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MS 62: Psalter (Flemish), early 13th century

Identifier: MS 62


This manuscript contains a Flemish psalter in Latin, written in the 13th century in Flanders. The Kalendar at the beginning is missing January and December, and is in general much mutilated. There are many illuminations, especially in the first sections, including 3 folios with illuminations after the Kalendar. An Invitatory, Venite exultemus, was later inserted by another hand on f. 9r. The Service of the Dead ends abruptly on f. 157v before some folios that were cut or ripped off.
Kalendar: starts on f. 1r and ends on f. 5v.
Illuminations: on ff. 6v-8v.
Invitatory: on f. 9r.
Psalter: starts on f. 9v with the following words: Beatus vir. And ends on f. 149r with the following words: et superexaltatus in secula.
Canticles and Quicumque vult: start on f. 149r with the following words: Te deum laudamus. And end on f. 153r with the following words: Salvus esse non poterit.
Litany: starts on f. 153r and ends on f. 155v.
Service of the Dead: starts on f. 155v with the following words: Placebo domino in regione vivorum. And ends imperfectly on f. 157v with the following words: per ignem.
Writing A well-written book. Verse initials are plain red and blue capitals; psalm initials, three-line letters of burnished gold, outlined strongly in black, on backgrounds of blue and lake.
Illumination The ornamentation consists of initials, Kalendar illustrations, the subjects and treatment of which are characteristically Flemish of the period, and a series of pictures. Some psalm initials are prolonged in the margins, showing the beginnings of border work. Three of the larger initials to the divisions of the Psalter have been cut out. Those that remain, with the exception of the 'B' of Beatus vir, which occupies a full page, occupy twelve lines of text, and are all of the same type. The letters are either blue or pale lake, outlined in black, on square grounds of lake or blue outlined in black and gold. Within the letter, against a background of burnished gold, a youthful figure in a blue gown with a red halo is seated, left hand raised in blessing, right hand holding a book (either the Psalmist or Christ). In the 'B' of Beatus vir there are two figures. Above, David, crowned, legs crossed, plays harp; below, a bearded figure in blue cloak holds something in the left hand and points with the right. This figure is much mutilated but may be meant to represent Saint John the Baptist.

Illustrations of the Kalendar:

  1. January, February, and December are missing.
  2. March. Pruning trees or vines. Here, as in each of the illustrations, the figure is represented in profile on a pink ground framed in gold. The features and drapery are picked out in heavy black lines, and there are touches of green here and there.
  3. April. Man holding up a flower in each hand.
  4. May. Man with hawk on wrist.
  5. June. Man carrying a load of wood.
  6. July. Hay harvest with scythe.
  7. August. Grain harvest with sickle.
  8. September. Sowing.
  9. October. Grape picking.
  10. November. Swineherd feeding swine.


  1. There are three of these left, evidently part of a series following the Kalendar. They are full-page pictures, each enclosed in a rectangular frame, composed of bands of blue and lake outlined heavily in black, as are the faces and draperies, and ornamented with gold balls at the corners.
  2. 1. Fol. 6v. Nativity. Burnished gold ground.
  3. 2. Fol. 7v. Adoration of the Magi.
  4. 3. Fol. 8v. Christ in glory, seated upon a rainbow, within a blue mandorla, right hand raised blessing, orb in left hand, four evangelistic emblems in corners.


  • early 13th century

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to all. The manuscripts can be consulted in the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Main Library.


1 bound MS volume

Custodial History

Provenance. Both external and internal evidence point to Flanders as the home of this manuscript.
Kalendar. January and December are missing, which may explain the non-occurrence of Saint Eloy, who occurs twice in the Litany; 5 Feb., Amandus; 8 Feb., Ansbertus [Abbot of Fontenelle]; 9 April, Waldetrude [Abbess of Mons, Hainault]; 10 July, Amelberga [Low Countries]; 5 Sept., Bertinus [Abbot of Saint Omer]; 17 Sept., Lambert [Bp. LiƩge]; 26 Oct., Amandus; 31 Oct., Quintin; 6 Nov., Winnoc [Abbot of Wormhout]. Insertion: 10 Sept., Nicholas of Tollentino [Augustinian hermit canonised 1445].
Litany. Martyrs: Livinus [Apostle of Flanders]. Confessors: Eloy (twice), Ansbert, Amandus, Audomar. Virgins: Amelberga, Benedicta [Sens].
The Flemish origin of the book is clear. Its subsequent history is unknown. It has Laing's signature and a note to the effect that he bought it as an example of the beginnings of border illumination. There is also on the fly-leaf the signature M. J. Johnson in pencil.

Previous reference

Laing 11.

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum.

Binding: Thick oak boards, covered stamped leather, 2 clasps lost.

Collation: a4, b5, c8-t8, v6, x6=157.


21.59 cm x 15.24 cm


Secundo folio: text: Domine quid
Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 157, 21 lines to a page.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
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