The James Catalogue of Western Manuscripts

Shelfmark R.17.1
Manuscript Title

Tripartitum Psalterium Eadwini (The Eadwine Psalter)

Alternative Title

Tripartitum Psalterium Eadwini (The Canterbury Psalter)

James Number 987
Date Cent. xii (cir. 1150).
Century 12th
Physical Description

In three main columns on a page, of which the outer one is the largest and has uniformly 18 lines. The other two are in a smaller and closer hand and taken together are equal in breadth to the outer one. Each has 36 lines. Besides these, there are interlinear glosses and marginal and inter-columnar scholia.


Given by Nevile. Entered in the Memoriale as Psalterium cum tribus translationibus (Edwards p. 155) From Christ church, Canterbury. Entered in the Catalogue among Libri de armariolo claustri, as Tripartitum Psalterium Eadwini (Edwards, p.155)

Religious House Canterbury, Kent, Benedictine Cathedral Priory (Christ Church)
Donor Neville [Nevile], Thomas (c. 1548–1615), College Head and Dean of Canterbury
Size (cm) 46 x 33
Folio 285 ff plus fly leaves
Binding The original wooden boards, with remains of a xvith cent cover with good gold tooling. A metal boss in the centre of each cover has a Tudor rose. Clasps gone. The volume has been rebacked.
Material Parchment
Language Anglo NormanLatinOld English

1 fly-leaf stuck to cover : 1 slip || Kal.4 l8-348 35 (six leaves misbound, and three inserted) || two fly-leaves, the second stuck to the cover.


The foliation follows the numbers in the bottom recto corner.

Manuscript Summary This magnificent manuscript was formerly known as the Canterbury Psalter. It is now named for the scribe, Eadwine, a monk of Christ Church Canterbury where the Psalter was made. It is an illustrated copy of the Psalms in three Latin versions with translations into Old English and Anglo-Norman French.
IIIF Manifest URL
Online Since 28/06/2013


ff.ib-iva [i recto- iv verso] Kalendar, two months on a page, in black, red, blue, green, and brown
f.1 [f.5r] Prefatory matter to the Psalter
f.2 [f.6r] Psalter in three versions with glosses (vide post)
f.258b Cantica and Ps. cli
[f.284v-285r]Plan of Christ Church, Canterbury.
[f.283v]Portrait of the scribe Eadwin.
f.281b Notes on the Creed
f.282 Notes on Palmistry
f.286 Fragment of a second Plan of Christ Church

The Kalendar contains the following noteworthy entries:
v Id. Adriani ABBATIS.
vii Kal. Mart. Scāe Milburgae V. in brown.
xv Kal. Ap. Eaduuardi regis et m.
xiv Kal. Ap. Cuthberti ep.
xiii Kal. Mai. Passio s. Aelphegi Archiep.
xi Ob. pie memorie ANSELMUS Archiep. in red (†1109).
iv Non. Dedicatio ecclesię xpisti, in red.
xiv Kal. Jun. DUNSTANI Archiep. in red.
vii Augustini Archiep. in black.
v Lamfranci Archiep. in red.
iv Non. Odonis.
vi Id. Transl. s. Aelphegi.
x Kal. Iul. Albani m.
ix Aetheldrithe uirg.
viii Id. Grimbambi Conf. (sic).
iii Id. Mildrithe uirg.
xiii Kal. Aug. Vulmari C.
Prid. Kal. S. Neoti C.
Id. Transl. S. Augustini.
xiii Kal. Oct. Theodori Archiep.
Non. Osithe.
xii Kal. Nov. Ordinatio S. Dunstani.
iii Non. Vulganii Conf.
xvi Kal. Dec. Ordinatio S. Aelphegi.
xii Kal. Eadmundi regis m.
Id. Iudoci C. EADBURGE V. added
(I have been hitherto unable to discover the date of St Eadburga's translation to Canterbury.)
There is no commemoration of St Thomas of Canterbury.
There are no additions of a later time to the Kalendar, though in one or two places the original scribe has added something après coup. The word papa has been erased.
The extremely slight notice taken of St Augustine (of Canterbury) is accounted for by the rivalry subsisting between the two monasteries. Hardly any of the early Archbishops are entered, probably because they were buried at St Augustine's.

