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

Exeter College MS. 18

Florus Diaconus, Expositio in epistolas Sancti Pauli; England, s. xii¾


Language(s): Latin

(fols. 1ra-143v)
Florus Diaconus, Expositio in epistolas Sancti Pauli
Incipit: ||⟨testi⟩monium consciencie nostre ⟨quod⟩ uult placere. Humilis anima
Explicit: et iustos set esse ||
Incipit: ||[fol. 1rb] nemo. Dei enim filius Ihesus ... Durum tibi uidetur
Explicit: ueritas prosperum animam ||
Incipit: || [fol. 1va] Ex sermone de verba apostoli. Nemo sibi placeat
Explicit: Quia Christi bonus odor ||
Incipit: || [fol. 1vb] qui bono quis quem bonus odor occidit
Explicit: sed quid ait? Siue occa ||
Incipit: || [fol. 2ra] et uerba ista perpendant
Explicit: Obedite prepositis uestris ... Audistis fratres mei cum epistola ad hebreos legeretur [PL 119. 420B] ... ut simul de mercede gaudeamus.
Final rubric: Explicit expositio epistole ad hebreos. Ex dictis beati Augustini episcopi pars ultima.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 2279–90 (2276–8 are lacking); PL 119.351d–420b is a very abbreviated text. The work, a catena of excerpts from Augustine, is often attributed to Augustine and to Bede. This is evidently one volume of a two-volume set, like the two 12th-century Bodleian manuscripts, MSS e Mus. 9 (SC 3570) (from Bury St Edmunds) and Bodley 317 (SC 2708) (from Christ Church Canterbury), the first of which contains Romans and 1 Corinthians and the second 2 Corinthians to Apocalypse, as our volume. Almost two-thirds of fol. 1 has been roughly removed, presumably for the sake of an illuminated initial, and the second leaf of the first quire is lacking. Continuous text begins on fol. 2ra, at PL 119 ch. 3 before ‘Qui et idoneus’, and runs to the end.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: [sione siue].
Form: codex
Support: parchment HFFH
Extent: 143 leaves
Dimensions (leaf): 420 × 375 mm.
Dimensions (column): 323 × 85 mm.
Outer margins have suffered from damp, evidently before the 18th-century rebinding since the binding was not affected. Leaves have also been cropped, with some loss of text.
Foliation: numbered in modern pencil


18 (wants 2) 2–188. Prickings remain in inner margins but others have been trimmed away. Ruled in crayon. There are catchwords in crayon in a bold hand of s. xiii on 13 quires, 4 quires have none, and none was needed on quire 18. There are no quire signatures or numbers.


Two columns, 51 lines.


A very fine English protogothic book script, by one hand, written above the top line. The scribe uses the ampersand and English abbreviations for ‘est’ and ‘enim’, and tagged e and upright d. Punctuation is by low point, punctus elevatus, and punctus interrogativus. References to marginal authorities are in elegant rustic capitals, which are also used for rubrics at the beginning of some books.


A major initial has presumably been torn away from the top of fol. 1. What remains is of two types: (1) illuminated initials; (2) arabesque initials, as follows.

1(a) (fol. 25v), 10-line P with extender, gold letter with pink bow infilled with gold tracery. The letter is entirely outlined in blue with little spikes protruding from all sides and its foot ends in blue and red arabesques with bunches of grapes.

(b) (fol. 47v), 11-line P with extender, gold letter with pink bow on blue square and extender also on blue. On the blue are patterns of three white dots.

(c) (fol. 90v), 12-line P with panelled bow and extender, gold enclosed by crimson/orange, all enclosed by blue. Inside bow are curved tendrils, crimson/orange and buff, with green and buff leaves. On the blue and gold are patterns of three white dots.

(d) (fol. 96r), 10-line P with extender, fully sketched tendrils in the bow but with only the gold of bow and extender painted.

(e) (fol. 99r), 11-line P with panelled bow and extender, gold enclosed by crimson/orange and all enclosed by green. Inside bow is an animal with a long head biting the bow of the letter.

