PRoMs - The Production and Reading of Music Sources

Mise-en-page in manuscripts and printed books containing polyphonic music, 1480—1530

Manuscript: Brussels, Belgium, Bibliothèque Royal Albert 1er/Koninklijke Bibliotheek Albert I, MS 228

Manuscript type: choirbook

RISM siglum: B-Br 228

DIAMM Source Key: 1628

Image repositories: IDEM

Folio(s): All folios

Date: c. 1515, with additions around 1519

Based on the chronology of scribes, Warmington dated the main corpus before March 1516 when Archduke Charles became king of Spain (unpublished paper read in 1982, cited by Martin Picker in Kellman 1999, no. 2). A date around 1515 is in line with the style of the manuscript. Three pieces (ff. 33v-35r, ff. 47v-48r and ff. 48v-49r) which appear at the end of quires and which are followed by pages ruled with empty staves were added later. One of these added pieces, 'Proch dolor' (ff. 33v-35r) laments the death of a German monarch, presumably Maximilian I, Margaret's father, which occurred on 12 January 1519. The additions to the manuscript were perhaps made in the same year. Listed in Margaret's 1523 inventory (Michelant 1871, 26).

Location of origin: Brussels, Belgium ; Mechelen, Belgium


1) Prepared for Margaret of Austria (1480–1530), regent of the Netherlands under the archduke Charles (later Emperor Charles V) from 1507 until her death in 1530 (her portrait and heraldic arms, f. 2r; many pages also include daisies – in French ‘marguerites’ – which allude to her name). 2) Mary of Hungary (1505-1558), a sister of Charles V and Margaret’s successor as regent of the Netherlands (cutting of her ex-libris with her coat-of-arms inside cover). 3) Library moved from Mechelen to Brussels after Marie’s death in 1559, joining the hereditary library of the dukes of Burgundy, later called the Bibliothèque de Bourgogne (shelfmark 679 inscribed inside on cutting inside upper cover; relates to the inventory of 1614-1617 by the court librarian Aubert Le Mire, called Miraeus). 4) Confiscated by the French in 1794 but restored in 1815. 5) In 1838, the restored Bibliothèque de Bourgogne was united with the newly organised Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (1837).


Person: Master of Charles V
Person type: artist

Person: Alamire, Petrus (member of Habsburg-Burgundian 'Alamire' workshop (Mechelen, Belgium))
Person type: scribe
Note: Apart from the first bifolio and three later additions, Petrus Alamire might have been responsible for writing the music.

Person: Scribe X, (member of Habsburg-Burgundian 'Alamire' workshop (Mechelen, Belgium))
Person type: scribe
Note: One piece which appears at the end of a quire and which is followed by pages ruled with empty staves (ff. 47v–48r) is an early work of scribe X which was probably added around 1519.

Person: Scribe X1, (member of Habsburg-Burgundian 'Alamire' workshop (Mechelen, Belgium))
Person type: scribe
Note: Two pieces which appear at the end of quires and which are followed by pages ruled with empty staves (ff. 33v-35r, 48v–49r) are works of scribe X1 which were probably added around 1519.

Person: Scribe C, (member of Habsburg-Burgundian 'Alamire' workshop (Mechelen, Belgium))
Person type: scribe
Note: Apart from three later additions, scribe C6 was responsible for writing the text underlay and he was probably also in charge of writing the text and music of the first bifolio.


Van den Borren 1933, 120-25; Exposition de documents musicaux 1955, no. 15; Picker 1963; Picker 1965; Huys 1966, no. 28; Huys 1975, no. 10; Kapp 1987b, 117; Kellman 1976, 182; Census-Catalogue I, 91-2, IV, 294-5; Picker 1986; Debae 1987, no. 43; Edwards 1987; Debae 1995, vii-ix, 11-12; Blackburn 1997, 594-7; Blackburn 1999, 187-9; Kellman 1999, no. 2; Kiel/Warmington 1999, 52; Thoss 1999, 54; Warmington 1999, 43 and notes 3 and 43; Meconi 2010.

Basis for description: original

Brussels, Belgium, Bibliothèque Royal Albert 1er/Koninklijke Bibliotheek Albert I, MS 228, All folios

Physical description

Material: parchment

Number of leaves: i + 73 + i

Format: upright

Page dimensions: 365 x 260

Quire structure: Text version

Other devices: 1. Modern pencil foliation top right, 1-73.

Page details (zoom):

Preparation and Copying

All folios


Disposition of Voice Parts Key

Pricking often,
Prickings in upper and lower margins for vertical bounding lines except in quires i (ff. 1-2), vi-vii (ff. 36-49) and ix (ff. 56-63). Prickings in the outer margins for a maximum of nine staves.
Ruled grid often,
single line to left and right, no lines for text
Ruling pattern fairly regular
basically on a 9-stave grid, with staves unruled as required by the music.
Staves omitted from grid sometimes
Incomplete staves rarely,
42v, 54v, 66v
Medium and colour of grid Frequency Folios Note
lead point often
light brown ink occasionally
Colour of staves Frequency Folios Note
black always
Ruling medium Frequency Folios Note
single rastrum always
Indentation for initials Frequency Folios Note
double normally Double indentations for discantus.
single normally Single indentations for voice-parts after the discantus.
Extra space between voice parts Frequency Folios Note
empty ruled staves on grid often
staves not ruled on grid rarely 21v, 22r, 56r
Space provided for separate text Frequency Folios Note
not in dedicated space sometimes
provided, in dedicated space sometimes
Adhoc adaptation Frequency Folios Note
made for complete additional staves rarely
partial additional staves rarely

