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

Merton College MS. 315

Former shelfmark: F. 3. 2



Summary of Contents: Easily the oldest book at the College, MS 315 was made in southern Germany and is an important witness to the ancient text it contains. Nothing is known of its history until it was acquired by Pietro Donato (d. 1447), humanist bishop of Padua, at the Council of Basel in the 1430s. After his death it was acquired by John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester (d. 1470), while studying at Padua. How it reached the College, presumably after Tiptoft’s death, is uncertain, but it was there by 1556.

Language(s): Latin

(fols. 1–149)
EUSEBIUS, Chronica (transl. and cont. by JEROME)
(fols. 1–4)
Incipit: (prologue) Eusebius Hieronimus Vincentio et suis salutem. Vetus iste disertorum mos fuit
Explicit: (prologue) incerta sunt omnia
Incipit: Incipit epitome quod significat breuiarium.
Incipit: Moysen gentis Hebreae qui primus omnium prophetarum
Explicit: cum summa breuitate ponemus.

Ed. R. Helm, Eusebius Werke 7, GCS 47 (3rd edn., 1984), pp. 1–7; Lambert 203.

(fols. 4v-8)

Two separate treatises, the first unique to this copy:

Rubric: Interpretatio sancti Hieronimi de nominibus gentium.
Incipit: Et facti sunt omnes dies Noe nongenti quinquaginta anni
Explicit: Indiae regionem quae uocatur Hieria

Extracts from Jerome, De Interpretatione Nominum Hebraicorum.

Demensuratio Prouinciarum
Incipit: Demensuratio prouinciarum. India ulterior finitur ab oriente oceano Aegeo
Explicit: Brittania in longitudine milia passuum DCCC in latitudine milia passuum CCC.

Lambert 623; ed. A. Riese, Geographi Latini Minores [Heilbronn, 1878/repr. Hildesheim, 1964], pp. xxxiv-vi, 9–14. The second treatise is also in Bodl. Libr., Canon. misc. 378, a copy of the Notitia Dignitatum made for Pietro Donato, bp. of Padua, completed at Basel in Jan. 1436.

f. 8v is blank but for ‘Cumque intuerentur in celum euntem illum dixerunt aeria’, neumed, in a tiny hand of s. xii. Below this is some rather later writing in red, partly obliterated by damp.

On f. 9 is ‘super 4tum regum’, in a Continental hand, probably German, s. xv, and a passage in German verse, in a rough hand, s. xiv: see R. Priebsch, ‘Mittelhochdeutsches aus einer Hs. des Merton College in Oxford', Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum 38, N. F. 26 (1894), 21. The same hand seems to add to the text on f. 104v.

The Chronicon proper begins with regnal tables on f. 9v, organized in 4–5 cols across each opening until fols. 94v-5; then across each leaf until f. 132, after which the only rulers are the Romans. The work ends on f. 149 with ‘Ab urbe condita usque ad extremum huius operis annum fiunt anni M CXXXI ...’. On f. 149v ‘Colliguntur omnes anni usque in consolatum Valentis .VI. et Valentiniani iunioris iterum Augustum ...’. ed. Helm, pp. 1–250, not using this copy.

Language(s): Latin and Middle High German
(fols. 149v-55)
Four chronological summaries in tabular form
Incipit: Reges gentium diuersarum qui fuerant uel quantum regnauerint
Incipit: f. 154 Ordo plenarius succedentium sibi temporum (Abraham—Valentinian)
Explicit: Continet itaque omnis canon secundum Hieronimum annos II. ccc.xcv.
Incipit: f. 155v Item secundum Seuerum
Incipit: f. 156 Item secundum Africanum. Qui de temporibus et historiis Hebraeorum et Graecorum
Explicit: in consulatum Mamertini et Neuittae conss. ann. xiii. Fit in summa omnis anni .v. dccc li.

This last pr. H. Dodwell in the Dissertatio Singularis appended to Iohannis Pearsonii Opera Posthuma Chronologica (London, 1688), pp. 98–9.

(fol. 156rv)

Passages of German verse, in the same rough hand, s. xiv, as on f. 9, pr. Priebsch, 21–2.

Language(s): Middle High German

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Nisi qui omnino
Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Extent: 160 leaves (ii + 158)
Dimensions (leaf): 280 × 220 mm.
Dimensions (written): 220 × 160 mm.
1–156 of thick, stiff parchment, all edges retrimmed. Damage from damp at the head and foot of leaves early on.


1–198, 204; the quires lettered at the end, A-S, starting at quire 2.


Blind-ruled in 28 long lines.


