DCL MS. A.II.11Commentary on Psalms 1-50
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

Commentary on Psalms 1-50 in French, volume I of III, companion to DCL MS A.II.12 and 13, the only complete copy of this work, a French Psalter commentary compiled for Laurette d’Alsace (died 1170).

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t2mdj52w4777.html

Physical description of manuscript


Extent: i+144+i f
Size: 338 mm x 232 mm


Modern pencil foliation.

Secundo folio: -bet quam ut animam

flyleaf, I-XIII8, XIV7 (= 8 lacks leaf 8 after f.111), XV-XVII8, XVIII7 (= 8 with leaf 8, blank, cancelled),2 recyced endleaves

Catchwords: Contemporary catchwords survive on quires XV and XVII (others doubtless lost).
Signatures: Contemporary quire signatures (Roman numerals) on the final versos, lower margin, centre (many cropped). Leaf numbering (Roman numerals) in lead on the versos of leaves in the first half of quires.

Written area: 280-285 x 190 mm. 38 lines in 2 columns (width, 88 mm).


Written in Textualis semi-quadrata, grander and more formal for the Latin lemmata than for the French commentary. The writing is consistently placed above, rather than on the rulings. The number of hands uncertain, perhaps two, the second slightly less regular than the first; the first is broadly similar, though not identical, to DCL MS A.II.12, scribe 2.


The general incipit (f.2r) is marked by a 7-line high initial B, the letter-shape itself rendered in red and blue, its bowls filled with green foliated curls, all set against a brown panel. A 4-line-high initial, single or bi- coloured, with foliate curls in yellow and green, against a brown ground, for Psalms 26 (f.73v) and 38 (f.111v). Other Psalms are headed by a 2+-line high initial, blue flourished in red or vice versa; the flourishing for that at Psalm 49 (f.130v) is red with green and yellow shading. Each Latin verse is headed by a red or blue initial, 1 to 2 lines high, flourished in the other colour (a lone example in green, flourished in blue appears on f.130v). On f.8r-73r, the French version of the lemma (preceding the Latin one) is headed by a flourished initial, 1 line high, red if the Latin has blue, and vice versa. Occasionally the incorrect letter was supplied: these were re-done rather crudely in black (e.g. f.17v, 34r, 24v). Sentence capitals are stroked in dull yellow.

Corrections and annotation

Damaged passages on f.2v, 3r and 5r were rewritten in the 13th century. Occasional light annotation, 13th-14th century, f.2r-v, 10r, 36r-v, 73v, 74r.


Standard Tuckett binding, mid 19th century full brown calf over thick wooden boards (Charles Tuckett, binder to the British Museum, rebound many Durham manuscripts in the 19th century)

Manuscript history

Written in England or France, early 13th century.


The claim that the set as a whole “was made and held at Durham Cathedral during the episcopacy of Hugh de Puiset” and “was in all likelihood made for De Puiset himself” (Rector 2010, p.20) ignores the fact volumes I and II almost certainly, and volume III indubitably, postdate du Puiset (d. 1195), and that no such work appears on the list of his books that came to Durham Cathedral Priory.

Inscriptions: “liber sancti Cuthberti”, mid 14th century, f.2r, top centre.
“N” (crossed through), later 14th century, f. 2r, top left.
“In le Spendement”, 14th/15th century, f.2r, top right.
Pressmark: “1a 5ti S”, s. xv, fol. 2r, top right.

In the early 15th century, held by William Durham, monk of Durham c.1395-1438x9: “W durame” added beside the relevant entry in the 1416 Spendement catalogue: DCL MS B.IV.46, f.35r. Recorded in 1392 and 1416 Spendement catalogues.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.2-142
Modern title: Commentary on Psalms 1-50
Incipit: Beatus uir qui non abiit in consilio impiorum et in uia peccatorum non stetit
Explicit: qui cum patre et spiritu sancto uiuit et regnat deus per omnia secula seculorum amen.
Language: French
Language: Latin

The flyleaf (f.1) is blank bar some informal 13th century jottings on the verso: (1) “Amen dico vobis ...” (three times); and (2) a mnemonic for distinguishing homonyms, written in red, “litem de statere dissoluit lingua statere | partim -?- et partim -?- huc -?-”, the second line damaged and partly illegible.
f.142v, blank.

Edited: Dean 1999, no. 452
Edited: Edited: Gregory 1990

SECTION: endleaves
Physical description of section of manuscript


Extent: 2f
Size: 250 mm x 170 mm


Two bifolia, originally consecutive (one inside the other) at the centre of a quire, they were subsequently opened out, disordered, and had a strip running along both lower edges folded in; they were then turned through 90° and reused as an endleaf and pastedown (now raised). They are now attached separately to modern guard slips.


Written area: up to 235 x 143 mm. 74 lines visible in two columns (width, 70 mm).


Written in ProtoGothic, sometimes semi-cursive; small, compressed and extensively abbreviated; variable but generally neat. Number of hands uncertain, possibly one.


Space reserved for an initial, 5 lines high, at the start of Book II remained unfilled.

History of section of manuscript

Written in France ?, early 12th century.


Inscription “Glossa super Psalmos. Prima quinquagena”, written along the intercolumnar space of f.143v shows that it was in this manuscript by 16th/17th century.

Manuscript contents
Original title: In Categorias Aristotelis
Author: Boethius, -524
Date: early 12th century
Language: Latin

Fragment: from Book I, "De nominatiuis" to Book II, "De quantitate" (much is illegible).

Edited: Gibson 1995, no. 57

Microfilmed in 1985/86 by the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, St John's Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota. Copies held by them and Durham Cathedral Library.

Digitised material for Durham Cathedral Library MS A.II.11 - French psalter commentary part 1 Psalms 1-50
Digitised July 2018 as part of the Durham Priory Library Recreated project


Catalogi veteres librorum Ecclesiae cathedralis dunelm. Catalogues of the library of Durham cathedral, at various periods, from the conquest to the dissolution, including catalogues of the library of the abbey of Hulne, and of the mss.   OCLC citation, Surtees Society 7, (London: J.B. Nichols and Son, [1838]).

Dean, Ruth J., Anglo-Norman Literature: a guide to texts and manuscripts   OCLC citation (London: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 1999)

Gibson, M. T. and Smith, L., Codices Boethiani: a conspectus of manuscripts of the works of Boethius. 1 Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland   OCLC citation (1995)

Gregory, Stewart, The twelfth-century psalter commentary in French for Laurette d'Alsace (an edition of Psalms I-L)   OCLC citation (2 v.) (London: MHRA, 1990)

Liebman, C. J., The Old French psalter commentary: contribution to a critical study of the text attributed to Simon of Tournai   OCLC citation ([USA]: W. F. Humphreys, 1982).

Rector, G., "The Romanz Psalter in England and Northern France in the Twelfth century: production, mise-en-page and circulation", Journal of the Early Book Society 13 (2010), 1-38

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