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

Exeter College MS. 52

Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. in libros Regum, Paralipomenon, Neemiae, Tobiae, Hester, Machabaeorum; Stephen Langton, Comm. in libros Eccles. et Mach; Oxford, England, Completed c. 1484?


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-20r)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. 1 Reg.
Rubric: Hic incipit prologus super primum librum Regum.
Incipit: (prol.) Iudex sapiens iudicabit populum suum
Explicit: (prol.) [fol. 1v] inter libros propheticos et nota ||
Incipit: || [fol. 2r] tum prope sterilitatem
Explicit: et impij omnes dies uite illorum.
Final rubric: Explicit liber primus Regum.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3647, with loss of end of prologue from Paris, 1533, edn. fol. CCVIIvb/63 to beginning of ch. i, edn. fol. CCXIIIª/7.

2. (fols. 20r-37r)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. 2 Reg.
Rubric: Incipit liber secundus Regum.
Incipit: Factum est autem postquam mortuus est Saul
Explicit: id est ab habitatoribus terre.
Final rubric: Explicit liber secundus Regum.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3649.

3. (fols. 37r-54r)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. 3 Reg.
Rubric: Incipit liber tercius Regum.
Incipit: Et rex Dauid etc.
Explicit: defuncto fratre regnauit attenditur.
Final rubric: Explicit liber tercius Regum.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3651.

4. (fols. 54r-71v)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. 4 Reg.
Rubric: Incipit liber quartus Regum.
Incipit: Preuaricatus est autem Moab
Explicit: Item Osee .xº. ante finem. Seminate uobis in ueritate [catchword et iusticia et mente]||

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3653, ending abruptly in ch. XXXV. 24, with the excision of one quire of 8 leaves.

5. (fols. 72r-83v)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. 1 Paralip.
Incipit: || glosa a quo hebrei secundum Jeronimum
Explicit: Vt dicit magna glosa. sed dicimus quod hoc [catchword dicitur quod Moysi monstratum] ||

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3656, beginning in Paralipom. i. 1 and breaking off in i. 28.

6. (fols. 84r-91v)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. 2 Paralip.
Incipit: || que ibi interes appellantur
Explicit: alia gloria sempiterna sit gloria domini in seculum cui et humana creatura et angelica famulantur amen.
Final rubric: Explicit liber secundus paralipom’.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3658, from edn. (Paris, 1533), fol. cccxvirb comm. 1–2 to end but our text does not end as Stegmüller. Prayer of Manasses and 1 Esdras are probably lost from here.

7. (fols. 92r-95r)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. 2 Esdras
Incipit: || mense nisan glosa Bede qui est primus mensis anni
Explicit: omnium bonorum commendat.
Final rubric: Explicit liber secundus Esdre et Neemie.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3663, beginning in 2 Esdras ch. ii, edn. (Paris, 1533), fol. cccxxxviiira/66.

8. (fols. 95r-100v)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. Tob.
Rubric: Incipit prologus super librum Thobie.
Incipit: (prol.) Sagitte potentis
Explicit: (prol.) [fol. 96r] vbi in senectute bona mortuus est completus .xcix. annis. Huic libra premittit Joerimus[sic] prologum ostendens modum et causam translationis dicens Prologus Thobie Cromacio et Heliodoro ...
Final rubric: Explicit prologus.
Rubric: Incipit Liber Thobie.
Incipit: Thobias ex tribu Dauid etc.
Explicit: et regnum quod non seruierit tibi||

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3667. Through the loss of the last leaf of quire 14, it ends abruptly in ch. xiii. Followed by four stubs: Judith is lacking.

9. (fols. 101r-103v)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. Esth.
Incipit: || ipse communicant eisdem
Explicit: a pessimo. Scilicet Aman. inter ceteros dies scilicet festos.
Final rubric: Explicit liber Hester secundum exposicionem famosi doctoris sacre theologie Hugonis de Vienna.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3671, beginning in Esther i. Preceded by five stubs, to the last of which the original seventh leaf of quire 15 appears to be stuck.

