British Library, Royal MS 12 C XIX


Produced: England (Durham?), c. 1200-1210
Location: British Library, London, England, UK
Type: Miscellany
Family: First; Transitional
Language: Latin
Folios: 112
Illustrated: Yes
Media: Parchment
Script: Gothic
Dimensions: Height: 22 cm Width: 26 cm
Folio 6r


Contains a a fully illustrated bestiary (f.6r-94v) with 80 colored images, some with gold backgrounds; and excerpts from the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville (f. 3r-4r and 94v-100r).

The bestiary is in several distinct sections:

  • Beasts (mostly mammals) - folio 6r-37v. Illustrated.
  • Birds - folio 37r-54v (with the exception of the ostrich, which is on folio 27r). Illustrated.
  • Fish - folio 55r-61r (folios missing at the beginning). Not illustrated.
  • Serpents - folio 62r-72r. Illustrated.
  • Worms (mostly insects) - folio 72r-73v. Not illustrated.
  • Nature in general, plus humans - folio 73v-84v. Not illustrated.
  • The ages of humans - folio 84v-87v. Not illustrated.
  • Trees and other plants - folio 87v-94r. Not illustrated.

Manuscript contents:

  1. Honorius Augustinensis, Imago mundi (excerpts) (ff. 1r-1v)
  2. Bible, Genesis 2, 1-17 (ff. 2r-2v)
  3. Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae (extracts) (ff. 3r-4r)
  4. 'Sermo qualiter peccator deo placere valeat' (ff. 4-5v)
  5. Bestiary (ff. 6r-94v)
  6. Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae (excerpts) (ff. 94v-100r)
  7. Sermon on allegory (ff. 100r-102v)
  8. Medical recipes in French (ff. l02v-108r)
  9. Medical recipes in Latin (ff. 108v-112r).

The image at the bottom of folio 28v is an "orphan": The text above it relates to the tiger on folio 28r, and the text after it (top of folio 29r) seems to be about the bear. There is no image or large initial on folio 29r, and the text appears to begin mid-sentence. The image of the stork on folio 41r is also an "orphan"; there is no stork description on the page with the image and no space available for there to be one on either the previous (folio 40v) or next page (folio 41v). The British catalog reports the following missing folios (at least one folio at each location): after folio 2, 8, 13, 14, 17, 20, 28, 33, 41, 42, 44, 54, 60, 62, 68. Given that in the surviving folios there is an image and description on average every two pages, there are at least 7 missing animals, and probably several more.

[Adapted from the British Library description]

The manuscript (items 1-7) is a direct copy of the Worksop Bestiary, New York, Morgan Library, MS M.81 ... Bestiary: rubric: 'Incipit liber de naturis bestiarum et earum significationibus'; incipit: 'Bestiarum uocabulum proprie conuenit'. The first four articles in this text are Leo, Autalops, Monocentaurus, Herina. Explicit: 'buxum uero de ligno composito'. At ff. 22v, 24r are interspersed a few verses, incipit: 'Ossibus extruitur elephas dorsoque camelus' and 'Grandior in tauro virtus sed paruula vulpes'. Decoration: 80 miniatures in colors and gold, some with punch work, depicting animals ... Space was left for a picture on f. 95v.... Illustrations are classed as transitional between First and Second Families of Bestiaries by James.

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