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

Merton College MS. 257

Former shelfmark: C. 2. 8



Language(s): Latin

1. (fols. 1–3)
Rubric: Prouerbia Senece
Incipit: Alienum est quicquid optando euenit
Explicit: Zelari autem hominibus uitiosum est.

SK 545; ed. O. Friedrich (Berlin, 1880/1964). Many variants from the printed text.

(fol. 4rv)
Incipit: Incipiunt capitula libri magistri Willelmi de Monte qui Numerale uocatur

in 3 cols.

(fols. 5–66; 66v blank)
Incipit: Vnus est Deus et hoc natura docet unum scilicet opificem rerum
Incipit: Audi Israel Deus tuus Deus unus est
Explicit: immediate Deo esse coniuncta.
Final rubric: Et hic Deo gracias ... copiosius sunt arata. Explicit.

Ed. Goering, William de Montibus, pp. 237–60, this copy at p. 235. The prologue given here is idiosyncratic and may not be by William.

The explicit on f. 66 is followed by a paragraph headed ‘Numerale. Duodecim filii Iacob ... ut legitur in Ezechiele et apocal’.

3. (fols. 68–104v)
Rubric: Incipit liber similitudinarii[sic] [pro similitudinarum] magistri Willelmi de Monte.
Incipit: Amor terrenus inuiscat animum ne possit ad superna uolare
Explicit: quia nudus ingreditur, nudus egreditur.

Preceded by capitula in 3 cols, f. 67rv.

Ed. Goering, William de Montibus, pp. 313–33, this copy p. 312.

4. (fols. 104v-8; 108v blank)
A series of fables and similitudes
Incipit: Videbunt in quem pupugerunt. Pupugebant Iesum Iudei quando suis uerbis insidias instruebant
Explicit: Sis mundus uerus iustus nec ore dolosus | Non alium prodas fuge nummum sperne malignum | Non iures falsum cum fenore munera sperne.

WIC 18276. Some are found in versions of art. 3.

(fols. 109–11v)
Alphabetical list of keywords
(fols. 112–39v)
Incipit: Habitudo est abitus comparatus
Explicit: (Zelus) est motio animi siue ad bonum siue ad malum.
6. (fols. 140–7v)
Incipit: Templum Domini sanctum ...; Sermo iste quamuis omnes tangat quos Spiritus Sanctus inhabitare debet
Explicit: et esse intemperantia.
Final rubric: Explicit summa magistri Roberti Lincolniensis episcopi de articulis fidei et de fide catholica et de omnibus rebus pertinentibus ad officium sacerdotale.

Ed. J. Goering and F. C. Mantello (Toronto Medieval Latin Texts, 1984); Thomson, Grosseteste, no. 103; Bloomfield 5982.

7. (fols. 148–63v)
Incipit: Multi multa sciunt et semet ipsos nesciunt
Explicit: Deus intelligere ualeamus.

PL 184. 485–508; Bloomfield 3126.

Fols. 164, 165–6, 167, 168rv blank. On f. 166v are very faint early pencil notes. On f. 167v, in a handsome early anglicana hand, is a prayer ‘Si tantum Domine reatum nostre delinquencie cogitamus ... qui uisitas in dolore gementem.’

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Heu quam miserum
Secundo Folio: (f. 6) diuine
Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Extent: 169 leaves (i + 168)
Dimensions (leaf): 220 × 165 mm.
Dimensions (written): 165 × 105 mm.
The edges retrimmed and spattered with red.


A4, 1–1312, 1410(8 canc.); pencilled leaf-lettering.


Ruled with crayon in 2 cols of 34 lines.


One or more English early gothic bookhands, more or less influenced by anglicana.


Blue or red initials flourished in the other colour; plain red or blue initials.


Standard Merton s. xvii, sewn on four bands; formerly chained from the usual position. The outermost leaves were formerly pastedowns in an earlier binding; both show marks of two straps and pins. Marks and parchment torn from f. i probably indicate a former brass chain-staple near the foot of the foredge.


Origin: S. XIII ; script of English appearance.

Provenance and Acquisition

On f. 3v is a table of contents, s. xiv, and pressmark ‘V. v.’ Additions have been made to the table in a hand of s. xv. One of the books bequeathed by William Reed to his kinsman Richard Pestour, after whose death the collection was to be distributed between Exeter and Merton Colleges (UO35. 41). For William Reed, fellow of Merton from 1344 until at least 1357, d. 1385, see MS 8.

On f. 164v is ‘Liber magistri Ricardi Fytz James sacre theologie professoris quem emit 21 die Ianuarii anno Christi 1481.’ On f. 3v is ‘Ex dono magistri Ricardi Fitz James nuper custodis istius Collegii de Mertone cuius anime propicietur Deus amen.’ For Fitzjames, warden 1483–1507, see MS 9.

Inside the front board is a sheet of paper with a table of contents, ‘C. 6, 8’ (canc.), s. xvii, and ‘P. 4. 8. Art:’, canc. and replaced with ‘C. 2. 8 (CCLVII)’ in red. The College bookplate is inside the back board, upside down.

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. 101; Powicke, no. 1194.

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2019-10-01: First online publication

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