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Walters Ms. W.796, Peter of Poitiers' Historical genealogy of Christ

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Peter of Poitiers' Historical genealogy of Christ

Text title
Compendium historiae in genealogia Christi


Authority name: Peter, of Poitiers, ca. 1130-1205


This English manuscript was created in the early thirteenth century soon after the death of its author, Peter of Poitiers, theologian and Chancellor of the University of Paris from 1193 to 1205. It is an early copy of his text, the Compendium historiae in genealogia Christi. Intended as a teaching aid, the work provides a visual genealogy of Christ comprised of portraits in roundels, accompanied by a text discussing the historical background of Christ's lineage. It also includes episodes from biblical history, including Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, the Nativity, the Virgin and Child, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. Early manuscripts like this tend to be in the form of a book, and other examples can be found in London, British Library Cotton MS Faustina B VII, and Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 83. Later manuscripts of this text are often presented in roll form.


Early 13th century CE








The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Support material


Heavy, cream-colored parchment with edges darkened from use


Foliation: ii+4+ii

Modern paper flyleaves; modern pencil foliation in upper right corners of rectos


Formula: i, 1(4), i

Catchwords: None

Signatures: None



24.5 cm wide by 34.4 cm high

Written surface

18.5 cm wide by 26.9 cm high

  1. Columns: 2-3
  2. Ruled lines: 58-61
  3. Written surface size varies by page, some text extends outside of ruled area

fols. 1r - 4r:
  1. Title: Compendium historiae in genealogia Christi
  2. Incipit: Considerans historie sacre prolixitatem
  3. Text note: Complete text of Peter of Poitiers' teaching manual on the genealogy of Christ
  4. Hand note: Written in Gothic bookhand
  5. Decoration note: Genealogical trees laid out over seven pages, with six small scenes (4-8 lines) and 289 portrait roundels (3-5 lines); blue, red, and green plain lines or decorative bands delineating branches of genealogy; enlarged initials throughout (1-5 lines) in red and blue, some with penwork accents; rubrics in red; text in black ink


fol. 1r:

  1. W.796, fol. 1r
  2. Title: Genealogy of Christ from Adam to Thare, with Adam and Eve as well as Noah's Ark
  3. Form: Small miniatures, 7-8 lines; roundels, 3 lines

fol. 1v:

  1. W.796, fol. 1v
  2. Title: Genealogy of Christ from Thare to Zaram
  3. Form: Roundels, 3-6 lines

fol. 2r:

  1. W.796, fol. 2r
  2. Title: Genealogy of Christ from Jesse to Salomon
  3. Form: Roundels, 3-5 lines

fol. 2v:

  1. W.796, fol. 2v
  2. Title: Genealogy of Christ from Achmas to Ioram
  3. Form: Roundels, 3 lines

fol. 3r:

  1. W.796, fol. 3r
  2. Title: Genealogy of Christ from Ioiada to Sargon
  3. Form: Roundels, 3 lines

fol. 3v:

  1. W.796, fol. 3v
  2. Title: Genealogy of Christ from Iosedec to Xerses
  3. Form: Roundels, 3 lines

fol. 4r:

  1. W.796, fol. 4r
  2. Title: Genealogy of Christ from Herodes to Tiberius Cesar, with Nativity, Virgin and Child, Crucifixion, and Resurrection
  3. Form: Roundels, 3-5 lines


The binding is not original.

Nineteenth-century; cream-colored parchment binding by Robert Rivière; spine inscribed in gold with "STEMMA JESU CHRISTI"


Made in England, early thirteenth century

William Salloch, Ossining, New York; purchased by the Walters Art Museum from his sale in 1981, catalog 375, no. 43


Museum purchase, 1981


Principal catalogers: Herbert, Lynley; Noel, William; Smith, Kathryn

Editors: Herbert, Lynley; Noel, William

Copy editor: Joyal, Stephanie

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Bockrath, Diane; Dutschke, Consuelo; 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.