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

MS. Auct. D. 4. 17

Summary Catalogue no.: 3075

Apocalypse picture book; England, c. 1255-60



A 'picture book', each page with tinted drawings in two registers, with 'captions' in Latin deriving from the text of the Apocalypse and from the commentary of Berengaudus.

Originally 96 scenes; four now missing due to the loss of a leaf between fols. 17 and 18; fols. 15-16 are misbound and should follow fol. 4.

The 'captions' are printed in L. Delisle and P. Meyer, L'apocalypse en français au XIIIe siècle (Bibl. nat., fr. 403) (1901), pp. xii-lix

Language(s): Latin and Anglo-Norman

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: ii (paper) + ii (parchment) + 23 + ii + i leaves; the parchment leaves interleaved with paper
Dimensions (leaf): 270 × 190 mm.


Frame for miniatures c. 220 × 160 mm.


As argued by Nigel Morgan (cat. 131), the iconography is closely related to the Morgan Apocalypse (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS. M. 524), and the two manuscripts 'depend on a common prototype'. (Other closely related manuscripts are the Paris Apocalypse, BNF Français 403, c. 1250, and Manchester, John Rylands Library, Latin MS. 19, fourteenth century.) Stylistic differences suggest the Morgan and Bodleian manuscripts are not from the same workshop; Morgan associates the Bodleian manuscript with the York Psalter workshop (named after London, British Library, Addit. MS. 54179) which has not been localized. The association of the manuscript with St Albans, suggested in older literature, is no longer accepted. Pächt and Alexander (iii. 438, pl. XXXIX-XL) considered the miniatures to be the work of two or three hands, but Morgan identified one hand with 'some differences of quality'.

Miniatures (coloured drawings) depicting the life and passion of St John the Evangelist (fols. 1r-2v, 22v-23v) and the Apocalypse. For the iconography see Morgan, op. cit., p. 201, and de Lisle and Meyer, op. cit., xii-lix.

