Manuscript: MS 53
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Corpus Christi College (Cambridge) Library, MS 53
(The Peterborough Bestiary)

Produced: England, 1304-21

Language: Latin


Media: Parchment

Folios: 212  Height: 34.8 cm   Width: 23.6 cm

Manuscript type: Bestiary

Location: Corpus Christi College (Cambridge) Library (University of Cambridge), Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

Family: Second


Source: Cornell University - Peterborough Bestiary | Copyright 2002 Copyright 2002 Cornell University | Folio


"The Peterborough Bestiary is among the most sumptuously decorated extant bestiaries. A total of 104 miniatures adorn all pages of the manuscript: they are either set on glowing golden grounds within coloured Gothic ornamental frames or on colourfully patterned grounds framed in gold. 108 colourfully decorated initials extending over several lines precede the individual chapters on each animal. Their decoration alternatively consists of either biomorphic interlace or of small male or female portraits. These are a typical feature of English book production. Coloured scrollwork runs in the inter-columnar space, housing small birds and drolleries. The page format of 348 236 mm makes the Peterborough Bestiary one of the largest manuscripts of its kind." Faksimile Verlag Luzern

(Adapted from A Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Library of Corpus Christi College, M.R. James, 1912):

Vellum, 13 7/10 X 9 1/3, ff. 210 + 2, two volumes of cent. xiv, exquisitely written and ornamented.

From Peterborough.

On the flyleaf in a large hand slightly later than that of the book: Psalterium fratris Hugonis de Stiuecle ; prioris. The last word may be a later addition.


1. Kalendar in red and black (folio 1). Twelve leaves with pictures. Psalter in double columns of 17 lines. In a very large, tall, upright hand. Cantica and Litany (folio 153). Suffrage for the Pope erased. Commendacio animarum (folio 171).

2. In a hand of cent. xiv early : double columns of 32 lines. Chronicle of England in French to Edward I's death (folio 180 b). Deuant la natiuite nostre seignur, mil et cc. anz uint brutus le fiz siluius en engletere. The first hand ends f. 184a (on Edward I). Cil regna .xxxiiij. anz et x. meis si morust e git a weymoster. A hand of about 1400 continues. Apres cesti Roi eduuard vint sire eduuard soun fiiz. Ending 184b with the coronation of Henry IV. lan de grace mil. ccc. nouaunttime et neofyme.

3. In the first hand of 2. Chronicle of Peterborough Abbey (folio 185). The first hand goes down to abbot Will. de Wodeford. The second hand of no. 2 continues 186 b.

4. A Bestiary. In an exquisite hand, double columns of 42 lines. Cent. xiv early. (folio 189). Bestiarum uocabulum proprie conuenit leonibus pardis CXI 217. Phisici dicunt leones tres principales naturas habere. The last section is on Rane.

Rane a garulitate eo quod circa genitales strepunt paludes. ending : pelidorum. popillorum. solearum. lacertorum. ut luligo et huic similia.

5. The poem. Cur mundus militat sub uana gloria (folio 210).

Additional description

Editions and Facsimiles

Printed editions: The Peterborough Bestiary (Luzern, 2001) de Hamel & Sandler, 2001

Printed facsimiles: The Peterborough Bestiary (Luzern, 2001) de Hamel & Sandler, 2001


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