An Illuminated English Psalter of the Early Thirteenth Century

By Meyer Schapiro
r. William S. Glazier of New York acquired at the sale of the Andre
M Hachette
library in Paris in December 1953 a Latin psalter with
high quality which seem to have been completely unknown to
students of mediaeval art.1 These paintings, it will appear, form a unique
series interesting also for their political meaning. The style of the miniatures
and ornament, the handwriting and the litany point unmistakably to England.
What is more difficult to discover is the centre where the book was made.
Unlike most manuscripts of its kind, this psalter contains no calendar or
inscription that permits us to infer the original owner.2
In content and format it resembles English psalters of the first half of the
thirteenth century. The book has 182 leaves, 13 by 81 inches, and is written
in a large early Gothic hand, 20 long lines per page, on a script field 83 by
6 inches. Beside the psalms the text includes the nine canticles, the creed,
the Magnificatand Nunc dimittis,the litany, several collects, and the office for
the dead. After the six prefatory pictures, a magnificent illuminated B
(P1. 22) introduces the psalms. Smaller historiated initials precede Psalms lii,
ci, and cix (P1. 23a, b, c); and six other initials decorated with beasts and
foliage complete the ten-part division of the psalter. The fable of the fox and
the stork is represented in the D of Dixi custodiam(f. 43). On every page of
text still smaller initials, painted mainly gold, blue or red, accent the beginning of each verse (P1. 23d); the empty spaces at the end of short lines are
filled with coloured pen scrolls of beasts and plant forms.
The six full-page paintings (Pls. 19, 20, 21) depict: the Annunciation
the Enthroned Virgin with the Child in her lap (f. 2r), the Crucifixion
(f. 2v), Christ in Majesty (f. 3r), David Playing for Saul (f. 3v), the Coronation
of David (f. 4r). In the nine roundels of the Beatus initial (f. 5v) we see David
again playing before Saul, five musicians, two dancers and David fighting
with the lion. The initial of Psalm lii (Dixit insipiens)shows four monkeys of
whom two play instruments (f. 57r); of Psalm ci (Domine exaudi)-Christ
with two angels above three praying figures (f. Io7r); in Psalm cix (Dixit
Dominus)the D encloses God the Father seated beside Christ with the dove
between them (f. I21v) (P1. 23a, b, c).
In no other psalter with full-page prefatory paintings have I found the
same choice. The first four scenes alone appear as a complete series in the
related Amesbury psalter in Oxford (All Souls College, MS. 6).3 In the
* This article is the substance of a lecture Library,New York, 1959, no. I7, pp.
I4, I5,
given at the Warburg Institute in June 1957. pl. I, 3; and the account of the exhibition by
1 It was first described in the sales catalogue Dr. Plummer in the BurlingtonMagazine,May
CollectionAndrdHachette,Manuscritsdu XIIe au 1959, P. 1942
XVIe sidcle, Paris, Librairie Giraud-Badin,
On folio i, a blank,is an old inscription:
plate (IX) (121)".
1953, p. 20,
3 See AlbertHollaender,"The SarumIlluof the miniature of the Annunciation. It is
now G. 25 of the Glazier Collection-see the minator and his School", in The Wiltshire
from Archaeologicaland Natural History Magazine,
Catalogue of the exhibition: Manuscripts
the William S. Glazier Collection,compiled by No. 179, L, pp. 230-62, pl. VI-IX.
John Plummer, The Pierpont Morgan
Westminster psalter (British Museum, Royal MS. 2. A. XXII)4 a cycle of
five miniatures, we shall see later, offers some points of resemblance and in
its subjects matches three of our scenes. The selection for the historiated
initials is also singular, apart from the Trinity in Psalm cix, which is a common
choice; it agrees, however, with many psalters of the late twelfth and early
thirteenth century in the small number of figured initials.5
We shall understand better, I believe, the choice of the full-page pictures,
if we group the subjects in pairs, as they confront us in the open book:
Annunciation-Virgin Enthroned (P1. I9a, b); Crucifixion-Christ in Majesty
(P1. 2oa, b); David Playing before Saul-David Crowned (P1. 21a, b). In
each of these pairs, an episode concerning a sacred figure is coupled with a
scene of majesty. Mary, Christ and David-members of one family line-are
represented enthroned. The six paintings are images of a sacred dynasty, in
action and in state.
Especially remarkable are the two scenes of David. The reader who is
acquainted with Anglo-Saxon manuscript art will have observed already the
resemblance of the first scene to the Nativity in the Benedictional of St. Ethelwold (P1. 24a), a work two and a half centuries older than our miniature.
Saul assumes the posture of the Virgin; the servant behind him is like the
midwife who adjusts the pillow behind Mary in the Nativity; and David
replaces the figure of Joseph.6 Not only the composition, but something of
the quality of the older drawing has survived in the new work, especially in
the turbulence of the folds.
