Hardly legible handwriting

Dear Friends,

I have a little problem I hope you might help me with. Currently, I am studying the extant copies of the Liber selectarum cantionum, published in Augsburg in 1520 by Grimm & Wirsung. In the copy held today by the National Library of the Czech Republic there is an interesting handwritten entry I just can't decipher:

(detail of fol. 144v)

Obviously, it is four words the latter two of which are a bit smudged. These last two might be "dixit domin[us]". The second word might be "marie",  though I doubt that because a lowercase letter would be unusual for a sacred name.

Unfortunately, there is not much other information that migt be helpful. The motet in which these words were added is called Lectio actuum apostolorum. The text is taken from Acts 2:1-11 and set to music by an anonymous composer. Half of the motets in the book do have a Marian text but this one has no apparent connection the the holy virgin. This makes the reading of "marie" even more doubtful.

There are only few traces of the provenance of this copy. The titlepage bears next to the printed title the handwritten words "Collegij Nouodomensis Soc[ietatis] Jesu Catalogo Inscriptus 1603" but there are many cities that a Latin name that could be translated to "Novodomensis". Apart from that, there is a more stamp from more recent times that reads "REGIAE BIBLIOTHEC: ACAD: PRAGEN:".

Do you have an idea what these words might mean? Could they be Czech?

If you need more information, let me know.

Best wishes



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  • Hi Torge,

    first of all: it definitely isn't czech.

    I'd suggest "Salut[atio] marie", even though I'm not sure at all...

    Just a few confused thougts: "Salutatio Mariae" would refer to the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth in the gospel of Luke, which is followed by the Magnificat. Both Magnificat and Dixit dominus (as the first psalm on sundays) are part of the vespers...

    and another connection: the psalm Dixit dominus is cited lateron in the same chapter of the acts of apostels, from which the text of your motet is taken.

    I don't know if this helps anything - just wanted to add it, as it came to my mind...


  • Thank you so much for your answers. They are very much appreciated. Reading the words as "Salve marie dixit dominus" seems plausible, even though I am not sure yet what the scribe's intention might have been. I will try to dig deeper into this. Also, I will ask the Czech friends on facebook. Thank you for the link.

    Maybe I can ask the community to help me with one other handwritten entry? This one is in one of the two copies held by the British Library:

    9126764699?profile=original(Detail of the flyleaf)

    The middle reads (I think): "Anno D. 1554. Dono dedit severus Konnig hunc libru[m] chunrado Hedeno."

    I am not so sure about the right reading of two family names. Also, my attempts at research on these two men have as of yet been without success.

    Underneath, there is a monogram which could be read to be made up of the letters AEAMVUn. They don't seem to relate to the two names mentioned above. Does anyone of you recognize the monogram? Is there maybe a dictionary or database of monograms I should be aware of?

    I'm also not sure what the two symbols to the left and right of the monogram could stand for. Are they maybe tironian notes or monograms as well?

    As always, any help is highly appreciated.

    Best wishes


  • Dear Torge,

    Have you tried with our Czech colleagues on facebook ("The Heart of Europe": https://www.facebook.com/groups/1400314396881187/)? Maybe you want to post it there to see if anyone might recognise a word. But I agree with the first two respondants: It does look like latin. The first word looks like "Salute" to me, even the the "t" seems to be an "l", the option "Salue" (with a strange final "e") would of course be more idiomatic, the second word really seems to be "marie", "dixit dominus" for the last two words seems very plausible to me.

    Good luck with it,

    Best, Marc

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  • Dear Torge,

    "Salve marie dixit dominus" is what I read.

    "Salve" is written with an "u" for the "v" sound; which is quite common in that time in Latin scripts. The big "e" at the end of the word is the uncommon here, but it is not so odd. Moreover, the "e" has a second loop in its ending. The size and this second loop may confuse to the reader with another letter. The "l" is as well quite special, and it could be a special feature from the scribe.

    "marie" is as well quite clear, with a dot over the "i" and a readable "r". Again, it is not unusual, in Latin scripts, to find "sacred names" in lowercase and common names in uppercase, as it happened during all over the Middle Ages (onwards). Sorry, the "max" option is not possible.

    There is no doubt for the two last words, "dixit" with the typical "x" with a down stroke, and "dominus" with the "us" abbreviation at the end (abbreviation by contraction). Both words with the clear "d" at the beginning with a right-down stroke.

    If you stare at the "t" in "dixit", you will exclude the "salute" option by comparing them.

    It seems the addition is connected to other chant in the book or maybe you have to look deeper for the reason why it is there...

    I hope it helps you.

    Good luck and best regards.

  • Looks to me like Salute max' [Salutem maximam?] dixit, but the last word, underneath the smudge, defeats me; not 'dominus' (closer to the English word 'dumpy', which is totally out of the question).

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