On f.1a [f.5r] in three columns are the following paragraphs introductory to the Psalter. Each has a plain gold initial.
1. Prophetia est inspiratio diuina
-uel interpretandi.
2. Idittum · asaph · filii chore.
3. Rex dauid cum prospere regnaret.
4. Solet queri cur pro aliis scripturis.
5. Sciendum est cl. psalmos.
6. Ante peccauit dauid.
7. Unus est liber non quinque.
8. Ebraice liber iste interpretatur.
9. Ymnus est laus dei.
10. De christo in omni opere agit.
11. Materia igitur est totius operis.
12. Primus psalmus ideo dicitur carere titulo.
13. Propheta considerans perditionem
-quo contuitu in laudem erumpit (hoc modo added).
14. Beatus uir. In quo triplex mors anime.
(Rogantibus discipulis dominum ut quartum suscitaret mortuum dixisse fertur. dimittite mortuos s(epelire) m(ortuos) s(uos). hi sunt impenitentes in peccatis sepulti.)
-in fine ponit retributionem iustorum.
15. The Collect. Suscipere dignare domine deus.

On f.1b lower half in three columns (the upper half of the page being taken up by a picture),
f.1b Inc. epistola beati Ieronimi presbiteri super psalterio secundum
hebraicam ueritatem
Eusebius Iheronimus sophronio suo
-cupio te meminisse mei.

Text in three columns.
1. Hebr. i.e. Jerome's Latin version from the Hebrew with an interlinear version in French.
This version, which constitutes the earliest extant French Psalter, has been edited by Francisque Michel.
Vide Berger, La Bible Française au moyen age.
2. Rom. i.e. Jerome's 'Roman' version, being the Gallican version corrected from the Hebrew by Jerome at Rome, and used in the Roman Churches.
With an interlinear version in Anglo-Saxon. Edited for the Early English Text Society by F. Harsley, 1889. The text only has appeared. The Introduction is promised.
These two columns are each half the breadth of the third, and have twice as many lines of text.
3. Gall. The 'Gallican' psalter ordinarily used in the Western Church. With marginal and interlinear glosses in Latin, e.g.
Primus psalmus bipertitus. de beato uiro. et de ultionibus iniquorum. Statum per beatus blanditur. Beata cui succedunt omnia optata. Vir contra prospera et aduersa firmus terret aduersis. Non sic · i ·