It is worth noting, too, that in other manuscripts the scene of David playing for Saul illustrates the psalm Quid Gloriaris(Ps. li) and that Saul is often
shown hurling the spear at David.7 In the painting in Mr. Glazier's psalter,
this element of violence is absent, although it is represented in the roundel
with the same subject in the initial of Psalm i (P1. 22). Like Rembrandt,
centuries later, the artist has conceived the touching episode as a purely
internal struggle of the feelings and their purgation by music. He has evoked
the anguish of Saul in the constraint of his posture and perhaps also in the
commotion of the folds of his bedclothes. One can imagine that the painter
found in the aspect of the woman after parturition a model for the depressed
and suffering king delivered of his passions by the psalmist's music.
Whatever his feeling for the pathos of the scene, the artist has been faithful
4 See Eric G. Millar, English Illuminated
from the Xth to the XIIIth century,
Paris and Brussels, 1926, pl. 62, 63.
5 For the choice of illustrations in psalter
initials, see Gtinther Haseloff, Die Psalterillustration im 13. Jahrhundert, Kiel, 1938.
6 Cf.
also the painting of the Dormition of
the Virgin in the same manuscript (f. IO2v)
for a similar conception, with the added
element of the angel overhead (G. F. Warner
and H. A. Wilson, The Benedictionalof Saint
Ethelwold,Bishopof Winchester
963-984, Oxford,
The Roxburghe Club, i9io). There is a
related composition in the Bayeux Tapestry
-the scene of the dying Edward (The Bayeux
Surveyby Sir Frank
Tapestry,A Comprehensive
Stenton and others, London,
1957, Phaidon
Press, fig. 33). Cf. also the Nativity in the
Sarum Missal of Henry of Chichester in the
John Rylands Library, Manchester, MS.
Latin R. 24, f. 149V ( 252-64)-Hollaender,
op.7cit., pl. II.
E.g., the psalter of the Duke of Rutland,
f. 55-Eric G. Millar, The Rutland Psalter,
Roxburghe Club, Oxford, 1937-a
painting that precedes an initial with a
picture of a king slaying a bishop on f. 55v
(Saul commanding Doeg to slay the priests,
I Sam. ix).
f. Iv (p. I80)
Virgin and Child
English Psalter, early thirteenth century; Coll. William S. Glazier, New York, MS
. .....
Crucifixion, f. 2v (pp.
18o, 187, I88)
b-Christ in Majes
English Psalter, early thirteenth century, Coll. William S. Glazier, New York, MS.
in this choice of the moment to the text of I Sam. xvi. 14-I6, which follows
the episode of David's Anointing (I Sam. xvi. 13) ; the violence of Saul against
David is told in later chapters (xviii. i o, i i ; xix. 8). In the plan of illustration
the crowning of David was evidently connected with Saul's possession by an
evil spirit. The rejected ruler is contrasted here with the newly chosen king;
in both scenes angels are set above David's head. Indeed, the divinely ordered
replacement of Saul by David through the prophet Samuel was the most
compelling Biblical precedent for the assumed power of the Church to depose
an evil ruler.8 As the page of Saul's illness recalls mediaeval ideas about the
bad monarch, the following scene is saturated with political allusions.
The crowning of David (P1. 21b) is an image of the crowning of an English
king. In representing this episode, the painter has not followed the text of
the Bible; in the first book of Samuel (xvi. 13), Samuel anoints David, he
does not crown him. The presence of two clerical figures beside the enthroned
ruler is perhaps a "contamination" by the story of Solomon who was anointed
by the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan (I Kings i. 34, 35). But there
too we read nothing of a crowning. Clearly, the image pertains more to
current English practice than to the Bible. The two figures in contemporary
episcopal dress who crown the seated king correspond to the archbishops of
Canterbury and York, who claimed priority at the mediaeval rite. Without
the inscription: HIC CORONAT(ur) DAVID A SA(muele), it would not
be easy to recognize the subject.
Ever since the Carolingian period, when Pope Stephen IV anointed and
crowned Louis the Pious in Reims (816), calling him a "second David", the
representations of anointings in the Old Testament became vehicles of the
mediaeval notions about the sacredness of the king and the dependence of
royalty on the Church. In the ceremony of coronation in England, the anthem
"Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king" was
chanted as a precedent for the Church's r61lein the consecration of kings.
