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

Jesus College MS. 29

Chronicle, English, 1447 × 1490s; Trilingual poetic anthology, Herefordshire, 1272 × 1290s

Physical Description

Form: codex
Extent: ii + 144 + 114 + ii leaves
Dimensions (leaf): 185 × 140 mm.


Mottled calf binding executed for Thomas Wilkins, finished 9 January 1693, according to his memorandum (Hill, p. 276, who argues that the two parts were already in a single volume at this time). A pattern of three-line fillets in two rectangles, one placed inside the other, mitred at each corner, back and front. Bruce Barker-Benfield notes that two parchment stubs precede the upper and lower paper flyleaves: one has a gilt stamp from 17th-century binder’s waste, probably from a small notebook; the other is from the same book, folded over the spine. Remnants of clasps.

Rebacked in the early 20th century, with the remnants of the Wilkins spine affixed to the inside of the lower board.


Provenance and Acquisition

Thomas Wilkins (1625/26–1699), rector of St Mary’s church, Llanvair Discoed, Monmouthshire, who attended Jesus College in 1641. Inscribed prior to the book being trimmed, fols. 1r (twice), 56r, 143v, 143b verso, 155r, 192r, 257r.

Given to Jesus College; inscribed, ‘Bibliothecae Coll. Jesu | Oxon. hoc Manuscriptum | (cum duobus alijs) | humillimè D.D.D. | Tho. Wilkins L.L.B. Rector | B.M. super Mont(em) in Agro | Glam(or)ganensi’ (fol. ii recto), with similar notes in MSS. 27 and 119. Wilkins gave these three books on 9 January 1693, according to his note in a copy of John Prise’s Historia Brytannicae defensio (1573) in the National Library of Wales, W.s. 1573(a), signed ‘Tho. Wilkins’ on the upper flyleaf, with the following note on the lower flyleaf: ‘Memorandum that on Munday (th)e 9th of January 1693 I gave three velom MSpts to Jesus College Library, & sente them up with Rees Bowen: All three new bound & claspt viz 1 One large thicke 4to, a viry necessary Canon law-book Latine 2 One other 4to being 17 of Brittish Storyes, & written for Griffydd ab Ifan(?), ab Trehaiarn of Cantref maior, now in Carmarthenshire A(nn)o D(omi)ni 1346 3 An Antient Cronicle ab A(nn)o 900 usq(ue) ad An(n)um 1444. Latine, & a Saxon-Manuscript bound with it, Being (th)e Poetry of Mr Johan of Guldeuorde now called, Gifford.’

Jesus College MS. 29, fols. 1–143b


Language(s): Latin and Middle English

(fols. 1r–143b verso)
Ranulf Higden, Polychronicon

Begins with book 6, chapter 4; concludes with an unidentified continuation.

A note by a college librarian labels the work ‘Chronicon Regum Angliæ ab anno 900 ad 1445’ (fol. ii verso).

Incipit: Edwardus cognomento senior regnauit post patrem xxvij. annis literarum cultu
Explicit: Tunc dux Ricardus Eboracensis. erat regens francie.

The continuation was written around 1447 according to Charles Lethbridge Kingsford, ‘A Legend of Sigismund’s Visit to England’, The English Historical Review 26, no. 104 (October 1911): 750–51.

Followed by added verses on Westminster in the hand of Thomas Ragland.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: paper and parchment (used for the outer and innermost bifolia of quires)
Extent: 144 leaves
Foliation: Fols. 1–143, 143b also have a medieval foliation, ‘·lxix·’ through ‘·ccxvi·’, indicating the loss of sixty-eight leaves.


116 (fols. 1–16), 2–520 (fols. 17–96), 620–6 (fols. 97–110; 12th partially torn away and 13th–18th mostly excised), 78 (fols. 111–118), 812 (fols. 119–130), 914 (fols. 131–143, 143b). Blank parchment stubs sewn into the centres of quires 7–9 to strengthen these in lieu of full parchment bifolia.


Ruled in pencil, 27–35 long lines, ruled space 155 × 100 mm.


Gothic cursiva antiquior.


Three-line initials in red for new monarchs.

Rubrics break the work into sections by monarch and provide marginal headings.


