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

MS. Auct. D. 4. 4

Summary Catalogue no.: 1854

Portable Secular Psalter and Hours; England, c. 1370–80


Language(s): Latin

Unnumbered paper leaf conjoint with the upper pastedown and fols. i recto–iii recto are blank, apart from notes of various dates (see ‘Provenance’).

1. (fols. iii verso–iv verso)

Added prayers, possibly 14th century, end, on the recitation of psalms, with feminine grammatical forms:

Incipit: Suscipere dignare domine deus omnipotens hos psalmos consecratos quos ego indigna et pecatrix decantare
Incipit: Concede domine iesu christe vt isti psalmi nobis omnibus proficiant
Incipit: Domine deus omnipotens principium et perfectio totius bonitatis
Incipit: Omnipotens sempiterne deus miserere mihi famule tue et fidem rectam

Spaces left for initials and some rubrics (?), never filled in. Fol. v recto–verso is ruled; otherwise blank.

2. (fols. vi recto–xi verso)

Added Sarum calendar, 15th century, ungraded except for Dunstan (19 May) with three lessons, laid out one month per page, written in brown, red, blue and gold, approximately three-quarters full. Anne (26 July) is in the original hand, but other late 14th- and early 15th-century feasts are absent (David, Chad, Winifred, Bridget of Sweden and John of Beverley).

3. (fol. xii verso)

Full-page miniature (see ‘Decoration’); fol. xii recto is blank.

4. (fols. 1r–156v)

Psalms 1–150, written as prose, without titles or numbers, in the biblical order; subdivisions within psalms are not indicated, apart from psalm 118, subdivided into eleven 16-verse units. Punctuated throughout with punctus used to mark the ends of verses, and punctus elevatus used to mark metrum. There are textual divisions at psalms 26, 38, 51, 52, 68, 80, 97, 101, 109, 119 and 137 (see ‘Decoration’). Gloria patri and Sicut erat are added after psalms 37, 96, 100, 118 and 136. The psalter, canticles and other texts contain many corrections by erasure, substitution over an erasure and addition in the margins, in contemporary hands (e.g. fols. 35v, 36r, 90r, 93r, 94r, 109v, 179r–180v, etc.).

5. (fols. 156v–164v)

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); (5) Domine audiui (Habakkuk 3); (6) Audite celi (Deuteronomy 32: 1–44).

6. (fols. 164v–168v)

Daily canticles, prayers and creeds, without titles: (1) Te deum laudamus (fol. 164v); (2) Benedicite omnia opera (fol. 165v); (3) Benedictus dominus deus (fol. 166r); (4) Magnificat (fol. 166v); (5) Nunc dimittis (fol. 167r); (6) Athanasian Creed (Quicumque uult . . .) (fol. 167r).

7. (fols. 169r–175v)

Penitential Psalms 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129 and 142 without titles or numbers.

8. (fols. 175v–180v)

Sarum litany, with James, Genofeva and Prisca added in the margins in a near-contemporary hand. Shares the omission of James the Less from the list of apostles with all other psalters made for the Bohun family (Sandler, 2004, p. 125). The litany is followed by petitions with passages marked ‘vacat’ and with the replacement text added in the lower margin of fol. 179r. This is followed by five collects (fols. 179v–180v):

Incipit: Deus cui proprium est misereri semper et parcere suscipe
Incipit: Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui facis mirabilia magna solus
Incipit: Deus a quo sancta desideria recta consilia et iusta sunt
Incipit: Fidelium deus omnium conditor et redemptor animabus omnium fidelium defunctorum
Incipit: Pietate tua quesumus domine nostrorum solue uincula
9. (fol. 181v)

Full-page miniature (see ‘Decoration’); fol. 181r is blank.

10. (fols. 182r–221v)

Hours of the Virgin, use of Sarum, with memorials after Lauds and Vespers (fols. 194v and 215r, see ‘Decoration’) and short rubrics in red. Prayer ‘Salue regina mater misericordie uita ducedo et spes nostra salue ad te clamamus’ (fol. 222r).

11. (fols. )

Prayers for the deceased:

Incipit: Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui gloriose uirginis et matris marie corpus et animam
Incipit: De profundis clamaui ad te domine domine exaudi uocem meam
Incipit: Fidelium deus omnium conditor et redemptor animabus famulorum famularumque tuarum remissionem
12. (fol. 223v)

Added heading ‘Post completorium’, followed by a response, a versicle and a prayer ‘Visita quesumus domine habitationem istam et omnes insidias inimici ab ea longius repelle . . .’, 15th century (?). A guide-letter for the rubricator is at the beginning of the prayer, but the initial was never executed.

13. (fols. 224r–231v)

Memorials of the apostles, including James the Less, and of the evangelists; collects and prayers to Joachim and Anne, Jerome and Augustine at the end.

14. (fols. 232r–233r)

Prayer ‘O beata et intemerata et in eternum benedicta ...’, with masculine grammatical forms.

15. (fols. 233v–236r)

Pericopes from the four gospels. A full-page miniature on a thin parchment leaf is pasted to fol. 236v.

16. (fol. 238r)

Full-page miniature (see ‘Decoration’). Fol. 237r–v and fols. 238v–239r are blank.

17. (fols. 239v–242r)

Memorials of saints and apostles: John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, Thomas Becket, Christopher, Sebastian, Peter and Paul, Guardian Angel, Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins, the Virgin Mary. Fols. 242v–243c recto are blank.

18. (fol. 243c verso)

Full-page miniature (see ‘Decoration’).

19. (fols. 244r–270v)

Office of the Dead; the responsories correspond to nos. 14, 72, 24, 32, 57, 28, 68, 72, 38 in Ottosen (1993). The beginning of Vespers and the first Nocturn are marked with historiated initials; the beginning of Lauds is marked with a rubric (fol. 262v), but not a historiated initial. The office ends imperfectly, because of the loss of a leaf at the end. Fols. 271r–274v are blank, apart from notes of various dates (see ‘Provenance’).

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: peruenire eternam
Form: codex
Support: parchment (paper flyleaves)
Extent: 290 leaves
Dimensions (leaf): 169 × 119 mm.
Leaves were trimmed in rebinding, occasionally causing the loss of decoration.
Foliation: modern, in pencil; unnumbered leaf + i–xii + 1–243 + 243a–243c + 244–274 + unnumbered leaf.


(unnumbered leaf–fol. i) paper fly-leaves, the first conjoint with the upper pastedown | (fols. ii–v) I (4) | (fols. vi–xi) II (6) | (fols. xii–8) III (8+1) fol. xii, containing a full-page miniature, is inserted | (fols. 9–176) IV–XXIV (8) | (fols. 177–181) XXV (4+1) fol. 181, containing a full-page miniature, is inserted | (fols. 182–221) XXVI–XXX (8) | (fols. 222–223) XXXI (2) | (fols. 224–229) XXXII (6+1) the last leaf is inserted; another leaf is stuck to its verso | (fols. 230–236) XXXIII (6+1) fol. 236, containing a full-page miniature, is inserted | (fols. 237–243c) XXXIV (6+3) fol. 238, a singleton containing a full-page miniature, and fols. 237+243c, a bifolium, are inserted | (fols. 244–267) XXXV–XXXVII (8) | (fols. 268–270) XXXVIII (4−1) missing 4 | (fols. 271–273) XXXIX (4−1) missing 4; fols. 274 and an unnumbered leaf, conjoint with the lower pastedown, are fly-leaves. Catchwords and fragments of catchwords survive on fols. 40v, 205v and 229v.


Ruled in ink with single vertical and horizontal bounding lines, extending the full height and width of page; 18 lines per page; written below the top line; written space: variable, c. 95 × 63 mm.


Formal Gothic book hands, black and brown ink.


Made by a group of artists who produced other psalters and books of hours for the Bohun family between c. 1355 and c. 1385, and who seem to have worked at Pleshey Castle, Essex (Sandler, 1985, Gothic manuscripts, 1986, 2002; Dennison, 1986, 1988, 2005). The psalter is the work of two miniaturists and one decorator. The main miniaturist (the ‘English Artist’) is responsible for everything apart from the Beatus-page and full-page miniatures on fols. xii verso, 181v and 243v, which are the work of a second miniaturist (the ‘Flemish Hand’, Dennison 1986, 2005). The decoration is the work of a single artist (Sandler, Gothic manuscripts, 1986, vol. ii, no. 138). All fullpage miniatures are on single leaves with the back of the leaf left blank, held by stubs as additional leaves in gatherings, or stuck to another leaf, a practice also found in manuscripts from Bruges (Carlvant, 1985, p. 329, n. 14).

Calendar: Blue KL monograms at the beginnings of months in the calendar; nearly full borders on every page made of coiled tendrils, decorated with foliage and gold discs.

Psalter: (fol. xii verso) Full-page miniature of Crucifixion (worn and flaking) on tooled gold background in a gold rectangular frame, decorated with foliage and gold discs (Christ between the two thieves; the Virgin Mary and St John).

Twelve 9-line miniatures, each subdivided into four compartments, and twelve 5-line historiated initials at liturgical divisions, together constituting a continuous Genesis cycle of approximately 64 scenes from Creation to Jacob and the Angels. Pages with historiated initials have full borders with architectural pinnacles in the upper half (some incorporating human figures) and bars decorated with coiled tendrils, foliage and gold discs in the lower half.

