Inscribing Mentalities: Alan of Lille, The De Lisle Psalter Cherub, and Franciscan Meditation

  • Lawrence M. Clopper
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


London, British Library Arundel MS 83 II, the remains of a psalter commissioned by Lord Robert de Lisle about 1310–40, is a magnificent fragment of painted biblical scenes and a series of figures—trees, concentric circles, a tower—that form a body of moral, devotional, theological, and scientific schemata.1 Some of these figures are familiar from other sources—the Trees of Virtues and Vices—whereas many of the others occur only in the programs in the De Lisle Psalter and related manuscripts. Lucy Sandier has argued there is some connection between the psalter and the Franciscans because of Robert de Lisle’s association with the Franciscans as benefactor, his entry into the order late in life, and his burial in the London friary; because some of the images indicate that they derive from Franciscan sources; and because the Franciscan Johannes Metensis is named as the deviser of one of the figures, the Tunis sapiencie (Tower of Wisdom), which bears the title Speculum théologie.2 Sandier believes that Johannes Metensis is responsible for bringing together this compendium and designing some of the schemata; consequently, she refers to the whole collection as the Speculum théologie. I am not concerned with Sandler’s larger claim about origins; rather, I wish to provide additional evidence for the Franciscan character of the manuscript before turning to one of the figures, a cherub, that is indebted to an image created by the Cistercian Alan of Lille, but which inscribes a Franciscan mentality (figure 6.1).


British Library Lower Wing Cardinal Virtue Paperback Edition Medieval Literature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Franz Saxl, “A Spiritual Encyclopaedia of the Latin Middle Ages,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 5 (1942): 82–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    Marie-Thérèse d’Alverny, Alain de Lille: Textes Inédits, Études de philosophie médiévale 52 (Paris: J. Vrin, 1965), pp. 11–29.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    F.M. Powicke and C.R. Cheney, eds., Councils and Synods, with Other Documents Relating to the English Church, vol. 2, A.D. 1205–1313 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964), pt. 2, pp. 900–905.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Leonard E. Boyle, O.P., “The Fourth Lateran Council and Manuals of Popular Theology,” in The Popular Literature of Medieval England, ed. Thomas J. Heffernan (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1985), pp. 30–43.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    J.F. Niermeyer, Mediae latinitatis lexicon minus (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1976).Google Scholar
  6. Carleton T. Lewis and Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966).Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Adolf Katzenellenbogen, Allegories of the Virtues and Vices in Mediaeval Art: From Early Christian Times to the Thirteenth Century, trans. Alan J. Crick (New York: W.W. Norton, 1964).Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    Peter Biller, “Words and the Medieval Notion of ‘Religion’,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 36 (1985): 351–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 17.
    Morton W. Bloomfield, “Piers Plowman” as a Fourteenth-Century Apocalypse (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1961), pp. 135–43.Google Scholar
  10. 20.
    Mary Carruthers, The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  11. 28.
    André Vauchez, “The Stigmata of St. Francis and Its Medieval Detractors,” Greyfiiars Review 13 (1999): 61–89.Google Scholar
  12. 29.
    W.R. Thomson, “The Image of the Mendicants in the Chronicles of Matthew Paris,” Archivant franciscanum historicum 70 (1977): 3–34.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Bonnie Wheeler 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence M. Clopper

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations