The Scourging of Christ from fol. 54v of Ms. Codex 1566. I’ve posted about this book of hours before, but didn’t really know how compact it was until I called it in for viewing! The scratch and stab marks over the tortores here are so much smaller than I thought they were– closer to pins and needles than knives.

It fits quite neatly in your hand, unless you have incredibly small baby hands, or unless you are allergic to velvet. I mean, it would still fit in your hand even if you were allergic to it, but I suppose you would be less likely to try it out in that case.

A close-up of the clasp. The velvet binding is modern, but it’s still a nice-looking codex, isn’t it?

Another kind of mark left by medieval reading practices is blurred pigment from prolonged rubbing or kissing, here visible on an illumination of Christ’s Descent from the Cross on fol. 70v. When you think about the radically different motions involved in actions such as these as opposed to scratching or stabbing, you really get a lively sense of how readers interacted with books of hours as a form of devotion.

Manuscript description and digital images can be found here at OPenn.

Rogier van der Weyden [Roger de la Pasture] (1399/1400–1464): Mary Salome [half-sister of the Virgin Mary], detail from The Descent from the Cross [Deposition of Christ, or Descent of Christ from the Cross], c. 1435, oil on oak panel, 220 × 262 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain, source: and