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

MS. Auct. D. 4. 2

Summary Catalogue no.: 3055

Portable Psalter; Flanders, Bruges–Ghent area; 13th century, second half (perhaps 1276 or soon after)


Portable Psalter,

[item 1 occupies quire I]

1. (fols. 4r–9v)

Calendar (published and compared to the calendars of other psalters from the Bruges–Ghent area by Carlvant, 1978, pp. 485–508), laid out one month per page, written in red and black, approximately one-quarter full, not graded. Includes saints venerated in Bruges: Walburga (1 May in red and 4 August), Basil, patron of the chapel of St Basil and the Holy Blood in Bruges (14 June) and the translation of Donatianus, patron saint of Bruges (30 August). The feast of Donatianus (14 October) is omitted, possibly as a result of confusion with Donatianus, martyr, entered on 24 May as ‘Donatiani archiepiscopi’ (Carlvant, 1978, p. 413). Other saints include Amand (6 February), Egidius (1 September), Lambert, bishop of Liège (17 September), Leodegar of Autun (2 October), Eligius (1 December) and Medard (8 June). The calendar also includes Francis (4 October), Catherine in red (25 November), Martin in red (11 November) and his translation (4 July), Nicholas in red (6 December) and his translation (9 May) and Lawrence in red (10 August). There is a 14th-century addition at 22 October: ‘Hic Joras (?) [or ‘Ferat’ (?)] de Woseo (?)’.

[item 2 occupies quire II]

2. (fols. 10v–15v)

Full-page miniatures (see ‘Decoration’). Fol. 15v contains a full-page Beatus-initial; fol. 15r is blank.

[items 3–6 occupy quires III–XXVII]

3. (fols. 16r–183v)

Psalms 1–150 (‘eatus vir’ omitted after historiated initial of psalm 1), written with each verse starting on a new line, without titles or numbers. The psalms are in the biblical order; subdivisions within psalms are not indicated, apart from psalm 118, subdivided into twenty-two 8-verse units. Punctuated throughout with punctus elevatus used to mark metrum and minor pauses, and punctus used to mark the ends of verses. There are textual divisions at psalms 26, 38, 51, 52, 68, 80, 97, 101 and 109 (see ‘Decoration’).

4. (fols. 183v–193v)

Weekly canticles, without titles:

  • (1) Confitebor tibi domine (Isaiah 12);
  • (2) Ego dixi (Isaiah 38: 10–21);
  • (3) Exultauit cor meum (1 Samuel 2: 1–11);
  • (4) Cantemus domino (Exodus 15: 1–20);D (5) Domine audiui (Habakkuk 3);
  • (6) Audite celi (Deuteronomy 32: 1–44).

5. (fols. 193v–200r)

Daily canticles, prayers and creeds, without titles:

  • (1) Te deum laudamus (fol. 193v);
  • (2) Benedicite omnia opera (fol. 195r);
  • (3) Benedictus dominus deus (fol. 196r);
  • (4) Magnificat (fol. 196v);
  • (5) Nunc dimittis (fol. 197v);
  • (6) Athanasian Creed (Quicumque uult ...) (fol. 197v).

6. (fols. 200r–203r)

Litany, including saints venerated in the Bruges–Ghent and Tournai regions: Martin, Eligius, Bavo, Trudo, Benedict, Remigius, Amand, Vedast, Medard, Audomar, Winnoc, Lambert, Ansbertus and Amatus among the confessors; Julitta (fourth) and Firmina (last) among the virgins. The litany does not contain any of the major Bruges saints. Followed by eight collects; the second (fol. 202v) mentions Innocent, probably Innocent V, who was elected pope in January 1276 and died in June 1276.

  • (1) Omnipotens sempiterne deus dirige actus nostros in beneplacito tuo ...
  • (2) Deus omnium fidelium pastor et rector famulum tuum Innocentium quem pastorem ecclesie tue preesse uoluisti propicius respice ...
  • (3) Deus qui inter apostolicos sacerdotes famulos tuos ...
  • (4) Fidelium deus omnium conditor et redemptor animabus famulorum famularumque tuarum remissionem ...
  • (5) Absolue quesumus domine animas famulorum famularumque tuarum ab omni uinculo delictorum ...
  • (6) Deus qui salutis eterne beate marie uirginitate fecunda ...
  • (7) Ure igne sancti spiritus renes nostros ...
  • (8) Anime omnium fidelium defunctorum per misericordiam dei requiescant in pace.
Fols. 203–204v are blank.

