Merton College MS. 123
Former shelfmark: M. 2. 7
VINCENT OF BEAUVAIS; S. XIV in. (before 1330)
MSS 123-6 is a set, containing the third part of the huge encyclopedia (Speculum Maius) by Vincent of Beauvais (d. ?1264). Written professionally in Paris by two named scribes (one an Englishman) and splendidly decorated, it was bequeathed to the College by Roger de Martival (d. 1330), bishop of Salisbury and formerly University chancellor.
Fols. iii, ivv, 1 blank. On f. iv, in a large and handsome anglicana formata hand, is a list of all four parts of the Speculum on ruled lines. At the head of f. 1v is ‘Prima pars speculi historialis continet historiam naturalem’, in a smaller, less formal hand.
Capitula in 4 cols. (fols. 11-37)
Pr. Douai 1624 / Graz 1964-5; Kaeppeli 3987.
Ruled with fine pencil in 2 cols of 50 lines. Running heads between lines ruled right across the page.
The expert French gothic rotunda bookhand of Robert of Longjumeau (see MS 124). Corrector’s marks at the end of each quire.
Splendid 9- or 10-line historiated initials in colours and gold with partial vinet borders open each book : f. 5 Q on a square ground, enclosing Vincent seated expounding his text, his library at his elbow; a full border, on the lower limb a hound chases a hare; f. 37 D enclosing God the Creator; f. 72v E enclosing horned Moses expounding the Ten Commandments to the Israelites; f. 104 A enclosing seated king with sword, giving orders to two knights; in the background a Master expounds a text; a hound chases a hare across the lower limb of the border; f. 127v A enclosing seated king with sword, a hound and hare at the foot; f. 144 I with coiled foliage, a patch excised from the foot; f. 170v R, in the upper register a seated queen with sword, below the Nativity, a hound chases a rabbit at the foot; f. 202v M, to the left two kings with swords, divided by a fortified tower; on the right, the Assumption of the Virgin; a hound chases a hare at the foot. Red or blue initials flourished in the other colour, with long 1-sided borders; running heads in capitals of the colours; red highlighting.
Maltby 1965, brown goatskin; resewn on four bands. Fols. i-ii, 241-2 are blank paper binding leaves. On f. iii, formerly a pastedown, are the marks of two foredge straps, of a chain-staple at the foot, and possibly of a brass chain-staple near the foot of the foredge.
Provenance and Acquisition
Made in Paris, vol. 1 of the set with MSS 124-6. This is presumably the ‘4or librorum Vincencii’ rebound and (?re-)chained in 1466-7: Appendix B, no. 116.
On f. 1v ‘Liber domus scolarium de Merton’ ex legato Magistri Rogeri de Martiuall’ quondam episcopi Sarum’, in the same hand as the inscriptions in MSS 56, 124-6. Martival (BRUO 1233) was chancellor of Oxford University 1293-5, bp. of Salisbury, d. 1330.
Appendix B, no. 30 (1330) records ‘Item Iohanni Wyly versus Sarum ad querendum libros nobis legatis iiis vjd.’ UO47. 12.
On f. iiiv are titles, s. xvii, ‘O. 2. 7. Art:’, and the College bookplate. ‘7’ is inked on the foredge. Inside the front board is pencilled ‘M. 2. 7’ and ‘Merton College MS. CXXIII’.
For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact Merton College Library.