Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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Brothers of the Common Life

Associations of clerics and laymen that originated in the Netherlands in the 14th century. The reformers, Gerhard Groote and Florent Radewyns, inspired a small group of men at Deventer (Holland) to join together in community life in pursuit of holiness. The movement spread throughout the Netherlands and Germany and was influential until the time of the Reformation.

One of the principal occupations of the Brothers was the production of books. but, unlike the monastery scribes, they established their book trade specifically for the purpose of supporting their organization, using the profits derived from the sale of books in their missionary work. In addition, instead of offering their works in Latin, they issued them in the vernacular of the area in which they were produced.

At the Convent of St. Jerome at Ghent, the Brothers were noted for the excellence of the manuscripts and bindings they produced. Two examples of their work are embellished with a panel representing their patron, St. Jerome, kneeling before a crucifix. In the background, beyond the mountains, is a view of the belfry of Ghent, surmounted by the dragon, and the spires of three churches.

Their first book was issued in 1476 from the Nazareth Monastery in Brussels. (141 )

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