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

Merton College MS. 124

Former shelfmark: M. 2. 8

VINCENT OF BEAUVAIS; S. XIV in. (before 1330)


Language(s): Latin

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.

fol. iii blank. A large rectangle has been cut from the middle for no apparent reason; above, canc., is ‘Edwared le kyng hath done this’, s. xvi. At the head of fol. iiiv is ‘Secunda pars speculi historialis continet seriem doctrinalem’, in the same hand as in MS 124.

(fols. 1–2v)
An index of persons, mainly saints, in random order.
(fol. 3rv)
(fols. 1–278; 278v blank)
VINCENT OF BEAUVAIS, Speculum Historiale, IX-XVI
Incipit: Gaio igitur cum esse Rome et rediret a ludis circensibus
Explicit: in uase moritur sic et cogitaciones clause.
Final rubric: Explicit secundum uolumen speculi hystorialis de manu Roberti de Longoiumello Alleluia.

Pr. Douai 1624 / Graz 1964–5; Kaeppeli 3987.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: atque dictorum
Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Extent: 283 leaves (iii + 280)
Dimensions (leaf): 370 × 245 mm.
Dimensions (written): 260 × 165 mm.


A singleton, a bifolium, 1–312, 412(lacks 3), 5–1712, 1812(lacks 10), 19–2312, a bifolium; framed catchwords; quire-signatures of the usual late medieval form in red.


Ruled with fine pencil in 2 cols of 50 lines. Running heads between lines ruled right across the page.


Written by Robert of Longjumeau, as MS 123. Correctors’ mark at the end of each quire.


Splendid 9- or 10-line historiated initials in colours and gold with partial vinet borders open each book. The major initials are as follows: fol. 3 3-line initial N with curling foliage and 3-sided border, a hound chasing a hare across the lower limb; fol. 3v G enclosing seated king with sword, judging two men pushed forward by a soldier, hound and hare as before; fol. 79 V enclosing a vigorous siege scene; hound and hare as before; fol. 114 I with curling foliage, a hound; a patch excised from the other end of the lower limb; fol. 147 R enclosing a beheading of a young man before a seated king, a knight restraining a pleading father; hound and hare as before; fol. 188vbeheading of three individuals before a seated king; hound and hare as before; fol. 245 F enclosing a monk fondling a young ?girl in a tower, another appears before a seated king with sword; hound and hare as before. The initials to books X and XV have been excised.


Maltby 1980, brown goatskin; resewn on four bands. Fols. i-ii, 279–80 are modern paper blanks.


Origin: S. XIV in. (before 1330) ; France, Paris

Provenance and Acquisition

Made in Paris, vol. 2 of the set with MSS 123, 125–6.

On fol. iiiv ‘Liber domus scolarium de Merton’ ex legato Magistri Rogeri de Martiuall’ quondam episcopi Sarum’, in the same hand as the inscription in MSS 56, 123, 125–6. UO47. 12. For Martival, see MS 123.

Beneath is ‘F. 8, 6’, canc., and ‘O. 2. 8. Art:’, s. xvii. Inside the front board is pencilled ‘M. 2. 8’ and ‘Merton College MS CXXIV’. ‘8’ 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. 56; Powicke, no. 143; Alexander & Temple, no. 716; M.-C. Duchenne et al., ‘Une liste des manuscrits du Speculum historiale de Vincent de Beauvais’, Scriptorium 41 (1987), 286–94, at p. 293.

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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