Book of Hours were prayer books designed for the laity, but modeled on the Divine Office, a cycle of daily devotions, prayers and readings, performed by members of religious orders and the clergy. Its central text is the Hours of the Virgin. There are eight hours (times for prayer ): Matins, Lauds. Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. During the Middle Ages, the leaves making up a Book of Hours were written by hand on expensive parchment and beautifully illuminated with jewel-like pigments and gold leaf. These illuminated manuscripts combined the collaborative efforts of an array of highly skilled craftspeople; requiring the joint labors of the parchmenter, professional scribes to write the text in Gothic script, artists to illuminate the pages with decorations, and masterful binders to complete the process.
A very nice vellum leaf from a French Book of Hours. The recto is decorated with two bunches of very small flowers, sprouting from a bar with a narrow strip of gold leaf. The flowers are painted in red, blue and green with golden leaves. The two-line initial is illuminated with burnished gold leaf. On the verso the margin is full of small flowers and three large initials. The text is written in batarde lettering.