  • (fol. 1r) John preaching; the baptism of Drusiana
  • (fol. 1v) John before the proconsul of Ephesus; John taken by boat to Rome
  • (fol. 2r) John before Domitian; John in the cauldron of boiling oil
  • (fol. 2v) John led away from Domitian; John taken by boat to Patmos
  • (fol. 3r) Above, boatman departs after leaving St. John on isle of Patmos. Angel appears to St. John with scroll telling him to write a book and send it to the seven churches. [Rev.1:11]. Below, St. John kneels before the Son of Man in midst of seven candlesticks. At left, the seven churches. [Rev.1:1-20].
  • (fol. 3v) Above, a door is opened in Heaven through which St. John sees God enthroned above the 24 seated elders. Symbols of the four evangelists appear around throne and seven lamps above. [Rev.4:1-7]. Below, St. John sees God holding the book, the kneeling Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes, and the 24 elders kneeling before Lamb. [Rev.5:1 ff.]
  • (fol. 4r) Above, opening of the first seal; below, opening of the second seal. Rev. VI, 5.7,8.
  • (fol. 4v) Above, opening of the third seal; below, opening of the fourth seal. Rev. VI,1-4.
  • (fol. 5r) Above, the fourth angel. | Below, fifth angel sounds turmpet. Rev. VIII, 12, 13; IX, 1-3.
  • (fol. 5v) Above, locusts with bridles and bits follow Abaddon. Below, sixth angel blows trumpet. Rev. IX, 7, II; IX, 13,15.
  • (fol. 6r) Above, angels on horses going forth to work of destruction. Below, St. John at his desk, angel speaking in his ear. Rev. IX,17-19, X,4.
  • (fol. 6v) Above, a mighty angel. Below, two witnesses, Enoch and Elias. Rev. XI, 3.
  • (fol. 7r) Above, death of Enoch and Elias. Below, Antichrist uprooting two trees. Rev. XI, 7-8.
  • (fol. 7v) Above, Antichrist, seated in Temple of Solomon, fives orders to a servant. At left, execution of the faithful and two men giving out money from a chest. Below, death of Antichrist by fire from Heaven. At left, his followers mourn.
  • (fol. 8r) Above, the Seventh Trumpet sounded. The twentyfour elders kneel before God. [Rev.11:15-17]. Below the Temple of God is opened to reveal the Ark of the Covenant. [Rev.11:19].
  • (fol. 8v) Above, apocalyptic woman with child in sun, moon at her feet. Angel passes child to God and seven headed dragon waits to devour child. Below, St. Michael, and two angels slay Dragon. Rev. XII, 1, 3, 4, 5: XII, 7.
  • (fol. 9r) Above, two angels hold scroll with verse of Rev. 12:10. Squirrel and nest of birds in tree beside them. Below, the dragon Satan and his angels are cast out of Heaven by 3 angels. [Rev.12:9]
  • (fol. 9v) Above, the woman is given wings of a great eagle and flies into the wilderness. [Rev.12:14]. Below, the dragon persecutes the woman. [Rev.12:13].
  • (fol. 10r) Above, dragon fighting with the seed of the woman. Below, John on shore watching beast with seven heads and ten horns. XII, 17; XIII, 1.
  • (fol. 10v) Above, the dragon gives power to the leopard-like beast with seven heads. The beast's wounded head is healed. [Rev.13:2-3]. Below, men worship the dragon. [Rev.13:4].
  • (fol. 11r) Above, men worship the beast. [Rev.13:4]. Below, the beast tramples Christian soldiers and speaks in blasphemy against God and the saints. [Rev.13:6-10].
  • (fol. 11v) Above, St. John sees a second beast coming up out of the earth and causing men to worship the first beast. [Rev.13:11-13]. Below, the second beast orders that those who will not worship the first beast should be killed. [Rev.13:15].
  • (fol. 12r) Above, the beast causes all men to receive his mark. [Rev.13:16-18]. Below, St. John sees the Lamb on mount Sion with the 'hundred forty and four thousand', who sing a new song before God, the four symbols of the evangelists, and the elders. [Rev.14:1-3].
  • (fol. 12v) Above, an angel flies through Heaven with gospel to preach to earth. [Rev.14:6-7]. Below, another angel announces the fall of Babylon. [Rev.14:8].
  • (fol. 13r) Above, a third angel warns of the wrath of God on those who worship the beast. (Altar with chalice of wine of God's wrath and fire in presence of the Lamb and holy angels). [Rev.14:9-10]. Below, an angel instructs St. John to write 'Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord...' At right, souls of blessed dead are received by angel into Heaven. [Rev.14:13].
  • (fol. 13v) Above, the harvest of the earth. [Rev.14:14-16]. Below, an angel cuts grapes from the vine of the earth and drops them into the winepress of the wrath of God. Three demons tread the grapes and blood flows from the winepress to the depth of the horse bridles. [Rev.14:17-20].
  • (fol. 14r) Above, St. John, seated on rock, sees seven angels in cloud. Below, the righteous, who have overcome the beast, walking towards John on left. Rev. XV, 1; XV,2-4.
