Treasures in the Royal Library

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Latin Psalter (the “Copenhagen Psalter” or the “Folkunge Psalter”). England 1175-1200.
Thott 143 2º. Parchment, 199 ff.

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Front cover Fol. 9v: The birth of Christ Fol. 14v: The crucifixion Fol. 16v: A subsequently
added prayer for the soul
of Birger Jarl.
In the margin a historic
commentary, probably
from the late 17th century
Fol. 17r: Psalm 1

This manuscript contains the Latin translation of the 150 texts in the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. Prior to these there is a calendar and a cycle of full-page illuminations with motifs from the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ, starting with the Annunciation and concluding with Christ on his throne in Heaven. All 150 psalms start with richly ornamented initials. Everything is done with an aesthetic mastery which places this psalter among the principal works of art from the 12th century.
The Psalter is produced by a group of scribes and painters in England during the latter part of the 12th century. It is a commissioned work, probably for the Danish royal family. In the calendar which indicates on which days of the year certain saints were to be celebrated, a note in Latin has been added on the 27th day of the month of May which translates into: In the year of our Lord 1272 the esteemed Duke Erik of Jutland, King Abel’s son, died. Duke Erik was the son of King Abel and Mechtilde, who following the death of the king married Birger Jarl of the Swedish folkunge family. The manuscript contains a subsequently added prayer for Duke Birger’s soul. This is why the manuscript acquired one of its names, the Folkunge Psalter.

28.6 x 19.8 cm.

See the entire manuscript on the website of the Manuscript and Rare Books Department The Copenhagen Psalter.

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