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

Exeter College MS. 49

Poor Caitif; England, s. xv


Language(s): Middle English

(fols. 1r-150r)
Poor Caitif
(fol. 1rv)
Incipit: [running title þe prolog] þis tretis compylid of a pore caitlyf and nedy of gostly helpe of al cristen peple
Explicit: ende merciful.
i. (fols. 1v-16v)
Incipit: [running title þe bileue] þe grwnde of al godenes is stedefast faiþ
Explicit: þat bouʒht vs wiþ his herte blode Amen.
ii. (fols. 16v-70r)
Incipit: [running title þe prologe] A man axid of Crist
Explicit: [fol. 18r] as seint Jon seiþ.
Incipit: [running title þe firste heest] þe furst comaundement of God hoteþ in þes wordes
Explicit: wiþ oʒu ten ende. merciful lord, amen.
iii. (fols. 70r-90r)
Incipit: [running title þe prologe on þe pater noster] Criste seiþ Who þat loueþ him shal kepe his comaundements
Explicit: [fol. 73r] And seint Jon Crisostom seiþ . If þu serechinge shalt.
Incipit: [running title þe first axinge of þe pater noster] þe first axinge of þes seuen
Explicit: and biginneþ a tretis of perfectione [here endith yᵉ pater noster in John Stow’s hand].
iv. (fols. 90r-94r)
Incipit: [running title Counsaile of Crist in John Stow’s hand] Crist not compellynge bot frely counseylynge eche man
Explicit: unclennes of þis world.
v. (fols. 94r-97r)
Incipit: [running title of vertuous patience in John Stow’s hand] But who þat is uerily fedde
Explicit: al is entente sei a seint in his boke.
vi. (fols. 97r-98r)
Incipit: [running title of temptation] when þu art temptid ei þer trublyd
Explicit: in to þe presens of God.
vii. (fols. 98r-105v)
Incipit: [running title þe chartir of heuen]. Euery wise man þat claymeþ his heritage
Explicit: seint Austin seiþ in his boke to pe erle.
viii. (fols. 105v-115v)
Incipit: [running title þe armoure of heuen] Almyʒti God seiþ bi holy Iob pat al mannis lijf is fiʒtunge
Explicit: hopynge to dwelle þere world wiþ outen ende amen.
ix. (fols. 115v-119v)
Incipit: [running title þe loue of Ihesu] Who so euere þu be þat araiest þe to loue God
Explicit: in to worldes of worldes amen.
x. (fols. 119v-124v)
Incipit: [running title desire of Iesu. the .10. matter in John Stow’s hand] Onliche lord be to me teres
Explicit: þat no part of him be derke in vices.
xi. (fols. 124v-127v)
Incipit: [running title of uery makenes ye 11 mater in John Stow’s hand] To any degre of verri loue of Ihesu
Explicit: þe virtue of Crist dwelle in him.
xii. (fols. 127v-129v)
Incipit: [running title ye effecte of will ye .12. mater in John Stow’s hand] Everi dede presable or reprouable or[sic] mannes wille
Explicit: ben amendid and aʒen clepid fro her euelys
xiii. (fols. 129v-132r)
Incipit: [running title actif lijf contemplatyf lijf] Criste loued miche Marie and Martha
Explicit: in to þe world of worldis.
xiv. (fols. 132r-150r)
Incipit: [head title ye prolog with .v. chaptars of virginitie folowyng is the 14 mattar and the last of the poore caytiffe in John Stow’s hand]. I write þis tretis in fyue short chapetours
Explicit: þat we may regne wiþ ⟨þe⟩ in endeles blisse merciful lord ⟨amen?⟩. [here] endithe the pore caytiffe added in John Stow's hand

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: uelid wip.
Form: codex
Support: parchment FHHF
Extent: 150 leaves preceded by two 18th-century paper flyleaves and followed by two others.
Dimensions (leaf): 130 × 100 mm.
Dimensions (written): 92 × 70 mm.
Foliation: Leaves numbered in cursive roman figures to the fourth leaf.


1–188 198 (3, 8, canc.). Catchwords by the scribe in an ornamental box. Quires lettered on first leaves, s. xv.


One column, 20 lines. Ruled in crayon.


Anglicana formata using short and low r; punctuated by low point.


On fol. 1r is a 7-line blue and red lombard flourished red, otherwise decoration mainly consists of the same in 2/5-line size. Some letters are touched with ochre and there are blue and red paraphs.


Sewn on three bands between square-edged, calf-covered wooden boards with the cords entering the boards through a tunnel and held in place by wooden pegs, s. xv. Under the front pastedown can be seen a fragment of paper with 5–6 lines of Latin in a cursive hand, s. xv.


Origin: s. xv ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

On the front pastedown, in a hand of s. xviin, is ‘Mathyas Evans Is vpon the Exchange at ⟨x?⟩ a clocke he ken m of verses of Sybylla Erythria That conteyen the matter of the Phylosophers stone.’ This reference to the Exchange and the occurrence of John Stow’s hand on fols. 90r, 94r, 119v, 124v, 127v, 130v, 132r, and 150r (see Contents, above) suggest that the book was in London in the sixteenth century.

The next indication of ownership is on fol. ir, ‘E libris Samuelis Linton 1701’ presumably he who was matriculated at Pembroke College in 1667 and was vicar of Thundridge, Herts., in 1713 (AO). It is not known when the book came to Exeter.

Exeter library identifications are, on fol. ir, a title of s. xviii, ‘Wiclefi Manuale cui titulus Pauper Rusticus’, ‘Q1–24 Gall’ (deleted), ‘171.B.4’, ‘Coxe XLIV’ (pencil) and the round book stamp. The book stamp is also on the front pastedown and ‘171.B.4’ is upside down on the back pastedown. ‘4’ is on a round paper label at the top of the spine and ‘6’ on a square paper label at the bottom.

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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