Elegant, fully-developed Caroline minuscule. Headings in square capitals and uncials. Corrections and additions in an ?English humanistic hand, c. 1500, on fols. 1v, 9v, 10, 20v and 148v.


Much writing in capitals, and some numerals and framing, in red and green. On f. 125v the birth of Jesus is marked by a large chi-rho with interlace and foliage ornament, within a double rectangular frame, in ink of text filled with red, green and yellow.


Recent (C. Clarkson), white pigskin over wooden boards; sewn on three bands; fols. i-ii, 157–8 are parchment blanks from this binding.

The previous binding, s. xv ex., tawed skin over reverse-bevelled wooden boards, virtually identical with those of MSS 1 and 2, and with that of Bodl. Libr., MS Bodl. 757 (see N. R. Ker, Records of All Souls College Library 1437–1600, Oxford Bibliographical Society Publs., n. s. 16, 1971, p. 171), is now kept separately. Sewn on four bands, raised on the spine and outlined with string; formerly two straps with clasps from the front to catches on the back cover, of which the lower clasp and both catches remain; formerly chained from the front board, near the foot of the foredge. The front pastedown is from an English copy of a civil law text, s. xiii, glossed. The rear pastedown has the end of 2 cols of text, perhaps from the same book, on its pasted side.


Origin: S. IX ; Germany, Reichenau (?)

Provenance and Acquisition

Perhaps made at Reichenau; the German verse added s. xiv is in West Allemannic, the dialect spoken in a region centering on Basel.

Owned by Pietro Donato, bishop of Padua (d. 1447), who probably found it while at the Council of Basel in the 1430s, and certainly had access to it there by 1436. It is presumably no. 94 in the inventory of his books made between 1439 and 1445: P. Sambin, ‘La biblioteca di Pietro Donato (1380–1447)’, Bollettino del Museo Civico di Padova 48 (1959), 53–98, at p. 85 (‘Eusebius de temporibus in littera vetustissima’). Venice, Biblioteca Marciana Lat. IX. 1 (3496), was copied from it at Padua in 1450; this is the earliest of a group of related MSS copied there and in Rome, s. xv2. The text was also used by B. Mombritius for his printed edition (Milan 1475).

It was brought to England by John Tiptoft (BRUO 1877–9), earl of Worcester, who was in Padua c. 1459–61; his maniculus on f. 119 and marginal note on f. 133. The addition to the text on f. 1v was also in the copy given by Duke Humfrey to the University Library in Feb. 1443/4.

The binding suggests that it reached the College not long after Tiptoft’s death, 17 Oct. 1470. It was certainly there by 1556: UO65. 170. On f. 156v is ‘Liber Collegii Mertonensis Oxon:’, s. xvii. Inside the front board of the old binding are two shelf-marks of s. xvii, ‘B. 4. 11. Art’, canc. and replaced with ‘Q. 3. 17’, itself replaced by ‘F. 3. 25’ and ‘CCCXV’ in red; the College bookplate. ‘17’ is inked on the foredge.

Merton College MS. 315 - front pastedown in old binding


Language(s): Latin

Civil law text, glossed

The rear pastedown has the end of 2 cols of text, perhaps from the same book, on its pasted side.


Origin: s. xiii ; script of English appearance.

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.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)


    Coxe, p. 125; Powicke, no. 1207; J. K. Fotheringham, The Bodleian Manuscript of Jerome’s Version of the Chronicle of Eusebius Reproduced in Collotype (Oxford, 1905), pp. 6–7, 21 (MS T); id., Eusebii Pamphili Chronici Canones latine uertit, adauxit, ad sua tempora produxit S. Eusebius Hieronymus (London, 1923), pp. v-vi, xv; Helm, pp. xvi-xvii; Powicke, no. 1207; Duke Humfrey's Library: Exhibition (Oxford, The Bodleian Library, 1988), no. 61, pp. 77–8; A. de la Mare and D. Ekserdjian in Andrea Mantegna, exhibition catalogue (London/New York, 1992), pp. 123–5, no. 7; A. de la Mare, ‘Marginalia and glosses in the manuscripts of Bartolomeo Sanvito of Padua’, in Talking to the Text: Marginalia from Papyri to Print, ed. V. Fera et al. (2 vols, Messina, 2002), pp. 459–556, at 488–9; B. Bischoff, Katalog der festländischen Handschriften des neunten Jahrhunderts (mit Ausnahme der wisigotischen), Teil II: Laon – Paderborn, ed. B. Ebersperger (Wiesbaden, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaft, 2004), p. 384, no. 3875.

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2019-11-13: First online publication

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