Origin: England; 1447 × 1490s


Sir Thomas Ragland (fl. 1563); inscribed, thys ys thomas raglandys boke | he that ste⟨leth⟩ hym salbe hangyd by a crowke | and thomas (fol. 107r; DIMEV 1896); added verse (fol. 143b recto); ‘God saue the kyng | and the quyne also | thomas’ (fol. 143b verso). His stepfather, Sir Edward Carne (died 1561), was a commissioner at the Dissolution and may have acquired the book from a religious house.

James Carne, a cousin of Thomas Ragland: inscribed in a 16th- or 17th-century hand, ‘thys ys Ihames carne ys hand record of ma(yster) thomas carne and’ (fol. 47r). Thomas Carne was the half-brother of Thomas Ragland.

Practice legal entries from the 17th century suggest continued ownership in Glamorganshire: ‘Noverint universi per presentes me Morganum Llewis de Llantrissent in Comitat. Glamorgan Arg. teneri et firmiter obligari’ (fol. 46v); ‘Whereas complaint hath been mad vnto me one of his Majesties Justices of in and for the County of Glamorgan’ (fol. 47r).

Jesus College MS. 29, fols. 144–257


Trilingual poetic anthology

Language(s): Middle English; Anglo-Norman; Latin

(fols. 144r–155r)
The passion of our Lord
Rubric: Ici cumence la passyun ihesu crist en engleys.
Rubric: Incipit prologus.
Incipit: Ihereþ ny one lutele tale. þat ich eu wille telle. | As we vyndeþ hit i write in þe godspelle.
Explicit: And heo vre erende bere sois hire ywune | Mid alle oþer halewe to hire swete sune Amen

Transcript of the first 84 lines by Edward Lluyd in MS. Ashmole 1449, pp. 163–66.

DIMEV 2431
(fol. 155r)
Added verse attributed to Master John of Guildford

Copied in the 17th century by Thomas Wilkins in a facsimile script. ‘In parte of a broaken leafe of this MS. I found these verses written wherby the Author may bee gues’t at.’

"Mayster Iohan eu greteþ of Guldeuorde þo. | And sendeþ eu to Seggen. þat synge nul he no. | He on þisse wise he wille enoy his song" | God Louerd of Heuene. beo vs alle among."
DIMEV 3444
(fol. 155v)

Blank (last page of the first quire).

(fols. 156r–168v)
The owl and the nightingale
Rubric: Incipit altercacio inter filomenam et Bubonem.
Incipit: Ich wes in one sumere dale | In oneswiþe dyele hale
Explicit: He can iceu namore telle | her nys namore of þisse spelle
Final rubric: Explicit.
DIMEV 2307
(fols. 169r–174v)
Poema morale
Rubric: Tractatus quidam in anglico.
Incipit: Ich am eldre þan ich wes a winter and ek on lore | Ich welde more þan ich dude my wyt auhte beo more
Explicit: Bidde nu we leoue freond yonge and ek olde | Þat he þat þis wryt wrot his saule beo þer ac holde
DIMEV 2113
(fols. 175r–178v)
The saws of Saint Bede
Incipit: Þees holy gostes myhte | Vs helpe and rede and dihte
Explicit: Among þan englen bryhte | Wunyen and beo mote
DIMEV 5698
(fols. 178v–179v)
The Samaritan woman
Rubric: Incipit de muliere Samaritana
Incipit: Þo ihesu crist an eorþe was mylde weren his dede | Alle heo beoþ on boke iwryten þat me may heom rede
Explicit: And þus was þes bureuh a red vt of helle sore | And by leuede on al myhty god nuwe & euer more
DIMEV 5874
(fol. 179v)
On fortune
Incipit: Weole þu art a waried þing vneuene constu dele
Explicit: Þe poure i londe naueth no lot with riche for to mele
DIMEV 6182
(fols. 179v–180v)
Admonition to prepare for death
Incipit: Mon may longe lyues wene | Ac ofte him lyeþ þe wrench
Explicit: Wurcheþ him þyne euer mo | Mon ne do þu nouht swo
DIMEV 3370
(fol. 180v)
An orison to the Virgin Mary
Incipit: On hire is al my lif i long | of hwam ich wille synge
Explicit: Nu and euer mo | To longe Ich habbe soth ibeo||
DIMEV 4270
(fol. 181r)
Fragmentary poem on the Annunciation
Incipit: ||of þine swete wordes ich am swiþe gled | Ich am godes wenche ful wel ich habbe i sped
Explicit: þat for his swete moder luue þat feyr is and hende | Bringe vs to þe blisse þat lesteþ buten ende

Eleven lines on fol. 188v and seven lines on fol. 181r.

