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

Exeter College MS. 51

Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. in libros Genesim–Ruth; Oxford, England, c. 1466?


Summary of Contents: Exeter College MSS 51–68, most of the texts in which are by or attributed to Hugo de Sancto Caro, were produced in Oxford for Roger Keys, d. 1477, whose many positions included the visitorship of Exeter College (1442), the wardenship of All Souls College (1443–5), the archdeaconry of Barnstaple (1450), and the precentorship of Exeter Cathedral (1459) (see BRUO, ‘Keyes’). His arms are found in the borders of several of the manuscripts (although others have been excised) and several manuscripts include a long ex dono inscription (see MS 53) recording his gift of the books to the rector and fellows of Exeter College on 1 January 1469/70. On Hugo de Sancto Caro see E. Mangenot, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, vii (Paris, 1921), 221–308. For two other great series of illuminated volumes produced in Oxford contemporaneously with these, then and now at Balliol College and Merton College, see K. L. Scott, ‘Two series of dated illuminated manuscripts made in Oxford 1450–64’, Watson Essays, 43–69. So far as is known from the incomplete series of dated colophons and the ex dono inscription, the manuscripts were written between 1452 and the late 1460s, but it is probable that they were delivered to the College singly or in twos or threes; a 1458 entry in the Rector’s Accounts records payments to John Godysson, stationer, for providing chains for three volumes of the set (Boase1, 21, Boase2, 40). Another series of entries in the Rector’s Accounts reveals, however, that MS 68 and another, probably MS 60, were not completed until after Keys’s death, between 1480 and 1484, perhaps for lack of money until that was supplied by M. John Combe (see Watson, Exeter, p. 85, and MS 68, History). In the whole series three principal scribes took part, assisted by several others in the last volume, MS 68. Four artists shared the illumination of the borders (and some of them also the spray decoration and small initials). For detailed analysis, see Watson, Exeter, pp. 85–87.

Language(s): Latin

1. (fols. 1r-82v)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. Gen.
Rubric: [in margin above:] Prologus super librum Genesis
Incipit: Principium verborum tuorum Veritas. Deus pater immo et operum ... Scriptum est
Explicit: [fol. 1v] apud Rodos insulam cum ||
Incipit: || [fol. 2r] deitatis id est eorum in quibus est tota deitas
Explicit: [fol. 4v] ostende mihi faciem||
Incipit: || [fol. 5r] dantur et satis probabile est
Explicit: Quod cernens ... nota mors egyptiis .ix. diebus seruare corpora incondita mortua ... quibus transactis scilicet annis decem.
Final rubric: Explicit liber Genesis.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3631. Because of the excision of the second, third, and seventh leaves of quire 1, our text breaks at fols. 1/2 (prologue, Paris, 1533, edn., fol. iiira/13, resuming in the exposition of ch. 1, edn. fol. vivb/67) and at fols. 4/5 (ch. 1., edn. fol. viiira/69, resuming in ch. ii.7, edn. p. xra/44). It ends at edn. fol. lxxiv/24, 34 lines beyond conclusion of Stegmüller, Bibl., 3631.

2. (fols. 82v-102r)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. Exod.
Rubric: Incipit prologus super librum Exodi.
Incipit: Isa. xixº erunt quinque ciuitates
Explicit: quod gloria Domini appellatur nubes gloriosa.
Final rubric: Explicit Exodus.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3633.

3. (fols. 102r-124v)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. Levit.
Rubric: Incipit liber Leuitici.
Incipit: Sicut in principio librorum
Explicit: id est in infirmitate penitencie. synin enim rubris interpretatur.
Final rubric: Explicit liber Leuitici.

Hugo de S. Caro, Stegmüller, Bibl. 3635.

4. (fols. 124v-141v)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. Num.
Rubric: Incipit liber Numeri.
Incipit: Pentateucus liber quartus est ab uno autore editus
Explicit: quod intelligitur hoc totum de [votis que sunt aduersus animam]||

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3637. Because of the excision of the first two leaves of quire 19, our text ends abruptly at edn. (Paris, 1580), fol. cxlivb/47 (ch. xxx. 3).

