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

Merton College MS. 125

Former shelfmark: M. 2. 9

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. 1 blank; on fol. 1v ‘Tercia pars speculi historialis continet erudicionem moralem’, in the usual hand.

(fol. 5rv)
(fols. 5v-291v)
Incipit: Ab anno primo Gratiani qui fuit ab incarnacione domini ccclxxxius
Explicit: regem Ytalie ordinatum collaudant. Iohannes Wade Anglicus scripsit istud.

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

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: sue vix
Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Extent: 295 leaves (ii + 293)
Dimensions (leaf): 375 × 250 mm.
Dimensions (written): 255 × 170 mm.


14, 2–2412, 2512(12 canc.); catchwords; the quires numbered at the beginning, probably in s. xvii.


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


Written in the proficient gothic rotunda bookhand (very like Longjumeau’s) of John Wade ‘anglicus’, who worked in Paris where he also wrote Reims, Bibl. mun. 734, Toulouse, Bibl. mun. 449 (Colophons, 11819–21), and Stockholm, Riksarkivet, fragment 30675 (‘per manum Iohannis Wade Anglici pro magistro Nicholao de Swescia’).


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. 1 2-line A with 3-sided border, a hound chasing a hare across the lower limb; fol. 5 S with coiling foliage and 2-sided border, the hound and hare at the foot mostly excised; fol. 5v A enclosing seated emperor with erect sword, before him an armed king with shield backed by knights; two excisions at the lower limb have doubtless removed hound and hare; at the top a grotesque archer takes aim at a flying bird; fol. 36 5-line O with coiling foliage and partial border, a hound and rabbit as before; fol. 36v M with coiling foliage and partial border, hound and hare as before; fols. 69v and 206 5-line U with 1-sided border; fol. 70 T with coiling foliage and partial border, mutil. at the foot (doubtless removing hound and hare); fols. 101v, 141v and 238 5-line U with coiling foliage, 2-sided border with hound and hare as before; fol. 102v H with coiled foliage and 2-sided border, hound and hare as before; fol. 142v P with coiling foliage and 2-sided border, hound and hare as before; fol. 170v 6-line U with partial border; fol. 171v M with coiling foliage, partial border, hound and hare as before; fol. 207 T with coiling foliage and 1-sided border, hound and hare as before; fol. 239 C with coiling foliage and dragon, 1-sided border, hound and hare as before.


s. xvii, brown polished calf, rebacked s. xix, sewn on five bands. Formerly chained from the usual position. Fols. i-ii and 29–23 are paper blanks, i and 293 of s. xix, ii and 292 of s. xvii.


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

Provenance and Acquisition

Made in Paris, vol. 3 of the set with MSS 123–4, 126.

On fol. 1v ‘Liber domus scolarium de Merton’ ex legato Magistri Rogeri de Martiuall’ quondam episcopi Sarum’, in the same hand as the inscription in MSS 56, 123–4, 126. For Martival, see MS 123. UO47. 12.

Below is ‘F. 8, 7’, s. xvii, canc., and ‘O. 2. 9. Art:’, s. xvii, canc. and replaced with ‘M. 2. 9 (CXXV)’ in red. ‘9’ 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 and pl. XLII; 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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