New Acquisition: 1564 Spanish Antiphonary

Special Collections and University Archives has recently acquired a sixteenth-century Spanish antiphonary, a liturgical book containing the sung parts of the Divine Office. Chants include the antiphons sung with the psalms and canticles; the responsories of Matins and Vespers; and sometimes the hymns.

Page open to book of music.
[Readings for the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, M2148 .L4 1564, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.]
The musical notation is in black nota quadrata on five line staves in red, with Latin text and rubrics. The book is printed on thick, imperfect parchment, bearing marks of stitched repairs and deep follicles. Illustrations include colored initials and decorative vignettes throughout. The book measures 51 x 34 cm. It is bound in embossed leather with intact bronze bosses (corner and center pieces) and clasps. The leather binding has been restored at the spine and foredges of the boards. A bookplate is pasted onto the interior of the back cover that reads, “Gabinetto di Restauro del Libro dell’Abbazia di Praglia,” which likely identifies the source of the restoration work. It is an imperfect copy, missing some leaves throughout.

The title page includes a large coat of arms showing imperial privilege granted to the printer, Sebastián Martínez (not to be confused with the cleric of the same name executed in the Seville auto de fe of 1562). Martínez was a Spanish master-printer who was active in the cities of Valladolid, Sigüenza, and Palencia circa 1547-1570, during what has been historically referred to as the “golden age” of Spanish printing. In early modern Spain, religious works printed for the Catholic Church, such as this antiphonary, accounted for 46% of book production; however, Spain and Portugal also had a vibrant vernacular book market. This contrasted with other Continental print markets with significantly larger outputs of works in Latin (Wilkinson, 2010, p. xviii).

Martínez was commissioned by the diocese of Sigüenza in the mid-1560s to print a series of liturgical works for its use (Griffin, 2005, p. 161). Other notable projects Martínez printed for the Catholic Church in Spain included the third Index of Valladolid of 1559, a catalogue of prohibited books compiled under the authority of Fernando Valdes, archbishop of Seville and inquisitor general of Spain.

This volume will be of particular interest to researchers studying early modern music in print, sixteenth century liturgical works, or Spanish printing practices and materials.


Griffin, C. (2005). Journeymen-printers, heresy, and the Inquisition in sixteenth-century Spain. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Wilkinson, A. (2010). Iberian books: Books published in Spanish or Portuguese or on the Iberian Peninsula before 1601. Leiden; Boston: Brill.

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