Language(s): Latin

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: cum tremore (psalter, fol. 17r)
Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: 204 leaves
Dimensions (leaf): c. 148 × 100 mm.
(leaves were trimmed in rebinding, occasionally causing the loss of decoration)
Foliation: modern, in pencil; 1–204.


(fols. 1–3) I (4) first leaf is a pastedown | (fols. 4–9) II (6) | (fols. 10–15) III (6) | (fols. 16–39) IV–VI (8) | (fols. 40–48) VII (8+1) fol. 40 is a singleton with a miniature | (fols. 49–80) VIII–XI (8) | (fols. 81–89) XII (8+1) fol. 88 is a singleton with a miniature | (fols. 90–97) XIII (8) | (fols. 98–103) XIV (6) no loss of text | (fols. 104–119) XV–XVI (8) | (fols. 120–128) XVII (8+1) fol. 125 is a singleton with a miniature | (fols. 129–136) XVIII (8) | (fols. 137–145) XIX (8+1) fol. 145 is a singleton with a miniature | (fols. 146–201) XX–XXVI (8) | (fols. 202–204) XXVII–XXVIII (2) final leaf of the last quire is the lower pastedown. Inserted singletons containing miniatures have been excised after fols. 56, 72 and 107.


Ruled in plummet with double vertical and horizontal bounding lines, extending the full height and width of page; 19 lines per page; written below the top line; written space: c. 95 × 65 mm.


Formal Gothic book hand, black ink; according to Carlvant (1978, p. 371) similar to Bruges, Bisschoppelijk Seminarie MS. 54/100, a breviary made for the use of the Cistercian Abbey of Spermalie, Bruges, c. 1268–1270


Illuminated by an artist also responsible for the illumination in two other contemporary psalters from the Bruges area, Dublin, Chester Beatty Library MS. 61 and Darmstadt, Hessische Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek MS. 1211 (Carlvant, 1985).

Gold KL monograms on blue and pink backgrounds in the calendar.

Miniatures with the Labours of the Months, set in architectural niches, against gold backgrounds: January: man with wings tied to his head, standing next to the fire, drinking from a bowl, holding tap of a barrel February: woman with a twisted candle by an altar March: man pruning a tree with an axe April: man carrying flowering branches May: man on horseback with a hawk June: man carrying a bundle of wood on his back July: man mowing hay with a scythe August: man reaping grain September: man cutting grapes; basket on the ground October: man sowing November: man knocking down acorns for pigs December: man slaughtering a pig.

Five full-page prefatory miniatures forming a Christological cycle that continues with further miniatures at textual divisions in the psalter. The miniatures are in architectural frames, on gold backgrounds, painted on one side of each leaf.

  • fol. 10v Annunciation, with Gabriel, lily-pot and the Virgin holding a book, the dove at her ear.
  • fol. 11v Nativity; the Virgin asleep, holding a book.
  • fol. 12v Adoration of the Magi, the middle Magus pointing to the star.
  • fol. 13v Flagellation.
  • fol. 14v Crucifixion, with Mary and John, the sun and moon.

Four full-page miniatures (of an original seven, or nine (?)) continuing the prefatory cycle, plus a full-page Beatus-initial and nine further historiated initials, each 9 or 10 lines high, at textual divisions. The initials depict saints (several of the same saints occur in London, British Library, Burney MS. 345) on gold backgrounds, with full or three-quarter borders made of gold, pink and blue bars, decorated with grotesques, human heads, birds, coiled tendrils and foliage. The miniatures are painted on single leaves and face historiated initials; those facing the beginnings of psalms 38, 52 and 80 have been cut out, leaving stubs and offsets (Carlvant, 1978).

