A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

MSS. Douce 5-6

Summary Catalogue no.: 21579

Summary Catalogue no.: 21580

Portable Psalter; Flanders (Ghent), 14th century, first half (c. 1320-30)


Language(s): Latin

Fols. i recto–v verso are fly-leaves, mostly blank (see ‘Binding’ and ‘Provenance’).

1. (Douce 5, fols. vi verso–8r) (quire 1)

Apparently based on that of the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter, Ghent, laid out one month per two-page opening, written in red and brown, not graded. Missing 15 May to 15 September because of the loss of leaves after fol. 4. Major feasts (in red) include the deposition of Bertulfus (5 February), Ansbertus (9 February, relics at St Peter’s), Winwaloe (3 March, relics at St Peter’s), Wulfram (‘archiepi.’, 20 March, relics in St Peter’s) and his ‘elevatio’ (15 October), the ‘depositio’ of Erembert (30 April, relics at St Peter’s), ‘aduentus’ of Amalberga (27 October, relics at St Peter’s), Floribert, abbot of St Peter’s (2 November) with octave and his ‘elevatio’ (19 April), Martin (11 November) with octave. Other feasts include Amand and Vedast (6 February) and the translation of Amand (25 October) in red, Gertrude of Nivelles (17 March), Landoaldus (19 March, relics at St Bavo’s Abbey in Ghent), Ermeland (26 March), Macarius of Ghent (9 May, relics at St Bavo’s), Lambert, bishop of Liège (17 September), Bavo (10 May in red and 1 October), Leodegar of Autun (2 October), Benedicta (8 October), Donatianus, patron saint of Bruges (14 October), Winnoc (6 November), Willibrord (7 November), Livinus (12 November, relics at St Bavo’s) and Eligius (1 December). The months are headed with verses on the Signs of the Zodiac (printed in Hennig, 1955, p. 90), verses on the ‘Egyptian’ days correspond to Hennig’s (1955) set I, and notes on the number of days and nights in each month. Fol. 1r is blank apart from modern notes; fols. 8v–9v are ruled but blank.

2. (Douce 5, fols. 10r–17v)

Miniatures on the verso of each leaf, leaving rectos blank; see ‘Decoration’.

3. (Douce 5, fols. 18r–226r and Douce 6, 1r–159r)

Psalms 1–150 in the biblical order, divided into two volumes at psalm 80, without titles or numbers, written with each verse beginning on a new line. There are textual divisions at psalms 21, 26, 38, 51, 52, 68, 80, 97, 101, 109. Subdivisions within psalms are not indicated, apart from psalm 118, subdivided into twenty-two 8-verse units. Punctuated throughout with punctus used to mark the ends of verses and punctus elevatus used to mark minor pauses and metrum.

4. (Douce 6, fols. 159v–179r) Weekly canticles, without titles:
Incipit: Confitebor tibi domine (Isaiah 12)
Incipit: Ego dixi (Isaiah 38: 10–21)
Incipit: Exultauit cor meum (1 Samuel 2: 1–11)
Incipit: Cantemus domino (Exodus 15: 1–20)
Incipit: Domine audiui (Habakkuk 3)
Incipit: Audite celi (Deuteronomy 32: 1–44)
5. (Douce 6, fols. 179r–192r)

Daily canticles, prayers and creeds, without titles:

Incipit: Te deum laudamus (fol. 179r)
Incipit: Benedicite omnia opera (fol. 181v)
Incipit: Benedictus dominus deus (fol. 184r)

Athanasian Creed (Quicumque uult ...) (fol. 185v)

Magnificat (fol. 190v)

Incipit: Nunc dimittis (fol. 191v)
6. (Douce 6, fols. 192r–203v)

Litany for the use of St Peter’s, Ghent, including Livinus, Leodegar and Lambert among the martyrs; Wandrille (first, relics at St Peter’s), Ansbertus, Wulfram, Gudwald (relics at St Peter’s), Bertulf (relics at St Peter’s), Floribert, Winwaloe, Erembert, Ermeland (?) and ‘Condene’, followed later by Amand, Audomar, Remigius, Eligius, Vedast, Bavo, Landoaldus and Bertin among the confessors; Amalberga (first), Gertrude (of Nivelles (?)), Landrada (relics at St Bavo’s), Pharahildis and Walburga among the virgins.

Followed by collects (fols. 200r–203v)

Incipit: Et ueniat super nos misericordia tua domine
Incipit: Deus cui proprium est misereri semper et parcere suscipe
Incipit: Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui facis mirabilia magna solus
Incipit: Pretende domine famulis et famulabus tuis dexteram celestis auxilii ut de toto corde
Incipit: Deus a quo sancta desideria recta consilia et iusta sunt
Incipit: Exaudi quesumus domine supplicum preces et confitentium tibi parce peccatis
Incipit: Ecclesiae tue domine preces placatus admitte ut destructis aduersitatibus et erroribus uniuersis
Incipit: A domo tua quesumus domine spirituales nequitie repellantur et aeriarum
Incipit: Absolue domine animas famulorum famularuque tuarum ab omni uinculo delictorum
Incipit: Deus qui es sanctorum tuorum splendor mirabilis atque laxorum subleuator