The interlinear versions and glosses are so far as I can judge in the same hand as the text. It is a fine smooth round hand, not like the 'prickly' hand characteristic of Christ Church, which may be seen in many MSS. in this collection. The large majority of the marginal notes are in this same round hand: but occasionally there are additions by other scribes. One, who writes a distinctly sloping hand, has added 3 lines on f.40, col. 2. Another, whose work is very copious, approaches the 'prickly' style of writing, especially near the latter end of the book: see e.g. the marginal notes on Ps. 150.
Each Psalm is followed by a Collect. That on Ps. I begins:
Domine apud quem est salus plenitudo iustorum et perfectio beatitudinis incorrupte.
The last is that following Ps. 150 (for the Cantica have none).
Omnipotens et misericors deus clementiam tuam suppliciter deprecor ut me famulum tuum EADWINUM tibi fideliter seruire concedas . et perseuerentiam bonam et felicem consummationem michi largiri digneris · et hoc psalterium quia (?quod) in conspectu tuo cantaui ad salutem et ad remedium animę meę proficiat sempiternum. Amen.
This, however, is preceded by another referring specially to the Psalm, and beginning
Armon(i)e nostre suauissimum melos qui nostri pectoris modulamina.
The arrangement of the versions and glosses in the Cantica differs from that in the Psalter proper. At first we still have three columns, viz.
1. French version written in text hand (replacing the Hebraicum which only exists for the Psalter).
2. Romanum with Anglo-Saxon version.
3. Gallicanum with Latin gloss.
This applies to the Old Testament Cantica, viz. Canticum Isaiae, Ezechiae, Annae, Moysis (1), Abbacuc, Moysis (2).
After this we have two main columns of text on a page, of equal breadth, giving the Gallicanum only, and the two versions Anglo-Saxon and French between the lines, Anglo-Saxon being uppermost.
This applies to: Benedicite, Te Deum, Benedictus, Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis, Gloria in Excelsis, Pater noster, Credo, Quicunque vult, Pusillus eram.
There are marginal notes on all except Benedicite, Te Deum, Credo, Gloria.
Pusillus eram has this title in red:
Hic psalmus proprie scribitur dauid et extra numerum cum pugnauit cum goliath hic psalmus in ebreis codicibus non habetur. sed nec a septuaginta inquit interpretibus additus est et iccirco repudiandus.
It is followed by two long notes in Eadwin's hand, and a third in another hand.
(1) On the Lord's Prayer, the text of which is in red,
Dicitur quod d. n. I C. de inpenetrabili sapientia sua docuit discipulos suos orare
-et nos et ipsos ad celeste regnum perducat. Amen.
(2) On the Apostles' Creed. The text of the creed in red, with an Apostle's name to each clause.
Petrus. Credo.
Andreas. Et in.
Johannes. Qui conceptus -virgine.
Jacobus. Passus.
Matheus. Descendit.
Philippus. Ascendit.
Bartholomeus. Inde uenturus.
Thomas. Credo.
Barnabas. Sanctam ecclesiam catholicam.
Simon. Sanctorum.
Jude (so). Remissionem.
Jacobus. Carnis.
Mathias. Et uitam.
It begins
Simbolum greca lingua dicitur
-et securitas usque in sempiternum. amen.
(3) In a more angular and prickly hand, and blacker ink, on Palmistry.
Linee naturales . iii . sunt in planitie omnis chyros. A pede igitur superioris linee rimula directa uersus mediam etc.
castitatem hoc signum .-Ɵ-. alicubi pedum amissionem. De occultis alias agetur.
On the verso, probably in Eadwine's hand, is a table headed
Dies solis xxiiii · lune xxvi . Martis v . Mercurii xx . Iouis xviiii . Veneris xxx . Saturni xxiiii.
then two columns
Argumenti prima distinctio.
Vnum et vnum · minor uincet.
Unum et duo · qui habet duo uincet.
Vnum et tres · qui habet unum uincet.
and so on up to
Vnum et viiii · qui habet unum uincet.
The odd numbers being won by 'qui habet unum.'
Secunda distinctio.
Duo et Duo qui fortior est uincet.
Duo et tres etc. up to Duo et viiii.
Here the even numbers are won by the holder of 'Duo.'
Tercia distinctio.
Tres et tres · minor uincet.
Tres et · iiii · qui habet iiii uincet.
up to Tres et · viiii · qui habet iii uincet.
Quarta distinctio.
Quatuor et iiii · fortior uincet.
Even numbers won by holders of iiii.
Quinta distinctio.
Quinque et · v · minor uincet.
Quinque et viiii · qui habet · v · uincet.
Sexta distinctio.
Sex et vi · fortior uincet.
Even numbers won by holder of vi.
Septima distinctio.
Septem et vii minor uincet.
Septem et viii qui habet viii uincet.
Septem et viiii qui habet viiii uincet (but according to precedent
for viiii we ought to read vii).
Octaua distinctio.
Octo et viii fortior uincet.
Octo et viiii qui habet viiii uincet.
Nona distinctio.
Nouem et viiii · minor uincet.
Then follows
De egris et contentione diuide per viiii · de comissatis per vii.
iii · iii · xxii · xxiiii · xxii · iii · vii · vi · xv
A. B. C. D. E. F. G. H. I.
xv · xii · xxiii · xv · viii · xiii · xxi · xiii
K. L. M. N. O. P. Q. R.
viiii · viii · vi · v · iii · iiii
S. T. V. X. Y. Z.
This I think is a method of prognostication. The seer adds up the letters of the client's name, giving them the values assigned above. Then in a case of sickness or quarrel he divides by 9, and then has recourse to the table above.

