Department or Program

Art and Visual Culture


The journey of The Psalter-Hours of Isabelle de France (Cambridge, Fitzwilliam, MS 300) begins in a Parisian scriptorium under the commission of the French King, Louis IX (1226-1270). Beginning in the thirteenth century and moving into nineteenth and twentieth century manuscript collections, this thesis will trace the history of The Psalter-Hours of Isabelle de France. It is understood that King Louis IX gave the Psalter-hours to his sister, Saint Isabelle de France, at her abbey at Longchamp. Through an analysis of its iconography and allegorical representations of the Capetian court, I will argue that Saint Isabelle de France used this manuscript for worship. The greater significance of the Psalter-hours’ iconography will be discussed in the nineteenth-century teaching collection of the art critic John Ruskin. As a symbol of artistic beauty and prestige in the classroom, I will touch upon Ruskin’s reasoning for dispersing its folio pages abroad. Ending in the twentieth century with its acquisition by Sydney Cockerell for the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, UK, this thesis will argue that The Psalter-Hours of Isabelle de France was instrumental in modern manuscript-collecting practices. The journey into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries provides an exploration of the prominence of the Psalter-hours in the collections of manuscript enthusiasts and their understanding of its thirteenth century context. This thesis will introduce the conversations the Psalter-hours facilitated between manuscript collectors and their impact on the legacy of Saint Isabelle de France’s association with this magnificent illumination.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Boomer, Megan

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Open Access

Available to all.