Fols. 204r–208r are fly-leaves, mostly blank.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: in consilio iustorum (Douce 5, psalter, fol. 19r)
Secundo Folio: Audi populus (Douce 6, psalter, fol. 2r)
Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: 232 + 215 leaves
Dimensions (leaf): c. 87 × 62 mm.
Leaves were trimmed in rebinding, causing the loss of decoration on most leaves.
Foliation: Modern, in pencil: MS. Douce 5: i–vi + 1–169 + ‘170–175’ (one leaf) + 176–231. MS. Douce 6: i–v + 1–52 + 52a + 53–77 + ‘78–79’ (one leaf) + 80–93 + 94a–94b + 95–103 + 105–208.


Douce 5: (fols. i–iv) fol. i is a marbled paper leaf, originally conjoint with the upper pastedown, pasted to the first leaf of a quire of four paper leaves; thread visible after fol. ii | (fol. v) parchment fly-leaf (post-medieval (?)) | (fols. vi–9) I (16−4) two middle bifolia missing | (fols. 10–16) II (7) make-up unclear | (fols. 17–52) III–V (12) | (fols. 53–65) VI (12+1) fol. 60 containing a miniature is inserted | (fols. 66–101) VII–IX (12) | (fols. 102–113) X (12+1−1) fol. 109 containing a miniature is inserted in place of a cancelled leaf | (fols. 114–227) XI–XIX (12) | (fols. 228–231) fol. 231 is a marbled paper leaf, originally conjoint with lower pastedown, pasted to the last leaf of a quire of four paper leaves.

Douce 6: (fols. i–iv) fol. i is a marbled paper leaf, originally conjoint with the upper pastedown, pasted to the first leaf of a quire of four paper leaves; thread visible after fol. ii; watermark ?⟨WHAT⟩MAN on fol. iv | (fol. v) parchment fly-leaf (post-medieval (?)) | (fols. 1–11) I (12−1) missing 1 | (fols. 12–35) II–III (12) | (fols. 36–47) IV (12+1−1) fol. 43 containing a miniature is inserted | (fols. 48–70) V–VI (12) | (fols. 71–77) VII (8 (?) −1) perhaps the eighth leaf cancelled after fol. 77 | (fols. 78/79–198) VIII–XVII (12) | (fols. 199–204) XVIII (6) | (fols. 205–208) fol. 208 is a marbled paper leaf, originally conjoint with lower pastedown, pasted to the last leaf of a quire of four paper leaves.

Catchwords occasionally survive.


Ruled in pale brown ink with single vertical and horizontal bounding lines extending the full height and width of page; written below the top line; 13 lines per page; written space: c. 52 × 38 mm.


Formal Gothic book hand.


The decoration is the work of two artists: the first executed vol. I, fols. 10v–16v and vol. 2, fols. 48r to end; the second executed the rest. The style of the first artist is closely related to that of a Franciscan psalter, Copenhagen, Kongelige Bibliotek MS. GKS 3384 8o, ; the style of the second artist is related to a breviary of St Peter’s, Ghent, London, British Library, Add. MS. 29253, (K. B. E. Carlvant, ‘Collaboration in a fourteenth-century psalter: the Franciscan iconographer and the two Flemish illuminators of MS 3384, 8o in the Copenhagen Royal Library’, Sacris Erudiri 25 (1982), pp. 135–66).

KL monograms on gold backgrounds decorated with human and animal heads and floral designs in the calendar. Nearly complete borders with scenes, human, animal and hybrid figures and floral designs, sometimes suggesting the Labours of the Months and the Signs of the Zodiac, e.g. ice-skating in February. Miniatures in architectural frames on gold backgrounds:

  • January: man warming feet by the fire
  • February: Candlemas. Church service, male and female members of the congregation holding lighted candles; priest asperging
  • March: two men pruning a tree
  • April: man kneeling before a woman who holds his head; background with arms of the Abbey of St Peter, Ghent
  • September: four men picking and treading grapes
  • October: two men knocking down acorns for pigs
  • November: men slaughtering a pig, singeing the hair off another, emptying the intestine of a third
  • December: two women kneading dough, and a shirtless man baking bread.

Prefatory miniatures (Douce 5, fols. 10v–17v) in gold rectangular frames decorated with birds and foliage, with corner-pieces containing portrait heads of laymen and -women in geometric frames; gold backgrounds with architectural designs and arabesque designs painted in white on gold surfaces. Misbound: the Nativity and Presentation in the Temple are out of order; a miniature depicting the Flight into Egypt is perhaps missing.

  • fol. 10v: Annunciation.
  • fol. 11v: Visitation.
  • fol. 12v: Presentation in the Temple.
  • fol. 13v: Annunciation to a Shepherd holding bagpipes; half-figure of an angel holding a scroll with an inscription: ‘Puer est natus hodie’.
  • fol. 14v: Nativity.
  • fol. 15v: Massacre of the Innocents.
  • fol. 16v: Entry into Jerusalem.
  • fol. 17v: The Throne of Grace Trinity worshipped by a kneeling veiled woman and a tonsured cleric.

