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The Corpus Apocalypse

The Most Lavishly Illustrated Apocalypse of the Gothic Era

Munich Golden Psalter - fine art facsimile edition

Ms. 20
Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (UK)

Facsimile edition by Quaternio Verlag Luzern (Switzerland), 2012.

View The Corpus Apocalypse on

The last dinner - Golden Munich Psalter, fine facsimile edition

  • Illuminated manuscript
  • ca. 1335–1339 - London
  • 72 leaves, 37 x 26 cm
  • Apocalypse + St Paul's Visions of Hell + Coronation Order
  • Limited edition of 680 copies
  • Plexiglass display case
  • Commentary (English and German)

Stacks Image 148
Price On Request
Substantial discount is available for Cultural Institutions.
Sublime Wealth of Decoration

Since 1575 the Parker Library at the renowned Corpus Christi College in Cambridge has been home to the most lavishly ornamented English Apocalypse manuscript of the fourteenth century. Measuring 37 × 26 centimetres and containing 72 pages, the manuscript features a dense series of no less than 121 large miniatures in brilliant colours and sparkling gold and silver. Most of the glowing gold surfaces are decorated with delicate chasing. Fascinating images of dramatic events are depicted on imaginatively patterned backgrounds. 280 blue initials with red flourishing and 59 golden initials ornament the Anglo-Norman French and Latin texts.

The Book with Seven Seals
Mysterious and Inspiring
A gorgeous opening from the facsimile edition of the Munich Golden Psalter

“Apocalypse” commonly refers to the Book of Revelation of Saint John, the last book of the New Testament. St John, exiled by Emperor Domitian (51–96 AD) to the Greek island of Patmos, experienced his vision of the end of the world and the Day of Judgment, followed by the dawn of the Kingdom of God, and he wrote it all down in a strongly metaphorical language.

The powerful eloquence and symbolism of this text, composed toward the end of the first century, has always fascinated and inspired western civilization. During the Middle Ages the Apocalypse was one of the most frequently commented books, and its various interpretations exercised considerable influence over the entire concept of western history.

A Unique Combination:
Apocalypse – Descent of St Paul into Hell and his Visions – English Coronation Order

In its wealth of miniatures, the Corpus Apocalypse surpasses all other Apocalypse manuscripts of its time. Its content, too, is unique: besides the Revelation of St John, it also contains a richly illustrated version of the Apostle Paul’s Visions of Hell, as well as a transcript of the English Coronation Order used at the coronation of Edward II.

The compilation of these three texts into one single codex is absolutely unique. Furthermore, a bookbinder did not simply bind together pre-existing texts, as was often the practice; rather, the manuscript was written down within a single campaign, by a single scribe, and illuminated by one master—perhaps two at the most. Taking this into consideration, it can be assumed that the unusual combination was explicitly requested from the start by the patron who commissioned the work.

For the first time: Visions of St Paul in Pictures of a Facsimile Edition
An historiated initials from the Munich Golden Psalter, facsimile edition

The majority of the book consists of 60 folios with 106 miniatures depicting the Revelation of St John. St Paul’s Apocalypse, with fourteen miniatures, takes up the next eight leaves. For the first time ever, the impressive cycle of pictures of the Visions of Hell ascribed to St Paul is available in this facsimile edition of the Corpus Apocalypse. Lastly, a full-page, ceremonial miniature begins the transcript of the Coronation Order.

Splendid Manuscript for a Dignitary at the English Court

This extravagant, splendid manuscript was created by one or two masters in a period of intensive work between 1335 and 1339 for Henry de Cobham, first Lord Cobham, a dignitary at the English court. In the late fourteenth century the Cobhams were one of the leading families, with large estates in south-eastern England. Henry was the First Baron of the Exchequer in Westminster. He had inherited the right to carry the canopy beneath which the monarch walked at his coronation. Lord Cobham took part in the coronation of Edward II in 1308.

Fine Art Facsimile Edition
Golden Munich Psalter, fine facsimile edition by Quaternio Verlag Luzern

After the death of Henry de Cobham in 1339 the Corpus Apocalypse passed into the hands of Juliana de Leybourn, who made a bequest of the manuscript to the Benedictine abbey of St. Augustine in Canterbury in 1367. The abbey was dissolved in 1538, and during the unsettled period of the Reformation the passionate book and manuscript collector Matthew Parker (1504–1575) acquired and rescued hundreds of manuscripts.

Parker was Master of Corpus Christi College in Cambridge for nine years, and later the vice chancellor of Cambridge University. In 1559 Elizabeth I created him Archbishop of Canterbury, ecclesiastical head of the Church of England. In the year before his death he made a will leaving his collection of 480 manuscripts to his old college, forming the basis for what is now the famous Parker Library.