DIMEV 1467
(fol. 181r–v)
The five joys of our Lady Saint Mary
Rubric: Her bigynneþ þe vif Blyssen of vre leuedi Seynte Marie.
Incipit: Leuedy for þare blisse | þat þu heddest at þe triune | Þo þu wistest myd i wisse | þat ihesu wolde beo þi sune
Explicit: O vre sunnes make vs clene | & yef vs þat eche lyht | And to heouene vs alle i mene | louerd þu bryng for wel þu miht
DIMEV 3019
(fols. 181v–182r)
Against simony
Rubric: Hwon holy chireche is vnder uote
Incipit: Hwile wes seynte peter i cleped symon | þo queþ vre louerd him to þu schalt hoten ston
Explicit: For his swete moder luue þat is so veyr and swote | Þat we in þisse lyue hit i seon mote
DIMEV 6528
(fol. 182r)
Rubric: Incipit de die iudicii.
Incipit: Hwenne ich þenche of domesday ful sore ich may adrede | Þer schal after his werk uych mon fongen mede
Explicit: For his holy nome and for hire erendynge | Þat he ure saule to heueryche brynge
DIMEV 6339
(fols. 182v–184v)
On death
Incipit: I hereþ of one þinge þat ye owen of þenche | Ye þat weryeþ þat riche schrud and sytteþ on eurebence
Explicit: And lete vs hatye þat wouh and luuþe þat ryhte | And bringe vre saule to heoueriche lyhte
DIMEV 5640
(fol. 184v)
Ten abuses of the age
Incipit: Hwan þu sixst vnleode | king þat is wilful | And Domes mon ny mynde | preost þat is wilde
Explicit: Lond wiþ vten lawe | Al so seyde Bede | Wo þere þeode
DIMEV 6475
(fol. 185r–v)
A ‘little sooth sermon’ against forbidden fruits
Incipit: Herkneþ alle gode men and stylle sitteþ a dun | And ich ou wile tellen a lutel soþ sermun
Explicit: Al so wis so he god is for hire erendynge | To þe blysse of heouene he vs alle brynge
DIMEV 1773
(fol. 185v)
Antiphona de sancto Thoma Martyre
Rubric: Incipit antiphona de sancto Thoma martyre in anglico.
Incipit: Haly thomas of heoueriche | Alle apostles eueliche
Explicit: þu ert froure a mong mon kunne | help vs nv of vre sunne Amen
DIMEV 2047
(fols. 185v–187r)
Exhortation to serve Christ
Incipit: Hwi ne serue we crist and secheþ his sauht | seoþþe vs wel at þe font fulluht by tauht
Explicit: Þureh þe riche blode þe roche to chon | Louerd haue mercy of vs euervychon
DIMEV 6672
(fols. 187r–188v)
Thomas of Hales, Love rune
Rubric: Incipit quidam cantus quem composuit frater Thomas de Hales de ordine fratrum Minorum. ad instanciam cuiusdam puelle deo dicate.
Incipit: A Mayde cristes me bit yorne | Þat ich hire wurche a luue ron
Explicit: And yeue him god endynge | Þat haueþ i wryten þis ilke wryt
(fol. 188v)
Fragmentary poem on the Annunciation
Rubric: Item cantus.
Incipit: From heouene in to eorþe god gretynge he sende | Bi on Archaungle þat to Marye wende
Explicit: Mones imone on me ne may nomon fynde | of dred wes þat mayde||

Eleven lines on fol. 188v and seven lines on fol. 181r.