  • fol. 1r, Psalm 1 (initial B(eatus) and miniatures) Creation with additional scenes of Adam and Eve in the bas-de-page. Pinnacles bearing pennants, one with the arms of England, the other with the arms of Bohun.
  • fol. 24v, Psalm 26 (initial D(ominus) and miniatures) The Fall of Man.
  • fol. 40r, Psalm 38 (initial D(ixi) and miniatures) Cain and Abel.
  • fol. 54v, Psalm 51 (initial Q(uid) and miniatures) Noah and the Ark.
  • fol. 55v, Psalm 52 (initial D(ixit) and miniatures) Noah, the Tower of Babel.
  • fol. 70r, Psalm 68 (initial S(aluum) and miniatures) Abraham and Lot.
  • fol. 88r–v, Psalm 80 (miniature and initial E(xultate)) Abraham and the Angels, Lot’s wife.
  • fol. 105r, Psalm 97 (initial C(antate) and miniatures) The birth of Isaac and the events preceding his sacrifice.
  • fol. 107v, Psalm 101 (initial D(omine) and miniatures) Isaac saved, the death of Sarah.
  • fol. 122v, Psalm 109 (initial D(ixit) and miniatures) Eliezer and Rebecca (partly rubbed/smudged).
  • fol. 138r, Psalm 119 (initial A(d) and miniatures) Isaac, Jacob, Esau.
  • fol. 146v, Psalm 137 (initial C(onfitebor) and miniatures) Jacob.

Penitential Psalms:

  • fol. 169r (initial D(omine) and miniatures) 9-line miniature and 5-line historiated initial, together depicting the Last Judgement.
  • (full border) Architectural pinnacles containing the busts of angels in the upper half, and bars decorated with coiled tendrils, foliage, gold discs and medallions with the arms of England, Bohun, the earls of Lancaster, Butler and Courtney in the lower half.

Office of the Virgin:

  • fol. 181v (miniature) Full-page miniature on tooled gold background of the enthroned Virgin and Child, worshipped by a kneeling woman wearing the arms of England (overgarment) and Bohun (undergarment), holding a scroll with lettering ‘miserere mei fili dei’. The woman is presented by a crowned female saint with a covered golden cup (Mary Magdalene). The miniature is in a gold rectangular frame, decorated with foliage, interlace and gold discs.
Eight 9-line miniatures at the Canonical Hours with scenes of the Miracles of the Virgin and eight 5-line historiated initials with a Christological cycle. The pages with historiated initials have full borders made of bars decorated with foliage.
  • fol. 182r Matins (initial D(omine)) Annunciation.
  • (miniature) Theophilus (smudged).
  • fol. 188v Lauds (initial D(eus)) Visitation.
  • (miniature) The fallen abbess.
  • fol. 200r Prime (initial D(eus)) Nativity.
  • (miniature) The nun-sacristan who left her convent.
  • fols. 203v–204r Terce (initial D(eus)) Adoration of the Magi.
  • (miniature) The Jew of Bourges.
  • fol. 206v Sext (initial D(eus)) Presentation in the Temple.
  • (miniature) The story of Amoras.
  • fol. 209r None (initial D(eus)) Crucifixion.
  • (miniature) The Child-image taken as hostage.
  • fol. 211v Vespers (initial D(eus)) Resurrection.
  • (miniature) A story of the child offered to the Devil.
  • fol. 219v Compline (initial C(onuerte)) Coronation of the Virgin.
  • (miniature) The drowned nun.

Memorials in Lauds (fols. 195r–197v) have twelve 3-line historiated initials infilled with the Holy Spirit, God-the-Father holding crucified Christ, the Cross, Michael, John the Baptist, Andrew, John the Evangelist, Peter, Stephen, Lawrence, Thomas Becket and Nicholas.

Memorials in Vespers (fols. 215r–219r) have thirteen 3-line historiated initials infilled with the Holy Spirit, God-the-Father holding Calvary, the Cross, Michael, John the Baptist, Andrew, John the Evangelist, Peter and Paul, Stephen, Lawrence, Thomas Becket, Nicholas, Catherine, Margaret, Mary Magdalene, All Saints and Peace (a female veiled figure).

Memorials of the apostles and evangelists: Memorials (fols. 224r–231v) start with a 5-line historiated initial infilled with the Ascension (fol. 224r) and include 3-line historiated initials infilled with Peter, Paul, John the Evangelist, Andrew, James, Thomas, Philip, James the Less, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon, Judas, Matthias, Barnabas, Luke and Mark.

Pericopes from the four gospels: Four 4-line historiated initials on gold background, containing symbols of the Evangelists, holding scrolls inscribed with their names (fols. 233v–236r).

Full-page miniatures on tooled gold background in rectangular frames formed by bars decorated with foliage.

