Bodleian Library, MS. Bodley 764


Produced: England, c 1225-50
Current Location: Bodleian Library, Oxford, England, UK
Manuscript Type: Bestiary
Bestiary Family: Second
Aviary Group: Aberdeen
Language: Latin
Folios: 140
Illustrated: Yes
Media: Vellum
Script: Littera textualis formata
Dimensions: Height: 29.8 cm Width: 19.5 cm
Sample page - Bodleian Library MS. Bodley 764
Folio 11v


This is a luxury bestiary with high quality images and a lavish use of gold leaf for backgrounds.

Similar to the British Library bestiary Harley MS 4751 but with richer colors. Full color illustrations appear on 123 pages (139 images), many with gold backgrounds. A peculiarity in this manuscript is an illustration found in only one other bestiary: barnacle geese hanging from trees, as described by Gerald of Wales.

Also includes excerpts from the Aviarium of Hugh of Fouilloy (chapters 18-22 with variants, 49-52, 56, 58).

Clark aviary group: Aberdeen.

There is also a herbal starting on folio 112r. The herbal is not illustrated.

M. R. James considered the manuscript to have been produced in the late 12th century, though Hassall says it could be as late as 1230-40; Clark agrees with the later date.

The author of this manuscript drew heavily from both Isidore of Seville (Etymologies) and Gerald of Wales (Topography of Ireland), sometimes using almost word-for-word quotes from both.

[From the Bodleian Library catalog description]

The so-called 'second-family' text, as per A Medieval Book of Beasts: The Second-family Bestiary by Willene B. Clark (2006), where this manuscript is siglum B; but this MS., like the related manuscript London, British Library Harley MS. 4751, has the chapters in a different order (Clark, p. 241). The present manuscript also contains numerous textual interpolations (most but not all also found in Harl. 4751).

Additional Descriptions

Additional description 1
Additional description 2 (page 297)

Editions and Facsimiles

Printed editions

Barber, 1992 (translation)

Printed facsimiles

de Hamel, Book of Beasts, 2008

Digital facsimiles

Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library (partial, mostly extract images)