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

Exeter College MS. 53

Hugo de S. Caro, In psalmos 1–68; Oxford, England, 1457/8


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

(fols. 2r-271r)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. Pss. 1–68
Incipit: || et sic frucificauit pro. iii d. lignum vite est hiis qui apprehenderunt eam
Explicit: sapiencibus est hominibus.
Final rubric: Explicit prima pars psalterij xxº die February anno domini Millesimo .ccccº. Quinquagesimo septim⟨o⟩.

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3675. Because of the loss of the first two leaves, our text begins in Ps. 1. 3, edn. (Paris, 1539), pt. 2 fol. 111v/28. There are distinctiones in margins.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: [quia hiis].
Form: codex
Support: parchment FHHF
Extent: 271 leaves
Dimensions (leaf): 412 × 275 mm.
Dimensions (column): 275–80 × 80 mm.


18 (wants 1, 2: present fol. 1 is attached to first of two stubs) 2–348. Catchwords by the scribe; no quire signatures or numbers.


Two columns, 60 lines.


Written by Scribe 2 (see Watson, Exeter, pp. 85–87. The script is gothic hybrida formata with cadell-like ascenders in top lines and plain long descenders in bottom lines. Punctuation is by low point and punctus elevatus.


Of the same type as in MS 51 but by Artist A (the ‘Chaundler’ illuminator, for whom see Watson, Exeter, pp. 85–87 n. 10, also for a characterization of his work). Major illuminated borders at ferial divisions survive on fols. 92r, 159r, 214v (Pss. 26, 38, 52) very similar to those in Cambridge, Trinity College, MS R.14.5 (Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, no. 103), Oxford, Oriel College, MS 6, Bod. Lib., MS Hatton 73 (SC 4119), and MS 36 above. There are no lombards or plain red or blue initials. Lemmata are underlined in red, unlike those in MSS 51 and 52, which are underlined in ink.


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: 1457/8 ; Oxford, England

Provenance and Acquisition

On fol. 1v is ‘Hunc librum Hugonem de Vienna super primam partem psalterij 2º fo quia hiis M. Rogerus Keys precentor Ecclesie Cathedralis beati Petri Exon’ prima die mensis Januarij anno domini Millesimo Quadringentesimo Sexagesimo Nono contulit et dedit M. Johanni Philipp Rectori et socijs Collegij Exon’ in Oxon’ Vocati Stapildon halle cathenandum in libraria eiusdem collegij ad vsum predictorum Rectoris et sociorum ac successorum suorum in eodem studere volencium qui diu durare poterit pro quo qua quidem donacione iidem[sic] M. Johannes Phillip Rector et socij collegij predict’ obligarunt se et successores suos Rectores et socios eiusdem collegij prefat’ M. Rogero virtute iuramenti prestiti quod solempniter cum nota postquam idem M. Rogerus ab hac luce migrauerit inperpetuum semel in anno tenebunt obitum suum et benefactorum suorum cum exiquijs et missa in crastino per Rectorem ibidem pro tempore existen’ vel vnum de socijs collegi predict’ in capella eiusdem celebrand’. Si quis autem prefatum librum a collegio predicto alienauerit vel de libraria predicta sine licencia Rectoris et omni sociorum collegij predict’ tam absencium quam presencium pro tempore existencium abstulerit alienauerit vel ad extram cauauerit nisi causa correccionis reparacionis vel ligacionis per predict’ Rectorem et omnes socios predictos prius approbanda auctoritate Dei patris omnipotentis et beatorum apostolorum suorum Petri et Pauli ac Reuerende in Christo patris et domini Johannis Dei gracia Exon’ Episcopi anatentizatus[sic] sit ipso facto’. On Philipp see BRUO.

On fol. 126r, in a humanistic hand of s. xv/xvi, is a marginal note against Ps. 32, ‘Opinio pelagij’.

Exeter library identifications are, on the front pastedown: bookplate 3, ‘173–F–3’, deleted, and replaced by ‘213 E 4; and ‘Coxe Liii’ (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