De Heber-Serrurecodex. Gent, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Hs. 1374: Diplomatische editie bezorgd door Renée Gabriël en Mike Kestemont

Translated title of the contribution: The Heber-Serrurecodex. Gent, University Library, ms. 1374: Diplomatic edition by Renée Gabriël and Mike Kestemont

Renée Gabriel (Editor), Mike Kestemont (Editor), P. Boot (Contributor), Bram Buitendijk (Contributor)

Research output: Book/ReportScholarly text edition


The Heber-Serrure manuscript (Ghent, University Library, Ms. 1374) is a miscellany containing Middle Dutch rhyming texts, mostly ethical and didactic in content. Although the manuscript is not explicitly dated or localized, there is ample reason to assume that the codex was compiled near the end of the fourteenth century in the Carthusian monastery of Herne (about 18 miles southwest of Brussels). For a variety of reasons, this codex deserves our attention (and a new, modern edition), as it continues to fascinate both philologists and book historians.

Until now, the Heber-Serrure manuscript has been primarily valued because of the many unique texts which it contains, including sizable excerpts from the Spiegel historiael (the Middle Dutch adaption of Vincent of Beauvais’ Speculum historiale) as well as a number of rare strophic poems by Jacob van Maerlant, but also the Rinclus. All of these works have already been edited in the past, based on the Heber-Serrure codex. These historic editions, however, were often heavily critical in orientation and appeared in isolation from one another, thus hindering our view on the joint survival of these works, as well as the original context in which this book was produced and meant to function. The present diplomatic edition aims to correct this situation.

From the point of book history too, the Heber-Serrure manuscript present us with a remarkable object for scholarly study: the manuscript only contains rhyming texts, but these have been copied as continuous prose, most likely to save space (and time). Moreover, the available evidence suggests that the text collection wasn’t copied from a prior witness: in this manuscript, we can almost literally peak over the scribe’s shoulder, because we are dealing with a ‘growth miscellany’ that was composed in distinct phases, even though these phases were not meticulously planned beforehand. The single scribe of the book also acted as the book’s compiler, thus enabling privileged insights into the dynamic process that led to the gradual expansion of the codex’s content.

That we can place the composition of the Heber-Serrure manuscript relatively precisely (in Herne) is unusual for a vernacular medieval codex in the medieval Low Countries. A such, we are able to study the codex in relation to a large number of contemporary sources that were produced in the same monastic environment. The manuscript’s main and only scribe is currently known under the pen name ‘Speculum scribe’, named so after his most famous copy, the second part of the Middle Dutch Speculum historiale adaptation (Spiegel historiael) in Vienna, Ö.N.B. Cod. 13.708; the scribe’s historic identity has not been established (yet), although a large number of manuscripts survive in his handwriting.
Translated title of the contributionThe Heber-Serrurecodex. Gent, University Library, ms. 1374: Diplomatic edition by Renée Gabriël and Mike Kestemont
Original languageDutch
PublisherHuygens Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Publication series

NameMiddeleeuwse Verzamelhandschriften uit de Nederlanden


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