  • (fol. 14v) Above, the seven angels come out of the Temple and receive vials of the wrath of God from one of the four beasts. Fire fills the Temple. [Rev.15:6-8]. Below, the first angel pours his vial onto the earth. [Rev.16:2].
  • (fol. 15r) Above, the First Seal. Beneath the altar are the souls of those slain for the word of God. At right, they are given white robes by angels. [Rev.6:9-11]. Below, the Sixth Seal. A great earthquake; stars fall unto the earth; men hide in caves. [Rev.6:12-17].
  • (fol. 15v) Above, angels stand holding the four winds on the four corners of the earth. Another angel ascends from the east with the seal of the living God. [Rev.7:1-3]. Below, a great multitude stands beneath the throne holding palms. Angels, elders, the symbols of the evangelists, and the Lamb appear with God enthroned. [Rev.7:9-17].
  • (fol. 16r) Above, the Seventh Seal. Seven angels are given trumpets. [Rev.8:1-2]. Below, another angel stands before altar with censer. Three angels with trumpets look on. God above holds book and blesses. [Rev.8:3-4]
  • (fol. 16v) Above, the angel fills the censer with fire and casts it into the earth, causing voices, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. The First Trumpet is sounded, and hail and fire mingled with blood follows. [Rev.8:5-7]. Below, Second and Third Trumpets sounded. A great burning mountain is cast into the sea; a great star falls from Heaven. [Rev.8:8-11].
  • (fol. 17r) Above, second and third angels empty their vials upon the sea and rivers. [Rev.16:3-4]. Below, St. John hears angels praising God. [Rev.16:5-7].
  • (fol. 17v) Above, the fourth angel pours out his vial upon the seat of the beast; his kingdom is full of darkness, men gnaw their tongues for pain. [Rev.16:10-11].
  • (fol. 18r) Above, St. John sees an angel proclaiming the fall of Babylon. [Rev.18:21]. Below, the angel casts the millstone into the sea [Rev.18:21-4]
  • (fol. 18v) Above, the elders & symbols of the evangelists worship God enthroned; the great whore lies in smoke beneath them. [Rev.19:1-4]. Below, the marriage supper of the Lamb. [Rev.19:7-8].
  • (fol. 19r) Above, the angel dictates to St. John and refuses his homage. [Rev.19:9-10]. Below, St. John sees the 'Faithful and True' treading the winepress of the wrath of God and, dressed in a white garment dipped in blood, riding a white horse. [Rev.19:11-15].
  • (fol. 19v) Above, an angel standing in the sun calls the birds to eat the flesh of men. [Rev.19:17-18]. Below, the beast and earthly armies make war against 'him that sat on the horse'. [Rev.19:19].
  • (fol. 20r) Above, beast and false prophet and those with the mark of the beast, are cast into a lake of brimstone. Below, the angel drags by chain the old serpent with seven heads from its lair. Rev. XIX, 20, 21; XX,1-3.
  • (fol. 20v) Above, souls of the faithful ascend to reign with Christ a thousand years. [Rev.20:4-6]. Below, Satan and his army are devoured by fire from God while attacking the beloved city. [Rev.20:7-9].
  • (fol. 21r) Above, Jaws of Hell open. Below, St. John wakes the dead, delievered to the Judgement Seat. Rev. XX, 10; XX, 11-15
  • (fol. 21v) Above, St. John sees the new Jerusalem descend from Heaven. [Rev.21:2-6]. Below, an angel leads St. John to the new Jerusalem. [Rev.21:9 ff].
  • (fol. 22r) Above, the water of life flows from the throne of God and the Lamb unto the tree of life. [Rev.22:1-7]. Below, the angel refuses St. John's homage and tells him to worship God. [Rev.22:8-9]
  • (fol. 22v) Above, God addresses St. John. Below, St. John returns to Ephesus and raises Drusiana from the dead.
  • (fol. 23r) John turns stones to gem; John destroys the temple of Diana
  • (fol. 23v) John drinks from the poisoned cup; his last Mass and death


Brown leather with ornamental corners and centre bosses of brass, clasps lost, late 16th cent. English binding.


Origin: c. 1255–60 (Morgan) ; English

Provenance and Acquisition

Probably acquired between 1613 and 1615.

Record Sources

Description adapted (July 2022) from the following sources, with additional reference to published literature as cited; description of iconography mostly taken from the captions for the slide roll of the manuscript.
Otto Pächt and J. J. G. Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Oxford, III (1973), no. 438
Summary Catalogue (1922)


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Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)
Digital Bodleian (76 images from 35mm slides)


Last Substantive Revision

2022-07: Description revised for publication on Digital Bodleian.