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.10, Helmarshausen Psalter

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

Shelf mark



Helmarshausen Psalter

Text title


This small volume of psalms was created for the private use of a noble lady, probably a relative of Duke Henry the Lion (1129-1195). It was made at Helmarshausen, the same monastery that produced the sumptuous Gospels of Henry the Lion, which sold at auction in 1983 for nearly 12 million dollars, making it the most expensive art object sold to that point. This psalter is much smaller and less elaborate than the Gospels, with only three miniatures, but the quality is very high. The identity of the manuscript’s owner, the lady pictured on fol. 6v, has been the subject of much debate. Scholars have conjectured that she is Gertrud, Henry’s daughter, Clementia, his first wife, or Matilda, his second wife. Because the portrait bears no inscription, and because the facing page, which may have shown the lady’s patron saint, is missing, the question must remain open.


Second half of the 12th century CE


Helmarshausen, Germany


Supplied name: Herimann

Note: Herimann was the same monk responsible for the Gospels of Henry the Lion






The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Support material


Well-prepared, medium-weight parchment


Foliation: i+125+i

First and last pages are parchment and have been foliated but are not original to the manuscript and are therefore added flyleaves; modern pencil foliation, upper right corners, rectos


Formula: Undetermined due to the fragile nature of the manuscript



6.5 cm wide by 11.5 cm high

Written surface

4.0 cm wide by 9.2 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 26
  3. Layout does not apply to calendar (2 columns, 32 ruled lines)

fols. 1r - 125v:
  1. Title: Psalter
  2. Hand note: Late Carolingian miniscule; for a full description of the hand, see Krüger 1972, pp. 290-301
  3. Decoration note: Three full-page miniatures at beginnings of three parts; three half-page decorated initials set on lavender background, and enclosed in frames, with following text in gold (7-13 lines); one smaller initial on half-page background to introduce Psalm 109; initials in gold, blue, and green begin each Psalm (2 lines); rubrics in red; text in brown ink
fols. 2r - 6r:
  1. Title: Calendar
  2. Rubric: Aprilis habet dies xxx. Luna xxviiii
  3. Contents: Calendar for April through December (first three months lacking); calendar is full; major feasts in gold; three saints (Modoaldus, Vitus, Martinus) in gold; Egyptian days and zodiacal notes in red; other text in brown ink
fols. 6v - 111v:
  1. Title: Liturgical psalter
  2. Incipit: Beatus vir
  3. Contents: Tripartite psalter, with divisions at Psalms 1, 51, and 101; Psalm 109 added
  4. Decoration note: Full-page miniatures fols. 6v, 41v, and 77v; decorated initials fols. 7r, 42r, 78r, and 88v
fols. 111v - 121v:
  1. Title: Canticles, hymns, and creeds
  2. Rubric: Canticum Ysaiae
  3. Incipit: Confitebor tibi
fols. 121v - 124r:
  1. Title: Litany, petitions, and collects
  2. Incipit: Kyrieleyson
  3. Contents: Fols. 121v-122v: Litany, contents suggest use in Helmarshausen or Trier, containing eighteen martyrs; twelve confessors including Modoaldus and Remaclus; thirteen virgins; fols. 122v-123v: petitions; fols. 123v-124r: five collects
fols. 124r - 126v:
  1. Title: Minor office of the dead
  2. Incipit: Placebo domino
  3. Contents: Ends imperfectly in the middle of an antiphon for lauds "venit ad me non eiciam..."


fol. 6v:

  1. W.10, fol. 6v
  2. Title: Noble lady at prayer
  3. Form: Full-page miniature
  4. Text: Psalm 1
  5. Comment:

    The lady pictured is most likely a relative of Duke Henry the Lion, perhaps one of his wives, Clementia von Zährigen or Matilda, or his daughter Gertrud.

fol. 7r:

  1. W.10, fol. 7r
  2. Title: Initial "B" (Beatus vir)
  3. Form: Decorated initial "B," 13 lines
  4. Text: Psalm 1

fol. 41v:

