Bibliothèque Municipale de Valenciennes, MS 320
(Liber de natura rerum)


Produced: France (Abbaye de Saint-Amand), 13th century
Location: Bibliothèque Municipale de Valenciennes, Valenciennes, France
Type: Encyclopedia
Language: Latin
Folios: 198
Author: Thomas de Cantimpré
Illustrated: Yes
Media: Parchment
Dimensions: Height: 23 cm Width: 15.6 cm
Folio 52r


This richly illustrated manuscript includes the twenty books of the encyclopedia written about 1240 by the Dominican Thomas de Cantimpré. It is a compilation of all knowledge of the time on natural science, and draws on sources as varied as Isidore of Seville, Aristotle, Pliny the Elder, and the Physiologus. There is an illustrated section on the monstrous human races..

The artist does not appear to have imitated a model, but rather followed the indications which were written in the margin, in French, by the head of workshop. There are hundreds of small (sometimes tiny) full color images, most with gold leaf borders and many with gold backgrounds. Many of the beasts and birds illustrated do not appear in bestiaries. In general the same basic forms are used for groups of animals, with only minor variations. Often if the artist did not know what the beast should look like he drew a dog-like animal.

The Liber de natura rerum begins: Naturas rerum in diversis actorum scriptis late per orbem sparsas inveniens....


  • Human body: f3r-5v
  • Ailments of the human body: 5v-36v
  • Soul: 37v-43v
  • Monstrous human races: 43v-46v
  • Animals: 46v-83r
  • Birds: 83r-110v
  • Marine animals: 110v-121r
  • Fish: 121r-132v
  • Serpents: 132v-140r
  • Insects: 140r-148v
  • Trees: 149r-167v
  • Stones: 167v-176r
  • Planets: 179v-184v
  • Air and wind: 184v-187v
  • Four elements: 187v-192r
  • Astronomy: 192r-197v

Additional Descriptions

Additional description

Editions and Facsimiles

Digital facsimiles

Bibliothèque Municipale de Valenciennes
Bibliothèque virtuelle des manuscrits médiévaux (BVMM) (mostly extrated images)