Daniel Ermens (University of Utrecht), Universiteit Utrecht, Trans 10, NL-3512 JK Utrecht, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Van Hulthem-manuscript is the most important source of short Middle Dutch texts in verse. It contains over 200 texts on (originally) at least 278 paper folia. Because there is no comparable manuscript in Dutch, modern research has never looked at it from a comparative point of view. This article proposes that a comparative approach widens our understanding of the codex. Two examples support this hypothesis: the numbering of texts in the headings and the notation of the number of lines below each verse text. The first case shows that the Van Hulthem-manuscript partakes in a practice found in large multi-text manuscripts from other linguistic regions. Texts have been numbered in at least two additional large manuscripts with Middle Dutch texts, and several further vernacular manuscripts. Two German examples (Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, 2705 and Cologny-Geneva, Bibliotheca Bodmeriana, Cod. Bodmer 72) suggest that these numbers could have been intended for use with a table of contents. The second case seems to provide less conclusive results. The addition of the number of lines below a verse text, either by the main scribe or by someone else, can be found in six other Middle Dutch manuscripts. Comparison of these examples brings to light three groups in which the examples may have had a similar use, but also makes clear that nearly all of the examples had a more or less unique function. Whereas the numbering of the texts indicates a link with more general trends in vernacular book production, the addition of the number of lines proves to be a more specific practice.
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