Created in 1220s Paris, this is a rare example of a Greek manuscript from western Europe in the high Middle Ages. It contains the text of the Psalms in parallel Greek and Latin columns, followed by the Canticles and the Athanasian Creed, again in parallel Greek and Latin versions.
The manuscript is clearly of high quality, containing eight pairs of illuminated initials at the beginning of the divisions of the Psalter. The Latin initials are historiated, that is, they contain one or more figures, usually David. The Greek initials are decorated with foliate scrolls.
Few scholars in the Latin West would have been able to read the Greek text of this manuscript in the 13th century, and it remains an open question as to for whom this manuscript was created. It later passed into the possession of the prominent humanist Pietro da Montagnana (d. 1478), who annotated and corrected the manuscript throughout.
In the early 18th century it came to England and entered the great collection of manuscripts at Holkham Hall. The British Museum purchased the manuscript in 1952 along with other items from the Holkham Hall library.
- Article by:
- Peter Toth
- The Greek World
Byzantium’s interactions with other cultures – both East and West – is made clear from the multilingual nature of many Greek manuscripts. Peter Toth explores this aspect of Byzantine book culture.