The Book of Hours is a book of Christian devotion, which evolved from the psalter. It gained popularity during the Middle Ages, and typically consisted of psalms, prayers, and other devotional texts. It is the most common surviving type of manuscript, but each copy was unique – whether on account of a different selection of texts, or different decoration. As a result, books of this type offer some of the most interesting examples of medieval calligraphy and decorative practice. This exceptional leaf would have been probably produced in North-East France, perhaps in the region around Noyons, Soissons and Lyon. The 12th century was a period of artistic renaissance and renewal, with beautifully illuminated manuscripts recovered from the areas in North-East France, Ile de France and Champagne. Comparative material suggests that the leaf might have been calligraphed during the last part of the reign of King Philip II of France. Interestingly, the revised edition of the Grandes Chroniques de France (1332-1350), now at the British Library, shows many stylistic similarities with our leaf.
To learn more about Medieval manuscripts, please visit our relevant blog post: A Brief History of Manuscripts.