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

Merton College MS. 241

Former shelfmark: C. 1. 16



Language(s): Latin

f. irv blank. The stubs (one preceding, two following f. i, two more following fols. 59 and 67) were all cut from the same small book, English s. xiii, an astronomical text with marginal notes.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: (f. 3) Sic rogo
Two separate volumes, together very early.
Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Extent: 96 leaves (i + 95)
Dimensions (leaf): 245 × 155 mm.
The edges retrimmed and stained red.


A8(1, 3–5, 7–8 only stubs), 1–28 / 3–68, 710(5 and 6 half-leaves), 88(the outside strengthened with the stubs of a bifolium from another book), 98(+ 1 before 1), 10–118, 124(3 canc.)


Standard Merton s. xvii; sewn on four bands; formerly chained from the usual position. f. i was a pastedown in an earlier binding, which had an iron chain-staple from the front foredge near the foot.


Provenance and Acquisition

Probably made at and for Exeter Cathedral.

On f. 1v is a formal table of contents on ruled lines, which includes items now lost: ‘Haec continentur in hoc uolumine | Versus de monacho captiuo | Multi sermones | Excepciones Ysidori de diuersis uirtutibus | Expositio missae per uersus | Itinerarium Ierusolimitanorum | Descriptio sanctorum locorum | Excerptum ex gestis regum Francorum | Vita Willelmi nobilissimi regis Anglorum | Epitaphium eiusdem | Hystoria Appollonii Tyriensis | Liber Gildae sapientis de excidio Britanniae et quaedam pulchra miracula | Prophetia Merlini.’ The fine English hand of s. xii1, and the format, look very like the tables of contents found in manuscripts of that date or earlier from Exeter Cathedral.

At least some of the missing items were apparently still there in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries: John Bale (Appendix C, no. 58) mentions the ‘Vita Guilhelmi Anglorum regis’, beg. ‘Pater huius Guilhelmi fuit Robertus dux Normannorum’ (= Breuis Relatio de Guillelmo Nobilissimo, ed. RHS, Camden 5th ser, 10 [1997], 7–48), and the Gildas at least went missing between 1600 and 1620: Edward Browncker, from Wadham College, to Archbishop James Ussher: ‘It is true, according to Dr. James his Catalogue, there was one Gildas in Merton Colledge Library, but he was Gildas Sapiens, not Gildas Albanius, whom Pitts says was the author of the book entituled, De Victoria Aurelii Ambrosii [i.e. the Historia Britonum]; neither is that Gildas Sapiens now to be seen in Merton Colledge, he has been cut out of the book whereunto he was annexed’ (R. Parr, The Life of ... James Ussher ... with a Collection of Three Hundred Letters ... [London, 1686], p. 72). The title ‘de excidio’ in the table of contents suggests the genuine work of Gildas; however, William of Worcester (Itinerary, ed. and transl. J. H. Harvey [OMT, 1969], p. 278) made extracts in 1480 ‘de libro Gilde sapientis ... in collegio Mertonis Oxonie’, and they show that what he saw was a copy of the Gesta Britonum commonly ascribed to Gildas.

Given to the College in 1374 by William Reed, fellow from 1344, still in 1357, d. 1385, for whom see MS 8: UO49. 48.

Inside the front board is a sheet of paper with ‘F. 4, 3’ (canc.) and titles, s. xvii, including ‘Multi sermones; et [desiderantur inserted] alii tractatus.’ Also ‘P. 3. 8. Act:’, canc. and replaced with ‘C. 1. 16 (CCXLI)’ in red; the College bookplate.

Merton College MS. 241 – Part I (fols. 1–17v)


Language(s): Latin

f. 1, of which only the upper half remains, is blank. On f. 1v is a formal table of contents on ruled lines, which includes items now lost (see provenance).

1. (fols. 2–17v)
Vita Malchi monachi metrice
Incipit: Carmen de monacho menti sedet edere Malcho
Explicit: Nullus ut istorum sic est nonnullus eorum.

Pr. from this, the unique copy, by L. R. Lind, The Vita S. Malchi of Reginald of Canterbury (Urbana Ill., 1942), pp. 153–76; WIC 2434; BHL 5190d.

2. (fol. 17v)
Verses headed ‘Contemptus mundi’
Incipit: Aurea secula primaque robora praeteriere
Explicit: (ends impf. at line 12) Mors nimis aspera mollia uiscera dente reuellit

WIC 1710, also in Bodl. Libr., Add. C. 93, f. 1v (s. xv, English), and Angers, Bibl. mun. 303 (s. xii, Saint-Aubin).

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Dimensions (written): 190 × 105 mm.


Blind-ruled in 34 long lines.


Art. 1 is written in an expert early protogothic bookhand of Norman type; another rewrites f. 3 lines 20–2, and another art. 2. All are of Exeter-Durham appearance.


On f. 2 a handsome 10-line initial C of Norman type (perhaps by the artist of the Carilef Bible, Durham Cath. A. 1. 1), outlined in ink of text, enclosing twining foliage stroked with red and green, on a dark-blue ground. Red or green initials begin each line of art. 1, changing to red or blue art. 2.


