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A translation into English out of French of 'The Miroir or glasse of the synnefull soule', Written in 1544 by queen Elizabeth

MS. Cherry 36

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A translation into English out of French of 'The Miroir or glasse of the synnefull soule', a new year's gift from queen Elizabeth when 11 years old to her step-mother queen Katherine, written with her own hand and perhaps also bound by herself. The dedication states 'therefore have i ... translated this lytell boke out of frenche ryme in to englishe prose: ioyning the sentences together as well as the capacitie of my symple witte, and small lerning coulde extende themselues. The wich booke is intytled, or named the miroir or glasse, of the synnefull soul ...'

The dedication is headed 'To our moste noble and vertuous quene KATHERIN, Elizabeth her humble daughter wisheth perpetuall felicitie and everlasting ioye', and ends, 'Frome asherige [Ashridge], the laste daye of the yeare of our lord god, 1544.' There is a preface 'To the reader', after which the text begins, 'The glasse of the synneful soule. psal. 51 Make me a cleane harte: O god. Where is the hell full of trauayle.'

On fol. 63v is 'A praier made by her matie' beg. 'O god the Almaker: keeper: and guider'), perhaps of the time of the Spanish Armada, copied in by some other hand.

The binding is traditionally said to be queen Elizabeth's own handiwork (see Hearne's Diary, 19 Sept. 1708, etc.). It consists of ornamental filigree work of gold and silver wire on a ground of blue corded silk, with the initials K.P. (Katherine Parr) in the middle of each cover. It was stiffened with mill-board and fly-leaves probably soon after it was placed in the Bodleian.


  • Written in 1544 by queen Elizabeth


66 Leaves

Language of Materials



MS. Cherry 36

Other Finding Aids

Falconer Madan, et al., A summary catalogue of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the Quarto series (7 vols. in 8 [vol. II in 2 parts], Oxford, 1895-1953; reprinted, with corrections in vols. I and VII, Munich, 1980), vol. III, no. 9810

Physical Facet

On parchment, binding, see below


7 3/8 × 5 1/2 in. in a box 9 1/4 × 7 in.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom