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MechAS s.s.

MechAS s.s.: Mechelen, Archief en Stadsbibliotheek (Stadsarchief) MS s.s.

NOTE: I gratefully acknowledge the permission given to put the complete contents of MechAS s.s on this Site.


Size: 643-655 x 432-437 mm. iii + 110 parchment folios with modern pencil foliation; blank folios separate each item; no index.

Scribe: several scribes from the Alamire workshop.

Place and Brief History: Brussels/Mechelen. The only source of the vast now extant Brussels/Mechelen complex (45 choirbooks, 6, either complete or incomplete, partbooks and 10 fragments) to remain in its locale of copying. Prepared for either Emperor Maximilian or his daughter Margaret of Austria or his grandson Archduke Charles - the future Emperor Charles V.

Date: probably during the second decade of the 16th century.

Covers and Decoration: Wooden boards covered with dark leather, blind-tooled lozenge design, metal clasps, lock, corners and bosses. Folio 1v contains a miniature depicting an enthorned figure surmounted by an archducal crown and the double-headed eagle with the Austrian arms in its centre. The enthroned figure is surrounded by eleven others five of whom are seated and probably represent his family. The remaining six are standing, three of whom represent the clergy (a pope, cardinal and bishop), the remaining three representing elements of the social order - one each for the nobility, army and peasantry. The enthroned figure thought to be Emperor Maximilian, but could also be Charles with the five seated figures being his siblings. Two further coats of arms on this folio: arms of Austria surmounted by a crown and arms of New Burgundy also surmounted by a crown. On folio 2r, two coats of arms: both surmounted by a crown the upper one being the coat of arms of Portugal, the lower one being the Burgundy-Hapsburg arms quarted with those of Spain. The miniature accompanying the opening of de la Rue's Missa Pascale (folio 16v) is that of the Resurrection; folio 17r has a miniature of Emperor Maximilan as donor with the double-headed eagle; the portrait accompanying the opening of de la Rue's Missa Conceptio tua (folio 34v) is that of St. Anne with the spirit of the Virgin - the figure is enthroned between depictions of David and Solomon; three popes also depicted on this folio and a further three on folio 35r - all six hold a doctrine about the Immaculate Conception; accompanying the beginning of de la Rue's Missa Ave Maria (folio 49v) is a miniature of the Annunciation. The openings of the remaining three masses in the source are accompanied by painted initals with flower-leaf motifs and grotesques. Calligraphic initials throughout. Also the letters HHH embedded in the flower motifs which contribute to the Ghent-Bruges style boarders on folios 1v, 17r, 34v, 35r, 49v and 50r; a single H also on folio 17r and the name Jaqves Scoon is scrolled around the stem of the central pictorial initial on folio 96r.


Herbert Kellman & Charles Hamm (eds), Census-Catalogue of Manuscript Sources of Polyphonic Music 1400-1550, Renaissance Manuscript Studies I, vol. II, American Institute of Musicology, Hänssler-Verlag, Neuhausen-Stuttgart, 1982, p. 139.

Flynn Warmington, "Mechelen, Archief en Stadsbibliotheek MS s.s.", in Herbert Kellman (ed.), The Treasury of Petrus Alamire: Music and Arts in Flemish Court Manuscripts, 1500-1535, The University of Chicago Press, 2000, p. 112.




Missa Fors seullement latente que ie de meure
Missa [Pascale]
Missa Conceptio tua
Missa Ave maria
Missa de sancta cruce quinque vocum.
Missa [de Feria]
Missa quinque vocum supra alleluya

Folio information and variants:

ff. 1r-15v

ff. 16r-33v

ff. 34r-48v (8 pages)

ff. 49r-62v look (7 pages)

ff. 63r-80v

ff. 81r-94v

ff. 95r-110v

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