A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

Merton College MS. 121

Former shelfmark:



Language(s): Latin

1. (fols. 1–168v)
RANULF HIGDEN, Polychronicon (with continuation)
Incipit: Post preclaros arcium scriptores
Explicit: (ends impf.) atque cum illo in montes de Snow[catchwords doun et speluncas]||

To AD 1352 (fol. 140 ‘grassata est per orbem’) as ed. C. Babington and J. R. Lumby (9 vols., RS, 1865–86), I-VIII. 346. Thence as the unpr. Continuation C, ending in 1401 as the English translation pr. at VIII, p. 516 ‘unto Snowden hilles’; Powicke, p. 209 n.; Taylor, The Universal Chronicle, pp. 114, 157, 178–9.

2. (fols. 169–92v)
Incipit: Quoniam scire tempora summorum pontificum romanorum necnon imperatorum necnon et aliorum principum
Explicit: (ends impf. in 1109) uidisset pensans multum quod olim uiderat [catchwords et etatem]||

Ed. L. Weiland, MGH Scriptores 22 (1872), pp. 377–482; Kaeppeli 2975; A. D. van den Brincken in Deutsches Archiv 41 (1985), 460–531.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Satagentibus
Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Extent: 194 leaves (ii + 192)
Dimensions (leaf): 345 × 260 mm.
Dimensions (written): 270 × 175 mm.
The edges retrimmed and spattered with red.


1–1612; framed catchwords. A quire is missing after 14 and others from the end.


Ruled with crayon in 2 cols of 60 lines.


Written throughout by a Continental scribe in a neat archaizing bookhand.


On fols. 1, 36, 39v, 58v, 77, 98, 113v and 169 large and handsome red and blue initials with 1-sided borders in the colours; blue initials flourished in red; red paraphs. Many unfilled spaces for rubrics. Good pencil sketches in the margins: fol. 10v, a hand holding a coin; fol. 61v a half-length pharisee; fol. 71 the head of Constantine; fol. 127v the head of Thomas Becket.


Standard Merton s. xvii; sewn on five bands; formerly chained from the usual position. Fols. i-ii and 193–4 are blank paper binding leaves.


Origin: S. XV in.

Provenance and Acquisition

At the foot of fol. 2, in the same large formal hand as in MS 55, ‘Ex dono M. Iohannis Woode in theologia baccalarii quondam consocii collegii de Merton in Oxonia.’ For Wode, fellow c. 1445–50, see MS 55.

Inside the front board is a sheet of paper with ‘K. 2. 8’ (canc.) and the contents, s. xvii., and ‘O. 2. 5. Art:’, canc. and replaced with ‘L. 3. 2 (CXXI)’ in red; the College bookplate. ‘5’ is inked on the foredge.

Record Sources

R. M. Thomson, A descriptive catalogue of the medieval manuscripts of Merton College, Oxford (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer), 2009.


For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact Merton College Library.


    Coxe, p. 55; Powicke, no. 978.

Funding of Cataloguing

Conversion of the printed catalogue to TEI funded by the Warden and Fellows of Merton College .

Last Substantive Revision

2019-06-04: First online publication

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