Morgan Library, MS M.81
(The Worksop Bestiary)


Produced: England, c 1185
Current Location: Morgan Library, New York, New York, USA
Manuscript Type: Bestiary
Bestiary Family: First : Transitional
Language: Latin
Folios: 120
Illustrated: Yes
Binding: 19th-century English green morocco
Media: Vellum
Script: Continental protogothic book script
Dimensions: Height: 21.5 cm Width: 15.5 cm
Sample page - Morgan Library MS M. 81
Folio 21r


Bestiary, written and illuminated in England, possibly in Lincoln or York, before 1187. Given in 1187 by Philip, Canon of Lincoln to the Augustinian Priory of Radford, now called Worksop.

The text of the Bestiary is illustrated by 106 rectangular or circular miniatures of varying sizes. There is generally a gold background surrounded by a banded border in red, yellow, green, or blue; the animals depicted, however, commonly extend beyond the limits of the frame. Closely related to this manuscript are a slightly later bestiary in St Petersburg (National Library of Russia, Lat. Q.v.V. 1), and British Library Royal MS 12 C XIX.

M.R. James notes that, in addition to the Bestiary proper, the text contains additional features peculiar to this manuscript and to British Library Royal MS 12 C XIX

Extracts from the De imagine mundi, Genesis,Isidore of Seville's De pecoribus et iumentis and De Avibus are prefixed, as well as an added sermon, irrelevant to the Bestiary. The chapters are classified into Beasts, Birds, Fish, etc. Chapters are included from the Second Family of manuscripts. Three sections occur which are found nowhere else in the Bestiaries: St. Isidore's De aquis and De terra, and a sermon on Joseph ascribed to Augustine of Hippo.

The texts in the manuscript include:

  • De forma mundi and De creatione mundi, two chapters from the De imagine mundi, the "image of the world" [f.2r]
  • De etatibus mundi [f.2v]
  • Genesis II, 1-17, the creation story [f.3r-4r]
  • Extracts from Isidore of Seville, the general part of the De pecoribus et iumentis. [f.4v-5r]
  • De avibus (Isidore, on birds) [f.5r-6r]
  • Sermo qualiter peccator deo placere valeat [f.6v-7v]
  • Incipit liber de naturis bestiarum et earum significationibus (On animals: "Here begins the book of beasts and the significance of each", illustrated) [f.8r-48r]
  • Incipit des naturis volucrum (On birds: Here begins the nature of birds", illustrated) [f.48r-68v]
  • Incipit de naturis piscium ("Here begins the the nature of fish", illustrated) [f69r-76v]
  • De aquis, De diversitate aquarum (Isidore, the diversity of aquatic animals) [f.77r-77v]
  • De naturis serpentium ("On the nature of serpents", illustrated) [f.78r-89r]
  • Of worms. De vermibus [f.89r-90v]
  • De naturis rerum ("On nature") [f.90v-101v]
  • De gradibus etatis [f.101v-104v]
  • Incipit de arboribus et de herbis (A herbal: "Here begins the trees and herbs") [f.105r-112r]
  • De Terra (Isidore, on the earth) [f.112r-117v]
  • De orbe (Isidore, the globe, illustrated with a schematic T-O map) [f.112v]
  • De Asia (Isidore, on Asia) [f.113r]
  • De Europa (Isidore, on Europe) [f.115V]
  • De Affrica (Isidore, on Africa) [f.117r]
  • Sermo de beato Ioseph, ascribed to St. Augustine [f.118r-120v].

Additional Descriptions

Additional description 1
Additional description 2 (Digitized catalog, item 107, page 165-167)

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