  1. W.10, fol. 41v
  2. Title: Christ on the Cross, with Mary and St. John
  3. Form: Full-page miniature
  4. Text: Psalm 51

fol. 42r:

  1. W.10, fol. 42r
  2. Title: Initial "Q" (Quid gloriaris)
  3. Form: Decorated initial "Q," 7 lines
  4. Text: Psalm 51

fol. 77v:

  1. W.10, fol. 77v
  2. Title: Christ in Majesty
  3. Form: Full-page miniature
  4. Text: Psalm 101

fol. 78r:

  1. W.10, fol. 78r
  2. Title: Initial "D" (Domine exaudi)
  3. Form: Decorated initial "D," 7 lines
  4. Text: Psalm 101

fol. 88v:

  1. W.10, fol. 88v
  2. Title: Initial "D" (Dixit dominus)
  3. Form: Decorated initial "D," 7 lines
  4. Text: Psalm 109


The binding is not original.

Red velvet (probably added by Gruel) over sixteenth- or seventeenth-century beech boards; upper and outer margins clipped; edges gilt and inscribed with a pattern of stars within arches


Created at the monastery of Helmarshausen in Westphalia, second half of twelfth century, by Herimann for a female relative of Henry the Lion

Petrus Grillinger, Canon of Salzburg, early fifteenth century; inscription on fol. 126v reads "Hic liber fuit domini petri Grillinger Magistri Kamere Curie Salzbur[gensis]"

Gruel and Engelmann collection, late nineteenth or early twentieth century; bookplate on upper pastedown, inscribed "136"

Henry Walters, Baltimore, by purchase, probably from Gruel


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


Walters Art Gallery. Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages and Renaissance: An Exhibition Held at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Baltimore: Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery, 1949, p. 11, no. 24.

Krüger, Ekkehard. Die Schreib- und Malwerkstatt der Abtei Helmarshausen bis in die Zeit Heingrichs des Löwen. Darmstadt: Hessischen Historischen Kommission und der Historischen Kommission für Hessen und Waldeck, 1972, pp. 279-280, 696-713, figs. 66-69.

Jansen, Franz. Die Helmarshausener Buchmalerei zur Zeit Heinrichs des Löwen. Hildesheim and Leipzig: August Lax, 1933, pp. 149-150.

Hoffmann, Hartmut. Bücher and Urkunden aus Helmarshausen und Corvey. Hannover: Hahn, 1992, pp. 19-20.

Korzus, Bernard. Kunst und Kultur im Weserraum, 800-1600; Ausstellung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen. Münster in Westfalen: Aschendorff, 1966, pp. 495-496, no. 184.

Bagnoli, Martina. The Medieval World. Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 2011, p. 165, fig. 148.

Randall, Lilian M.C. Illuminated Manuscripts: Masterpieces in Miniature: Highlights from the Collection of the Walters Art Gallery. Baltimore: Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery, 1984.

Luckhardt, Jochen, and Franz Niehoff, eds. Heinrich der Löwe und seine Zeit: Herrschaft und Repräsentation der Welfen 1125-1235: Katalog der Ausstellung Braunschweig 1995. 3 vols. Munich: Hirmer, 1995, pp. 165, 167, no. D12.

Gosebruch, Martin. "'Labor est Herimanni': zum Evangeliar Heinrichs des Löwen." Abhandlungen der Braunschweigischen Wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft 35 (1983).

De Ricci, S. 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. 768, no. 73.

Klemm, Elisabeth. Das Evangeliar Heinrichs des Löwen. Frankfurt, 1989. 69-72.

Swarzenski, Hanns. "Recent Literature, Chiefly Periodical, in Medieval Minor Arts." Art Bulletin 24 (1942): pp. 287-304, at p. 296.

Goldschmidt, Adolph. "A German Psalter of the Twelfth Century Written in Helmarshausen." Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 1 (1938): pp. 18-23, figs. 1-7.


Cataloger: Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Conservators: Evers, Jennifer; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Bockrath, Diane; Emery, Doug; Hamburger, Jeffrey; Joyal, Stephanie; 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.