Whereas in Byzantine art in the scene of the anointing David is always shown
standing-a neutral posture that does not distinguish him from the attending
figures-in Western art since the ninth century David often kneels before
Samuel and still later is anointed while he sits on the throne. His posture
expresses a local mediaeval view of the king's submission to the Church or of
the latter's authority in temporal affairs; it also reflects significant details of
the ordoof coronation. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, during the
conflicts between Church and State, the anointing was an important issue;
through this sacramental rite the king was believed to become Christ-like,
sacerdos,and could claim spiritual as well as temporal power. In opposition
the papal party reduced the charisma of the rite by denying that the king
8 Cf. Honorius of
Canterbury, Summa stein, "Samuel und Saul in der Staatslehre
des Mittelalters", Archivfiir Rechts- und SozialGloria (Migne, P.L., 172, cols. I259, 1260);
Roger of Wendover, Flores Historiarum, ad philosophie, XL, 1952-53, pp. 129-40. Saul and
1166, for a letter of Thomas Becket to King
Henry-translated by J. A. Giles, I, 1849,
p. 551; the Song of Lewes (1264), line 446--
Rex Saul repellitur, quia leges fregit (edited
by C. L. Kingsford, Oxford, 1890). For the
earlier texts and tradition, cf. Josef Funken-
David are also cited as examples of kings
elected and not hereditary by Archbishop
Hubert of Canterbury in a speech at the
coronation ofJohn in I 199-Roger of Wendover, op. cit., II, p. I8 (an added note attributed to Matthew Paris).
could be anointed on the head like a bishop, by limiting the oil to the arms
and shoulders, and prescribing for the ceremony the inferior oil of the
catechumens rather than the chrism of the priests.9 In England there are
many images of the anointing of Saul, David and Solomon, always on the
head, and to these correspond pictures of a similar anointing of mediaeval
kings. That is how the consecration of Edward the Confessorwas represented
on a wall of the Great Painted Chamber of the palace at Westminster under
Henry III.10 Two bishops anoint and crown the enthroned saintly king in the
company of numerous clergy. But other pictures of coronations in English
manuscripts show the mediaeval kings unanointed, precisely as in the Glazier
psalter." In a copy of Matthew Paris' Flores Historiarumin Manchester
(P1. 24b), Henry I, with legs crossed like the David in our miniature, is
crowned by two bishops, but not anointed; while in another drawing in the
same series a more spiritual and solemn figure of Edward the Confessor
receivesthe holy oil (P1. 24d).12
In this manuscript,in which the crowningsof kingsare the only themesof
illustration,one cannot infer too surelythe significanceof the anointing. Of
the ten kings represented,two besidesEdwardreceive the oil. The fact that
the large majorityare simply crownedand not anointedmay reflect a reluctance to include the sacramentalmomentof the ceremony,if not indifference
to it. But in representationsof David in Englishpsaltersof the eleventhto the
thirteenthcentury the anointing is so common that it may be regardedas
essential;in very few worksis David crownedwithout being anointed.x3It is
because of the frequency of the anointing of David in illustrationsof the
psalter (wherethe text, it shouldbe recalled,speaksof his anointing)and because of the tendencyto omit this importantceremonialdetail in picturesof
the coronationof mediaevalkings at this time, that the absenceof the rite in
the coronationof David in the Glazierpsaltermay be regardedas significant.
It would be rash to supposethat in every instancethe peculiaritiesof the
renderingof a Biblical scene of coronationexpressa contemporaryattitude
toward the anointing. Artistictypes are often repeatedindifferentlyand the
foreignByzantineimage of David standingwhile anointedis too commonin
England during the twelfth and thirteenth centuriesfor us to seek a contemporarypolitical meaningin all details of coronationimagery.
Nevertheless,the question can be raised in interpretinga work like the
9 For the history of the coronation ceremony and of the associated ideas, I have
followed particularly the books of Marc
Bloch, Les Rois Thaumaturges,Paris, Strasbourg, 1924; Percy Ernst Schramm, A History
of the English Coronation,Oxford, 1937; and
Walter Ullmann, The Growthof Papal Governmentin the MiddleAges, London, 1955.
10 See E. W. Tristram, English Mediaeval
Wall Painting. The ThirteenthCentury,Oxford
University Press, 1950, pl. I6 (after copies by
Stothard and Crocker).
11 Cf. Pierpont Morgan Library MS. 736,
Life of St. Edmund.
12 For the whole series, see A. Hollaender,
"The Pictorial Work in the 'Flores Historiarum' of the so-called Matthew of Westminster (MS. Chetham 6712)", Bulletinof the
John RylandsLibrary,Manchester, 28, 1944,
361-81. It may be noted that the anointing
is ignored in Matthew Paris's account of the
coronation of Henry III in 1216 (Chronica
Majora,Rolls Series, vol. 573, pp. I, 2) and in
Walter of Coventry's Memoriale(Rolls Series,
vol. 582, p. 233), though mentioned by Roger
of Wendover (transl. Giles, II, p. 379).
13 There is an example in a psalter in the
library of Durham Cathedral, MS. A. II. Io,
f. 57.