Miniatures and 5- or 6-line historiated initials (7-line Beatus-initial) at liturgical divisions with scenes on gold backgrounds. Full borders decorated with scenes, human, bird, animal and hybrid figures and heads, flowers and foliage.

  • Douce 5, fol. 18r, Psalm 1 (initial B(eatus)): King David playing harp; young David slaying Goliath.
  • fol. 60v (miniature): The Man of Sorrows.
  • fol. 61r, Psalm 21 (initial D(eus)): Psalmist kneeling in prayer; the face of God in clouds above.
  • fol. 73v (miniature) Betrayal.
  • fol. 74r, Psalm 26 (initial D(ominus)): King David kneeling, pointing to his eyes; the face of God in clouds above.
  • fol. 109v (miniature): The Mocking of Christ.
  • fol. 110r, Psalm 38 (initial D(ixi)): King David kneeling, pointing to his mouth; the face of God in clouds above.
  • fol. 142v (miniature): Christ before Caiaphas.
  • fol. 143r, Psalm 51 (initial Q(uid)): Saul stabbing himself with a sword, incited by the Devil.
  • fol. 145v (miniature): Flagellation.
  • fol. 146r, Psalm 52 (initial D(ixit)): King David speaking to the Fool, who holds a stick and eats bread.
  • fol. 184v (miniature): Veronica addressing Christ carrying the Cross.
  • fol. 185r, Psalm 68 (initial S(aluu(m))): King David praying in waters; half-figure of Christ above, holding an orb and blessing.
  • Douce 6, fol. 1r, Psalm 80 (initial E(xultate)): Seated psalmist (?) playing bells.
  • fol. 37v (miniature): Descent from the Cross.
  • fol. 38r, Psalm 97 (initial C(antate)): Tonsured clerics, singing from a book open on a lectern supported by a child.
  • fol. 43v (miniature): Entombment.
  • fol. 44r, Psalm 101 (initial D(omine)): King David praying before an altar with a crucifix bleeding into a chalice.
  • fol. 78v (miniature): The Last Judgement.
  • fol. 79r, Psalm 109 (initial D(ixit)): Trinity.

2- to 3-line initials, decorated with human and animal figures and heads, floral and geometric designs.

Full borders, decorated with scenes, human, bird, animal and hybrid figures and heads, flowers and foliage at the beginnings of psalms, canticles, litany and prayers. The scenes include a fox pretending to be dead and a magpie (Douce 5, fol. 56r); a self-portrait (?) of the illuminator (Douce 5, fol. 185r); depictions of saints near their names in the litany (Douce 6, fols. 193r–196r); a hunter, a virgin and a unicorn (Douce 5, fol. 74r, Douce 6, fol. 39r); a scribe (Douce 6, fol. 144r), etc.

1-line gold initials, decorated with alternating red and blue penwork, at the beginnings of verses and periods.

Line-endings, decorated with human and animal figures and heads.


Red velvet bindings, perhaps made for Douce; marbled paper pastedowns and flyleaves. Sewn on four cords. The spines renewed, fabric labels perhaps from the replaced spine pasted on the first fly-leaf of each volume, marked correspondingly ‘heures || i’ and ‘heures || ij’. Fols. 230v (Douce 5) and 207v (Douce 6) carry traces at the gutter of apparently four cords from a previous binding. Gilt and gauffered edges. Perhaps formerly bound as a single volume, as a single series of binder’s quire numbers continue from ‘20’ in vol. II.


Origin: c. 1320–30 ; Flemish, Ghent

Provenance and Acquisition

Arms of the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter, Ghent on fol. 4r of Douce 5; calendar and litany based on those of St Peter’s. Miniatures and historiated initials emphasize psalms important in secular use, including psalm 21, recited at Sunday Prime in secular use.

Erased late medieval or early modern inscriptions: Douce 5, fol. vi recto, possibly beginning ‘Hic liber ...’ [??] and Douce 6, fol. 203v, possibly beginning ‘miserere et ...’ [??].

Thomas Payne (1752–1831), London bookseller and publisher, see ODNB.

Francis Douce, 1757–1834: purchased in November 1823. A note in his Collecta, a list of his acquisitions and exchanges (Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Douce e. 68) describes it as ‘Beautiful small Horæ 2 vols. (grotesques) Payne’; bookplate, upper pastedown of both volumes.

Bequeathed to the Bodleian in 1834

Record Sources

Elizabeth Solopova, Latin Liturgical Psalters in the Bodleian Library: A Select Catalogue (Oxford, 2013), pp. 379–87. Previously described in the Summary Catalogue.


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Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile) [MS. Douce 5]
Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile) [MS. Douce 6]
Digital Bodleian (233 images from 35mm slides) [MS. Douce 5]
Digital Bodleian (247 images from 35mm slides) [MS. Douce 6]


Last Substantive Revision

2021-06-14: Revised description incorporating all information in Solopova, Latin Liturgical Psalters.