Tiberius Psalter

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The Harrowing of Hell in the Tiberius Psalter Meister des Cotton-Psalters 001.jpg
The Harrowing of Hell in the Tiberius Psalter

The Tiberius Psalter (British Library Cotton MS. Tiberius C.vi) is one of at least four surviving Gallican psalters produced at New Minster, Winchester in the years around the Norman conquest of England (the other three being the Stowe Psalter, Vitellius Psalter and Lambeth Psalter). The manuscript can now be seen fully online at the British Library website. [1]

British Library national library of the United Kingdom

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest national library in the world by number of items catalogued. It is estimated to contain 150–200 million+ items from many countries. As a legal deposit library, the British Library receives copies of all books produced in the United Kingdom and Ireland, including a significant proportion of overseas titles distributed in the UK. The Library is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

New Minster, Winchester

The New Minster in Winchester was a royal Benedictine abbey founded in 901 in Winchester in the English county of Hampshire.

Norman conquest of England 11th-century invasion and conquest of England by Normans

The Norman Conquest of England was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army of Norman, Breton, Flemish, and French soldiers led by the Duke of Normandy, later styled William the Conqueror.


It has the earliest known cycle of prefatory miniatures in a psalter (f. 7v–16r), a form which became very popular over the following centuries; [2] the 12th-century St. Albans Psalter has one of the best known and fullest of such cycles. The Tiberius cycle depicts the lives of David and Christ, linking them typologically. The miniatures are in a so-called "third style" of late Anglo-Saxon art, "in which the Winchester and Utrecht styles fused and assumed an even greater monumentality". Most of them use with great expressiveness the English tinted outline drawing style which had developed over the previous century; [3] a few use a fully painted style, for example f. 30v, with a portrait of the enthroned David.

St. Albans Psalter

The St Albans Psalter, also known as the Albani Psalter or the Psalter of Christina of Markyate, is an English illuminated manuscript, one of several psalters known to have been created at or for St Albans Abbey in the 12th century. It is widely considered to be one of the most important examples of English Romanesque book production; it is of almost unprecedented lavishness of decoration, with over forty full-page miniatures, and contains a number of iconographic innovations that would endure throughout the Middle Ages. It also contains the earliest surviving example of French literature, the Chanson de St Alexis or Vie de St Alexis, and it was probably commissioned by an identifiable man and owned by an identifiable woman. Since the early 19th century it has been owned by the church of St. Godehard, but is now stored and administered at the nearby Dombibliothek. A single leaf from the manuscript is at the Schnütgen Museum, Cologne; one further leaf, and one further cutting, are missing from the volume, their whereabouts unknown.

David king of Israel and Judah

David is described in the Hebrew Bible as the second king of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah after Saul and Ish-bosheth.

Typology (theology) approach to establishing relationships between the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible

Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament. Events, persons, or statements in the Old Testament are seen as types pre-figuring or superseded by antitypes, events or aspects of Christ or his revelation described in the New Testament. For example, Jonah may be seen as the type of Christ in that he emerged from the fish's belly and thus appeared to rise from death.

Its estimated date has been rather mobile in recent years, moving from "mid-11th century", [4] or "around 1050", [5] to "3rd quarter of the 11th century" according to the British Library in 2016. [6]

The manuscript is incomplete and was damaged in the Cotton Library fire of 1731, removing the top corners of each of the first few pages. It was rebound in 1894, with the folios mounted individually into a book with a larger page size. [7] The 129 original pages are about 248 x 146 mm. After initial material, there are 24 pages with drawings, 5 illustrating the life of David and 11 that of Christ. [8] There is a large initial and illuminated border with Winchester style acanthus foliage at the beginning of the main sections of the book, such as the start of Psalm 1 (f. 31r).

There is a continuous interlinear gloss in Old English of the psalms, and other vernacular material. [9]

Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers probably in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, as the language of the upper classes by Anglo-Norman, a relative of French. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, as during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English.

Saul first king of the united Kingdom of Israel

Saul, according to the Hebrew Bible, was the first king of the Kingdom of Israel and Judah. His reign, traditionally placed in the late 11th century BCE, marked a transition from a tribal society to statehood.