Glazier psalter where the royal aspect of the whole series of miniatures is so
pronounced and the enthroned David assumes a posture so distinct from the
majesty of Christ and the Virgin. The same assertive worldly bearing is given
to Alexander the Great in a contemporary drawing in Cambridge.14 The leg
set horizontally across the other knee is not true to nature, although it may
approximate a real position. This physically impossible pose is an artistic
type-perhaps a borrowing from Islam15-which justifies itself by its gestural
force and is here made even more expressive through the closed knot formed
by the hands grasping the ends of the extended leg. The perpendicular crossing of the legs was a variant of the widespread Romanesque convention of
diagonally crossed limbs often applied to figures of pagan rulers, especially
Pharaoh and Herod.16 Although it seems appropriate to these malign
personalities, the motif of the crossed legs is a general attribute of the ruler,
whether good or evil; it isolates him from ordinary mankind, which sits or
stands supported by both feet alike. Often what is significant is the contrast
with the normal posture rather than an inherent expressivenessof the crossed
legs as such. But in this contrast the posture may transmit something of the
wilfulness of the despot and convey through nuances of form-through a
particular tension or thrust-the spontaneity and arbitrarinessof royal power.
Its more general worldly sense is evident in the fact that some of the crowned
musician elders of the Apocalypse on the tympanum of Moissac-figures who
combine the sacred and the secular-sit like the David of our psalter with one
leg placed horizontally across the other. In images of David the relaxed
diagonal crossing is more common. In the Glazier miniature the rigid perpendicular form seems to be a posture of Superbia: the powerful, self-willed king
bears himself erect and holds the extremities of his own limb like a sceptre or
sword, which bars the observer.
Shortly before Henry III ascended the throne in 1216, Pope Innocent III
had affirmed the dissimilarity of the anointed king to the anointed Christ,
and in England Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was
to be a spiritual adviser of the young Henry, had written that the king is
anointed not to the ministry, but to the service of the Church.17 During the
first part of Henry's reign, when the psalter was painted, the meaning of the
rite of anointment was still in question; an exchange on this point between
14University Library, MS. Kk. iv. 25-see
P. Brieger, English Art 1216-1307, Oxford,
Clarendon Press, I957, pl. 50. Cf. also the
1912, pp. 163 ff. (Acta Societatis Scientiarum
Fennicae, XLII).
15For an early example in Islamic art in a
king, with hands touching knee and heel, who Christian manuscript of I 18o, see Paris, Bibl.
orders the martyrdom of John in the Anglo- Nat. MS. Copte 13, f. --a frontispiece portrait of Mark, the 73rd patriarch of AlexanFrench Apocalypse from St. Albans-Paris,
dria. Related though not identical postures
Bibl. Nat., MS. fr. 403, f. 2 (L. Delisle and
P. Meyer, L'Apocalypseen Franfais au XIIIe occur in the same manuscript in the pictures
of Herod (f. 104) and Pilate (f. 133').
sitcle, Paris, I9o00); a ruler in the Dublin
S16For an early example in the West, cf. a
manuscript of the Life of Saint Alban, MS.
E. i. 40-Brieger, op. cit., pl. 48a; and a re- drawing of the Biblical king Zedekiah, in
lated profile view of Pharaoh in Cambridge, Paris, Bibl. Nat. MS. lat. 1822, f. 42-early
Trinity College, MS. B. 1I. 4-Millar, op.cit., I2th century, from Moissac.
17 For the text, preserved in Cambridge,
pl. 68. For the posture in general and its
J. J. Tikkanen,
John's College, MS. 57, f. 318', see F. M.
stellungen in der Kunstgeschichte,Helsingfors, Powicke, StephenLangton,Oxford, 1928, p. Io9.
Henry and Robert Grosseteste has come down, in which the philosopherbishop re-stated the papal view that the consecration of the king by anointing
does not give him the powers of a priest. "This privilege of anointing in no
way places the royal dignity above or even on an equality with the priestly,
nor does it confer power to perform any sacerdotal office."18
In a miniature in the Rutland psalter, a book related to our manuscript,
the artist has tried to picture the precise spiritual status of the consecrated
monarch through various elements of David's coronation (P1. 24e).19 One
priest anoints, another crowns him, while Christ above holds in His veiled
hand the disk of the sun, marked with the cross like a eucharistic wafer, in
contrast to the moon on the other side. The artist seems to say with Robert
derived from heaven is greater than the regnum
Grosseteste that "the sacerdotium
appointed for the earth", or with the theologian, Honorius of Canterbury,
that the king, who receives his crown from the Church, is to the priest as the
moon to the sun.20 In the Glazier psalter, the king's claim to a priestly grace
appears to be more drastically denied, since the anointing is ignored, and
David is rendered in a thoroughly unpriestly posture in contrast to the royal
figures of Christ and Mary on the preceding pages and contrary even to the
aspect of Henry III on his seal, which the David image resembles in other
ways.21 I may quote here the words of Ernst Kantorowicz summarizing in
another context the decree of Innocent III concerning anointment: the pope
"expressly refused a Christlike representation to the Prince or the character
of a Christus Domini".22 It may be that the image conveys the point of view
of a papal partisan who would limit the king's authority in ecclesiastical
affairs and would at the same time derive the king's temporal power even
ed. H. R.
