I'm struggling to read a couple of words in a manuscript (MS Kassel, Murhardsche Bibliothek der Stadt und Landesbibliothek 4o med).

Image of manuscript

This is what I've managed so far:

Exitus Acta Probat

Johannes de Herzelles [aliarn ???]
[sedim ???] Cappellany

Any idea what the two missing words are, and what they might mean?

  • 3
    I'm more familiar with older (XII and XIII c.) paleography: I'm tempted to transcribe "Iohannis de Herzelles <et?> aliarum sedium Cappellany," but I'm not sure if you could refer to an academic "chair" in that way at that time. Is the MS available online? The next pages might give further clues.
    – brianpck
    Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 14:01
  • 1
    Thanks for the suggestion. The MS is unfortunately not available online. The description is here. The rest of the MS is composed of medicinal, plague texts, astrological texts, a culinary text, and a health regimen which he compiled for his household's use. There is a small amount of Latin but the texts are mostly vernacular (Picard). The main questions are: (1) is this guy a chaplain? (2) could it be two people (e.g. Iohannis and a chaplain)? (3) could a chaplaincy be described as a chair?
    – F. Tyers
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 15:38
  • 4
    Actually, it is available online: orka.bibliothek.uni-kassel.de/viewer/image/1297331763218/1
    – cnread
    Commented Feb 17, 2018 at 2:30

1 Answer 1


I believe I have found the correct transcription.

In "Family, feud, and fertility in late Medieval Artois and Flanders" by Theresa Lorraine Tyers (2018), we have the following transcription:

In 1446 (Jo.) of Herzelle altarum sedium cappellany [chaplain] appears to have asserted his ownership in the compilation studied here. Both of these towns were important ecclesiastical centres, well endowed with canons and chaplains. Jean's status as a chaplain is used in this study to explain the motive for the manuscript's creation.

Here's the relevant footnote:

I am grateful to Brigitte Pfeil for confirming the transcription for me and for the reference. Given the context I suggest that altarum sedium cappelany is an indication that at some point Jean of Herzelles (and perhaps a companion) were a member of a chaplaincy and, in some way, connected to the Cathedrals of Tournai and later Lille. This phrase is also found in an inscription on a memorial in Tournai for two Magistri both of whom were Fratres. Mémoires de la Société Historique et Litéraire de Tournai; 1877, p. 133.

The referenced book is available on Google Books: it lists dozens of inscriptions with the phrase altarum sedium, including (on pg. 128):

Hic jacet M[agis]ter Augustinus Dub Avesnas, presbiter Cathedralis hujus altarum Sedium capellanus qui obiit XXV augusti Anni MDCCXXV Ut æternum vivat Pie lector apprecare Requiescat in pace

I'm not entirely sure how to read this: my guess is that it means "the chaplain priest of the High See (cf. Sancta Sedes) of this cathedral. . . ." But I'm not sure.

I am confident, though, that this is what is going on in the OP's image, not the provided gibberish translation above: "aliarn seding."

  • 1
    Thanks for that, actually this was a question from my mum that I offered to post to StackExchange for her (check out my last name and the last name of the reference you cited). She worked it out in the end with help from someone else. :)
    – F. Tyers
    Commented Mar 12 at 17:40
  • @F.Tyers Hilarious!
    – brianpck
    Commented Mar 12 at 18:18

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