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.1, Gospel Book

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

Shelf mark



Gospel Book

Text title
Gospel Book


Completed in Brittany in the early tenth century, this Gospel Book features three full-page miniatures and four large decorated initials. Reliance on a Carolingian model influenced by the Tours school of illumination is shown in the poses of the three extant evangelist portraits. Jonathan Alexander has suggested significant similarities between four other Gospel Books and W.1, all completed between the late ninth century and early tenth century (see Alexander, 1986). One Gospel Book in particular, Alençon 84, appears to have been produced in the same scriptorium as W.1, possibly by the same artists.


Ca. 900-25 CE









The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Support material


Parchment medium- to heavy-weight, with flaws and early mends visible


Foliation: iii+167+i

Palimpsests in last two quires


Formula: Quires 1-20: 8 (fols. 1-160); Quire 21: 8, with eighth folio cancelled (fols. 161-167)

Comments: Quires 5-6: misbound, in reverse order


18.0 cm wide by 24.5 cm high

Written surface

11.0 cm wide by 18.0 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 25
  3. Ruled with stylus on hair-side of outermost bifolio of each quire; written in brown ink, many scribal hands throughout

fols. 1r - 167v:
  1. Title: Gospel Book
  2. Text note: Ammonian section numbers present in margins; occasional letters and symbols in margins, added early; brief imprecations in Latin, in margins, added intermittently; nineteenth-century marginal notations added in French clarifying sequence of misbound text
  3. Hand note: Written in Carolingian miniscule
  4. Decoration note: Three extant full-page Evangelist portraits (lacking portrait of Matthew), four large decorated initials
fols. 1r - 32v; 41r - 48v; 33r - 36r:
  1. Title: Gospel of St. Matthew
  2. Incipit: Incipit Evangelium secundum liber generationis Ihesu Xristi, filii David, filii Abraham
  3. Decoration note: One large decorated initial on fol. 1r
fols. 36r - 40r; 49r - 72v:
  1. Title: Prologue and Book of St. Mark
  2. Incipit: Marcus Evangelista Dei, et Patri in baptismate
  3. Contents: Fols. 36r-v: Prologue to Mark; fols. 36v-38r: Chapter list, termed "Breviarium;" fols. 39r-72v: Gospel of St. Mark
  4. Decoration note: One full-page portrait on fol. 38v
fols. 72v - 122v:
  1. Title: Prologue and Book of St. Luke
  2. Incipit: Quoniam quidem
  3. Contents: Fols. 72v-73r: Prologue to Luke, termed "Argumentum;" fols. 73v-77r: Chapter list, termed "Capitula;" fols. 78r-122v: Gospel of St. Luke
  4. Decoration note: One full-page portrait on fol. 77v, one large decorated initial on fol. 78r
fols. 122r - 155v:
  1. Title: Prologue and Book of St. John
  2. Contents: Fols. 122v-123v: Prlogue to John, termed "Breviarius;" fols. 123v-124r: Chapter list, termed "Breviarius;" fols. 125r-155v: Gospel of St. John
  3. Decoration note: One full-page portrait on fol. 124v; one large decorated initial on fol. 125r
fols. 156r - 167v:
  1. Title: List of pericopes for the liturgical year
  2. Rubric: Incipit capitulare
  3. Contents: List of pericopes for the liturgical year, termed "Capitulare;" ends imperfectly with St. Theodore (Nov. 9)


fol. 1r:

  1. W.1, fol. 1r
  2. Title: Large decorated initial
  3. Form: Inhabited initial "L," 22 lines

fol. 38v:

  1. W.1, fol. 38v
  2. Title: St. Mark
  3. Form: Full-page miniature

fol. 39r:

  1. W.1, fol. 39r
  2. Title: Inhabited initial "I"
  3. Form: Full-page length initial "I"

fol. 77v:

  1. W.1, fol. 77v
  2. Title: St. Luke
  3. Form: Full-page miniature

fol. 78r:

  1. W.1, fol. 78r
  2. Title: Large Decorated initial "Q"
  3. Form: Inhabited initial "Q," 8 lines

fol. 124v:

  1. W.1, fol. 124v
  2. Title: St. John
  3. Form: Full-page miniature

fol. 125r:

  1. W.1, fol. 125r
  2. Title: Large decorated initial "I"
  3. Form: Large decorated initial "I," 23 lines


The binding is not original.

Modern vellum, New York: Macdonald, 1949; replacing green calf binding applied in Limoges, ca. nineteenth century


Created ca. 900-925 in Brittany

Malevergne de Lafaye, 1838, notary in Limoges; his ownership entry recording purchase of codex for 50 francs on March 20, 1838

Léon or Paul Gruel, Paris, ca. late eighteenth century or early nineteenth century; firm's sale slip numbered "1304" in file

Henry Walters, Baltimore, purchased from Gruel before 1931


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. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935; p. 767, cat. no. 61.

L.M. Micheli, L'enluminure du haut moyen âge et les influences irlandais. (Brussels, 1939), p. 99

F. Wormald, An Early Breton Gospel-Book: A Ninth-Century Manuscript from the Collection of H.L. Bradfer-Lawrence (1887-1965), ed. J.J.G. Alexander (Cambridge, Roxburghe Club, 1977), pp. 15-22, passim

J.J.G. Alexander, "La résistance à la domination culturelle carolingienne dans l'art breton du IXe siècle: Le témoignage de l'enluminure des manuscrits," Landévennec et le monachisme breton dans le haut moyen âge. Actes du colloque du 15th centenaire de l'abbaye de Landévennec, 25-26-27 April 1985 (Bannalec, 1986), pp. 270-271, Fig. 3 (fol. 124v)

J.L. Deuffic, "La production manuscrite des scriptoria bretons," ibid., p. 294


Principal cataloger: Randall, Lilian M.C.

Cataloger: Herbold, Rebekah

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Conservator: Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Emery, Doug; Herbold, Rebekah; Tabritha, Ariel; Wiegand, Kimber


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-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.