Home > Digitized Walters Manuscripts

This document is a tranformation of a TEI P5 XML manuscript description incorporating images. If you have trouble reading special or non-Latin characters on this page, please make sure you have appropriate Unicode fonts installed and an up-to-date web browser.

Walters Ms. W.51, Bible

Browse images (Browse images in a new window) | TEI in XML format

Shelf mark




Text title


This pocket-size Bible was created around the middle of the thirteenth century in England. It contains the Vulgate text of the Old and New Testaments, arranged in order and divided into chapters. Such Bibles, designed for individual rather than institutional use, began to be created on a large scale during the thirteenth century, especially in Paris. This manuscript is illuminated with a large number of small historiated initials, and also includes a somewhat later image of the Three Living and the Three Dead, a popular scene based on a French poem of the same century.


Ca. 1260 CE; miniature additions ca. 1290-1300 CE








The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Support material


Very thin parchment, of high quality; flesh and hair sides clearly distinguishable


Foliation: ii+532+ii

Modern pencil foliation, top right corners, rectos


Formula: 1(2), 2-15(16), 16(12), 17 (16,-1); 18-29(16), 30(18), 31(14), 32(18), 33-34(14), 35(10,-10)

Catchwords: None

Signatures: None

Comments: Quire 1, on thicker parchment, is a later insertion; quires begin on fols. 1(1), 3(2), 19(3), 35(4) 51(5), 67(6), 83(7), 99(8), 115(9), 131(10), 147(11), 163(12), 179(13), 195(14), 211(15), 227(16), 239(17), 254(18), 270(19), 286(20), 302(21), 318(22), 334(23), 350(24), 366(25), 382(26), 398(27), 414(28), 430(29), 446(30), 464(31), 478(32), 496(33), 510(34), 524(35)


9.5 cm wide by 14.5 cm high

Written surface

7.0 cm wide by 10.5 cm high

fols. 1r - 532v:
  1. Columns: 2
  2. Ruled lines: 48-49
  3. Two columns app. 3.25cm wide, with gap app. .5cm wide; ruling in faint brown pen
fols. 520r - 532v:
  1. Two columns app. 3.4 cm wide (wider than in Bible because capitals extend beyond normal lines) with gap app. 0.2 cm wide; ruling in faint brown pen

fols. 1r - 532v:
  1. Title: Bible
  2. Hand note: Gothic textura by several different hands; characters just over 1 mm in height
  3. Decoration note: Historiated initials at beginnings of most books (5-14 lines); decorated initials (4-8 lines), sometimes with dragons or lions, at beginnings of prologues and some books; 2 line capitals at beginnings of chapters, in red and blue, with contrasting flourishes; running heads in alternating blue and red capitals; rubrics generally left blank, but in red for fols. 263r-339v; text in various shades, from light brown to black
fols. 1r - 519v:
  1. Title: Bible with prologues
  2. Incipit: Frater Ambrosius tua mihi
  3. Contents: Fols. 1r-2v: images of the Three Living and the Three Dead (later addition); fols. 3r-6r: general prologue; fols. 6r-6v: prologue to the Pentateuch; fols. 6v-29v: Genesis; fols. 29v-48v: Exodus; fols. 48v-60v: Leviticus; fols. 61r-77v: Numbers; fols. 77v-93v: Deuteronomy; fols. 93v-104r: Joshua, with prologue; fols. 104v-116r: Judges; fols. 116r-117v: Ruth; fols. 117v-135r: I Kings, with prologue; fols. 135r-178r: II-IV Kings; fols. 178r-192r: I Chronicles, with two prologues; fols. 192r-208v: II Chronicles, with prayer of Manasses omitted; fols. 208v-213r: I Ezra, with prologue; fols. 213r-219v: II Ezra; fols. 219v-226v: III Ezra; fols. 226v-231r: Tobias, without prologue; fols. 231r-236v: Judith, without prologue; fols. 236v-242v: Esther, without prologue; fols. 242v-254r: Job, with prologue; fols. 254r-263r: Proverbs, with prologue; fols. 263r-266r: Ecclesiastes, without prologue; fols. 266r-267v: Song of Songs; fols. 267v-273v: Wisdom, without prologue; fols. 273v-290r: Ecclesiasticus, with introduction treated as prologue, but without prayer of Solomon; fols. 290r-310v: Isaiah, with prologue; fols. 310v-334v: Jeremiah, with prologue; fols. 334v-336v: Lamentations; fols. 336v-339v: Baruch, with prologue and letter of Jeremiah; fols. 339v-360v: Ezekiel, with prologue; fols. 360v-370r: Daniel, with two prologues; fols. 370r-373r: Hosea with prologue; fols. 373r-374r: Joel, with prologue; fols. 374r-376v: Amos, with prologue; fols. 376v-377v: Obadiah, with two prologues; fols. 377v-378v: Jonah, with prologue; fols. 378v-380v: Micah, with prologue; fols. 380v-381v: Nahum, with prologue; fols. 381v-382v: Habakkuk, with prologue; fols. 382v-383v: Zephaniah, with prologue; fols. 383v-384v: Haggai, with prologue; fols. 384v-388r: Zechariah, with prologue; fols. 388r-389r: Malachi, with prologue; fols. 389r-413v: I-II Maccabees, with prologue; fols. 413v-426v: Matthew, with prologue; fols. 426v-435r: Mark, with prologue; fols. 435r-450r: Luke, with first four verses as prologue; fols. 450r-461r: John, with prologue; fols. 461r-476r: Acts, with prologue; fols. fols. 476r-483r: Romans, with two prologues; fols. 483r-488v: I Corinthians, with prologue; fols. 488v-492r: II Corinthians, with prologue; fols. 492r-494r: Galatians, with prologue; fols. 494r-496r: Ephesians, with prologue; fols. 496r-497r: Philippians, with prologue; fols. 497r-498v: Colossians, with prologue; fols. 498v-499v: I Thessalonians, with prologue; fols. 499v-500r: II Thessalonians, with prologue; fols. 500r-501v: I Timothy, with prologue; fols. 501v-502v: II Timothy, with prologue; fols. 502v-503r: Titus, with prologue; fols. 503r-503v: Philemon, with prologue; fols. 503v-507r: Hebrews, with prologue; fols. 507r-513r: Catholic epistles, with prologue; fols. 513r-519v: Apocalypse, with prologue
  4. Text note: Thirty-nine of the sixty-four common prologues are included and several others added; the Psalms are omitted; Acts follows John
fols. 520r - 532v:
  1. Title: List of Hebrew names
  2. Incipit: Aaron mons fortis
  3. Contents: A dictionary of Hebrew names, with a list of idols appended in the same hand
  4. Decoration note: First letter of each section is decorated; first letter of each entry in blue or red (alternating); text in dark brown


fol. 1v:

  1. W.51, fol. 1v
  2. Title: The Three Living
  3. Form: Full-page miniature
  4. Comment:

    Corresponds with the Three Dead on fol. 2r; both miniatures added after the book was composed, ca. 1290-1300

fol. 2r:

  1. W.51, fol. 2r
  2. Title: The Three Dead
  3. Form: Full-page miniature
  4. Comment:

    Corresponds with the three living on fol. 1v; both miniatures added after the book was composed, ca. 1290-1300

fol. 3r:

  1. W.51, fol. 3r
  2. Title: Frater Ambrosius
  3. Form: Historiated initial "F," 7 lines
  4. Text: General prologue

fol. 6v:

  1. W.51, fol. 6v
  2. Title: Creation
  3. Form: Historiated initial "I" spanning the entire page
  4. Text: Genesis 1:1
  5. Comment:

    Eight scenes: God enthroned, day and night, earth and sea, plants, sun and moon, animals, Adam, Eve

fol. 29v:

  1. W.51, fol. 29v
  2. Title: Pharoah and the midwives of Egypt
  3. Form: Historiated initial "H," 8 lines
  4. Text: Exodus 1:1

fol. 48v:

  1. W.51, fol. 48v
  2. Title: Moses and God in tabernacle
  3. Form: Historiated initial "U," 9 lines
  4. Text: Leviticus 1:1

fol. 61r:

  1. W.51, fol. 61r
  2. Title: God speaks to Moses in the desert
  3. Form: Historiated initial "L," 7 lines
  4. Text: Numbers 1:1

fol. 77v:

  1. W.51, fol. 77v
  2. Title: Moses speaks to the Israelites
  3. Form: Historiated initial "H," 8 lines
  4. Text: Deuteronomy 1:1

fol. 93v:

  1. W.51, fol. 93v
  2. Title: Initial with dragon
  3. Form: Inhabited initial "E," 8 lines
  4. Text: Joshua 1:1

fol. 104v:

  1. W.51, fol. 104v
  2. Title: God appears to the elders
  3. Form: Historiated initial "P," 8 lines
  4. Text: Judges 1:1

fol. 118v:

  1. W.51, fol. 118v
  2. Title: Hannah and Eli
  3. Form: Historiated initial "F," 8 lines
  4. Text: I Kings 1:1

fol. 135r:

  1. W.51, fol. 135r
  2. Title: David and the Amalekite
  3. Form: Historiated initial "F," 8 lines
  4. Text: II Kings 1:1

fol. 148r:

  1. W.51, fol. 148r
  2. Title: David with Abishag
  3. Form: Historiated initial "E," 7 lines
  4. Text: III Kings 1:1

fol. 163v:

  1. W.51, fol. 163v
  2. Title: Ahaziah falls from the window
  3. Form: Historiated initial "P," 8 lines
  4. Text: IV Kings 1:1

fol. 226v:

  1. W.51, fol. 226v
  2. Title: Tobit buries a body
  3. Form: Historiated initial "T," 7 lines
  4. Text: Tobias 1:1

fol. 231r:

  1. W.51, fol. 231r
  2. Title: Judith and Holofernes
  3. Form: Historiated initial "A," 5 lines
  4. Text: Judith 1:1

fol. 242v:

  1. W.51, fol. 242v
  2. Title: Job sits on dungheap
  3. Form: Historiated initial "U," 8 lines
  4. Text: Job 1:1

fol. 254r:

  1. W.51, fol. 254r
  2. Title: Solomon teaches youth
  3. Form: Historiated initial "P," 6 lines
  4. Text: Proverbs 1:1

fol. 266r:

  1. W.51, fol. 266r
  2. Title: Queen with child
  3. Form: Historiated initial "O," 6 lines
  4. Text: Song of Songs 1:1

fol. 267v:

  1. W.51, fol. 267v
  2. Title: Solomon with men
  3. Form: Historiated initial "D," 6 lines
  4. Text: Wisdom 1:1

fol. 290v:

  1. W.51, fol. 290v
  2. Title: God speaks to Isaiah
  3. Form: Historiated initial "U," 6 lines
  4. Text: Isaiah 1:1

fol. 310v:

  1. W.51, fol. 310v
  2. Title: God speaks to Jeremiah
  3. Form: Historiated initial "U," 6 lines
  4. Text: Jeremiah 1:1

fol. 339v:

  1. W.51, fol. 339v
  2. Title: Ezekiel's vision
  3. Form: Historiated initial "E," 6 lines
  4. Text: Ezekiel 1:1

fol. 361v:

  1. W.51, fol. 361v
  2. Title: Daniel and the lions
  3. Form: Historiated initial "A," 6 lines
  4. Text: Daniel 1:1

fol. 370r:

  1. W.51, fol. 370r
  2. Title: God speaks to Hosea
  3. Form: Historiated initial "U," 6 lines
  4. Text: Hosea 1:1

fol. 374v:

  1. W.51, fol. 374v
  2. Title: Amos as shepherd
  3. Form: Historiated initial "U," 5 lines
  4. Text: Amos 1:1

fol. 377v:

  1. W.51, fol. 377v
  2. Title: Jonah and the whale
  3. Form: Historiated initial "E," 6 lines
  4. Text: Jonah 1:1

fol. 378v:

  1. W.51, fol. 378v
  2. Title: Micah addresses followers
  3. Form: Historiated initial "U," 6 lines
  4. Text: Micah 1:1

fol. 389v:

  1. W.51, fol. 389v
  2. Title: Knight on horseback
  3. Form: Historiated initial "E," 6 lines
  4. Text: I Maccabees 1:1

fol. 414r:

