Medieval manuscripts in Dutch Collections
Medieval manuscripts in Dutch Collections

The Necrology of Monastery Nieuwlicht in Utrecht

Henricus Bor, Necrology and chronicle of the monastery Nieuwlicht (Nova Lux). Latin. Parchment, 70 ff., 300x195 mm. Utrecht, 1440-1550. Utrecht, HUA: Kartuizerklooster Nieuwlicht, 4

In 1391, the Dutch nobleman Zweder van Gaesbeek founded the Carthusian monastery of Nieuwlicht (Nova Lux) also known as Bloemendaal (Vallis Floris) north of the city of Utrecht. The monastery’s library is one of the few medieval libraries that stayed relatively intact and is now being kept at the Utrecht University Library. In addition to the library, the monastery’s archive also survived for the most part. It is in this archive that this ‘necrology’ or memorial register can be found. Memorial registers are liturgical and administrative documents that played a decisive role in the culture of remembrance (memoria). This specific memorial register is not just a necrology or death calendar, but a miscellany; it consists of twenty four different memoria related texts. The manuscript was not only used for the commemoration of the dead (Carthusians and laymen alike) but also to commemorate and safeguard the history, rights and privileges of the Carthusian order and the Nieuwlicht monastery in particular.

According to the introduction of the chronicle of the monastery with which the manuscript opens, the manuscript was started in November 1440. However, the manuscript also contains copied texts from the early years of the monastery’s existence. Most of the included texts were started by the same hand and some of these texts, such as the necrology, were later continued by others until the monastery ceased to exist in 1580.

Apart from the already mentioned death calendar and chronicle the manuscript contains among others: a second short chronicle, regulations for the commemorative services that had to be held for benefactors, two registers with gifts, notes on confraternities with other Carthusian monasteries and religious institutions, a register of privileges granted to the monastery, a short history of the Carthusian order, a list of priors with biographical notes and no less than seven registers of graves of inhabitants of the monastery and lay persons that were buried in the monastery.

Shown below is the first page of one of the seven grave registers. It contains a list of persons form outside the monastery that had acquired the right to be buried in the monastery. However, not all of these persons were also buried in the monastery. This can be concluded from the later added remark ‘Hic non’ behind their names and a comment in one of the other grave registers.


  • Edition: L. van Hasselt, ‘Het necrologium van het Karthuizer-klooster Nieuwlicht of Bloemendaal buiten Utrecht’, in: Bijdragen en Mededeelingen van het Historisch Genootschap, gevestigd te Utrecht 9 (1886), p. 126-392.
  • J.P. Gumbert, Die Utrechter Kartäuser und ihre Bücher im frühen fünfzehnten Jahrhundert. Leiden 1974.
  • M. Carrasso-Kok, Repertorium van verhalende historische bronnen uit de middeleeuwen. ’s Gravenhage, 1981, p. 206-207.

See also

  • A psalter from Royal libraries

    Psalter. Latin, Parchment, 185 ff., 245x177 mm. Northern England, 1190-1200. Leiden, UB : ms. BPL 76 A

  • Flemish surgical instruments

    Small manual for a surgeon, based on the Cyrurgie by Meester Jan Yperman (incomplete). Flemish. Paper, 130x95 mm. Flanders, last quarter of the 15th century. Leiden, UB : ms. BPL 3094

  • The Zwolle bible

    Bible. Latin. Parchment, 6 volumes, c. 530x390 mm. Brethren of the Common Life, Zwolle, 1464-1476. Utrecht, UB : Cat 31 and 15.C.11

  • The Utrecht Psalter

    Psalter. Latin. Parchment, 91 ff., 330x255 mm. Benedictine monastery of St. Peter, Hautvillers near Reims, c. 820-835. Utrecht, UB : Cat. 32 / 1

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