5. (fols. 142r-169r)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. Deut.
Incipit: || librum compositum siue scriptum
Explicit: Glossa. misit scilicet ut faceret.
Final rubric: Explicit liber Deutronomij.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3639. Because of the excision of the first two leaves of quire 19, our text begins abruptly at edn. (Paris, 1533) fol. cxlvvb/14 (ch. 1.1).

6. (fols. 169r-184r)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. Josue
Rubric: Incipit liber Josue.
Incipit: Sexto loco inter libros veteris testamenti
Explicit: nouellis id est centum agnis.
Final rubric: Explicit liber Josue.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3641.

7. (fols. 184r-202r)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. Iudic.
Incipit: Incipit liber Iudicum Post mortem Iosue
Explicit: sed secundum alios post Sampsonem.
Final rubric: Explicit Liber Judicum.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3643.

8. (fols. 202r-204r)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. Eccles.
Rubric: Incipit liber Ruth.
Incipit: Ecclesiasticus .xj. breuis involatilibus apis tamen magnus exoritur fructus tocius ecclesie pabulum
Explicit: id est subtilioria et alciora disputare sicut apostolus fecit.
Final rubric: Explicit liber Ruth secundum exposicionem Hugonis de Vienna super bibliam.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3645.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: deitatis id est.
Form: codex
Support: parchment FHHF
Extent: 204 leaves
Dimensions (leaf): 410 × 280 mm.
Dimensions (column): 280 × c. 80 mm.
Foliation: Numbered in modern pencil


18 (wants 2, 3, 7) 2–188 ∥ 198 (wants 1, 2) 20–258 268 (8+1). Catchwords by scribe; no quire numbers or signatures.


Two columns, 60 lines. Ruled in crayon.


Written by scribe 3 (William Osborne?), probably c. 1466, a year apparently unoccupied by work on other volumes in the series: see Table 1 in headnote to MSS 51–68 (Watson, Exeter, pp. 85–87). The script is gothic hybrida formata, with high ascenders and low descenders in some top and bottom lines, the former with cadell-like flourishing, to the use of which he is the most addicted of the three scribes involved in MSS 51–68. Large book forms of letters are used for major headings. Punctuated by low point.


By Artist B, for a characterization of whose work see the headnote to MSS 51–68 (Watson, Exeter, pp. 85–87). Ten-line illuminated initials with elaborate floral sprays in outer and central margins form surviving borders on fols. 1r, 82v, 83r, 102r, 124v, 169r, 184r, 202r (i.e. the beginnings of all Old Testament books except Deuteronomy which was excised). There are 3-line gold initials at the beginnings of chapters throughout, on various kinds of blue- or pink-coloured base with white tracery; also red and blue paraphs.


Stamped leather bindings over square-edged wooden boards, (presumably) rebound; stamp used was employed in Oxford between 1535 and 1621, here in the second phase state, probably c. 1605–10. Two straps held by nails. Refurbished in the 19th century (1839?): that volumes were resewn is indicated by the very tight binding, which makes collation difficult, and by the provision of new endbands; edges were stained red; book was reinforced by pasting long strips of canvas round the spine and attached to the boards, and the old spines were replaced. Sewn on seven bands. For other details see Watson, Exeter, p. 87.


Origin: c. 1466? ; Oxford, England

Provenance and Acquisition

In the border on fol. 1r are the arms of Roger Keys. See MS 53, History, for the ex dono inscription in that volume and some others, which was probably at one time in this volume.

Library identifications are, at the foot of fol. 1r, ‘Coll: Exon’ (s. xvi/xvii?); on the front pastedown, bookplate 3, on which are ‘173–F–1’, deleted and replaced by ‘213.E.2’, also, deleted; ‘MS LI in Catal: MSS’ (pencil), ‘Coxe LI’ (pencil). On fol. 175r is a pencil inscription ‘John Blake of Northmolton Devon 1773 scripsit.’ The eighteen-year-old Blake was admitted as an undergraduate to Exeter in that year: see Boase2, 207.

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.

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