The decoration and illustration of this MS. are, as is well known, most magnificent and copious. It is not my purpose to describe the pictures in full here: possibly I may be able to do that in a separate publication. At present I will merely indicate the system of decoration.
(1) Initials. Each of the Psalms has a decorative initial in each of the three Versions: those attached to the Gallicanum are
uniformly larger and more important than the others. I do not think that even the 51st and l01st Psalms are distinguished by specially large initials.
(2) Pictures. Each Psalm or Canticle is illustrated by an oblong picture extending across the page. The backgrounds of these are left plain. The figures are drawn with the pen, and the outlines washed with colour. The principal colours are blue,green, vermilion, and brown. Gold is not employed in the pictures. Each picture illustrates the text of the Psalm, literally: MS in very few cases is there any reference to New Testament events thought to be predicted or typified. One of the exceptions is Ps. xxi (xxii) where there is a picture of the Cross. The whole set of pictures is copied either directly from theUtrecht Psalter (formerly in the Cottonian Library and before that at Canterbury) or, less probably, from a MS. similar thereto.Other Psalters exist which contain essentially the same illustrations. One is Harley 603 (cent. xi), another in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Suppl. Lat. 1194 (cent. xiii).
The Utrecht Psalter is now believed to have been written in France (near Rheims) in cent. ix.
There are but few divergences in the pictures in the Canterbury Psalter from their prototypes in the Utrecht Psalter, and all those of importance occur in the first seven Psalms.
Ps. i. In C. the text of the Psalm is written over the ground in various places. The Inferno in R. lower corner much exaggerated.
ii. Portions of the text of the Psalm written on the ground. The colouring and drawing of this picture seem to me different from the others.
iii. Title written in red across the top. Added on R. is Absalom hanging to a tree, and the mule walking away.
iv. A devil seated on a tower, hardly visible in U.
v. A whole tier of figures added above, viz. on L. two buildings in which sit (a) a woman (Hagar) with a child, (b) a woman (Sarah) weeping. A mandorla with Christ seated, between two seraphs and two angels. Building with woman and child facing R. Man (Abraham) stands full-face. On R. Hagar with barrel on back leads away Ishmael.
vi. Tier of figures added, divided into two compartments.
L. Man with sack on shoulders. Man standing over sack on ground. Two others, dejected (Joseph's brethren).
R. The Ascension. The Apostles seated below in two groups of six.
Christ above in mandorla held by two angels in clouds.
vii. Tier of scenes added. L. two cities: in each a king seated surrounded by councillors. Behind him a standing figure, in the second case Christ.
C. King throned, another speaks to him. Above, the Son speaks to the Father, throned.
R. King, throned, looks up. On R. in air, Christ in mandorla supported by angels. On L. seven draped people. On R. six nude ones. Below, a troop of armed men.
viii, ix, x. As in the Utrecht Psalter.
xi. In circuitu impii ambulant is written on the ring round which the ungodly are moving.
All the rest of the pictures, including those for the Canticles and for Ps. cli., correspond very accurately with those in the Utrecht Psalter. The artist, working as a copyist, and far less light in touch than his model, has emphasized and coarsened and stiffened the designs a good deal: but, with the exception of the additions already noted, has made none of his own. The presence and character of those additions seem to indicate that he set out with the idea of supplementing and interpreting the earlier pictures; but he soon found the task too great, and abandoned it.
The picture of Eadwine himself should follow Ps. cli. It is a full-page painting representing Eadwine seated facing L. under a trefoil arch, with towered buildings in the spandrels. The ground is blue. Eadwine is tonsured, with small beard, and clad in a white cowl shaded in green. He is seated in a chair ornamented with arches, and has an open (blank) book before him on a desk covered with a white cloth. He holds pen in R. hand, knife in L. The outer frame is filled with patterns in green and brown.
The following inscription in green and red capitals surrounds the picture beginning at the top on L.
This is now preceded by the great plan of Christ Church, Canterbury (first published in the Vetusta Monumenta, 1747), which has been often discussed: best by Professor R. Willis in 1868, who published an uncoloured drawing of it from a tracing.
The double leaf, of which the second page is stuck to the cover, has a part of a plan of Christ Church or of some of its outer buildings, designed to shew the water and drain systems which are coloured in green and red. I am not certain whether the leaf now stuck to the cover has the remainder of this plan on it: but what remains is more roughly done than the other plan, and may perhaps have been used as waste by the original binder of the book.


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