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

Merton College MS. 278

Former shelfmark: O. 1. 6



Language(s): Latin

(fols. 1–4v)
List of contents of art. 1

In an anglicana hand little later than the main text.

(fol. 4v)
Table of contents of the book,

s. xv, incl. items now missing from the end: ‘Liber Euclidis de geometria cum commento Adelardi’, ‘Liber de cohitu’, ‘textus methaphisice’, ‘Liber boicii de disciplina scolarium’.

1. (fols. 5–180)
ARISTOTLE, De Animalibus (transl. MICHAEL SCOT)
Rubric: In nomine Domini nostri Ihesu Christi omnipotentis misericordis et pii incipit tractatus libri quem composuit Aristotiles in cognicione naturarum animalium, agrestium et marinorum, a magistro Michaele Scoto apud Tholetum translatus et in illo est modus coniunctionis animalium in generacione ...
Incipit: Quedam partes corporum animalium dicuntur composite
Explicit: propter causam finalem et propter causam mouentem.
Final rubric: Explicit liber de animalibus.

As MS 270 art. 1.

2. (fols. 180v-3v)
Rubric: Hic incipit liber de humana natura.
Incipit: Cerebrum est natura frigidum
Explicit: membrum sine ratione inmutat.

Pr. with the works of Isaac Iudaeus, Lyon 1515, I, fols. 40v-1v.

eTK 0201F
3. (fols. 183v-4)
ALKINDI, De Intellectu
Rubric: Incipit liber de intellectu et intellecto.
Incipit: Intellexi quod queris tibi scribi sermonem breuem de intellectu
Explicit: et intencionem tuam tamen sermonis de his sufficiat

Ed. A. Nagy, BGPTM 2/5 (1897), pp. 1–11; eTK 0755B; Diaz 1027.

4. (fols. 184–5v)
A catena of extracts from works of Augustine on the soul
Rubric: Incipit liber Augustini de anima.
Incipit: Augustinus. Vidisti ne unquam oculis corporeis ...; Quero utrum sit anima qualiter sit
Explicit: summa nominatur cum autem non uidet mens.
5. (fols. 185v-7v)
Rubric: Incipit liber de unitate et uno.
Incipit: Vnitas est qua unaqueque res est una
Explicit: et est id quod est.

Ed. P. Correns, BGPTM 1/1 (1891); eTK 1601F; Diaz 1015.

6. (fols. 187v-94v)
AVERROES, De Substantia Orbis
Rubric: Incipit liber Aueroiz de constructione orbis et ipsius substantia.
Incipit: In hoc tractatu intendimus perscrutari de rebus ex quibus
Explicit: quia hec questio est ualde bona.
Final rubric: Explicit tractatus Aueroiz de compositione orbis, et continet v. partes nobillissimas.

Pr. Opera Aristotelis, Venice 1573–6, IX, fols. 3–14v; eTK 0681G, 0718K.

7. (fols. 194v-5v)
Hadriani imperatoris cum Secundo philosopho dialogus
Incipit: Adrianus imperator Secundo philosopho quedam problemata proposuit quorum unum est quid sit mundus
Explicit: rei miranda cercitudo

M. Manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters, 3 vols (Munich, 1911–1931), I, pp. 268, 284; Roger of Howden, Chronica, ed. W. Stubbs (RS, 1868–71), IV, p. 173.

f. 196 is blank but for pencilled diagrams. On the verso is a long paragraph of notes in an early anglicana hand, quoting Avicenna.

Throughout, but especially in art. 1, copious but neat marginal annotation in an early anglicana hand, associated with profile heads and pointing hands. These features are suggestive of a monk of St Peter’s Abbey, Gloucester, perhaps studying at Gloucester College: N. R. Ker, English Manuscripts in the Century after the Norman Conquest (Oxford, 1960), p. 6, pl. 27b-c; R. M. Thomson, Books and Learning in Twelfth-Century England: The Ending of ‘Alter Orbis’ (Walkern, 2006), pp. 36, 38.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: aquosa et quedam
Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Extent: 200 leaves (ii + 198)
Dimensions (leaf): 305 × 215 mm.
Dimensions (written): 190 × 110 mm.


A4, 1–1612; catchwords.


Ruled with crayon in 2 cols of 38 lines; running heads between lines ruled right across the page.


A single proficient English gothic rotunda bookhand.


Large and handsome red and blue flourished initials, the one on f. 5 associated with a beast and long ornamental flourish into the lower margin. The long opening rubric is flanked with an initial I in red and blue, with humorous heads of humans, animals and birds in ink of text and red. Blue or red initials flourished in the other colour; red or blue paraphs, running heads in red and blue capitals.


Standard Merton s. xvii; sewn on five bands; formerly chained from the usual position; fols. i-ii, 197–8 are paper binding leaves, the outermost from the same printed book as in MS 68. An earlier binding had two straps from the front board.


Origin: S. XIII ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

Made in England; at the College by 1600.

At the foot of f. 180 is an erased inscription of four lines, probably not of ownership.

At the head of f. 5 is the James no. ‘87’ (wrongly?), s. xvi in., canc.

Inside the front board is pasted a sheet of paper with a table of the present contents, s. xvii, ‘Q. 1. 10. Art:’, s. xvii, canc. and replaced with ‘O. 1. 6 (CCLXXVIII)’ in red; the College bookplate.

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. 110; Powicke, no. 522a; AL Codices, no. 369; Römer 2. 307; Alexander & Temple, no. 255.

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2019-10-14: First online publication

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