IS Epistolae, CXXIV (I245),
Luard (Rolls Series, XXV), pp. 350, 351.
The translation is from Schramm, op. laud.,
p. 129.
19 It precedes Psalm xxvi. (Diis illuminatio
mea) of which the initial in many psalters
contains an image of David's anointing.
Alternative interpretations of the upper part
of the Rutland miniature as illustrating DiTs
illuminatio mea or Psalm lxxxviii-lines 21
and 38 refer to David's anointing and the
eternity and perfection of his throne (et
thronus eius sicut sol in conspectu meo et
sicut luna perfecta in eternum)-do not account for the special prominence of the sun
held in Christ'sveiled hand and its likeness to
the eucharistic host, very different from the
usual symmetry of sun and moon beside
Christ in mediaeval art (or beside the enthroned king as on the seal of Richard I). The
distinction between the higher and lower, the
heavenly and earthly, seems to be implied
here. Cf. also in Grosseteste's answer to
Henry III his quotation of the words ofJudah
in the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs:
"Mihi dedit Dominus regnum et Levi sacer-
dotium; mihi dedit quae in terra, illi quae
sunt in caelis; ut supereminet caelum terrae,
ita supereminet Dei sacerdotium regno quod
est in terra" (op. cit., p. 350).
Professor Ernst Kantorowicz has kindly
called my attention to Peter Lombard's gloss
on Psalm xc. 5 (scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi)
-abbreviated in the Canterbury psalter
interlinear gloss-which speaks of the sun as
representing the divinity of Christ and the
moon His humanity, and also the gloss on
Psalm lxxxviii in the same manuscript, with
regard to the sun and moon: "dicit sol secundum animum, sicut luna secundum carnem."
But these passages, too, seem to me less significant for the image in the Rutland psalter,
since they lack relevance to the sun-host.
20 Summa
Gloria, Migne, P.L., 172, col. 1270
-"sicut sol lunae, spiritus animae contemplativa vita activae, sic sacerdotium regno
21 Reproduced by Edward Edwards, The
GreatSealsofEngland,London, 1837, pl. IV, 2.
22 Ernst
Kantorowicz, The King's Two
Bodies, Princeton, 1958, p. 320.
- --:::
~~-~-x-:- - '---
b-The Crowning of
playing before Saul, f. 3v (p. I80)
English Psalter, early thirteenth century, Coll. William S. Glazier, New York, MS.
Illuminated Beatusinitial (Psalm i), English Psalter, early thirteenth century; Coll. William S. Glazier,
New York, MS. G. 25, f. 5v (pp. I79, I8o, I88)
more emphatically from his coronation by the Church.23 In the other paintings in the Glazier psalter the primacy of the Church as an earthly power is
affirmed perhaps in the sceptres given to the Virgin and to Christ; in the
picture of Christ in majesty, His eternity and absoluteness are spelled out: the
traditional A and 9 of His inscribed book is expanded-"Alpha et Q, primus
et novissimus, initium et finis, qui (est) A.Q2."(Rev. xxii. I3).
It is possible to read these images in another sense, as an expression of the
royalist view for which anointing is not indispensable to the legitimation of a
king; the royalty of Christ Himself precedes His anointing and is from all
time (ex eternitatedivinitatis). But it would be surprising for a defender of this
view to connect the crowning of David by the priests with Saul's decline from
A detail of the litany may tell us more about the standpoint of the owner
who ordered these paintings. The name Silvester, heading the confessors, is
marked (ii) for double invocation (P1. 23e). Usually, such weighting of a name
in a litany implies that the saint is the patron of the book's owner, whether an
individual or a religious house. I have found no church or abbey dedicated
to St. Silvester for which the psalter might have been written. But there were
two outstanding English churchmen with that name in the first half of the
thirteenth century: Silvester of Evesham, bishop of Worcester from 1216 to
1218, and Silvester of Everdon, bishop of Carlisle from 1246 to 1254. The
first is mentioned by contemporary historians as among those present at
Henry III's coronation in Gloucester in I216.25 It is tempting to associate
the psalter with this Silvester. But he is an unlikely owner of the manuscript,
which appears from its style to be later than his lifetime. Besides, the litany
lacks the name specific to Worcester: St. Wulfstan, who was canonized in
The other Silvester was keeper of the great seal in 1244. In 1253 he
was one of three bishops who called upon Henry III to observe the liberties of
the Church; he was also among the bishops who in that year excommunicated
the violators of Magna Carta.27 The litany seems to contain no features
pointing to Carlisle; but since the manuscript is probably earlier than 1246,
this is no serious difficulty for an attribution to the second Silvester.
