Codices manuscripti, 3).

  • Cat. De Meyier 1946 —K.A. de Meyier, Codices Perizoniani. Lugduni Batavorum 1946 (= Codices manuscripti, 4).

  • Cat. De Meyier 1955 — K.A. de Meyier, Codices Vossiani Graeci et Miscellanei. Lugduni Batavorum 1955 (= Codices manuscripti, 6).

  • Cat. De Meyier 1965 — K.A. de Meyier, adiuv. E. Hulshoff Pol, Codices Bibliothecae Publicae Graeci. Lugduni Batavorum 1965 (= Codices manuscripti, 8).

  • Cat. De Meyier 1973-1984 —K.A. de Meyier, Codices Vossiani Latini. Leiden 1973-1984 (= Codices manuscripti, 13-16). 4 vols. — [Pars 1: Codices in folio. Pars 2: Codices in quarto. Pars 3: Codices in octavo. Pars 4: K.A. de Meyier et P.F.J. Obbema, Indices].

  • CMD-NL —Manuscrits datés conservés dans les Pays-Bas. Catalogue paléographique des manuscrits en écriture latine portant des indications de date. Vol. 1: G.I. Lieftinck, Les manuscrits d’origine eìtrangeÌre (816-c.1550) (Leiden 1964). Vol. 2: J.P. Gumbert, Les manuscrits d’origine neìerlandaise (XIVe-XVIe sieÌcles) et suppleìment au tome premier (Leiden 1988).

  • Gumbert, IIMM — J.P. Gumbert, Illustrated Inventory of Medieval Manuscripts. – Experimental procursor 1. Leiden, Bibliotheek der Rijkuniversiteit: Gronoviani, Burmaniani, Indebetuviani, Marchandiani, Ruhnkeniani. (Leiden 1984); Experimental procursor 2. Leiden, Bibliotheek der Rijkuniversiteit: Gronoviani, Burmaniani, Indebetuviani, Marchandiani, Ruhnkeniani. (Leiden 1985); a volume describing the Codices Bibliothecae Publicae Latini (BPL) is in preparation.

Contact person

Dr. Andre Bouwman, Curator of Western Manuscripts

Procedure for ordering manuscripts (e.g. one day in advance? Via e-mail? Etc.)

It is advisable to check the availability of the manuscripts beforehand. A number of manuscripts cannot be consulted without prior permission of the curator (indicated in the relevant descriptions). Please use the contact person’s email address.

Accessibility and use of substitutes and facsimiles of texts and images

Some manuscripts – due to their physical state – may be consulted only through or after prior usage of microforms.

Procedure for ordering reproductions

Please address to ub-bijzondere

May readers bring a camera?

A limited number of photographs may be taken for private use (no flash photography allowed), but only after permission of and with supervision by staff.

May readers bring a lap top? Are electrical outlets available in the manuscript reading room?


Profile of the collection(s), main focus

Leiden University Library holds the largest collection of medieval manuscripts in the Netherlands. Inasmuch as they have been localized most of the codices were produced in the Netherlands(c. 520), France (c. 470), Italy (c. 390) and the German countries (c. 170). Of the c. 1.200 codices containing Latin texts, 119 were produced in the 9thcentury. The beautifully illuminated Aratea (ms. VLQ 79), the oldest codices with Lucretius’ De rerum natura (mss. VLF 30, VLQ 94) and Cicero’s philosophical texts (mss. VLF 84, VLF 86, BPL 118) belong to the most famous Leidentreasures. There are c. 410 codices containing Middle Dutch, 65 French and 53 German. The c. 330 codices with Greek have been catalogued in MMDC only if they also contain Latin texts (a minority). The many medieval manuscripts with texts in Hebrew, Arabic etc. – which are in the Oriental collections – have been excluded.

List of various collections within one institution (plus information about the indexing)?

The manuscripts are part of the following collections which have separate shelfmarks:

D’Ablaing (ABL). — In de Betouw (BET). — Bibliotheca Publica Graeca (BPG). — Bibliotheca Publica Latina (BPL). — Burman (BUR). — Gronovius (GRO). — Hemsterhuis (HEM). — Lipsius (LIP). — Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde (LTK). — Marchand (MAR). — Meijers (MEY). — Perizonius (PER). — Ruhnkenius (RUH). — Scaliger (SCA). — Vossius (latini VLF, VLQ, VLO; graeci VGF, VGQ, VGO; miscellanei VMI, germano-gallici VGG; chymici VCF, VCQ, VCO). — Vulcanius (VUL).

Information about these collections (EAD) is available on the website:

General literature about the history of the collection(s) and the holding institution

  • E. Hulshoff Pol, "The first century of Leiden Universitylibrary." In: Th.H. Lunsingh Scheurleer, G.H.M. Posthumus Meyes (eds.), Leiden Universityin the seventeenth century. Leiden1975, p. 396-465.
  • C. Berkvens-Stevelinck, Magna commoditas. A history of Leiden University Library, 1575-2005. Leiden 2004.

Copyright information

Copyright must be requested from this institution.

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