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

Merton College MS. 299

Former shelfmark: H. 3. 1



Language(s): Latin

Fols. i-ii blank. On f. iiv is a table of contents in a hand of s. xv which writes several different kinds of script, mostly types of humanistica, including some Greek.

1. (fols. 1–97v)
PETRUS BERCHORIUS, Ouidius Moralizatus
Incipit: A ueritate quidem auditum auertent ad fabulas aut conuertentur ...; Dicit apostolus Paulus predicator et rigator fidei Christiane
Explicit: propter te mortificamur tota die.

Pr. Paris 1509 &c. (as by Thomas of Wales); Glorieux, Théol. 322v.

(fols. 98–133)
An alphabetical subject index
Incipit: Abbas a monacho ueneno occiditur
Explicit: Zona Proserpine.
Final rubric: Explicit tabula doctoris Triuet super alegorias libri Ouidii de transformatis secundum ordinem alphabeti.
(fols. 133–4v)
Start of another index
Incipit: Abscondit se deitas tripliciter ... Bonum aduerbium ad bene uiuendum
2. (fols. 134v-5)
Epitaphs on Cicero (Carmina XII Sapientum)
Rubric: Epitaphium Tullii per xii. oratores quorum nomina sequuntur.
Incipit: Hic iacet aspinas alpinas maioribus tumulatus amici

, nos 1–7. Followed by a list of Cicero’s works, f. 135.

3. (fols. 135v-49v)
GIOVANNI BOCCACCIO, De Genealogiae Deorum Gentilium (numbered extracts)
Incipit: Notabilitates extracte de proprietatibus deorum secundum antiquos. Saturnus. Qualiter Saturnus describitur describatur antiquitus

Numbered 1–316. The full text ed. V. Romano (Laterza, 1951). This is the earliest copy of Boccaccio in an English manuscript.

(fols. 150–7v; 158–60v blank)
Alphabetical subject index
4. (fols. 161–216)
JOHN SEWARD, Metrostenchiridion
Rubric: Metristencheridion J. S. ad magnificum Ricardum Courtenay episcopum Norwicensem.
Incipit: Conspicui meriti uir honesti forma bonique ...; Epistola J. S. ad magistrum Ricardum Courtenay dum hec[sic] fierent cancellarius Oxonie nunc autem episcopum Norwicensem. Reuerendissimo domino ...; Quem nuper anime mee dimidie ...; Cum sit diuinis ars metrica libris non incognita
Explicit: nec edax abolere uetustas.
Final rubric: Explicit metristenchiridion Iohannis Seguard.

Sharpe, Handlist, p. 314; one of three copies, unpr.

5. (fols. 216–25v)
Rubric: Argumentum in ludicra Iohannis Seguard.
Incipit: Presumptuosos et errores in metris oblatratus eorum quos metrorum licet immaturos et ignaros iudices ratio dereliquit cum secaret ea scientias agentis scilicet Willelmi Relik fauentis autem Willelmi Scheffeld, Iohannes Segward oppugnat inpaciens ...; Qui Segward furit aut uersus facit aut alioqui
Explicit: hec prodire faciat in commune. Valete.

Unpr.; Sharpe, Handlist, p. 314, one of three copies.

6. (fols. 225v-9)
JOHN SEWARD, Epigrammata
Incipit: Excellentis sapientie magneque discrecionis uiro magistro I. W. suus Iohannes Seguard sua epigrammata et Quintilium equiparare iudiciis. Epigramma. Metrica bauius agit
Explicit: O stelliferi conditor orbis. Valete.

Sharpe, Handlist, p. 314; one of two copies, unpr.

7. (fols. 229v-35v)
JOHN SEWARD, Ymnimetria
Incipit: Qui metri uicia uitabis in ymnimetria
Explicit: autor uerorum regnabit in arte polorum.

Unpr.; Sharpe, Handlist, p. 314, the unique copy.

8. (fols. 236–46v; 247–8v blank)
JOHN SEWARD, Metrical writings
Incipit: Ad cuiuslibet metri denominacionem generalis
Explicit: quod tenet duos pedes iambicos.

Unpr.; Sharpe, Handlist, p. 314; the unique copy.

9. (fols. 249–81v)
JOHN SEWARD, Argumenta Ouidii Metamorphoseon
Incipit: Prima fabula primi libri incipit sic Aurea prima sata est &c.
Explicit: Panthoides Euphorbius eram.
Final rubric: Et sic est finis huius libri.

Unpr.; Sharpe, Handlist, p. 313, the unique copy.

10. (fols. 281v-9)
JOHN SEWARD, Arbores in Librum Bocaccii
Incipit: In arbore desuper ponitur in tubuine[sic] [pro turbine?] demogorgon

Diagrams of the gods and their relationships arranged by books.

11. (fols. 289–325v)
JOHN SEWARD, Integumenta Metamorphoseon
Incipit: Incipit Primus filius fuit etheris et diei
Explicit: ubi erat puer Iesus amen.
Final rubric: Expliciunt integumenta Ouidii met’.

Unpr.; Sharpe, Handlist, p. 314, the unique copy.

12. (fols. 325v-6)
Epitaphs on Cicero (Carmina XII Sapientum),

nos. 7–12

Incipit: Qui tenet eloquii fastigia summa lacerti
Explicit: Qui das quod que uoles tua sit laus hec mea proles.

Fols. 326v, 327v-8, 329 blank. On f. 327 are pen trials, including the name ‘Jaspar Colmer’, s. xvi. Several members of this family were at Oxford, but not Merton, in the first half of the 16th cent. (BRUO 1501–1540, pp. 131–2).

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Sed antequam
Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Extent: 331 leaves (ii + 329)
Dimensions (leaf): 270 × 190 mm.
Dimensions (written): 190 × 120 mm.
The edges retrimmed, the feet stained yellow.


A bifolium at each end, 1–408, 418(8 canc.); catchwords. On f. 329, upside down, is ‘.17. quaterni’.


Ruled with crayon in 29 long lines. Fols. ii and 328–9 of thick, stiff parchment.


A single proficient Continental, probably Low Countries, scribe, writing a formal cursive influenced by humanistica.


Plain blue initials.


Oxford, c. 1600, repaired: blind-stamped calf over reverse-bevelled oak boards with slightly-projecting squares, recently rebacked under the old spine cover and resewn on four bands; formerly two straps from recesses in the front board to catches at the back. The binder used Oldham rolls MW. d(10), in its damaged state after c. 1590, and HM. h(2), used c. 1590–1604. The outermost leaves were formerly pastedowns. Formerly chained from near the foot of the front board.


Origin: S. XV ; script of Continental, probably Low Countries appearance.

Provenance and Acquisition

At the head of f. iiv, in the usual humanistic hand (see above, MS 69), is ‘liber collegii ex dono magistri Thome Bloxham’. For Bloxham, fellow c. 1449–61, see MS 41.

On f. 328v, upside down, are ‘32’ and ‘14us liber’.

Seen at Merton by John Bale (Appendix C, no. 24).

At the head of f. 1 is the James no. ‘142’, s. xvii in. ‘1’ is inked on the foredge.

On f. iivis ‘Q. 3. 1. Art;’, s. xvii, canc. and replaced with ‘H. 3. 1 (299)’ 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, pp. 118–19; Powicke, no. 989; V. H. Galbraith, ‘John Seward and his circle’, MARS 1 (1941–3), 85–104.

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2019-10-25: First online publication

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