And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

tirsdag 30. januar 2018

Working with liturgical manuscripts, part 6 - Penmanship practice from pages past

As mentioned in previous blogposts, I'm currently engaged in a projects researching manuscript fragments in bindings from a book collection formerly at Herlufsholm School at Næstved, and purchased by the university library of University of Southern Denmark in 1968. In these relics there are many little details that provide interesting and curious glimpses of the past lives who have at various points been engaged with these books, either with the manuscripts before they were cut up for binding, or with the books in their manuscript bindings. One such case is Jacob, presumably a young boy who studied at Herlufsholm School (founded in 1565 and treated more extensively here), who seems to have practiced his penmanship, and his Latin, in a scrap of residual vellum on the inside of the covers of one of these books.

Inside of the back cover
Syddansk Universitetsbibliotek RARA Musik L 43

The book in question is a booklet of musical notation and lyrics by various composers, and its estimated date of print is sometime in the 1580s. It is one of several collections of songs that were kept at the school. We do not, to my knowledge, know how these books were used in the the study of music, whether they were handed out to students or not, but it is clear that young Jacob did have this book in his possession for long enough - and sufficiently out of sight - for him to practice writing his name, first in Latin and then in Danish, both of which were presumably taught at Herlufsholm.

Of Jacob nothing more is known to me at least, although I am sure his name can be located in school registers, and possibly also in other books throughout the collection, serving as evidence for his efforts to write his own name correctly in two languages.

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