The Liber ordinarius of Nivelles (Houghton Library, MS Lat 422)

Liturgy as Interdisciplinary Intersection
Ed. by Jeffrey F. Hamburger and Eva Schlotheuber

[Der Liber ordinarius von Nivelles (Houghton Bibliothek, MS Lat 422). Liturgie als interdisziplinäre Schnittstelle von Geschichte, Religion und Politik.]

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The discovery of the oldest surviving manuscript from Nivelles Abbey, its Liber ordinarius, represents a significant addition to our knowledge of the turbulent history and religious practices of the ancient female foundation. The Liber ordinarius and the inserted documents provide valuable information regarding the interaction of the male and female communities in Nivelles and the development of the cult of the abbess, St Gertrude.
Throughout the Middle Ages, the religious women of Nivelles Abbey governed one of the most venerable and powerful ecclesiastical institutions in the Holy Roman Empire, which played a critical role, not only as the center of the cult of St Gertrude, but also as a lynchpin in the power politics of the empire. The recent discovery of the oldest surviving manuscript from the abbey, its Liber ordinarius, thus represents a significant addition to knowledge, not only of Nivelles' liturgy and the development of the cult of its patron saint, but also of the history of female monasticism in the High Middle Ages. In addition to a wealth of detail concerning the abbey's liturgical ceremonies, the Liber ordinarius permits fresh insight into the balance of power in this politically highly competitive region in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. It also sheds light on the history, religious life, and the architectural history of the building, which was badly damaged in WWII. The documents incorporated in the manuscript, most of which were previously unknown and which are edited here for the first time, enhance greatly what is known about the politics of the period as well as the inner workings of the abbey at a time of economic and administrative conflict.
Survey of contents
The Manuscript
Jeffrey F. Hamburger: Description of the Liber ordinarius of Nivelles, Houghton Library, MS Lat 422 and the Date of its Decoration – Albert Derolez: Codicology and Paleography of the Nivelles Liber ordinarius

The Context
Eva Schlotheuber: Pilgrims, the Poor, and the Powerful: The Long History of the Women of Nivelles – Walter Simons: Worlds Apart? Beguine Communities of Nivelles and the Abbey of St Gertrude, from Marie d'Oignies (d. 1213) to the Liber ordinarius (c. 1300) – Rowan Dorin: Order and Disorder: The Documentary Additions to the Liber ordinarius of Nivelles

The Cult
Bonnie Effros: Elizabeth de Bierbais and the Relics of Gertrude of Nivelles – Alison I. Beach: Placet nobis electio: The Election and Investiture of the Abbess at Fourteenth-Century Nivelles – Margot Fassler: Liturgical History and Hagiography as Reflected in the Ordinal of Nivelles, with Emphasis on the Cult of St Gertrude

The Liturgy
Louis van Tongeren: Holy Week in Nivelles – Charles Caspers: On the Road: The Processions of the Nivelles' Canonesses and their Attitude towards the Outside World (c. 1350)

The Architecture
Klaus-Gereon Beuckers: The Abbey Church of St Gertrude in Nivelles: Observations regarding its Architectural Disposition – Andreas Odenthal: maiorem ecclesiam esse matrem omnium ecclesiarum totius villae: On the Sacral Topography of Nivelles based on the Liber ordinarius

The Documents – Edition, Commentary, and Translation
Virginie Greene: The French of Nivelles: A Vernacular Legalese in the Making – Hannah Weaver: Note on the Language of the Documents Pertaining to the Abbey of Nivelles – Thomas Forrest Kelly: Personnel of the Church of Nivelles as seen in the Liber ordinariusEva Schlotheuber/Jeffrey F. Hamburger: Appendix. Editio princeps of the documents from the second half of the thirteenth century from the Liber Ordinarius of Nivelles

Jeffrey F. Hamburger is Kuno Francke Professor of German Art & Culture at Harvard University MA, USA.

Eva Schlotheuber Geboren 1959; Studium der Geschichte und Anthropologie in Göttingen; 1994 Promotion; 2003 Habilitation; seit 2010 Professorin für Mittelalterliche Geschichte an der HHU Düsseldorf.


The following reviews are known:

In: Deutsches Archiv f. Erforschung d. Mittelalters — 78 (2022), pp. 317–319 (Letha Böhringer)
In: Sciptorium — 74 (2021), pp. 45–46 (D. Saulnier)
In: Historische Zeitschrift — 312 (2021), pp. 200–201 (Michel Pauly)
In: Church History and Religious Culture — 101 (2021) (Annette Löffler)
In: Francia-Recensio — 2021/1 https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/frrec/issue/view/5462 (Steven Vanderputten)