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Vaticinia pontificum

Maker(s) &

, production, Italy, Northern Italy, Verona, probably Verona


illuminated manuscript


other; type of text


circa 1431 circa 1447


fifteenth century, second half


PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, iii modern parchment flyleaves + 14 fols. + iii modern parchment flyleaves, 255 x 178 mm (190 x 110 mm), varying number of lines, ruled in brown ink, bifolio which formed the outer leaves of the second quire (before fol. 9 and after fol. 14) lost

BINDING: Twentieth century, gold-tooled brown morocco over pasteboards, lettered on spine JOACHIMI ABBATIS VATICINIA, by F. Bedford.

CONTENTS: fols. 1r-14v Vaticinia pontificum

DECORATION: Twenty-eight unframed pen and ink drawings accompanied by text and mottoes:
fol. 1r Nicholas III (Giovanni Orsini) enthroned, holding a palm branch, with a dove hovering above it among nine stars, feeding a bear, while another bear paws his knees; text: [A]scende calve ne amplius decalveris…Dominus Jacobus de Ursinis Nicolaus papa...; motto: Stelas (sic) congregabit ut in celi firmamento luceant.
fol. 1v Martin IV (Simon de Brie) standing, touching the beak of an eagle with his processional cross, trees on either side; text: [P]ost lunam ascendet mars sciens…Dominus Simon canonicus turonensis Martinus papa quartus…; motto: Clavibus claudet et nemo aperiet.
fol. 2r Honorius IV (Giacomo Savelli) standing, holding a key and threatened by an armed man with a bludgeon, decapitated head on ground between them; text: [A]ccipe supplantor excelsos honores…Dominus Jacobus de sabellis, Honorius papa quartus…; motto: Duros corporis substinebis dolores seu labores.
fol. 2v Nicholas IV (Girolamo Masci) enthroned between female personifications of the Eastern (in turban) and Western (with nimb) Church, holding out a brimming chalice to the Eastern Church and his left hand to the Western Church, winged dragon clinging to his robe; text: [M]emini me ad masimum gradum…Frater Geronimus ordinis minorum Nicolaus…; motto: Oriens bibet de calice ire dei.
fol. 3r Celestine V (Pietro di Murrone) kneeling and praying to a hand of blessing emerging from a bush, a fox crawling up his back, the standard of St Peter behind; text: [B]enedictus qui venit in nomine domini…Frater Petrus de morrono celestinus papa quintus sanctus; motto: Voce vulpine perdet principatum.
fol. 3v Boniface VIII (Benedetto Gaetano) standing, touching the head of a bird with his cross, another bird hanging from his hand which holds the keys, a cockerel on his right, a monk (Celestine V after his resignation) sitting on his left; text: [E]cce homo de schariotis progenie…Dominus Benedictus Gaienatus Bonifacius papa octavus; motto: Fraudulenter intrasti potenter regnasti gemens morieris.
fol. 4r Benedict XI (Nichola Boccasini) standing, looking at a dragon rampant in front of a tree, a bird flying towards pope’s head; text: [H]ec avis est nigerima corvine generis…Frater Nicolaus de tarvisio ordinis predicatorum Benedictus papa undecimus eius vita et mors clara fuit; motto: Viri fortis invidie orbabuntur.
fol. 4v Clement V (Raymond Bertrand de Got) riding away from a nimbed personification of the Church who stands weeping in a doorway (exile to Avignon); text: [V]ide hic babilonice sponsum fugientem sponsam suam…Dominus Beltrandus Guasco Clemens papa quintus vagabundus; motto: Mobiles et immobilis et maria plura devastabit.
fol. 5r John XXII (Jacques d’Euse) standing, holding a flabellum and papal keys, surmounted by a spread eagle, a sword hanging down from his mouth and touching the back of the Paschal Lamb at his feet, on his right a monster with dragon’s wings and tail and the head of the Anti-pope reaches out for papal keys; text: [D]e infirmo genere ascendet…Dominus jacobus de caturchio Johannes papa vigesimosecundus pessimus; motto: Contra columban ymago turpissima clericorum pugnabit.
