Medieval manuscripts in Dutch Collections
Medieval manuscripts in Dutch Collections

Lunar eclipses between 1425 and 1462

Almanac. Latin. Parchment, 19 ff., 145 x 110 mm, folded to 75 x 55 mm. Northern France, 1425. Leiden, UB : ms. VUL 100 C

The almanac is made in the form of a so-called belt-book. The leaves have been written on on one side, folded and bundled at the top in a small tapering case of lined leather. In this form the book was at any rate easy to carry along. Besides almanacs, books for medical practice and prayer books were sometimes made like this as well (see number 6).

This almanac contains a very detailed calendar. The saints' names betray the manuscript's origin in northern France. The astronomical facts have not been investigated exhaustively yet. Folded open, folios 18 and 19 contain a calculation of the lunar eclipses between 1425 and 1462, with pictures of the phases of the moon.

Such tables prove the enormous progress astronomy had made as early as the Middle Ages. To the unknown user of the almanac, no doubt a learned man, they had another significance as well. Indeed, a lunar eclipse was regarded as a sign of an approaching catastrophe.


  • G.I. Lieftinck. Manuscrits datés conservés dans les Pays-Bas. Vol. 1, Amsterdam, 1964, nr. 247.

See also

  • A psalter from Royal libraries

    Psalter. Latin, Parchment, 185 ff., 245x177 mm. Northern England, 1190-1200. Leiden, UB : ms. BPL 76 A

  • Flemish surgical instruments

    Small manual for a surgeon, based on the Cyrurgie by Meester Jan Yperman (incomplete). Flemish. Paper, 130x95 mm. Flanders, last quarter of the 15th century. Leiden, UB : ms. BPL 3094

  • The Zwolle bible

    Bible. Latin. Parchment, 6 volumes, c. 530x390 mm. Brethren of the Common Life, Zwolle, 1464-1476. Utrecht, UB : Cat 31 and 15.C.11

  • The Utrecht Psalter

    Psalter. Latin. Parchment, 91 ff., 330x255 mm. Benedictine monastery of St. Peter, Hautvillers near Reims, c. 820-835. Utrecht, UB : Cat. 32 / 1

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