The Beauvais Missal is one of the best-known victims of mid-twentieth-century American biblioclasm, serving as a perfect example of just how great a loss is incurred when a codex is dismembered and its leaves scattered. It also serves as a hopeful case study of the possibilities offered by recent developments in imaging and metadata standards, platforms, and interoperability. This website presents an ongoing project to digitally reconstruct the Beauvais Missal. The digital reconstruction is housed on the Fragmentarium platform and can be accessed here.
The manuscript was written in or near Beauvais, France, in the last quarter of the thirteenth century and was used early on at the cathedral there, as evidenced by an inscription on a lost leaf, transcribed in a 1926 Sotheby’s auction catalogue. It was recently discovered that the manuscript was purchased from Sotheby’s by none other than American industrialist William Randolph Hearst, who owned it until 1942 when he sold it through Gimbel Brothers to New York dealer Philip Duschnes, who cut it up and began selling leaves less than one month later. He passed the remnants on to Otto Ege, who scattered it through his usual means. Leaves of the Beauvais Missal are no. 15 in Ege's "Fifty Original Leaves of Medieval Manuscripts" portfolio.
Many scholars, librarians, curators, collectors, and bookdealers have contributed to this project, and I thank them all for their generosity in sharing information and images with me. In particular, I want to thank Debra Cashion and Bryan Haberberger of the Broken Books Project, Dot Porter of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, Jeffrey Hamburger, Christopher de Hamel, Tony Edwards, Scott Gwara, Claire Jenson, Peter Kidd, James Marrow, Barbara Shailor, William Stoneman, and Roger Wieck.
This project is very much a work in progress, and metadata input is ongoing. If you have comments or suggestions, or know of any Beauvais Missal leaves I have overlooked, please feel free to contact me at LFD@TheMedievalAcademy.org. Leaves of the Beauvais Missal measure around 295 x 205 mm and have 15 or 21 lines of text, or ten staves of music, in two columns.
- Lisa Fagin Davis
The Browse Exhibits tab at the top links to several exhibit spaces:
* Fragmentarium reconstruction of the reconstructed Missal
* Initial Findings: brief summaries of findings thus far
* Reconstructed quires of the Missal
* Selected Bibliography
Rights statement: Creative Commons 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND)
Click here to access the digital reconstruction of the Beauvais Missal in Fragmentarium https://fragmentarium.ms/overview/F-4ihz