The double invocation of the saint may refer, however, like the ii beside
the name of Peter at the head of the apostles in the same litany, not to the
vocable of a church or the name saint of an individual owner, but to the
papacy as an object of special allegiance. For as Peter was the first pope,
23 Cf. Honorius, op. cit., col. I265-"ergo
rex a Christi sacerdotibus, qui veri Ecclesiae
principes sunt, est constituendus;
. . . igitur
quia sacerdotiumjure regnum constituet, jure
regnum sacerdotio subjacebit."
24 The omission of the anointing also makes
it difficult to interpret the scene of David
playing for Saul and healing his sickness of
mind as an example of the consecrated
monarch's thaumaturgic powers.
See Roger of Wendover, op. cit., II,
pp. 379, 380. The coronation took place in
the presence of the papal legate; Henry did
homage to Rome and to Pope Innocent before
the altar and was then crowned and anointed.
There was a second crowning at Westminster
pp. 426, 427Roger of Wendover, op. cit., II, p. 413,
records Silvester's translation of St. Wulfstan
in 1218 and his dedication that same year of
a church of St. Mary at Worcester where he
had been a monk and prior.
See Dictionary of National Biography, Sup-
plement II, p. 196 (2nd edition, XXII, 621622).
Silvester was the pope who in baptizing Constantine received the Roman
empire from the converted ruler as the Church's property and marked-to
quote Honorius of Canterbury again-the beginning of a new age in world
history, the rule of the Church.28
In the Westminster psalter (British Museum Royal MS. 2. A. XXII), with
which the New York manuscript has much in common, both in the litany
and the paintings, it is an English saint, King Edward, preceding Silvester,
that heads the confessors in the litany and is invoked twice, like Peter. The
choice of scenes anticipates by a generation the royal content of the series in
the Glazier psalter: the Virgin, Christ and David are singled out in the same
order in full-page paintings of their majesty.29 But the idea is less clear cut,
less systematic, than in the later book: the Visitation as well as the Annunciation precede the enthroned Virgin and there are no episodes from the life of
Christ or David. The latter is pictured crowned and on his throne, playing
the harp; but the Virgin has neither crown nor sceptre. Compared to this
series, the paintings in the Glazier psalter affirm in a more definite way the
royalty of Christ and the Virgin while distinguishing it from the earthly and
dependent character of David's kingship. If the litany of the Westminster
psalter stresses St. Edward, the name of the native royal saint-so dear to
Henry III-is missing in the Glazier litany, which gives a greater importance
to the papal and monastic elements. Germanus, Cuthbert and Benedict are
high on the list; following Silvester and Hilary among the confessors, they
precede the secular saints and especially those of Canterbury: Gregory,
Augustine, Dunstan.30 The Glazier psalter, I venture to say, was written in
a monastic centre in south-east England for a personality with a hierocratic
point of view toward the monarchy.
To what historical moment it pertains is a delicate matter to determine,
and not only because the date of the psalter is still unprecise-the style has
suggested to different observers a time ranging from the end of the twelfth
century to the 1240s.31 Since the work is so largely a copy, what is politically
significant in the miniatures and litany may refer to an earlier situation. The
cycle in its present form might have arisen between I2o8 and 12I14,the period
of sharpest conflict between the king and the church, when Pope Innocent III,
28 Summa Gloria, cap. IV, Migne, P.L., 172,
col. 1264.
29 See Eric G.
Millar, op. cit., pl. 62, 63.
30 The
litany (f. 172v-I75r), after the
apostles, evangelists and disciples, reads:
"Stephane, Clemens, Syxte, Corneli, Cipriane, Alexander, Laurenti, Vincenti, Georgi,
Fabiane, Sebastiane, Cristofore, Dionisi cum
sociis tuis, Ypolite cum sociis tuis, Quintine,
Albane, Osvvalde, Eadmunde; Silvester ii,
Hylari, Germane, Cuthberte, Benedicte,
Leonarde, Egidi, Augustine, Gregori,
Swithune, Dunstane, Remigi, Audoene;
Maria Magdalene, Maria Egypciaca, Felicitas, Perpetua, Agatha, Agnes, Cecilia, Lucia,
Katerina, Petronilla, Scolastica, Juliana,
Margareta, Anastasia, Fides, Spes, Caritas."
The litany of Royal 2 A. XXII includes
Thomas Becket, King Edward and Alphege,
and places Cuthbert, Benedict, Giles and
Leonard after Gregory, Augustine, and
Dunstan-see J. Wickham Legg, Missale ad
usum Westmonasteriensis,
London, 1897, III,
ff. 1303 f.E
I have to thank Mr. Christopher Hohler of
the Courtauld Institute for information about
English litanies, which did not, however,
yield a definite conclusion.