fol. 5v Benedict XII (Jacques Fournier) standing, pointing to a cloud surrounding seven stars, a dove at his feet, a tiara surmounting a crown behind; text: [D]e suburbanis montuosis de terra candida…Dominus Jacobus de firnio Benedictus papa duodecimus; motto: Sex planetas lucidabit et unus fulgorem finaliter excedet.
fol. 6r Clement VI (Pierre Roger) standing, wearing a metal girdle under his cloak, a serpent hanging from his sleeve, holding papal keys and an upturned cross, a sheep’s head and a cockerel at his feet; text: [A]lta ascendet duplici benedicione…Dominus Petrus rogerii Clemens papa sextus; motto: Stollam suam in sanguine agni dealbabitis.
fol. 6v Innocent VI (Etienne Aubert) standing within a coronet, holding papal keys and a knife, a wolf facing the Pope and standing beneath the keys with his forepaws resting on the handle of a sword, trees on either side; text: [A]d honores ascendet duplices…Dominus Stephanus de [Aubert] Ynnocentius papa sextus; motto: Lupus cum agno habitabit Daniel propheta.
fol. 7r Urban V (Guillaume de Grimoard) enthroned, holding papal keys and flabellum, angel flying down to touch the keys, God’s hand emerging from clouds on left, peacock at foot of throne; text: [A]d alta alta vocaberis o princeps…Dominus Guillielmus de Grisant Urbanus papa quintus; motto: Aperiet librum scriptum digito dei vivi iste.
fol. 7v Gregory XI (Pierre Roger de Beaufort) standing, holding a pilgrim’s staff, threatened by a man in armour pointing a sword at the Pope’s neck, a hand emerging from cloud holds the hilt of the sword, three spears and two swords upturned on either side of the man; text: [O]bscuratum est aurum…Dominus Petrus de belfortis Gregorius papa undecimus; motto: Flores rubei odoriferam distilabunt aquam.
fol. 8r Urban VI (Bartolomeo Prignano) as a monster with a dragon’s body and a crowned head standing among clouds, his tail encircling seven stars, three more stars above, and ending in a beast’s head holding a sword in its jaws, crescent moon enclosing five stars on right; text: [H]ec est altima fera terribilis aspectu…Dominus Bartolomeus archiepiscopus barensis Vurbanus (sic) papa sextus; motto: Teribilis (sic) es et quis resistet tibi.
fol. 8v Boniface IX (Piero Tomacelli) standing between two bears, a third resting on his shoulders, trees on either side; related text and motto missing; beginning of second series or prophecies, [I]ncipiunt alie distinctiones proprie venerabilis et deo devoti Anselmi morsicani quas obtiunuit a deo de anno 1268 et post Boniffacii octavi obitum fuerunt publicate perusii Dominicino fuerunt apud multas excelentes personas . Potens est dominus mutare propositum quia in manus eius etc.; image and prophecy related to Innocent VII lost with the leaf missing after fol. 8.
fol. 9r Gregory XII (Angelo Corrario or Correr) enthroned, a bird above his tiara, laying his right hand on the head of a child, a unicorn rampant on the right; text: [D]uplicum triticum…Dominus Angelus corario Gregorius papa duodecimus; motto: Penitencia tenebit Simonis magi vestigia.
fol. 9v Alexander V (Pietro Philarghi), three columns supporting the bust of a king (left), the bust of a monk (centre), and an arm holding a blade to the monk’s head; text: [I]ste colus quartus a bursa careens…Frater Petrus de candia ordinis minorum Alexander papa quintus; motto: Confusio Error incitabitur.
fol. 10r (Anti-Pope) John XXIII (Baldassarre Cossa) standing, dressed as a monk, holding a sickle and a rose, leg irons and detached leg (or piece of leg armour) on the ground; text: [V]ide iterum alienum existens…Dominus baldesar cossa de neapoli Johannes papa vigesimisus tercius; motto: Elacio paupertas obediencia castitas temperancia castrimargia et ypocrisorum destructio.
