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

Exeter College MS. 15

Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum naturale; England, s. xiiiex


Language(s): Latin

1. (fols. 1r-15v)
Rubric: Prima pars ⟨speculi mundi⟩ cuius primus liber continet tantum annotaciones capitulorum librorum sequencium et ideo annotaciones inferius posite incipiunt a libro secundo.
Incipit: De diuersis mundi accepcionibus ex libro qui dicitur ymago mundi
Explicit: De inuocacione mundi et luminarium celi.

Capitula of the following text, without folio or text references.

2. (fols. 16r-470v)
Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum naturale
Rubric: [Head title] De mundi creatore. De diuersis mundi accepcionibus ex libro qui dicitur ymago mundi
Incipit: (text) Mundi factura quinque modis describitur. Dicitur enim primo
Explicit: et mire religiositatis feruore conuersatur. Apud rauen||
eTK 0892H

J. B. Voorbij, Het ‘Speculum Historiale’ van Vincent van Beauvais (Groningen, 1991), classifies our copy as Nb14, i.e. a manuscript of the Douai version of the Speculum maius. In spite of many excisions of leaves (see Structure, and Script) there are no breaks in the text, but the loss of leaves at the end means that it ends in ch. 33, Strasbourg edn. of not after 1479 (BMC i. 64), sig. SS5ra/23–4. Book numbers are in a hand which writes numbers in a similar way in MS 13.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: (cap.) de processu; (text) ad anagogicam.
Form: codex
Support: parchment parchment FHHF
Extent: 470 leaves, numbered in modern pencil
Dimensions (leaf): 285 × 200 mm.
Dimensions (columns): 215 × 70 mm.
Except for fols. 1–15:
Dimensions (columns): 210 × 70 mm.


112 24 (wants 4) 3–912 1014 (wants 14) 11–1712 1810 (wants 9, 10) 1914 20–2312 244 (wants 1) 25–2612 2714 28–2912 3012 (± 1) 31–3612 3712 (wants 12) 3816 3912 40 (4 leaves). Catchwords by scribe (some trimmed off). No quire signatures.


Two columns, c. 60–63 lines but fols. 1–15 in two columns, 61 lines. Ruled in crayon.


Written in university hands by several scribes. Scribe 1 writes fols. 16r to 112v, the end of book 9, and the end of quire 10, and Scribe 2 as far as fol. 216vb/44, the end of book 16, where the remaining 16 lines of the page are written by Scribe 3, who writes the next quire, 19, of 14 leaves. Scribe 1 returns to write fols. 231–408va/44, in which line the continuation is perhaps by Scribe 4. At fol. 428ra/53 Scribe 3 reappears and continues to the end of book 30 (fol. 454r), where Scribe 1 returns and continues to the end. Scribe 1 punctuates by medial point; scribe 2 by medial point and punctus elevatus; scribes 3 and 4 by low point.


No initials, and no spaces left for them. Red and blue paraphs, red stroking, and underlining. Rubrics in capitula.


Sewn on five bands. Standard Exeter binding: simple and quite elegant, calf over millboards, the calf bearing blind decoration of a floral type, early 19th century.


Origin: s. xiiiex ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

Despite the presence of several St Albans abbey ex libris, the book is not a product of the St Albans scriptorium; see D. R. Howlett, Studies in the Works of John Whethamstede (Oxford D.Phil, diss., 1975), 193. They are (1) fol. 15v, ‘Hunc librum ad usum Conuentus Monastery sancti Albani assignauit Venerabilis pater dominus Johannes Whethamstede Abbas Monastery antedicti. Vinculoque anathematis innodauit illos omnes qui aut titulum illius delere curauerint aut ad usus applicare presumpserint alienos’, the usual Whethamstede ex libris and anathema, written in the usual St Albans bookhand (s. xv); (2) fol. 16r at top, ‘Hic est liber sancti Albani de libraria Conuentus’; (3) fol. 16r, at bottom, visible only by ultraviolet light, covered by a title and not noticed by Howlett, ‘1 line Hic est liber sancti Albani qui Cum Iuda Traditore Anathemantis Gladio feriatur. Amen’ (s. xiv, a date which casts doubt on the later ex libris, s.n. Whethamstede, that Whethamstede gave the book to the abbey). At the top of fol. 1r are (1) a title which may be either a St Albans or an Exeter one, ‘Speculum naturale fratris Vincencij de ordine fratrum minorum’ (s. xv); (2) above it ‘a myrror or looking glasse’ (s. xv); and (3) ‘Ego christianus qui lege naturali non sum contentus sed potius supernaturali qui per secula seculorum regit in’ (s. xv).

There is no evidence to explain when or why the book reached Exeter but, despite its absence from Ecloga, it may have been at the College in the medieval period: R. M. Thomson, ‘What is the Entheticus?’, in R. M. Thomson, England and the 12th-Century Renaissance (Aldershot, 1998), ch. 12, 291 n. 18, has remarked that St Albans manuscripts tended to stray into college libraries in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, generally Oxford ones (see also Watson, Exeter, Introduction, pp. xxii–xxiii). Its first appearance in an Exeter list is CMA, no. 50.

Exeter library identifications are, on the front pastedown: the Exeter book stamp, ‘Ex: Coll: Oxon:’, ‘Q–78 Gall’ (deleted), ‘174–k–1’ altered to ‘170–I–1’, and ‘Coxe xv’ (pencil). ‘1’ is on a round paper label at the top of the spine.

Record Sources

Andrew G. Watson, A descriptive catalogue of the medieval manuscripts of Exeter College, Oxford (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 2000.


For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact Exeter College Library.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)

Funding of Cataloguing

Conversion of the printed catalogue to TEI funded by the Rector and Fellows of Exeter College.

Last Substantive Revision

2020-04-29: First online publication

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