Copying of text and music

Language(s) Flemish, French, Latin
Higlighting none
Order of Copying music first
As the scribe sometimes struggled to accommodate the text under the music, it is likely that the music was copied before the texts.
Presence/absence of text Voice part Frequency Folios Note
fully texted with one text all voice parts normally
provided with single incipit tenor rarely 18v
fully texted with two or more texts all voice parts rarely 21v, 22r
untexted bassus secundus rarely 23v, 24r
untexted tenor rarely 25v
provided with single incipit bassus rarely 59v
Colour(s) of notation black
Type(s) of notation void mensural
Type of notation note rhomboid shaped notation ff. 33v-35r ('Proch dolor') entirely in black notes
Monophonic notation absent
Level of calligraphy very high
Non verbal performance instructions Folios Note
signes-de-renvoi Shaped as signa congruentiae (ff. 1v-2r) and a trio of balls with a descending loop (ff. 50v-51r, 52v-53r, 56v), in brown ink.
signa congruentiae in form of three pyramidal dots ending in a stroke or loop
Text 1
Types of script display script
Types of script size position For voice-names, mainly introduced by large initials at the beginning of voice-parts, and 'residuum' rubrics.
Level of calligraphy very high
Colour(s) of text black
Text 2
Types of script cursive (bastarda)
Types of script note Incipits written in larger script than the remainder of the text.
Level of calligraphy very high
Colour(s) of text black
Multiple texts yes
Text repetitions many
Abbreviations few
Non underlaid vocal text additional


Level of Decoration very high
Decoration miniature frequency Folios Size position Description Discrepancies
rarely 1v, 2r 3 miniatures on opening page introducing the beginning of a three-voice part (ff. 1v-2r). All miniatures on two staves. Upper miniatures with arched tops extended into the margins; lower rectangular miniature within the justification. Virgin of the Apocalypse (f. 1v). Margaret of Austria in prayer / Heraldic arms (f. 2r).
Decoration border frequency Border type Folios Size Position Description Discrepancies
rarely None 1v-2r, 3v-18r, 50v, 51v full and partial borders First opening decorated with full borders. First partial border on f. 3v two-sided, in the left and top margins. All following borders one-sided, in the left margin only. The full borders which decorate both pages are divided into coloured diagonal stripes showing flowers and strawberries on ochre, branches with sprouting acanthus on green, and jewels and pearls on grey grounds. The jewellery seems to be attached to the pages by needles piercing the parchment. A butterfly appears among the flowers. One of the compartments decorated with sprouting acanthus is enlivened by a monkey that looks at its own reflection in a mirror, another by a naked putto holding a bird. The partial borders contain strewn flowers, strawberries and acanthus on simple coloured or bi-partite grounds, with occasional butterflies and on one occasion (f. 17r) a bird. A few borders also refer to Burgundy by alternating fire steels with sheepskin hanging from them and crossed branches, referring to the collar of the Golden Fleece and the Cross of St Andrew (ff. 10v, 15r).
Decoration initial type Frequency Folios Initial type(s) Size position Description Discrepancies
painted initials rarely 3v, 4r At the beginning of voice-parts after the discantus. Initials formed of branches with sprouting acanthus, set against coloured grounds, sometimes decorated with daisies. Initials are meant to introduce the relevant voice-names although the remainder of the names are absent.
penned initials normally At the beginning of each voice-part. Large initials (two indented staves) open the first word of the discantus, while smaller initials (one indented stave) introduce the rubrics (voice-names) for the following parts. Often, the discantus has a more elaborate initial; these were built up of various motives drawn with a thin pen and highlighted with washes in brown, blue, pink, green and yellow; they appear in combination with cadels drawn with a large pen and executed in red or blue ink. The initials consist mainly of branches with sprouting acanthus, often combined with grotesque fools’ heads and/or with dragons (ff. 19v, 22v, 54v). They may be further decorated with empty banderols (inscribed on one occasion with the composer’s name, ‘Josquin des Pres’, f. 27v, and on another with the monograms ‘IHS MA’ for Ihesus and Maria, f. 56v) and other motives, including a snail (f. 5v), a sword – a so-called scimitar (f. 17v), a mask (f. 19v), a crown combined with crossed branches, alluding to one of Burgundy’s emblem’s, the cross of St Andrew (f. 52v), and two fire steels and a flint surrounded by sparks, elements of the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, also linked to Burgundy (f. 53v). A few also include daisies, painted in the colours of the illuminator (ff. 4v, 5v, 45v). Simpler initials in black ink, used mainly for small but occasionally also for large initials, were usually drawn with a broad pen and consist of cadels. Some of their outlines are further enhanced with filigree patterns executed with a thin pen. Furthermore, the decorative loops were partly filled with colours. Exceptionally, one initial for the tenor is drawn in red (f. 58r) and two for the discantus in blue ink (ff. 62v and 63v). One initial was forgotten at the beginning of the tenor on f. 17v.
initials planned rarely 17v One initial was forgotten at the beginning of the tenor on f. 17v.
Other decoration frequency Folios Other decoration type(s) Size position Description Discrepancies
occasionally Trio of balls which end in a final loop (ff. 23v–24r (in red ink), 50v–51r, 52v–53r and 56v–57r). On one occasion a simple plain cross (ff. 66v–67r).