This precious prayer book gives rare insight into the life of a nun at the convent of Medingen, northern Germany, during the Middle Ages.

At Medingen individual nuns are thought to have been responsible for the production of their own manuscripts, including the choice of hymns and meditations as well as the decoration and physical features of the book. This example includes a personalised calendar, Canticles, Creed, Litany and prayers, written in Latin with later additions in Low German. The manuscript is of 284 leaves written in a Gothic hand, with an early binding of stamped brown leather over wooden boards. Colourful ink drawings in the margins are literal illustrations of phrases in the illuminated text. The musical notation can be identified as the work of Margareta Hopes, who is mentioned as a young nun at the convent in 1505, and in 1524 as “cantrix”. The psalter, together with a medieval bone plaque once housed in its bindings, now joins two other manuscripts from Medingen in the Bodleian’s remarkably rich medieval collections.


Cistercian Abbey of Medingen, Northern Germany; in the von Bülow Library in Schloss Beyernaumburg, Saxony-Anhalt; sold 1836; family Brockdorff of Schelswig-Holstien; sold at Koller Auktionen, Zurich, September 2013 where acquired by present vendors.

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