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

Exeter College MS. 54

Hugo de S. Caro, In psalmos 69–148; Oxford, England, 1458?


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. 1r-)
Hugo de S. Caro, Comm. Pss. 69–148
Incipit: || vniuersum mundum lucretur
Explicit: [fol. 200v] iacebat mortua. inmutata est in resurreccione ||
Incipit: || [fol. 201r] cogitantes de penitencia
Explicit: [fol. 238v] qui Christum habens melius intelligit quam ||
Incipit: || [fol. 239r] venerit dominus invenerit vigilantes
Explicit: [fol. 253v] Item per deum. Vnde omnes ||
Incipit: || [fol. 254r] nullus erit labor intrabimus
Explicit: [fol. 293v] quoque nubilosus ad abissum pertinet et ||

Stegmüller, Bibl., 3675. Because of the loss of the first leaf, our text begins at Ps. 68. 2 (Paris, 1539 edn., fol. clvrb/78) and further excision of leaves leads to gaps in the text at fols. 200/201 (Pss. 108. 24–109.1, edn. fols. cclxiiva/30-cclxiiirb/61), 238/9 (Pss. 118. 100-c. 120, edn. fols. cclxxxviva/48-cclxxxviiiva/75) and 253/4 (Pss. 120. c.3–121. 1, edn. ccxcviva/17-ccxcviira/35). It ends at Ps. 148. 7, edn. fol. cccxxviva/58.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: vniuersum.
Form: codex
Support: parchment FHHF
Extent: 293 leaves, some damp-stained, preceded and followed by one 18th-century paper flyleaf.
Dimensions (leaf): 410 × 370 mm.
Dimensions (column): 275 × 80 mm.


18 (wants 1) 2–258 268 (wants 2) 27–298 308 (wants 7) 318 (wants 4–7) 328 338 (wants 7) 34–378 388 (wants 7). Catchwords by scribe; no quire signatures or numbers.


Two columns, 60 lines. Ruled in crayon.


Written by Scribe 2: 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 (on whom see Watson, Exeter, pp. 85–87; q.v. also for a characterization of his work). Ten-line illuminated initials with elaborate blue, pink, and green sprays in outer and central margins remain intact at the beginning of all psalms except before Ps. 69 (excised) and on fols. 26v (mostly lost through damp), 39v, 79v (both partly lost through damp), 83v, 86v, 90v (all damaged by damp). Very fine decoration remains on fols 69r and 134v, before ferial divisions at Psalms 80 (Exultate Deo) and 97 (Cantate Domino) respectively. There are red and blue paraphs, red underlining of lemmata, and a red-and-blue linefiller. Dr Dennison regards this volume as the latest by Artist A in the series comprising MSS 51–68, remarking that the illumination shares characteristics of hands of artists A and B: the ornamental motifs are those of A while the slightly ‘hotter’ palette suggests acquaintance with the pigments used by Artist B. It thus bears the typical hallmarks of a transitional manuscript, perhaps suggesting some working contact between the artists.


Rebound in the 19th century. Stamped leather bindings over square-edged wooden board, the stamp used is a 19th-century imitation of the binding that survives on the other manuscripts of the group of MSS 51–68–in style although not in the details of the tool. Sewn on seven bands, and otherwise as MS 51 except that the rolls used are a 19th-century imitation of the roll used on that and the other volumes. See Watson, Exeter, p. 87.


Origin: 1458? ; Oxford, England

Provenance and Acquisition

For Keys’s ex dono inscription, once probably found in this volume, see MS 53, History. For 1458 as the suggested date of writing see Watson, Exeter, pp. 85–87.

Exeter library identifications are: on the front pastedown, bookplate 3, and on it ‘173–F–4’, deleted and replaced by ‘213.E.5’; and ‘Coxe Liv’ (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

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