Exeter College MS. 17
Canon Law; Oxford(?), England, s. xivex
Two columns, 80 lines throughout except the text in C(i) which has 40. Ruled in crayon, except C(i), ruled in red ink; Catchwords, not by scribes, are on every quire where they are necessary, almost all in one hand and mostly in boxes. Quires are signed in crayon on first leaves in an informal hand using a mixture of letters, ad hoc numbering, and signs which provide no sense of sequence (reliance presumably being placed on the catchwords). The first four leaves of quires 6 and 25 are lettered a, b, c, d, but neither quire has an overall signature.
A, B, and C(iii)–(iv) are in several university-type hands, not easily distinguishable except the rotunda script which is found conspicuously at the end of B but which seems to develop imperceptibly out of preceding hands. The text of C(i) is in a less than expert semi-quadrata and the commentary in a rotunda of university type. C(ii) is by the same hand as C(i) but the script is smaller. The script of C(iv) is bastard anglicana, with headings in a large but imperfect quadrata. Punctuation is by low point and C(i) also uses the punctus elevatus. Tituli are commonly written in the top right-hand corners of pages.
Seventeen handsome 10-line illuminated initials (some with long extenders) are used for the beginnings and major divisions of works, on fols. 1r, 12r, 13r, 14v, 24r, 44r, 62r, 75r, 84r, 98r, 121r, 132v, 155r, 174r, 197r, 207v, 231v. The gold letters are on crimson and blue grounds traced with white. The grandest initials also make use of orange.
Next down in the hierarchy are 5/7-line illuminated initials,
then 3-line blue lombards flourished red.
There are rubrics, red and blue paraphs, red underlining of lemmata, and in C(i) some touching of small capitals with yellow ochre, red line-fillers, and ornamental frame-ruling in red. Wording for the rubricator to follow often survives in the margins.
Alexander and Temple, no. 324.
Sewn on six bands. Standard Exeter binding; sprinkled edges, simple and quite elegant, calf over millboards, the calf bearing blind decoration of a floral type, early 19th century.
Provenance and Acquisition
A book of this type might have originated in Oxford, where there were stationers who could obtain the exemplars of the texts and the workmen who, under supervision, could produce a tripartite volume of good if not first quality. That such a person was involved in this book is suggested by the fact that the three sections share scribes and the illuminator, and that the construction of the volume was guided by catchwords almost entirely in one hand throughout.
There is no evidence to explain the book’s acquisition by Exeter but it is recorded at Exeter c. 1600 as Ecloga, no. 14 and was therefore presumably in the College in the medieval period: see Watson, Exeter, Introduction, pp. xxii–xxiii. Not recorded in CMA.
Exeter library identifications, on the front pastedown, are: the library book stamp, ‘L1—2’ (deleted), ‘Ex: Coll: Oxon:’, ‘Q7–10 Gall’ (deleted), ‘172–E–10’ and ‘Coxe Cat. no. XVII’ (pencil). ‘10’ is on a round paper label at the top of the spine.
For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact Exeter College Library.
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