Het Geraardsbergse handschrift

Huygens ING > Elektronische edities > Geraardsbergen


Manuscript 837-845 of the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels consists of two separate codices. The edition of the second codex is the first of a new series of editions, Middeleeuwse Verzamelhandschriften uit de Nederlanden (Medieval Miscellanea from the Netherlands).

The second codex contains several indications that point to Geraardsbergen as its place of origin; the editors therefore named it Het Geraardsbergse handschrift (the Geraardsbergen Manuscript).

According to the watermarks, the two codices were written by one and the same copyist between 1460 and 1470. The codices were clearly meant to function independently and they were not bound together until a century later. A number of traces in the manuscript, left by its readers, give evidence that it was used at least into the seventeenth century.

Het Geraardsbergse handschrift was probably meant for private use. There are indications that the compiler, the copyist and the first owner of the manuscript were one and the same person.

Most of the texts are written in Middle Dutch, though some are (partly) composed in Old French or in Medieval Latin. Characteristic of the texts is their diversity: the manuscript contains, among other things, riddles, (pious) maxims, satires, moralistic and catechetic writings, a description of a route from Paris to Rome, an account of a pelgrimage, calendars and the ‘historiographical’ text Vanden ix besten (The Nine Worthies).

This variety of texts does not mean, however, that there is no connection between them: ‘how to live in a right way’ is, upon the whole, the recurring theme throughout the manuscript.