Temptation of Christ

The temptation of Christ is a biblical narrative detailed in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. According to these texts, after being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights in the Judaean Desert. During this time, Satan appeared to Jesus and tried to tempt him. Jesus having refused each temptation, Satan then departed and Jesus returned to Galilee to begin his ministry.

Doubting Thomas episode from Gospel of John, in which the Apostle Thomas refused to believe that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to the ten other apostles

A doubting Thomas is a skeptic who refuses to believe without direct personal experience—a reference to the Apostle Thomas, who refused to believe that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to the ten other apostles, until he could see and feel the wounds received by Jesus on the cross.

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Book of Cerne

The Book of Cerne is an early ninth-century Insular or Anglo-Saxon Latin personal prayer book with Old English components. It belongs to a group of four such early prayer books, the others being the Royal Prayerbook, the Harleian prayerbook, and the Book of Nunnaminster. It is now commonly believed to have been produced sometime between ca. 820 and 840 CE in the Southumbrian/Mercian region of England. The original book contains a collection of several different texts, including New Testament Gospel excerpts, a selection of prayers and hymns with a version of the Lorica of Laidcenn, an abbreviated or Breviate Psalter, and a text of the Harrowing of Hell liturgical drama, which were combined together to provide a source used for private devotion and contemplation. Based on stylistic and palaeographical features, the Book of Cerne has been included within the Canterbury or Tiberius group of manuscripts that were manufactured in southern England in the 8th and 9th centuries CE associated with the Mercian hegemony in Anglo-Saxon England. This Anglo-Saxon manuscript is considered to be the most sophisticated and elaborate of this group. The Book of Cerne exhibits various Irish/Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Continental, and Mediterranean influences in its texts, ornamentation, and embellishment.

Hereford Gospels

The Hereford Gospels is an 8th-century illuminated manuscript gospel book in insular script (minuscule), with large illuminated initials in the Insular style. This is a very late Anglo-Saxon gospel book, which shares a distinctive style with the Caligula Troper. An added text suggests this was in the diocese of Hereford in the 11th century.

Tiberius Bede 8th-century illuminated manuscript of Bedes Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum

British Library, MS Cotton Tiberius C. II, or the Tiberius Bede, is an 8th-century illuminated manuscript of Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum. It is one of only four surviving 8th-century manuscripts of Bede, another of which happens to be MS Cotton Tiberius A. XIV, produced at Monkwearmouth–Jarrow Abbey. As such it is one of the closest texts to Bede's autograph. The manuscript has 155 vellum folios. This manuscript may have been the Latin text on which the Alfredian Old English translation of Bede's Ecclesiastical History was based. The manuscript is decorated with zoomorphic initials in a partly Insular and partly Continental style.

Vespasian Psalter 8th-century illuminated manuscript and psalter

The Vespasian Psalter is an Anglo-Saxon illuminated psalter decorated in a partly Insular style produced in the second or third quarter of the 8th century. It contains an interlinear gloss in Old English which is the oldest extant English translation of any portion of the Bible. It was produced in southern England, perhaps in St. Augustine's Abbey or Christ Church, Canterbury or Minster-in-Thanet, and is the earliest illuminated manuscript produced in "Southumbria" to survive.

Utrecht Psalter ninth-century illuminated psalter

The Utrecht Psalter is a ninth-century illuminated psalter which is a key masterpiece of Carolingian art; it is probably the most valuable manuscript in the Netherlands. It is famous for its 166 lively pen illustrations, with one accompanying each psalm and the other texts in the manuscript. The precise purpose of these illustrations, and the extent of their dependence on earlier models, have been matters of art historical controversy. The psalter spent the period between about 1000 to 1640 in England, where it had a profound influence on Anglo-Saxon art, giving rise to what is known as the "Utrecht style". It was copied at least three times in the Middle Ages. A complete facsimile edition of the psalter was made in 1875, and another in 1984 (Graz).

Stowe Psalter

The Stowe Psalter is a psalter from the "2nd or 3rd quarter of the 11th century", at the end of Anglo-Saxon art. The text includes the Gallican version of the Psalms, followed by the Canticles with an interlinear Old English gloss.

