Merton College Library (Oxford), MS. 249
(Bestiaire of Philippe de Thaon)


Produced: England, 13th century
Location: Merton College Library (Oxford), Oxford, England, UK
Type: Miscellany
Family: First
Language: Various
Folios: 192
Author: Philippe de Thaon
Illustrated: Yes
Media: Parchment
Script: Gothic
Dimensions: Height: 27.5 cm Width: 19.5 cm
Folio 1v


The Bestiaire of Philippe de Thaon is on folio 1r-19v. It is illustrated with line drawings.

The other manuscripts containing Philippe's bestiary are British Library, Cotton Nero A V and Copenhagen, Kongelige Bibliotek 3466.

[From the Oxford University Website]

13th-century miscellany, probably all of English origin, including (folio. 1r-10v) Philippe de Thaon, Bestiary in Anglo-Norman verse, illustrated with drawings, (folio. 76r-78v) a calendar with added notes of events and obits, and Latin works by Gregory I, Maurice of Sully, Innocent III, etc. Given to Merton College by William Rede, d. 1385.

[From McCulloch, page 49 ff]

After the section on the Owl the text includes sixteen lines on the Pearl and ends apparently incomplete. Forty-eight drawings exist, for the most part poorly executed. The manuscript is written in double columns in the form of prose. There seems to have been no cooperation between the copiest and the illustrator since the former often did not leave sufficient space for the drawings, which were consequently squeezed into the margins. ... it appears at times that neither the copiest nor the illustrator understood Latin. ... the Latin directions occasionally are buried in the French text with no room at all left for the required illustration...

The Bestiary section of the manuscript (folia 1 to 10) has been badly trimmed, often cutting off parts of the drawings that are near the edges. The illustrations are simple pen drawings, not colored, and are the work of an unskilled artist who usually did not know the appearance of the animal he was drawing.

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Merton College Library