The marginalia

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In my opinion the importance of this page has been much exaggerated. It is of interest that Roman and Voynich characters are found associated together. However, the Latin and German words on this page have every appearance of being the kind of trivial writing known as pen trials, very commonly found on the last, and sometimes the first, page of a manuscript.

Michiton oladabas...

For what it's worth, I think the first word is "anthicon", 'flowering'. Unlike "michi ton", it scans as the first word of a hexameter and might refer to the Herbal section.

Six marix morix...

This might conceivably be "Si maritur, moritur", 'if s/he marries s/he dies', and this phrase might just be related to the "Mussteil".


Der mvs del

The word

The sequence der mvs del written at the foot of f 66r is thought to be "der Mussteil", German for 'the widow's portion'. If so, a minor observation about German dialect is possible. Mediaeval German dialect is divided into three broad zones: Upper German (spoken in Switzerland, Bavaria and Austria), Lower German (what became Dutch and the Plattdeutsch of the northern plain), and Central German (spoken in a belt between the two others). The form "mvs" - i.e. "muss" with final "ss" - is characteristic of Central and Upper German, but "del" - i.e. "Deel" - for "Teil" cannot be Upper German: it is characteristic of the West Central German area (the lower Main and the middle Rhine). A speaker from Prague (East Central German) or Vienna or Munich (Upper German) would have written "mustel", "musteil" or "mustail".

Its meaning

Mussteil or Musteil was a legal term having to do with a widow's rights of inheritance: see the online Deutsches Rechtsworterbuch. As part of her marriage settlement a woman expected to receive a substantial dowry, Morgengabe in German (it was supposedly given on the morrow of the wedding): the dowry belonged to her outright and was her security in the event of divorce or bereavement. If, however, there was no dowry, a widow still had the legal right to a small part of her husband's goods, the Mussteil, consisting of half the contents of the kitchen, seen as the tools of a housewife's trade. The term has the connotations of a pittance. Some have questioned why the illustration shows an ailing woman when a Mussteil was paid on the death of a man; but the point is that a woman with a Mussteil was at risk of ending up homeless and penniless.

A manuscript illustration related to the Mussteil

The Heidelberg manuscript of the Sachsenspiegel, the earliest code of German law, sets out rules of inheritance including the Mussteil. The illustration of the Morgengabe (the Mussteil is also discussed on this page) shows that a human figure drawn diagonally reclining like the figure in the Voynich manuscript is supposed, by artistic convention, to be dead or on the point of death. Other pictures in this manuscript are of some relevance to the Voynich manuscript and may as well be listed here.

For further information on the Sachsenspiegel with remarks on the Mussteil, the legal status of women and illustrations from other manuscripts, see this exhibition site from Tufts University.

66r, 75v and 76r

The key-like sequences.

I speculate that the vertical sequences of letters on ff 66r, 75v and 76r are words to be read downwards. This is for two reasons.