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

Merton College MS. 313

Former shelfmark: H. 3. 13



Language(s): Latin

MS 313 is an example of a surprisingly popular collection of translations, originally commissioned by Peter the Venerable, abbot of Cluny (d. 1156), from a team of scholars at Toledo. The centrepiece is the Latin Koran, accompanied by shorter polemical pieces purporting to outline the basic doctrines of Islam. The purpose of the collection was to provide materials for preaching to and debating with muslims. Like 312, this book had nothing to do with the University curriculum.

Fols. iii-ivv blank.

1. (fols. 1–20v)
ROBERT OF KETTON, Fabulae Saracenorum
Incipit: Prologus. Summa tocius heresis ac diabolice secte Saracenorum ...; (f. 4) Prologus Roberti translatoris uir eruditi et scolastici ad dominum Petrum Cluniacensen Abbatem. Cum iubendi religio parendique uotum
Incipit: Cronica mendosa et ridiculosa Saracenorum. In creacionis sue primordio
Explicit: domum cum gratiarum accione rediui.
Final rubric:

Pr. T. Bibliander and J. Oporinus (Basel 1543), pp. 213–23; Sharpe, Handlist, p. 559.

2. (fols. 20v-8v)
HERMANN OF CARINTHIA, Liber Generationis Mahomet
Rubric: Item doctrina Mahumet que apud Saracenos magne auctoritatis est ab eodem Hermanno translata cum esset peritissimus utriusque lingue Latine scilicet et Arabice.
Incipit: Erat nuncius Dei oratio Dei
Explicit: Omus uero nuncius et propheta. Explicit.

Pr. Bibliander and Oporinus, pp. 201–12.

Followed by a table of the names of the months according to the Romans, Egyptians, Persians, Arabs, Hebrews and Greeks.

3. (fols. 29–159v)

Latin translation by ROBERT OF KETTON

Rubric: Prefacio Roberti translatoris ad dominum P. Cluniacensem abbatem in libro legis Saracenorum quem Alkoran uocant id est collectionem preceptorum quam M. pseudopropheta per Gabrielem de celo missam sibi finxit.
Incipit: Domino suo Petro
Incipit: Vbi sepius atque serio percepi
Incipit: Misericordi pioque Deo
Explicit: (ends impf. in ‘Azoara lxxvii’) perhibuimus uos erroneos

Pr. Bibliander and Oporinus, pp. 8–188, the preface in PL 189. 657–60; Sharpe, Handlist, pp. 559–60.

On similar collections, see M.-T. d’Alverny, ‘Deux traductions du Coran au moyen âge’, AHDLMA 22–3 (1947–8), 69–131, and J. Kritzeck, Peter the Venerable and Islam (Princeton, NJ, 1964).

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: ei exponens
Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Extent: 164 leaves (iv + 161, omitting 45)
Dimensions (leaf): 240 × 165 mm.
Dimensions (written): 195 × 115 mm.
The edges retrimmed and spattered with red.


A bifolium, 1–212, 34, 4–812, 910, 10–1412.


Frame-ruled with pencil; written in c. 36 long lines.


A single anglicana hand.


Blue initials flourished in red, red initials flourished in violet.


Standard Merton s. xvii, sewn on five bands; formerly chained from the usual position. Fols. i-ii and 160–1 are paper binding leaves, the outermost from the same printed books as in MS 45. f. iii was a pastedown in an earlier binding; it has the mark of a brass chain-staple near the foot. On f. 1 are the marks of two straps.


Origin: S. XIV med. ; script of English appearance.

Provenance and Acquisition

At the head of f. 1 ‘Liber domus scolarium de Merton’ ex legato M. Joh’ Raynham sacre pagine professoris et quondam socii eiusdem domus et rectoris de Holyngbourne in Cancia’. For Reynham, fellow 1335–58, d. 1376, see MS 18.

Inside the front board is a sheet of paper with a table of contents, s. xvii, and ‘Q. 3. 15. Art:’, canc. and replaced with ‘H. 3. 13 (CCCXIII)’ in red; the College bookplate. ‘15’ 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. 124; Powicke, no. 344.

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2019-11-05: First online publication

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