Psalter, folios 22v-23r

14th century, second half

The Library of Trinity College Dublin

The Library of Trinity College Dublin
Dublin, Ireland

The psalter, containing the Book of Psalms, was used in the liturgy but was also the central text for medieval private devotion until it was surpassed in popularity by the Book of Hours in the 13th century. The ubiquity of the psalter among the faithful, particularly among the wealthy classes, means that some lavishly illuminated copies have survived. This 14th century volume was probably an English family possession and is laden with intricate interlaced borders, colourful historiated initials and fantastical drolleries, including monkeys, serpentine monsters and other grotesque beasts. This opening contains some marvellous examples of the manuscript's vibrant decoration. The historiated initial on folio 23r, indicating the beginning of Psalm 20, features a king kneeling in prayer while the more comical figure of a man wearing a pair of bellows on his head can be seen on the opposing folio, likely intended to amuse the reader.


  • Title: Psalter, folios 22v-23r
  • Date Created: 14th century, second half
  • Location: England
  • Original Language: Latin
  • Subject Keywords: Illuminated Manuscripts, Manuscripts, Latin
  • External Link: View this item in our online catalogue
  • Collection: Illuminating the Middle Ages
  • Catalogue Number: TCD MS 92
  • Bibliography: W.H. Frere, et al., ‘Bibliotheca Musico-Liturgica, Plainsong and Medieval Music Society’, 1901-1932, 2 volumes, 2:72; L.F. Sandler, ‘Gothic Manuscripts 1285-1385, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles’ 5, (London, 1986), 2:168-169. Lydia Dennison, 'The stylistic sources, dating and development of the Bohun workshop c1340-1400 (Westfield College London, doctoral thesis, 1988) claims parts of TCD MS 92 are by the Egerton Genesis master. See Mary Coker Joslin and Carolyn Coker Joslin Watson, 'The Egerton Genesis', (London: British Library, University of Toronto Press, 2001), p. 4. Laura Cleaver and Helen Conrad O’Brien, 'Latin Psalter Manuscripts in Trinity College Dublin and the Chester Beatty Library', (Dublin, 2015).

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