  • fol. 15v Psalm 1 (initial B(eatus)) King David playing harp in the upper part; David slaying Goliath in the lower part. Lower margin: lovers in a garden; background with a chequered design.
  • fol. 40v (miniature) The Harrowing of Hell.
  • fol. 41r Psalm 26 (initial D(ominus)) Sts Peter with keys and Paul with a sword, seated together.
  • fol. 57r Psalm 38 (initial D(ixi)) St Stephen stoned, dressed as a cleric, with tonsure and maniple (?).
  • fol. 71v Psalm 51 (initial Q(vid)) St Lawrence on a grid, the hand of God above, a small figure with bellows below; border extension with a tonsured head.
  • fol. 72v Psalm 52 (initial D(ixit)) St Bartholomew flayed, the hand of God above.
  • fol. 87v Psalm 68 (initial S(aluum)) St Margaret, holding a cross, emerging from the back of a dragon.
  • fol. 88r (miniature) The Incredulity of St Thomas.
  • fol. 107v Psalm 80 (initial E(xultate)) St Martin on horseback, cutting his cloak with a sword and giving half to a beggar.
  • fol. 124v Psalm 97 (initial C(antate)) John the Baptist beheaded; a wading bird atop the initial.
  • fol. 125r (miniature) Pentecost (the Virgin in the centre, St Peter with keys and a bearded disciple with a book to either side).
  • fol. 128r Psalm 101 (initial D(omine)) St Catherine (?) kneeling in prayer; a man behind her raises sword over her head; another man stands by, holding lance (compare MS. Douce 24 and see Oliver, 1985).
  • fol. 144v Psalm 109 (initial D(ixit)) Coronation of the Virgin.
  • fol. 145r (miniature) Christ in Majesty, blessing and holding an orb, surrounded by the symbols of the four evangelists (rectangular non-architectural frame).

3-line gold initials on pink and blue backgrounds, decorated with white floral designs at the beginnings of psalms, canticles, litany and prayers. Pages with 3-line initials have three-quarter borders made of gold, pink and blue bars, decorated with white floral designs.

1-line gold initials at the beginnings of verses and periods, placed on pink and blue borders in the right margin, decorated with white floral designs.

Gold, and red and blue penwork line-endings.


Wood boards, enclosed in silver, Flemish or French, late 14th century. Silver panels, engraved with the Coronation of the Virgin (upper cover) and Annunciation (lower cover), overlaid with transparent enamel. Both panels are slightly damaged, with losses of enamel exposing the underlying design on the silver. The panels are set in silver-gilt borders with applied foliate scrolls. The border is fragmentary on the lower cover. Four raised studs of silver with engraved flowers in four corners on the upper cover, designed to prevent the cover touching the surface when lying flat. Only two studs are still preserved on the lower cover. The work of the atelier of the ‘Royal Gold Cup’ in the British Museum, London (Pächt and Alexander, 1966–73).

Leather spine, 16th century (?), with six raised bands, decorated with gilt floral designs. Panels between the raised bands are framed with double gilt fillet lines. Edges of wood boards, framing the spine, are covered with leather decorated with gilt floral designs. Faded inscription on the second panel from the top, possibly ‘P⟨salte⟩riv(m)’, with ‘66’ written over it in ink. Printed paper label on spine with ‘D || 4. 2’. Fittings of two clasps, now missing. Gilt gauffered edges of textblock. ‘66’ written in ink on the fore-edge.


Origin: 13th century, second half (perhaps 1276 or soon after) ; Flemish, Bruges-Ghent area

Provenance and Acquisition

Made in the Bruges–Ghent area, possibly for a Bruges patron (evidence of the calendar and decoration), in a workshop responsible for the production of other luxury psalters (Carlvant, 1985). MS. Auct. D. 4. 2 has many similarities in codicology, illumination and textual contents with other contemporary psalters from the Bruges– Ghent area, such as MS. Douce 38 (‘Tweede Groep’, Carlvant, 1978, pp. 140–57). The simplicity of its calendar and textual contents and the lack of agreement between the litany and the calendar suggest that it was made for a lay patron.

Joras de Woseo (?): 14th-century addition in the calendar on 22 October.

Sir Robert Cotton (1571–1631), see ODNB: inscribed ‘Doctissimo Medico et amico Willio Butler Cantab. Robertus Cotton Coningtoneus LL.MM. D. D. 1614’ (fol. 4r).

William Butler (1535–1618), physician, fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, see ODNB: presented in 1614 by Sir Robert Cotton (see above).

Dame Anne Sadleir (1585–1671/2), literary patron, wife of Ralph Sadleir of Standon, Hertfordshire, see ODNB.

Bodleian Library: gift from Anne Sadleir, 1648 (‘Julij 15. 1648/ Liber Bibliothecæ Bodleyanæ ex dono nobilissimæ D. Annæ Sadler . vxoris Radulphi Sadler de Stonden in Comitatu Harford Armigerj’ on fol. 3v). The shelfmark ‘Auctarium’ was given c. 1789, when books then considered most valuable in the Library were moved to the Auctarium (one of the schools in the Bodleian Library quadrangle) (see Summary catalogue, vol. 1, pp. xiv, xxxix–xl). Former shelfmarks: ‘= Selden cupbd. 111’ (upper pastedown); ‘Arch. B. 66’ (fol. 1r).

