Fiches descriptives > Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta (BNM)

Nom de la ressource : Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta (BNM)


Électronique/papier : First a paper documentation system consisting of manuscript descriptions and card files, later in electronic form (see below).


Langue des manuscrits : Focus on Middle Dutch (to a lesser extent Latin, French and German insofar as production or usage in the medieval Low Countries can be established).


Limites chronologiques : c. 1170-c. 1550


Limites géographiques : Low Countries (medieval)


Nombre de manuscrits : 16,000+


Type de description : short title descriptions (inventaire sommaire)


Modalités de description du contenu des mss. :

  • date and origin,
  • textual information (indicating title, author, category, subject headings, incipits),
  • bookhistorical information (indicating script, illumination, scribes, workshops, provenance)
  • location and shelfmarks of present owners (linking to websites if possible)


Sources d’informations : both from consultation in situ, and documentation activities using manuscript catalogues, reference works, codicological and palaeographical studies etc. Network of users providing data is becoming increasingly important.


Référentiels utilisés pour les cotes : catalogues and/or websites from institutional owners.


Référentiels utilisés pour les noms de personnes (et collectivités) et les textes :

  • C. Fabian (ed.), Personennamen des Mittelalters (20002)
  • M. Schoengen, Monasticon Batavum (1941-1942), U. Berlière, Monasticon Belge (1890), W. Kohl, Monasticon Windeshemense (1976-1984)
  • Surveys of Middle Dutch literary history, by J. te Winkel, J. Van Mierlo, G. Knuvelder) ; many editions of and articles about (the transmission of) Middle Dutch texts.
  • Die Deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters. Verfasserlexikon (1977-2008);


Liens vers d’autres ressources en ligne :

  • Narrative Sources : (based in Belgium, with focus on Middle Dutch narrative texts). BNM also includes religious texts : prayers, sermons, meditations etc.
  • Handschriftencensus :  (with focus on manuscripts in German language); ‘umschreibungen’ and translations from Dutch to German in the Middle Ages (Devotio Moderna, romances) and vice versa (Suso, Tauler)
  • ISTC (Incunabula Short Title Catalogus) and MEI (Material Evidence in Incunabula) : the study of Middle Dutch text culture  includes the study of (post) incunabula and their relations with written texts ; medieval libraries in the period 1450-1550 included both written and printed copies of  texts. In the near future,  the new database BNM-I intends  to bridge this gap between the medieval manuscript and printed book.


Informations complémentaires sur les manuscrits présents dans la ressource :

  • Middle Dutch includes texts in Flemish and Brabant dialects from areas which are now part of Belgium. Since the Middle Ages the language border between French and Dutch has moved considerably (up north ; Calais once was a Dutch speaking town).
  • BNM is particularly strong in the analysis of Middle Dutch texts, text versions and their place in the chain of transmission, thanks to a thesaurus of mutually linked authority files. These authority files are used in the short titles but also provide information on a more general level (linking one authority file to another may express that a certain scribe belongs to a certain monastery, that one text is a reworking of another etc.)
  • BNM is less strong in the analysis of illumination (historiated initials, miniatures and border decorations). This aspect is dealt with in the Byvanck database, up till now a stand alone database of the Royal Library, The Hague, maintained by members of the Byvanck Genootschap.
  • So far BNM does not include images of the manuscripts that are described ; the new database, however, can link to images in local repositories.


Identifiants stables (cotes, personnes, textes, etc.) ; nature (significatifs ou non, etc.) :  BNM uses authority files for texts, personal names (authors, scribes, owners etc.) and institutional names (scriptoriums, libraries of monasteries, owners).


Autres ressources papier/électroniques sur le même domaine (langue, aire géographique, etc.) :

  • Narrative Sources (see above)
  • Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections (MMDC) : lists the manuscripts that are presently held by libraries in the Netherlands. Therefore includes manuscripts produced outside the Low Countries, and excludes those that are produced in the Low Countries but presently kept in libraries outside the Netherlands.


Date de création : From c. 1900 onwards the tireless Flemish scholar Willem de Vreese (1869-1938) gathered data on Middle Dutch manuscripts kept worldwide. After his death this paper documentation system was maintained and extended at Leiden University Library. The descriptions of 11,000+ manuscripts (kept in nearly 2000 folders: BNM 1-1923) have recently be digitized; see the BNM collection guide in the online catalogue of Leiden University Libraries.


Projet en préparation/ en cours /achevé :

  • Since 1991, approximately two thirds of the card file indices have been converted and uploaded in a database hosted by Pica and its successor OCLC. General access to the database is provided only indirectly, via Leiden University Library’s website:
  • In 2013-2015 a collaborative project (financed by CLARIN-NL. The Royal Netherlands Academy institute Huygens ING, together with Leiden University Libraries and Utrecht University)  converted the existing dataset to a newly structured online database in open access,  with potential for incorporating information on copies of Middle Dutch printed editions (1473-ca 1540) : Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta & Impressa (BNM-I). Database:


Noms et coordonnées des responsables :


Nombre de collaborateurs réguliers : At this moment no paid collaborators ; only volonteers and, incidentally, project staff. The new database has been designed to support input by scholars working in the field of Middle Dutch text culture.


Modalités d’interactions avec les autres institutions culturelles, patrimoniales et de recherche : Huygens ING, Utrecht University (see above).



Personnes connectées : 1