(f) (fol. 125ra), 10-line P with extender. Curve of bow and centre of extender are blue, dotted white. Inside bow is an animal with a long tail which it is biting; cf. initial (e).

(g) (fol. 125rb), 10-line M. Gold letter with crimson/orange and buff tendrils and green, crimson/orange and gold leaves. Blue spikes are on the outsides of the verticals.

2(a) (fol. 66r), 10-line P with extender. Bow is green on outside of curve, buff on inside, all with white dots; extender is green on left, buff on right, divided by wavy white line. Delicate arabesque patterns inside bow with orange tendrils, shaded blue and green leaves. Three- and five-grape pattern.

(b) (fol. 81r), 10-line P with panelled bow and extender, blue enclosed by buff. Inside bow are coiled green tendrils with buff and crimson/orange leaves.

(c) (fol. 115r), 10-line P with extender. Outside of bow and left side of extender are green, inside of bow and right-hand side of extender are blue, both divided by wavy red line dotted white. The green and blue have a pattern of triple dots in white. Delicate arabesque patterns in bow with red and blue tendrils with green, blue, and red leaves, gold stars or suns, and red grapes.

(d) (fol. 123r), 10-line P with extender. Bow and extender are blue with red and white centres. Arabesques in bow have blue tendrils with green, blue, and red leaves, and red grapes.

Despite the several styles, only one artist may be involved: the several types of initial in group I are linked by various features and the arabesque initials are linked to initial I(a) by the arabesque decoration at the foot of the extender, which seems to be original. Parallels to several features can be found in manuscripts from Hereford, Gloucester, and Lanthony. Lanthony (Lambeth Palace, MS 63 fol. 142v) and Hereford (Oxford, Jesus College, MS 66 fol. 4) have initials with blue spikes as our initials 1(a) and 1(g); gold tracery on a pink base, very similar to our initials 1(a) and 1(b) is found in Oxford, New College, MS 35, fols. 1 and 3 (of unknown origin: owned by fellows of New College in 15th century, one of whom had a connection with Abingdon); Hereford Cathedral MS O. VI. 7 fols. 2v and 90r have blue bases with white triple-dot pattern which also occurs on the initials of New College MS 35. Arabesque initials from Gloucester are in the same style as those in our manuscript.

Other decoration consists of plain 2/4-line red, blue, and green initials, rubrics, red paraphs, and red marginal authorities. Our Plate II reproduces details of fol. 25v.

Not recorded by Alexander and Temple.


Sewn on six bands. Standard Exeter binding: simple and quite elegant, calf over millboards, the calf bearing blind decoration of a floral type, early 19th century. Rust marks in the bottom centre of fols. 1r–4r are from a chain or chain plate on a previous binding.


Origin: s. xii¾ ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

The standard of script and decoration suggests an origin in a major scriptorium, probably one in the Gloucester/Hereford area (see Decoration above) and the size suggests that it was intended as a lectern book, perhaps for reading in a refectory. The pages bear a number of aids to the user: Stephen Langton’s chapter numbers are in arabic figures in the top centre of upper margins (guided by rough crayon numerals in roman figures), some marginal authorities have had chapter and/or titulus numbers added, the Florus chapter numbers have been added in margins, where there are also pointing hands and occasional later notes.

When the book came to Exeter is not known, nor is the identity of the writer of ‘Thys is Richard Trelawnye’ on fol. 80r in a 15th-century hand, although the name suggests a West Country if not indeed a Cornwall connection.

Recorded at Exeter c. 1600 Ecloga, no. 21, then CMA, no. 45.

On fol. 143v another 15th-century hand wrote the Ps.-Virgilian verses ‘Ille enim qui quondam gracili ...’ (WIC 8699; ICL 7713). In a 19th-century hand on the front pastedown is ‘This is a work of Venerable Bede. See his printed Works.’

Exeter library identifications are, on the front pastedown: the Exeter book stamp; ‘Ex: Coll: Oxon’; ‘D1–16’ (deleted), ‘Q7–11 Gall’ (deleted), ‘172–E–11’, ‘Coxe Cat. no. XVIII’. ‘11’ 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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