Treatises by the Venerable Bede and Catalog of Constellations


This manuscript consists of a catalog of constellations with many illustrations in red, purple, and beige. The model for this 800-year-old codex might have been a manuscript at the Cistercian Monastery of Zwettl (Codex 296), in which the illustrations of the constellations are similar but are probably even earlier. The text of this work consists of treatises by the Anglo-Saxon scholar, the Venerable Bede (also called Saint Bede, 673−735), a polymath who wrote or translated some 40 works in many different fields of knowledge. The treatises in this manuscript include De natura rerum (Of the nature of things), 1 recto to 8 verso; De temporibus liber (The book of times), 8 verso to 13 verso; and De temporum ratione (The reckoning of time), 14 verso to 64 verso. The illustrations follow the text and include an astronomical chart, 71 recto to 84 verso; vivid portrayals of the constellations; portraits of unidentified men and women; real and fabulous animals, birds, and fish; a zodiac wheel with the sun and moon in the center; a portrayal of the moon riding in a chariot pulled by oxen; and an image of the sun being carried by horses. The manuscript dates from around 1200; the scribe and the illustrator are unknown. The work is one of 1250 medieval manuscripts in the collections of the Klosterneuburg Monastery Library in Austria.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

De natura rerum, De temporibus liber, De temporum ratione, De signis coelestibus in pulcherrimis picturis, Lunae signa, Solis signa

Type of Item

Physical Description

II + 88 folios : parchment ; 31 x 21 centimeters


  • Contents: 1r-8v, De natura rerum (On the nature of things); 8v-13v, De temporibus liber (The book of times); 14v-64v, De temporum ratione (The reckoning of time); 70r, Versus de cursu planetarum per duodecimo signa (The course of the planets through the twelve signs); 87r-v, Lunae signa (Lunar signs); 88r, Solis signa (Solar signs)

Last updated: October 17, 2017