British Library, Additional MS 24686
(Alphonso Psalter)


Produced: England (London), 1284
Location: British Library, London, England, UK
Type: Psalter
Language: Latin
Folios: 136
Illustrated: Yes
Media: Vellum
Script: Textualis Quadrata
Dimensions: Height: 24.3 cm Width: 16.7 cm
Folio 12r


This is a Psalter, not a bestiary, but some of the illustrations are of animals. The animals appear in the margins, and are finely drawn in color with some use of gold leaf. The birds are particularly well drawn; it is usually possible to identify the species. There are few illustrations after folio 18.

Formerly known as the Tenison Psalter.

[Adapted from the British Library description]

Miniatures (6). Major initials historiated (1), decorated and inhabited, with borders (full and partial) and inhabited and zoomorphic. Minor initials decorated and inhabited. Litterae notabiliores with anthropromorphic decoration. Line fillers. Bas-de-page. Armorial decoration. Manufacturing aids (catchwords). Probably commissioned (1284) to celebrate the proposed marriage of Prince Alphonso, son of King Edward I, and Margaret of Holland, aborted by Alphonso's death (August 1284). Includes early examples (1316) of re-used, pasted-in miniatures from a contemporary north French Bible (ff.3v-4v).

[From Backhouse, 1998, page 99]

Usually regarded as the first major work of the 'East Anglian' period of English gothic illumination, this manuscript was begun to mark the projected marriage of Alphonso ... to Margaret, daughter of Count Florens V of Holland. Alphonso died in 1284 before the marriage could take place and the book remained unfinished for some years. It was completed at the beginning of the 14th century, possibly for his sister Elizabeth... The original decoration is of outstanding delicacy and realism, deriving stylistically from such 'court school' masterpieces as the Oscott Psalter and the Westminster retable.

Additional Descriptions

Additional description

Editions and Facsimiles

Digital facsimiles

British Library