  • fol. 236v Eleven compartments, containing the Wound of Christ, Resurrection, Crucifixion, and Instruments of the Passion.
  • fol. 238r Three tiers, containing fifteen standing saints: (1) John the Baptist, Michael, Peter, Paul, John the Evangelist; (2) Thomas Becket, George, Christopher, Leonard, Anne; (3) Mary Magdalene, Catherine, Margaret, Etheldreda, Ursula or Christina holding a large spear.

Office of the Dead: fol. 243c verso (miniature) The Raising of Lazarus.

Two 9-line miniatures, subdivided into four linked compartments and two 5-line historiated initials, representing together ten scenes from the life of Job. The pages with historiated initials have full borders with architectural pinnacles in the upper half, and bars decorated with coiled tendrils, foliage and gold discs in the lower half.

  • fol. 244r Vespers (initial D(ilexi) and miniatures) Five scenes from the life of Job.
  • fol. 248v Matins. First Nocturn. (initial U(erba) and miniatures) Five scenes from the life of Job.

2- to 3-line initials on gold backgrounds are used throughout at the beginnings of psalms, canticles, litany and prayers. The initials are decorated with floral and geometric designs, birds, grotesques, animal heads, heads of men and women, some tonsured, some wearing a crown or a mitre.

1-line initials on gold background, decorated with floral and geometric designs, are used throughout at the beginnings of verses and periods.

All pages have borders, made of a gold bar in the left margin, decorated with coiled tendrils, foliage and gold discs extending along the upper and lower margins.

Line-endings with zoomorphic, floral and geometric designs on gold backgrounds are used throughout.

Rubrics in red ink, capitals sometimes highlighted in red.


Modern binding, dated 1957; dark brown leather over pasteboard. Six raised bands on spine. Gilt lettering on spine ‘MS. AUCT. || D. 4. 4’. Fragment of a paper label on spine printed ‘62’. Modern laid paper pastedowns and fly-leaves.

Fols. ii recto and 173v were the pastedowns of an earlier binding, no later than the 16th century. Both have impressions of six double cords and of turn-ins of brown tanned leather from an earlier binding and perhaps of ‘V’-shaped channels leaving traces of white material from a yet earlier binding. The former pastedowns have patterns of holes, doubtless caused by the fittings of a pair of clasps at the fore-edge. The edges of textblock are gilt and gauffered.


Origin: c. 1370–80 ; English

Provenance and Acquisition

Perhaps begun for Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and Essex, d. 1373: ‘Hunfridus’ appears six times as the supplicant in the Commemorations of Saints at the end of the Hours of the Virgin, fols. 225r, 225v, 226v, 227r, 228r, 229r. Finished for his daughter Mary, d. 1394, who married Henry of Bolingbroke, earl of Derby, son of John of Gaunt, in 1380–81: portrait of a lady wearing the arms of England and Bohun, fol. 181v. The arms of England and Bohun on pennants (fol. 1r); heraldic shields with the arms of England, Bohun, earls of Lancaster, Butler and Courtney (fol. 169r).

Pen-trials, 15th century, include ‘[D]eus in’ (fol. 273r) and ‘ffait homo . . . ss’ (fol. 272v).

George Tickell (?): ‘Agric Gargalisomenus 1543’ (cf. Gr. γαργαλιζω – ‘tickle’), fol. iii recto; the titles ‘pape’ and Thomas Becket’s name are not defaced.

Tuathal son of Brian son of Donchadh: ‘Ag so lepar Tvatvil mic Briain mic Donchadh’, 16th century (?), twice, fol. ii verso. Omitted from Ó Cuív (2001–03).

John Tanner, bishop of Derry, 1612–1616: ‘Ex dono Johannis Tannerj episcopi Derriensis’, fol. iii recto.

Tobias Willis: ‘Cum non possimus, vt volumus vt quimus, volumus. Tobias Willis Lateport’, fol. iii recto; ‘Lateportensis’ after Broadgates Hall, later Pembroke College, Oxford, see Foster (1891–92), p. 1650 (James and Millar, 1936, p. 23).

Sir Josias Bodley (c.1550–1617), brother of Thomas Bodley, see ODNB: ‘Integra mens augustissima possessio . Jos: Bodlæus’, fol. iii recto.

Bodleian Library: acquired early in 1613 from Josias Bodley. 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). Earlier shelfmarks: ‘Theol | 8o B 106’ (fol. iii recto); ‘G. C. 7’, ‘Bodl. 12’ (fol. i recto); ‘NE. A. 1. 15’, ‘(1854)’ (fol. iv recto) (see Summary catalogue, vol. 1, p. xii). Location ‘Selden cupboard 62’ (recorded in a modern pencil on the upper pastedown).

Record Sources

Elizabeth Solopova, Latin Liturgical Psalters in the Bodleian Library: A Select Catalogue (Oxford, 2013), pp. 202–14. Previously described in the Summary Catalogue.


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Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (48 images from 35mm slides)


Last Substantive Revision

2020-03-19: New description from Solopova catalogue.