<i>Regularis Concordia</i> (Winchester)

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Coronation Gospels (British Library, Cotton MS Tiberius A.ii)

The Athelstan Gospels, or British Library, Cotton MS Tiberius A. ii is a late 9th or early 10th-century Ottonian illuminated Gospel book which entered England as a gift to King Athelstan, who in turn offered it to Christ Church, Canterbury. It is also referred to as the Coronation Gospels on account of an early modern tradition that it had been used as an oath-book at English coronations.

Ramsey Psalter manuscript

The Psalter of Oswald also called the Ramsey Psalter is an Anglo-Saxon illuminated psalter of the last quarter of the tenth century. Its script and decoration suggest that it was made at Winchester, but certain liturgical features have suggested that it was intended for use at the Benedictine monastery of Ramsey Abbey, or for the personal use of Ramsey's founder St Oswald.

Harley Psalter manuscript

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Winchester Psalter bolinho

The Winchester Psalter is an English 12th-century illuminated manuscript psalter, also sometimes known as the Psalter of Henry of Blois, and formerly known as the St Swithun's Psalter. It was probably made for use in Winchester, most scholars agreeing that the most likely patron was the Henry of Blois, brother of Stephen, King of England, and Bishop of Winchester from 1129 until his death in 1171. Until recent decades it was "a little-studied masterpiece of English Romanesque painting", but it has been the subject of several recent studies.

The title Handbook for a Confessor, refers to a compilation of Old English and Latin penitential texts associated with – and possibly authored or adapted by – Wulfstan (II), Archbishop of York. The handbook was intended for the use of parish priests in hearing confession and determining penances. Its transmission in the manuscripts seems to bear witness to Wulfstan's profound concern with these sacraments and their regulation, an impression which is similarly borne out by his Canons of Edgar, a guide of ecclesiastical law also targeted at priests. The handbook is a derivative work, based largely on earlier vernacular representatives of the penitential genre such as the Scrifboc and the Old English Penitential. Nevertheless, a unique quality seems to lie in the more or less systematic way it seeks to integrate various points of concern, including the proper formulae for confession and instructions on the administration of confession, the prescription of penances and their commutation.

The title Quadripartitus refers to an extensive legal collection compiled during the reign of Henry I, king of England (1100–1135). The work consists of Anglo-Saxon legal materials in Latin translation as well as a number of Latin texts of legal interest that were produced after the Conquest. It ranks as the largest surviving medieval collection of pre-Conquest law and is the second to have been produced during Henry I's reign, after that contained in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 383. First compiled for the use of Henry I's jurists and administrators, the Quadripartitus enjoyed immense interest for a considerable time afterwards and was consulted by legal scholars, including Henry de Bracton in the thirteenth century and John Fortescue in the fifteenth.

<i>Anglo-Saxon Chronicle</i> Set of related medieval English chronicles

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great. Multiple copies were made of that one original and then distributed to monasteries across England, where they were independently updated. In one case, the Chronicle was still being actively updated in 1154.

Derek Howard Turner was an English museum curator and art historian who specialised in liturgical studies and illuminated manuscripts. He worked at the British Museum and the British Library from 1956 until his death, focusing on exhibitions, scholarship, and loans.

Virtual Mappa, or VM for short, is a collaborative digital humanities project that collects, annotates and networks medieval mappamundi using the Digital Mappa resource. The project is open access, hosted and published by the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and in collaboration with the British Library. The project is currently directed by Martin Foys and Heather Wacha, and continues to grow as new contributors join the project and edit new medieval maps.


  1. BL
  2. Backhouse et al., 83
  3. Brown, 132-133
  4. Backhouse et al., 83
  5. Brown, 133; Openshaw, 14, citing Wormald
  6. BL, noting other later additions from "2nd half of the 12th century"; a date in the 3rd quarter is also preferred by: Michael Lapidge, Simon Keynes, Malcolm Godden, Anglo-Saxon England, Volume 20, Cambridge University Press (2007), p. 161
  7. BL
  8. Backhouse et al., 83
  9. Backhouse et al., 83; "he Production and Use of English Manuscripts, 1060 to 1220" database


Further reading