Origin: S. XI ex. ; England, Exeter (?)

Merton College MS. 241 – Part II (fols. 18–95v)


Language(s): Latin

3. (fols. 18–84v)
Incipit: Fundamenta eius in montibus sanctis ...; Gloriosa f. k. cepit ab initio mundi aedificare Dominus
Incipit: Nemini quicquam debeatis nisi ut inuicem diligatis. Beatus apostolus Paulus cum nos omnibus debitis docuisset absolui

Babio 48, 47, 28, 49, 41, 50, 1, 69, 8, 80, 51, 70, Ps.-Augustine 271, Babio 13, 16

Incipit: Audite haec omnes gentes. Dauid in multis locis humani generis deplorata

Babio 20, 23, 22, 24, (Ivo of Chartres 15), 3–5, 7, 62, 9, 18, (Ivo 6–8), 83, 2, 6, 10–12, 14–15, 17, 19, 21, 25–7, 29–33.

F. Liverani, Spicilegium Liberianum (Florence, 1863), p. 58. Ivo as in PL 162, Babio pr. as Hildebert in PL 171.

4. (fols. 85–94v; 95rv blank)
DEFENSOR OF LIGUGÉ, Liber Scintillarum

Extracts from 27 chapters.

Incipit: De correptione. Dominus in euuangelio Ego quos amo arguo et castigo
Incipit: De doctrina. Dominus in euuangelio Euntes predicate quia appropinquauit regnum caelorum
Incipit: De bono fine. Dominus in euangelio Omnia possibilia sunt credenti
Incipit: De desperatione. Dominus in euuangelio Nolite desperare sed habete fidem Dei in uobis
Incipit: De gratia. Dominus in euuangelio Gratis accepistis gratis date
Incipit: De pace. Dominus in euangelio Omne regnum diuisum contra desolabitur
Incipit: De iuramento. Dominus in euuangelio Audistis quia dictum est antiquis Non periurabis
Incipit: De cogitatione. Dominus in euuangelio Beati mundo corde
Incipit: De falso testimonio. Dominus in euangelio Non dices falsum testimonium
Incipit: De monachis. Dominus in euangelio Cum uoueris Domino Deo tuo non tardabis reddere
Incipit: De detractione. Paulus. Omnia facite sine murmuratione
Incipit: De uoluntate. Dominus in euangelio Si quis Dei culto\r/ est et uoluntatem eius facit
Incipit: De uestimento. Dominus in euangelio Corpus uestrum plus est quam uestimentum
Incipit: De misericordia. Dominus in euangelio Beati misericordes
Incipit: Dominus in euangelio Omnia que uultis bona ut faciant uobis homines
Incipit: Salomon. Quis alligabit in sinu suo ignem (Prov. 6: 27)
Incipit: Dominus dicit per prophetam Ad quem respiciam nisi ad humilem et quietem et trementem uerba mea
Incipit: De oratione. Dominus dicit in euangelio Orate ut non fiat fuga uestra hieme
Incipit: De conpunctione. Paulus apostolus. Qui flent tanquam non flentes
Incipit: De confessione. Salomon. Qui abscondit scelera sua non dirigetur
Incipit: De penitentia. Salomon. Bonum est correptum manifestare penitentia
Incipit: De elemosina et de ieiunio. Paulus. Omnis creatura Dei bona et nichil retinendum
Incipit: De amore mundi. Paulus apostoli. Qui utuntur hoc mundo tanquam non utatur
Incipit: De timore. Petrus apostolus. Considerantes in timore castam conuersationem uestram
Incipit: Dominus in ewangelio Filii seculi huius nubunt et trahuntur ad nubtias
Incipit: Paulus. Sicut per unius delictum omnes homines in condempnatione
Incipit: Dominus in ewangelio Bonus homo de thesauro cordis sui profert bona et mala
Explicit: (ends unfinished) et alius est qui

Excerpted from cc. 31–45, 16 above not in Defensor, 4, 7, 6, 8–14, 16. The full text ed. CCSL 117/1 (1957), pp. 1–234; H.-M. Rochais, ‘Contribution à l’histoire des florilèges ascétiques du haut moyen age latin: le “liber scintillarum”’, RB 63 (1953), 246–91, esp. 270–4.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Dimensions (written): 205 × 105 mm.


Fols. 18–33, 77–84v blind-ruled, the rest with crayon, in 41 long lines. Fols. 34–84 pricked in both margins.


Written in expert English protogothic bookhands: (1) fols. 18–33 line 10, 77–84v; (2) fols. 33 line 11 – 56v; (3) very variable, but probably a single hand, fols. 57–76v, fols. 85–94v.


Plain red or green initials, some with a little ornament in the other colour.


Origin: XII 2/4 ; England, Exeter (?)

Additional Information

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. 94; Powicke, no. 1208; Alexander & Temple, no. 642.

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2019-09-09: First online publication

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