Record Sources

Elizabeth Solopova, Latin Liturgical Psalters in the Bodleian Library: A Select Catalogue (Oxford, 2013), pp. 347–54. Previously described in the Summary Catalogue.


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Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (33 images from 35mm slides)


    Printed descriptions:

    S. J. P. van Dijk, Latin Liturgical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. 2: Office Books (typescript, 1957), p. 92

    Select other bibliography to 2009:

    Macray, W. D., Annals of the Bodleian Library, Oxford: with a notice of the earlier library of the University, 2nd edn. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1890; repr. Bodleian Library, 1984), p. 464.
    Brassington, W. S., Historic bindings in the Bodleian Library (London, 1891), plate IV.
    Frere, no. 433.
    Wormald, F., ‘The Fitzwarin Psalter and its allies’, JWCI VI (1943), pp. 71–9, at p. 72; repr. in J. J. G. Alexander, T. J. Brown and J. Gibbs (eds.), Francis Wormald: collected writings (London: H. Miller; New York: OUP, 1984), vol. 2, Studies in English and Continental art of the later Middle Ages, pp. 88–102.
    van Dijk (1958), fol. 92.
    Randall, L. M. C., Images in the margins of Gothic manuscripts (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), p. 40.
    Pächt and Alexander (1966–73), vol. 1, no. 285, pls. XX–XXI.
    Ragusa, I., ‘An illustrated psalter from Lyre Abbey’, Speculum 46 (1971), pp. 267–81, at p. 278 n. 40.
    Lane, B. G., ‘“Ecce panis angelorum”: the manger as altar in Hugo’s Berlin Nativity’, Art Bulletin 57 (1975), pp. 476–86, at p. 480, fig. 10.
    Carlvant (1978), pp. 411–13 and passim.
    Carlvant, K. B. E., ‘Trends in Bruges illumination until 1260, apropos a psalter connected with Oostkerke’, Archives et bibliothèques de Belgique 56 (1985), pp. 321–63, passim.
    Oliver, J. H., ‘Medieval alphabet soup: reconstruction of a Mosan psalter-hours in Philadelphia and Oxford and the cult of St Catherine’, Gesta 24/2 (1985), pp. 129–40, at p. 139, n. 30.
    Oliver (1988), vol. 1, pp. 79 n. 76, 165.
    Tite, C. G. C., ‘“Lost or stolen or strayed”: a survey of manuscripts formerly in the Cotton Library’, British Library Journal 18 (1992), pp. 107–47, at p. 110.
    ——, The manuscript library of Sir Robert Cotton, Panizzi Lectures 1993 (London: British Library, 1994), p. 7 n. 7.
    Bräm, A., Das Andachtsbuch der Marie de Gavre: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Ms. nouv. acq. fr. 16251. Buchmalerei in der Diözese Cambrai im letzten Viertel des 13. Jahrhunderts (Wiesbaden: L. Reichert, 1997), pp. 31, 65, 161.
    Smeyers, M., Flemish miniatures from the 8th to the mid-16th century: the medieval world of parchment, transl. by K. Bowen and D. Imhof (Turnhout: Brepols, 1999), pp. 138, 172 n. 57.
    Hunt, A., ‘The books, manuscripts and literary patronage of Mrs Anne Sadleir (1585–1670)’ in V. E. Burke and J. Gibson (eds.), Early modern women’s manuscript writing: selected papers from the Trinity/Trent Colloquium (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), pp. 205–36, at p. 210.
    Stones, A., ‘The full-page miniatures of the Psalter-Hours New York, PML, MS. M. 729. Programme and patron’ in Büttner (2004), pp. 281–307, at pp. 299, 305, 307.
    Bouché, A.-M., ‘The view from the roof: on the chimneys of the Morgan Picture Bible’ in C. Hourihane (ed.), Between the picture and the word: manuscript studies from the Index of Christian Art, Index of Christian Art Occasional Papers 8 (Princeton, NJ: Index of Christian Art, Dept. of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University in association with Penn State Press, 2005), pp. 24–50, at p. 34.
    Morgan (2009), pp. 64, 70, 72 n. 9.

Last Substantive Revision

2024-02: Revised to incorporate full description from Solopova.