31The early date is given in the auction
catalogue cited in note I; the later one was
proposed by several scholars in the discussion
following my lecture on the manuscript at the
Warburg Institute.
initial, Psalm lii, f. 57r (p. 179)
rd drfon.cdren.
is dent frrtobts.
• ontmpto•nots.
ttdonts. or &albant or
ldlm.t or
or ttcradinnud,
n•etar..# d MMttmttt
initial, Psalm ci,
or usomrpnobL
o.r &acnedirt
csnff or,a &nlcwaintor
nfofnftuts.op flnpufhnt op
domc. OF
omJ atu.ll
Cfowfmfop mnsfantutsaon
initial, Psalm cix, f
2v (p
English Psalter, early thirteenth century
(p. 185)
Coll. William S. Glazier, New York, MS. G. 25
tional of St. Aethelwold,
f. 15v; British Museum
(p. I80)
of Henry I, Flores Historiarum,
Chetham's Library, Manchester, MS. 6712,
Col. 486 (p. 182)
Pl. 24b, d, reproducedby courtesyof the Feoffees of Chetham's
Hospital and Library
in Majesty,
The Westminster Psalter,
British Museum
Royal 2. A. XXII, f. I4r
(p. 187)
of St. Edward, Flores Historiarum, Chetham's
Library, Manchester, MS. 6712, Col. 433/34 (P. 182)
e Anointing and Crowning of David,
Rutland Psalter, Coll. Duke of Rutland,
Belvoir Castle (p. I84)
who had declared his sovereignty over England, deposed King John at the
request of Stephen Langton and other bishops and ordered the French king
to expel John and take possession of his throne. In those years could be
conceived a series of pictures associating the replacement of Saul by David
with the royalty of Christ. Later the pope was opposed by the English church
for supporting the king against his subjects and exacting burdensome levies.
But the existence of a hierocratic viewpoint in the decades after I214 is not
That the cycle of the Glazier psalter was built in part on the Westminster
psalter (or a very similar book) is confirmed by the minute resemblance of
details of the Christ in Majesty in the two manuscripts (Pls. 2ob, 24c). The
calligraphic ornaments of the text are almost identical. The same model of
Christ in Majesty served another artist, contemporary with the master of the
New York manuscript-the painter of the Lindesey psalter (Society of Antiquaries, MS. 59), which was made in London between I220 and 1222. He
apparently also knew the model of the Crucifixion in the Glazier psalter: in
his version the figure of Christ, the Italianate conception of the moon as a
profile human head, and several other details are remarkably like our manuscript. Much in the latter recalls the art of St. Albans in the first half of the
thirteenth century, where-according to some students-the Westminster
psalter itself might have been executed towards I200 for its royal owner.
In style of painting the Glazier manuscript is well advanced beyond the
Byzantinizing phase of the Westminster psalter with its compact massive
figures. It announces the more articulated forms of the mid-thirteenth century
and gives to the modelling and the lines, which retain a Byzantine aspect in
many details, a restless, impassioned character, somewhat like the German
painting of the same time (an art indebted to England). It is not clear to me
whether the complexity of lines in our psalter, with the associated emotional
note, is a new quality arising in reaction against the impassive solemnity of
the Westminster paintings or simply continues with intenser modelling and
naturalistic detail a trend of expression already existing beside the other about
1200. Even that bold cast of the figures, which cross their frames and seem to
project towards the observer, has precedents in earlier English art, although it
owes its special force here to the painter's temperament. Byzantine (or ItaloByzantine) types still dominate; they are obvious in the Annunciation, the
Christ in the page of Majesty,32 and in the Crucifixion (where the three nails
are a new feature, purely Western), and are least evident in the two scenes
with David, which have the strongest secular and contemporary reference.
One may note as persisting Romanesque elements the gold inner background
enclosed by a coloured band and the vine scrolls drawn on the costume
(Pls. I9b, 2oa) as in several earlier psalters.33
At the same time the artist displays an advanced subtlety in colour. In a
scheme of dominant bright hues, he plays with small intervals and neutral
32 Also Byzantine is the type of the Christ
child in the Virgin's lap, with the exposed
sole of his right foot.
