Psalter of Robert de Lisle


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Illuminated Facsimiles

Psalter of Robert de Lisle

ALTERNATIVE TITLES – Speculum Theologiae – Salterio di Robert de Lisle – Psautier de Robert de Lisle – Psalter des Robert de Lisle.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION – Codex on parchment, dimensions 338 x 228 mm, 19 folios.
BINDING – The present binding was executed by the British Museum in 1963. Brown leather cover, 5 raised bands and gilt lettering on the spine, gilt edges.
ORIGIN – Westminster (United Kingdom).
DATING – 14th century (c. 1308-1340).
PATRONAGE – Uncertain, possibly Robert de Lisle (b. 1288, d. 1344).
OWNERS – The manuscript is named after its first ascertained owner, Robert de Lisle (b. 1288, d. 1344), an English baron in the service of Edward II (b. 1284, d. 1327) and later Edward III (b. 1312, d. 1377). Robert de Lisle was summoned to parliament for the first time in 1311, when his father Warin de Lisle died. He also took part in several military expeditions. In 1339, on the death of his wife Margaret de Beauchamp, daughter of Sir Walter de Beauchamp, he abandoned all his possessions and retired to a convent. On this occasion he gave the Psalter to his daughters Audere and Alborou. See the inscription in his own hand at f. 122v: «JEO ROBE[R]T DE LYLE DONAY CEST LYVERE SUS LE IOUR SAYNCTE KATERINE EN LAN N[OST]RE SEIGNOUR .MYL. CCC .XXXIX. A MA FILLE AUDERE, OUE LA DIEUX BENEYSSOU[N] & LA MOYE. ET APRES SOEN DESES A ALBOROU SA SOER, & ISSY DE SOER, EN SOER, TAUNK COME ASCUNE DE ELES VYVONT. ET APRES REMEYNE A TOUS IOURS A LES DAMES DE CHIKESAUND». In this way, Robert de Lisle stipulated that upon the death of his daughters, the manuscript would remain with «les dames de Chikesaund», an order of nuns in whose convent Audere and Alborou evidently already resided in 1339. In the 16th century, the manuscript belonged to William Howard (b. 1563, d. 1640), an English nobleman and antiquarian, who affixed his name to it in 1590 (f. 117r). It was probably on this occasion that Robert de Lisle’s Psalter was united with another manuscript, MS Arundel 83 I, known as the Howard Psalter. It later became part of the collection of Thomas Howard (b. 1585, d. 1646), 2nd Earl of Arundel, and later of Henry Howard (b. 1628, d. 1684). The latter donated it to the Royal Society in 1667 (see f. 2r of MS Arundel 83 I). Finally, in 1831, the Royal Society sold it to the British Museum along with other manuscripts from Arundel’s collection.
PRESENT REPOSITORY – In 1973, the manuscript holdings of the British Museum were transferred to the British Library, where Robert de Lisle’s Psalter is currently located.
GENRE – Christianity, Private devotional books.
CONTENT – In the 16th century, the Psalter of Robert de Lisle (MS Arundel 83 II) was united with another manuscript, the Howard Psalter (MS Arundel 83 I). This union was made at the behest of William Howard, who was the owner of both manuscripts, but the two psalters constitute two separate works. MS Arundel 83 II is a fragment of an originally larger work. It includes a Calendar according to the Sarum rite (a variant of the Roman rite in use in England before the Reformation), and a cycle of miniatures and diagrams, introductory to a psalter that has not survived. Part of this cycle is the Speculum theologie, a collection of theological diagrams compiled by the Franciscan preacher John of Metz (Johannes Metensis). On f. 127r there is also a reduction from a 13th century French poetic composition – Le dit des trois morts et trois vifs -, and some verses in Middle English above the miniature of The three living and the three dead.
LANGUAGE – Latin, Anglo-Norman French, Middle English.
SCRIPT – Littera textualis.
DECORATION – 12 diagrams with a moral or telogical theme, 10 full-page miniatures, 1 half-page miniature, large initials with foliate decorations, small initials in colours and gold.
ILLUMINATORS – Most of the miniatures have been attributed to the Madonna Master (so called because he is the author – among others – of the miniature on f. 131v depicting the Virgin Mary). On the other hand, five miniatures are attributed to the Majesty Master (named after the miniature on f. 130r). These miniatures were added shortly before 1339, when Robert de Lisle gave the manuscript to his daughters Audere and Alborou.
STYLE – Gothic.
EXTERNAL LINKS – British Library (digitised manuscript) – British Library (detailed record MSS Arundel 83 I and II).

Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles

des, England


Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document – The facsimile reproduces as close as possible the physical characteristics of the original document, with the aim to substitute it in the scientific research and in the libraries of the bibliophile collectors. Trimming and composition of the leaves reproduce the profile and structure of the original document. The binding might not correspond to that of the original document as it appears at the present moment.
PublisherScripta Maneant (Reggio Emilia, 2008), in co-edition with Müller und Schindler (Stuttgart/Simbach am Inn, 2008) and Eikon Editores (Madrid, 2008).
Limited edition – This work is limited to a worldwide print run of 800 copies in Arabic numeration. A further 40 copies with Roman numeration were produced for documentary and archival purposes. Of the 800 copies in Arabic numeration, 450 copies were made by Scripta Maneant in 22-carat hand-embossed gold.
Certificate of authenticity – Certificate of authenticity printed on the colophon, with authentication by the British Library Board.
Support material and printing – Printed on like-parchment paper, ctp (computer-to-plate) and stochastic screen.
Binding – Top grain leather cover on wooden boards, blind tooling, three raised bands on the spine, four brass bosses on the front plate, gilt edges. The binding imitates that of the Add. Ms. 18972 of the British Library (Historia Scholastica, c. 1451).
Commentary – Commentary in Italian, size 33 x 24 cm, 123 pages, colour and b/w plates. Essays: Freeman Sandler, Lucy.
Slipcase – Plexiglas case.
ISBN – 978-88-95847-04-7.

Copyright photos: Illuminated Facsimiles

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