Used and new from


approx US$ 10,296

Our price

More Buying Choices

Request Info

The Peterborough Psalter, now in Brussels at the Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (or Koninklijke Bibliotheek) under the shelf mark ms. 9961-62 (was 1533), is a lavish English manuscript written and illuminated, circa 1300-1318, either in London or Norwich.

The manuscript comprises 141 sheets of fine parchment, measuring 30 x 19.5 cm (approx. 11.8 x 7.7”). The text is written in littera gothica textualis and generally organized in two columns. Each page has one column entirely written with blue ink, while the other is made of gold leaf. Some pages are entirely written either in gold or blue.

The Peterborough Psalter in Brussels is a richly illuminated manuscript: more than a hundred scenes are depicted in 26 fully illuminated pages, in addition to other miniatures, decorations and many historiated initials of striking beauty.

The manuscript is considered the most beautiful of a group known as the Fenland manuscripts.

The Peterborough Psalter and the group of Fenland manuscripts

Lucy Freeman Sandler first described and clearly isolated the group of so-called Fenland manuscript in her book “The Peterborough Psalter in Brussels & other Fenland manuscripts” (London: Harvey Miller - New York Graphic Society, 1974).

The group comprises five psalters, two apocalypses and fragments from a sixth psalter:

  • the Peterborough Psalter (Brussels, Royal Library, ms. 9961-62)
  • the Ramsey Psalter (New York, Morgan Library & Museum, M.302)
  • the Ramsey Psalter (Lavanttal, Benediktinerstift St. Paul, Cod. 58/1)
  • the Gough Psalter (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Gough liturg. 8)
  • the Barlow Psalter (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Barlow 22)
  • the fragments (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Douce b. 4 f. 4a, d; d.19 f. 3, a, b, c)
  • the Canonici Apocalypse (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Canon. Bibl. Lat. 62)
  • the Crowland Apocalypse (Cambridge, Magdalene College, Ms. F.4.5)

The Fenland manuscripts are grouped together on the basis of stylistic and iconographic features, and are separated from the East Anglian manuscripts because of a number of reasons: among the others, while the East Anglian group was mostly commissioned and owned by laymen, the Peterborough Psalter in Brussels and the other Fenland manuscripts were associated with Benedictine establishments.

A, B, C: three masters for the Peterborough Psalter

The work of three separated artists is clearly identifiable in the Petersborough Psalter. Sandler calls them Master A (working with an assistant), Master B, and Master C:

  • Master A is considered responsible for the general layout of the manuscript and the first series of scenes; 
  • Master B painted the largest part of the manuscript; 
  • Master C is responsible for the last two sections before the Canticles.

The same masters’ style is recognizable in other manuscripts of the Fenland group: for example, Master B probably carried out the Ramsey Psalter while Master C painted the Gough Psalter, together with another artist stylistically similar to the Master B.

The lavish iconography of the Peterborough Psalter

The Psalter now in Brussels features an impressive amount of illuminated parts:

  • 12 calendar pages (1 recto - 6 verso)
  • 26 full-page miniatures, each containing 4 scenes
  • 5 smaller scenes surrounded by text
  • 116 scenes from the Old and New Testaments
  • 35 historiated initials
  • many decorations and some drolleries along the text

Such richness gives the status of most beautiful manuscript among the Fenland group to the Peterborough Psalter. The layout and order of the scenes, though, is somehow unordered: a hypothesis for this is that the iconography is based on a model book whose pages became disordered.

From Abbot Geoffrey of Crowland to the Bibliothèque royale de Belgique

Geoffrey of Crowland abbot of Peterborough (1299-1321) is almost certainly the patron who commisioned the Peterborough Psalter. After him, the manuscript was in the possession of many individuals and libraries, eventually becoming part of the collection of the Bibliothèque royale de Belgique.

Among other people, the manuscript was owned by Pope John XXII (1244-1334); Clemence of Hungary, queen of France (1293-1328); Philip VI of Valois (1293-1350); the Library of the Louvre; Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy (1396-1467); the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris; the Burgundian Library in Brussels, and finally the Bibliothèque royale de Belgique.

Binding description

Red leather with gold and dry debossing.



We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "The Peterborough Psalter in Brussels": Der Peterborough-Psalter facsimile edition, published by Quaternio Verlag Luzern, 2015

Request Info / Price
Manuscript book description compiled by Facsimile Finder Staff.
Please Read
International social justice movements and the debates that ensued prompted us to start considering the contents of our website from a critical point of view. This has led us to acknowledge that most of the texts in our database are Western-centered. We have asked the authors of our content to be aware of the underlying racial and cultural bias in many scholarly sources, and to try to keep in mind multiple points of view while describing the manuscripts. We also recognize that this is yet a small, first step towards fighting inequality.

If you notice any trace of racist or unjust narratives in our communications, please help us be part of the change by letting us know.

Der Peterborough-Psalter

Lucerne: Quaternio Verlag Luzern, 2015

  • Commentary (English, German, French) by Freeman Sandler, Lucy; Bousmanne, Bernard
  • Limited Edition: 680 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, The Peterborough Psalter in Brussels: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

The facsimile edition is prited on a paper which presents a light cockling to better mimic real parchment.


Red leather with gold and dry debossing.

Used and new from

€ 8,850

approx US$ 10,296

Our Price

More Buying Choices

Request Info