33 E.g., the Canterbury Eadwine psalter,
the Copenhagen psalter (K. B. Thott 143, 20 ),
and the Westminster psalter; and later in
British Museum, Royal MS. I. D. X, Arundel
157, Munich
Clm. 835, Cambridge, Trinity
College MS. B. II. 4, Oxford, All Souls College MS. 6 (the Amesbury psalter).
tones. Greys and tans appear beside pure blue, red and gold; a light blue is
coupled with a light blue-grey. The many greys, warm and cool, and the
varied contrasts of local hue with coloured light and shadow-there are light
blue or blue-grey shadows on a yellow field and a blue with yellow lightslend a painterly freedom to the colour; it is no longer a primitive filling of
outlined areas despite the black contours. Even black and white work as
colours and not simply as elements of drawing. In the Crucifixion John's
yellow tunic is modelled with darks, the Virgin's orange-yellow tunic with
whites. On the faces the shadows are sometimes blue, sometimes the usual
olive-green. In this choice of neutral and modulated tones, the painter continues and develops the art of the Westminster psalter.
The style is less clearly of one piece than in works like the Lindesey or
Amesbury psalters. The master of the Glazier manuscript-a resourceful
artist who employs more than one device in rendering the same element of
nature-models by repeated lines as well as by solid shading. He is also surprisingly variable in the degree of finish and searching of forms. Often
summary in marginal details and the accessories of the figures, especially the
architecture, he allows himself some crudities of drawing-as in the Virgin's
costume (P1. I9b) or the prominently dotted nipples of the crucified Christ
(P1. 2oa). The surface and d6cor of life interest him less than the human
drama. His roughness in certain features suggests that in spirit he is no
miniaturist-one might imagine him a mural painter who, having undertaken
to work in a small format, is not perfectly at home with it. Yet he is capable
of the minuteness and sustained invention of the great Beatus page (P1. 22),
an outstanding example in the series of such initials in English art. Compared
to similar ones of the time, e.g., in the Lindesey psalter, this B appears massive
and architectural, like the plan of a huge tower or castle enclosing a world of
living force.
In the variability of his forms we recognize not simply the mark of an
individual, but also an unsettled stage in a historical transition, when new
and old are incompletely fused in the same work. While retaining something
of the severe forms of the previous art, he moves towards a more open play of
lines. In emotional tendency as well as in types and details of composition,
the Glazier painter is a forerunner of the Amesbury master, though less developed in the forms and lacking the elegance and sentimental pathos of that
later generation, with its profuse curved detail. The Glazier manuscript, a
more robust and rough-hewn work, appears closer to Romanesque art. It is
not quite as advanced as the style of Matthew Paris whose drawings, similarly
bridging the Romanesque and Gothic, are of the second quarter of the century.
Seen beside book paintings of the first quarter, the Glazier miniatures look
more matured in a Gothic sense than the psalter, British Museum Royal
MS. I. D. X., which is dated before 1222; but they are not more modern than
the psalter of Robert of Lindesey, executed in London between 1220 and
1222."" They are also less consistently permeated by the new features of
graceful line drawing in the miniatures of Trinity College, Cambridge, MS.
B. I1I. 4, probably of the 1220S.35 The latter is one of a group of manuscripts
34London, Society of Antiquaries MS. 59
op. cit., pl. 69, 7o.
Cf. especially the initials of this psalter,
f. IooV, I 9V--Brieger, op. cit., pl. 25; for the
attributed to that decade-including Cambridge University MS. Kk. iv. 25,)6
the Castle Hedingham Roll (British Museum, Egerton MS. 2849), 37 and the
drawings in Emmanuel College MS. 252 38-Which most resemble the miniatures of our psalter. (These have already been noted independently as
members of the same family of styles by Dr. John Plummer.) 39 They share
with the Glazier manuscript several themes and figure types (angel of the
Annunciation, Crucifixion, the Virgin and Christ, the seated David) and
minute elements of fold and contour. They are more slender, more linear,
graphic cousins of the forceful Glazier style, and show already a richer
elaboration of the folds.
These works all belong to the St. Albans-London sphere. Since the Glazier
master copied the Westminster psalter (or its twin) and the undecisive litany
is compatible with an origin in that region, the book can be localized there
and perhaps in London itself. A date in the 1220S is the most consistent, it
seems to me, with the known development of forms in the first half of the
century. Further study, in fixing the time and place more exactly, will no
doubt disclose some interesting connections with the later manuscripts and
permit one to trace in a more accurate way the continuity of early and midthirteenth-century English art through the miniatures of the Glazier psalter.40
miniatures see Millar, op. cit., pl. 68 and
Brieger, op.cit., pl. 23b, and the BurlingtonFine
Arts Club Illustrated Catalogueof Illuminated
Manuscripts,London, 1908, pl. 37, no. 38.
36 See Brieger, op. cit., pl. 4Ib,
*3See BurlingtonMagazine, XXIX, 1916,
pp.38 189 ff., pl. II (Lethaby).
BurlingtonCatalogueof IlluminatedManu-
scripts,pl. 34, no. 35.
39See note I above.
40 The lecture on the manuscript at the
Warburg Institute was followed by a lively
discussion. For a further interpretation of the
six full-page miniatures see the note by
ProfessorWormald, p. 307 below. [Ed.]