DIMEV 1467
(fol. 189r)
Fragmentary poem on forgiveness
Incipit: ||Naueþ my saule bute fur and ys | & þe lichome eorþe and treo
Explicit: Hwenne deþ heom lat to þe murehþe | þat neuer ne byþ undon
DIMEV 3676
(fol. 189r)
Signs of death
Incipit: Wenne þin heou blokeþ | and þi strengþe wokeþ
Explicit: þeonne biþ hit sone of þe | al so þu neuer ner
DIMEV 6462
(fol. 189r)
Three sorrowful tidings
Incipit: Yche day me cumeþ tydinges þreo | for wel swiþe sore beoþ heo
Explicit: Þe þridde is my meste kare | Þat ich not hwider ich scal fare
DIMEV 1157

Transcript of this and the following three items by Edward Lluyd in Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, MS. Peniarth 120, pp. 601–17.

(fols. 189r–192r)
Sayings of Alfred
Rubric: Incipiunt documenta regis Alurede.
Incipit: At Seuorde sete þeynes monye fele Biscopes and feole bok ilered | Eorles prute knyhtes egleche þar wes þe eorl Alurich
Explicit: Þe mon þe spareþ yeorde and yonge child and let hit arixlye | Þat he hit areche ne may þat him schal on ealde sore reowe
Final rubric: Expliciunt dicta regis Aluredi.
(fols. 192r–193r)
In praise of Christ
Rubric: Tractatus quidam.
Incipit: Louerd crist ich þe grete | þu art so mylde and swete | from heouene louerd þu hider come
Explicit: Þat my saule habbe lyffe | Þat myn ende come to eche blysse Amen
DIMEV 3190
(fols. 193r–194r)
Homily on true love
Rubric: Tractatus quidam.
Incipit: Þeo soþe luue a mong vs beo | Wyþ vten euch endynge
Explicit: And lede vs in to heouene blys | & sette vs on hus ryht honde
DIMEV 5479
(fol. 194r–195r)
The shires and hundreds of England
Rubric: Her bigynneþ þe Syren. and þe hundredes of engelonde.
Incipit: Angle lond is eyhte hundred myle long from penwyþ steorte.
Explicit: Þis is unde al⹎ xxvi· þusend hida. and on half hundred.
(fol. 195r)
Assize of bread of England
Rubric: Assisa panis Anglie
Incipit: Quando frumentum venditur pro ·xij· denar’. tunc Walstellus
Explicit: Quando pro ·vij· s. tunc ponderabit ·xix· solid’ ·vi· denar’.
Language(s): Latin
(fols. 195v–197v)
Guillaume le Clerc de Normandie, Vie de Tobie
Rubric: Ici comence de Tobye.
Incipit: Cil ke seme bone semence. | V bone parole comence. | Deyt garder ceo est uerite fine. Ke sur pere. ne sur espyne.
Explicit: Por ki il enseuelyseit. | Les cors quant leysir aueyt. | Si cum vus orrez en la estorie. | Ke ben est digne de memorie.
Final rubric: Explicit de Thobia.
Language(s): Anglo-Norman
(fols. 198r–200v)
The eleven pains of hell
Rubric: Ici comencent les vnze peynes de enfern. les queus synt pool vi⟨st.⟩
Incipit: Plest uus oyer une demaunde. | Ke li deable fist estraunge.
Explicit: And he is curteys and hendy. | Þi. god him lete wel endy. | Amen.
Final rubric: Expliciunt ·xi· pene Inferni. quas vidit Beatus Paulus.
DIMEV 6112
Language(s): Middle English and Anglo-Norman
(fols. 201r–207r)
Le doctrinal Sauvage
Rubric: Ici cumence le Doctrinal.
Incipit: Sceo fust. vn ryches heom ki me vousist entendre. | Cheualer. clerk. et lay. ben i pust aprendre.
Explicit: Les bons entendemens. ben entendre e oyr | Peot eom tele chose aprendre. dunt il peot ioyr. Amen.

Long interpolated version.

Language(s): Anglo-Norman
(fols. 207v–222v)
Chardri, La vie des set dormanz
Rubric: Ici comence la Vie de Set Dormaunz.
Incipit: La uertu deu. ke tuz iurs dure. | E tuz iurs est certeyne e pure.
Explicit: Amen. Amen. dites en haut⹎ | E ieo le conferm. si deu me saut. | Amen.
Final rubric: Explicit de septem dormientibus.
Language(s): Anglo-Norman
(fols. 223r–244r)
Chardri, La vie de seint Josaphaz
Rubric: Ici comence la vie Seynt Iosaphaz.
Incipit: Ki uout a nul ben entendre. | Par ensample peot aprendre.
Explicit: Maunde chardri saluz sanz fin. | E au uespre. e au matyn. Amen.
Final rubric: Explicit.

