Geert Groote - Getijdenboek

Alternate Titles:

Brewiarz Staroniderlandzki, Kalendarium der Diozese Utrech

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Alternate Titles

Brewiarz Staroniderlandzki
Kalendarium der Diozese Utrech

Extent / Format

258 pages / 20.0 x 14.5 cm

Mid 15th century
Artist / School

Bookbinder. Jacobus


Almost each sheet with unique and very beautiful, colourful and golden initials, as well as borders, with floral and figural decorations

Former owners

National and University Library in Królewiec

Short description

One of the most valuable calendars of the Middle Ages originated from the Netherlands in the mid-15th century. It is the calendar of the Diocese of Utrecht. Aside from an annual calendar, it also contains a transcript of the Getijdenboek, a manuscript by the Dutch theologian and preacher Geert Groote. Every page of the manuscript is adorned with colored and sometimes gilded initials, as well as splendid floral bordures and figural decorative elements.

Facsimile editions available


Geert Groote – Getijdenboek

Historic annual calendars rarely limited themselves to a pure depiction of the course of the year, but rather gave information about the season-dependent activities, the weather conditions expected in the course of the year gives the best day for the cutting of hair, bathing, bleeding, weaning, etc. In Christianity, the term calendar indicates an official directory for church feasts and commemoration days. In the Middle Ages, the calendar reached the broadest levels of the population in a way that few other types of reading material had and were always used for practical and economical use, but also as edifying and moral instruction. The Getijdenboek by the Dutchman Geert Groote was made for the Utrecht Diocese and is one of the most beautiful examples of this manuscript genre. Practically every page of the parchment manuscript illuminated with gorgeously colored and gilded initials, as well as floral and figurative patterns. Today, the precious original specimen of the work is in the university library of Nicolaus Copernicus in the Polish city of Torun.

The Gifted Author Geert Groote

Geert Groote was a Dutch theologian and preacher of repentance. He was born the son of the wealthy merchant Werner Grote and his wife Heylwig van der Basselen. Both of his parents died of plague when he was ten years old. Orphaned at an early age, he attended the chapter school of the Utrecht Hochstift and at the age of 15 began his studies at the Sarbonne in Paris, where he came into contact with the great philosophers and scholars of his time. He was particularly influenced by the writings of the famous medieval preacher and mystic Bernard of Clairvaux. Groote led a dissolute life in his youth. Moved by a meeting with Heinrich von Calcar, a close friend and Carthusian monk, he decided one day for a pious and virtuous life in a monastery in Dutch Arnhem. Here the educated and well-read monk inter alia made his handwritten calendar for the Diocese of Utrecht.

Enchanting Illumination

The Utrecht calendar consists of two book parts, which were combined by a scribe in the mid-15th century. The second part of the work is a transcript of the Getijdenboek by Groote, the first part contains the annual calendar. The uniform script of the original work is still easily legible today. Each page is adorned with unique, stunningly colored and gilded initials. The borders of the pages are furnished with elaborate bordures of flowering tendrils and figurative patterns. These special elements of décor clearly show the influence of Renaissance illumination, which the anonymous illuminators were guided by in their work. The binding of the manuscript is equally characteristic for the time period. It consists of dark-brown leather embossed with a pattern as well as two brass clasps, which protect the pages of the book from dust and dirt.

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