  1. W.51, fol. 414r
  2. Title: Matthew writing
  3. Form: Historiated initial "L," 6 lines
  4. Text: Matthew 1:1

fol. 426v:

  1. W.51, fol. 426v
  2. Title: Lion and cub
  3. Form: Historiated initial "M," 6 lines
  4. Text: Prologue to Mark

fol. 435r:

  1. W.51, fol. 435r
  2. Title: Sacrifice of ox
  3. Form: Historiated initial "F," 6 lines
  4. Text: Luke 1:5

fol. 450r:

  1. W.51, fol. 450r
  2. Title: St. John with eagle
  3. Form: Historiated initial "I," 14 lines
  4. Text: John 1:1

fol. 461r:

  1. W.51, fol. 461r
  2. Title: St. Luke writing, with marginal figure of St. John
  3. Form: Historiated initial "P," 6 lines
  4. Text: Acts 1:1
  5. Comment:

    The figure of St. John, who stands on an eagle and points toward a particular passage, is probably a later addition

fol. 477v:

  1. W.51, fol. 477v
  2. Title: St. Paul writing
  3. Form: Historiated initial "P," 6 lines
  4. Text: Romans 1:1

fol. 492r:

  1. W.51, fol. 492r
  2. Title: Initial with lion; figure in margin
  3. Form: Inhabited initial "P," 6 lines
  4. Text: Galatians 1:1

fol. 508v:

  1. W.51, fol. 508v
  2. Title: St. Peter with key
  3. Form: Historiated initial "P," 5 lines
  4. Text: 1 Peter 1:1

fol. 513r:

  1. W.51, fol. 513r
  2. Title: St. John writing
  3. Form: Historiated initial "A," 6 lines
  4. Text: Apocalypse 1:1


The binding is not original.

Eighteenth-century gilt red morocco, with tooled spine and title "Biblia Latina M.ss sur Velin;" gilt edges; marbled paper pastedowns


Created in England, ca. 1260 CE

Ca. 1300, England, embellished with images of Three Lving and Three Dead (fols. 1v-2r), as well as various marginal illustrations

Owned by "Mr. Hulinx Borum fro S. Moris," England, sixteenth-century (inscription fol. 1r)

Seventeenth-century owner's notes in Latin (fol. 1r)

France, eighteenth-century, rebound, with unidentified owner's bookplate on inner board: D + G with crown above, "Faire bien chercher mieux"

Henry Walters, Baltimore, before 1931; by purchase from Léon Gruel, Paris


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


De Ricci, Seymour, and W.J. Wilson. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. 2 vols. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935, p. 76, no. 46.

Walters Art Gallery. Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Baltimore: Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery, 1949, no. 45.

Diringer, David. The Illuminated Book, Its History and Production. New York: Philosophical Library, 1958, p. 384.

Walters Art Gallery. 2,000 Years of Calligraphy. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1965, no. 25.

Daneu Lattanzi, Angela. Lineamenti di storia della miniatura in Sicilia. Florence: L.S. Olschki, 1966, pp. 102-103.

Berkowitz, David. In Remembrance of Creation: Evolution of Art and Scholarship in the Medieval and Renaissance Bible. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 1968, p. 41, no. 70.

Bologna, Ferdinando. I pittori alla corte angioina di Napoli, 1266-1414, e un riesame dell’arte nell’età fridericiana. Rome: U. Bozzi, 1969, pl. I-22.

Sandler, Lucy Freeman. The Psalter of Robert de Lisle in the British Library. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

Sandler, Lucy Freeman. Gothic Manuscripts, 1285-1385. 2 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 73, no. 18.

Chihaia, Pavel. Immortalité et Décomposition dans l’art du Moyen Age. Madrid: Fondation Culturelle Roumaine, 1988, fig. 12, fols. 1-2.

Ormrod, W.M, and Phillip Lindley, eds. The Black Death in England, 1348-1500. Stamford, CT: Paul Watkins, 1996, fol. 2.


Principal catalogers: Noel, William; Smith, Kathryn

Cataloger: Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editors: Herbert, Lynley; Noel, William

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Bockrath, Diane; Emery, Doug; Noel, William; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.