Lacks lines 751–874 and 1382–1510.

Language(s): Anglo-Norman
(fols. 244v–257v)
Chardri, Le petit plet
Rubric: Ici cumence le petyt ple. entre le Iuuencel e le Veylard.
Incipit: Beaus duz seynurs pur vus dedure. | Vus cutrey un enueysure.
Explicit: Amen amen chescun en die. | Ore nus eyt tuz. le fiz marie. Amen.

Lacks lines 440–568.

Language(s): Anglo-Norman

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: 114 leaves
Foliation: In addition to the modern foliation of fols. 144–257, an earlier modern foliation continues the medieval foliation, beginning with ‘217’ at fol. 144; indistinct after ‘262’.


1–312 (fols. 144–179), 412–2 (fols. 180–189; second bifolium missing, leaving gaps after fols. 180 and 188), 5–712 (fols. 190–225), 812–2 (fols. 226–235; fourth bifolium missing, leaving gaps after fols. 228 and 232), 912 (fols. 236–247), 1012–2 (fols. 248–257; outermost bifolium missing, with a gap after fol. 247).


Mostly ruled in pencil, in 30–32 long lines, ruled space 143 × 118 mm.

Fols. 156r–168v, 175r–178v, 195v–257v are in pencil, in two columns of 32–39 lines, ruled space 143 × 118 mm.


Gothic textualis, copied in a single hand, written above top line.

Some verses were left incomplete by the scribe, finished in what Ker calls ‘an unusual current and backward-sloping hand’ written in brown ink soon after 1300. Ker, pp. xviii–xix provides a list.


Lombardic capitals at the opening of new works with penwork decoration.

Coloured initials indicating new sections, alternating between blue and red.

Rubrics for work headings and speakers in dialogues.


Origin: Herefordshire, England; ?1272 × 1290s

The Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English analyses the scribe’s dialect as belonging to east Herefordshire. Based on Ker’s dating of the manuscript to the second half of the 13th century, Cartlidge, ‘The Date of The Owl and the Nightingale’, argues that the poem was written after the death of King Henry III in 1272. Hill (p. 273) hypothesizes that the manuscript’s contents are connected to the household of Richard Swinfield, bishop of Hereford 1283–1317. The manuscript is derived from an exemplar common with London, British Library, Cotton MS. Caligula A. ix and Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica, MS. Reg. lat. 1659. The only other record of a copy of The Owl and the Nightingale is in the 1400 catalogue of Titchfield Abbey (CBMLC, P6), which also held copies of Chardri’s works.


    David N. Bell, The Libraries of the Cistercians, Gilbertines, and Premonstratensians, Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues 3 (London, 1992).
    Betty Hill, ‘Oxford, Jesus College MS 29, Part II: Contents, Technical Matters, Compilation, and Its History to c. 1695’, Notes and Queries 50, no. 3 (September 2003): 268–76.
    Neil Cartlidge, ‘The Date of The Owl and the Nightingale’, Medium Ævum 65, no. 2 (1996): 230–247.
    Neil Cartlidge, The Works of Chardri. Three Poems in the French of Thirteenth-Century England: The Life of the Seven Sleepers, The Life of St. Josaphaz and The Little Debate (Tempe, AZ, 2015).
    Susanna Fein, The Owl and the Nightingale and the English Poems of Oxford, Jesus College, MS 29 (II), Middle English Text Series (Kalamazoo, MI, 2022).
    N.R. Ker, The Owl and the Nightingale: Reproduced in Facsimile from the Surviving Manuscripts, Jesus College Oxford 29 and British Museum Cotton Caligula A.ix, Early English Text Society 251 (Oxford, 1963).
    Jane Roberts, Guide to Scripts Used in English Writings up to 1500 (Liverpool, 2015), no. 32 (pp. 146–48).

Additional Information

Record Sources

Description by Andrew Dunning (November 2022), with thanks to Timothy Cutts of the National Library of Wales. Previously described:

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)

Last Substantive Revision

2022-11-30: Andrew Dunning revised with consultation of original.