10. (fols. 103v-128r)
Stephen Langton, Comm. Ecclesiasticus
Rubric: Hic incipit opus Stephani Cantuariensis super ecclesiasticum.
Incipit: Omnis sapiencia a domino deo est. Nota quod iste liber dicitur liber sapiencie vt patet in titulus epistolarum que leguntur in ecclesia de hoc libro
Explicit: tempore suo metemus non deficientes.
Final rubric: Explicit opus Stephani Lancton’ quondam Archiepiscopi Cantuariensis super Ecclesiasticum.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 7813; Lacombe and Smalley, 75. For Langton see Sharpe, Latin Writers.

11. (fols. 128v-150v)
Stephen Langton, Comm. 1 Mach.
Rubric: Incipit prologus super primum librum Machabeorum.
Incipit: (prol.) In Johele legitur. residuum eruce comedit locusta
Explicit: (prol.) victoriam in bello spirituali. Machabeorum libri. Iste est primus prologus contra gentem Perschem[sic] ... illorum narratur in 2º libra. Domino excellentissimo. Iste prologus non est in librum sed in exposicione libri ... incepit Rabanus exponere hunc librum.
Rubric: Incipit primus liber Machabeorum.
Incipit: Et factum est postquam percussit etc
Explicit: et sic circumspecta est illorum solitudo eis ad perniciem.
Final rubric: Explicit primus liber machabeorum.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 7778; Lacombe and Smalley, 73. For Langton see Sharpe, Latin Writers.

12. (fols. 150v-155v)
Stephen Langton, Comm. 2 Mach.
Rubric: Incipit liber secundus Machabeorum.
Incipit: Fratribus qui sunt per egyptum iudeis etc. Moraliter egyptus mundum significat. fratres in Egypto significant beneviuentes in seculo. fratres in Ierusalem significant claustrales
Explicit: qui dictomodo se domino consecrauit et opera humilitate informant in chanori id est in mundo et ipsi diabolo ex se accusabiles reddunt.
Final rubric: Explicit secundus liber Machabeorum secundum exposicionem famosi doctoris theologie Hugonis de Vienna super bybliam.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 7765,1. For Langton see Sharpe, Latin Writers.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: tum propter.
Form: codex
Support: parchment FHHF
Extent: 155 leaves preceded and followed by one 18th-century paper flyleaf.
Dimensions (leaf): 400 × 270 mm.
Dimensions (column): 290 × 80 mm.


18 (wants 2) 2–98 104 118 128(wants 1, 2) 138 (wants 3–6) 148 (wants 8) 158 (wants 1–6; 7 appears to be attached to a stub) 16–218 224 (4 + 1). Catchwords in scribe’s hand; no quire numbers or signatures.


Two columns, 60 lines. Ruled in crayon.


Written by Scribe 3 (William Osborne?); see MS 51, Script, and Watson, Exeter, Plate IV.


Of the same type as in MS 51 but by Artist D. Illuminated borders on fols. 1r, 20r, 95r, 96r by Artist D (John Bray: see Watson, Exeter, pp. 85–87, q.v. also for a characterization of his work: see also Watson, Exeter, Plate IV). On fol. 1r the border has been lost from the outer and lower margins but borders on fols. 20r, 37r, 54r, 95r, 96r, 103v, 128v, and 150v are intact; all others have been lost from the beginnings of books. Spray decoration is in the same style and possibly from the same Oxford shop as is found in Cambridge, Trinity College, MS R.14.5 (Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, no. 103), Oxford, Oriel College MS 6, and Bod. Lib., MS Hatton 73 (SC 4119). For the manuscripts see Watson, Exeter, pp. 85–87, n. 10.

Three-line initials at the beginnings of chapters are plain blue and not illuminated. There are a few 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 five bands. For other details see Watson, Exeter, p. 87.


Origin: Completed c. 1484? ; Oxford, England

Provenance and Acquisition

For c. 1484 as the suggested date of completion see Watson, Exeter, pp. 85–87 , also below, MS 68, History. Keys’s arms have probably been lost from the lower margin of fol. 1r. For his inscription, which was once probably found in this volume, see MS 53, History.

Exeter library identifications are, on the front pastedown, bookplate 3, on which are ‘173.F.2’, deleted and replaced by ‘213.E.3’, and ‘Coxe Lii’ (pencil).

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