Semester of Graduation

Spring 2020


Master of Arts (MA)


The School of Art

Document Type



The so-called Psalter of Blanche of Castile (Psautier latin dit de saint Louis et de Blanche de Castille, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Paris, MS 1186 réserve) is a well-preserved illuminated manuscript made in Paris in the first half of the thirteenth century. As a devotional book, it witnesses the concerns of a thirteenth century individual of high rank, most likely a woman. As its modern name indicates, scholars link its existence to the Queen of France Blanche of Castile (4 March 1188 – 27 November 1252; r. 1226-34, 1248-52). No firm documentation, however, attests to the circumstances of its making, nor to its patron, intended audience and first owner. Scholars have studied the text and the miniatures in the hope of finding some clue as to who commissioned it, who created it, and the reasons behind a choice of miniatures and format atypical in comparison with other Psalters made in Paris over the course of the thirteenth century. In studying the Psalter of Blanche of Castile, I find myself intrigued by issues of patronage and context, and unconvinced by some of the arguments and conclusions put forward by scholars who have studied this manuscript. In the following pages, through close examination of the miniatures and comparison with other Psalters, as well as consideration of both the evidence and its interpretation by a number of scholars, I draw new conclusions – some firmly based on the existing evidence and some of a more speculative kind – about the patronage, audience, and ownership of the Psalter of Blanche of Castile.

Committee Chair

Geymonat, Ludovico