fol. 10v Martin V (Oddone Colonna) standing with hands crossed over his chest, looking at busts of king and queen, a bull sitting at his feet and pawing his cloak; text: [V]acha ante quantum et filii urse…Dominus Otto de la colonna martinus papa quintus; motto: Incisio ypocresim in abominacione erit.
fol. 11r Eugene IV (Gabriello Condulmaro or Condulmerio) standing with arms folded over his chest, looking down at bear with cubs; text: [A]lia ursa secunda pascens catulos…Dominus Gabriel condalmer de veneciis Heugenius papa quartus; motto: Occisio filii babel sectabuntur.
fol. 11v Nicholas V [name added by later hand] (Tommaso Parentucelli), walled city with two groups of armed men facing one another from opposite turrets, papal flag flying above the group on the right; text: [H]eu misera substinens passiones, civitas miserabilis ut appareat…; motto: Potestas cenobia ad locum pastorum redibunt.
fol. 12r Callistus III (Alfonso de Borgia) [name added by later hand] standing and blessing a fox or a wolf which carries the papal key and two papal standards; text: [V]ulpinam figurasti amiciciam patientem sensum…; motto: Bona gratia Simonia cessabit.
fol. 12v Pius II [name added by later hand] (Enea Silvio Piccolomini), Rome surrounded by walls, seven large dismembered hands emerging among turrets; text: [U]e tibi civitas septicolis quam R littera laudabilis…; motto: Potestas unitas erit.
fol. 13r Paul II [name added by later hand] (Pietro Barbo), tonsured man in a loin-cloth seated on a river bank beneath a tree, coins falling from his right hand, an open chest and a money bag on the ground, old man in tattered clothes standing on the right; text: [E]t revelabitur virtus qui habet prenomen…; motto: Bona operacio thesaurus pauperibus erigabitur.
fol. 13v Sixtus IV [name added by later hand] (Francesco della Rovere) standing nimbed, holding the tiara and looking down at four sheep on the ground; text: [M]ortuus nunc et oblitus et aspectas noverunt…; motto: Bona intencio caritas habundabit.
fol. 14r Innocent VIII [name added by later hand] (Giovanni Battista Cibò) standing and praying, an angel flying down to crown him; text: [E]cce item homo de primo genere abscondito…; motto: Prevaricatio concordia fiet.
fol. 14v Alexander VI [name added by later hand] (Rodrigo Borgia) enthroned, holding a book, three angels holding up a canopy behind him; text: [R]ecipe donum ne pigriteris senex…; motto: Bona occasio vivencium sacra cessabunt.

ORNAMENTATION: Red paraph marks introducing the identifications of prophecies with individual popes; capital letters of names highlighted in red; blank spaces left for the initials to each prophecy (some initials supplied by later hands).


illumination; whole


parchment; support
gold; medium




presented; 1934; The Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum


John Postle Heseltine (1843-1929), his bookplate inside upper cover; purchased at Sotheby’s, London, 7-8 May 1934, lot 66 and presented by the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum.


Heseltine, John Postle; previous owner


secundo folio; [a]ccipe supplantor


Wormald, F. and Giles, P. M.. 1982. A descriptive catalogue of the additional illuminated manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum.Cambridge (Cambs.): p. 363-65

Morgan, Nigel. Panayotova, Stella. Reynolds, Suzanne. 2011. A Catalogue of Western Book Illumination in the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Cambridge Colleges. Part Two. Vols. 1-2: Italy and the Iberian Peninsula.London: Harvey Miller Publishers
cat. no. 61


Object Number: MS 365
(Manuscripts and Printed Books)
(record id: 178467; input: 2010-11-09; modified: 2017-04-04)


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