Montpellier Bible (first of two volumes)


The Montpellier Bible is a copy of the Bible in Latin, in two volumes. It is a monumental work, measuring 510 x 365 mm. The manuscript takes its name from its first known owner, François Ranchin (b.1564, d.1641) chancellor of the University of Montpellier. Although it is not clear where exactly it was made, it seems likely that it was made around Montpellier in the south of France. 

Moreover, the majority of the first volume’s initials are decorated in a style typical of that region, characterized by a variety of motifs, figures, and animals in bright colours. The Bible also includes a number of historiated initials (literally, letters containing stories or images) by an artist who seems to have been influenced by an Italian style of illumination. These were probably added to the book at a later stage, in or after the mid-12th century. One large initial I(n) (In) at the beginning of the Book of Genesis includes scenes of the Creation of the world, and of Adam and Eve. 

This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.

Full title:
Montpellier Bible (first of two volumes)
1st quarter of the 12th century, Southern France
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Harley MS 4772

Full catalogue details

Related articles

French manuscript illumination

Article by:
Charlotte Denoël
Art and illumination, Making manuscripts, Christian religion and belief

Drawings and painted decoration in manuscripts ornamented the text as well as illustrated or commented on it. Charlotte Denoël outlines the history of manuscript art in early medieval France.

Related collection items