Fourteenth-century Flagellants’ scroll donated to Ghent University

(04-06-2019) Middle Dutch Flagellants' ritual in Ghent University library

Exciting news from the special collections’ team at the Ghent University library! The library has received a donation of a mid-fourteenth-century roll in Middle Dutch that originated from the lay religious movement of the Flagellants in the Southern Low Countries. The manuscript roll, nearly 2,5 meters of stitched parchment, contains three texts: a liturgy (171 verses), a hymn in praise of the Virgin Mary (60 verses) and a sermon (Dit es hoe ‘t vonden was, 198 verses). While Flagellants’ texts in Dutch are extremely rare, this roll, probably from Brabant or Limburg, contains a full written record of what has been identified as ‘the Flagellant ritual’. There is a link with Ghent as well since the roll bears the mark of Napoleon De Pauw (d. 1922). De Pauw was a Belgian magistrate (the attorney general in Ghent) and a famous connoisseur of Middle Dutch texts, many of which he edited for the first time. He was a board member of the Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature (KANTL). It is well-known that he was in the habit of marking the manuscripts he had seen and/or copied. De Pauw must have had access to the Flagellants’ roll in 1917.

The roll was donated to Ghent University last year by emeritus professor in Middle Dutch, Ria Jansen-Sieben. In 2003, Prof. Jansen-Sieben and Hans van Dijk published an edition of all text on the parchment together with an extensive introduction in Ons Geestelijk Erf.

You can find this publication here (open for Ghent University).

As to the wonderful roll itself: the Ghent University library has digitized it and made it available online.