British Library, Royal MS 10 E IV
(Smithfield Decretals)


Produced: France, illuminated in England, 1330-1340
Location: British Library, London, England, UK
Type: Miscellany
Language: Latin
Folios: 314
Illustrated: Yes
Media: Parchment
Script: Gothic
Dimensions: Height: 45 cm Width: 28.5 cm
Folio 49v


The Decretals (law books) of Gregory IX, edited by Raymund of Penyafort (or PeƱafort); with the glossa ordinaria of Bernard of Parma in the margin.

The manuscript's decoration was executed in two phases. Phase 1 (Toulouse) includes 5 historiated initials in colors and gold... Phase 2 includes historiated borders in colors and gold in the Calendarium (ff. 1v-3v); more than 600 bas-de-page narrative scenes in colors added in London, probably on the request of John Batayle, a canon of St Bartholomew's at Smithfield... Human figures, flowers, monsters, animals, and hybrids in upper margins and between columns, decorative frames around the text, partial borders around the gloss.

The marginal scenes include animal fables, e. g. the cycle of Reynard the Fox (ff. 48v-49v, 53v-56r; Lion as judge (f. 55v); a cycle about rabbits (ff. 60r-64r, 70r); Lion and bear (f. 65r); monkey and bear (f. 66v), monkeys and other animals (ff. 149r-158v) etc.; Hunting scenes (ff. 40r, 41r, 44r, 46r, 48r, 53r, 59r-59v, 159v, 160, 162v, etc.).

The margins hold several hunting and military scenes where, unusually, the illustrations show mostly women as the hunters and soldiers. There are also hunting sequences where it is humans or dogs being hunted by hares. Several Reynard the Fox scenes are included with one extended sequence of Reynard being tried and hung for his crimes.

[Adapted from British Library description]

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