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

Exeter College MS. 69

Gautier de Châtillon, Alexandreis; N. France?, A 1288; B 1290


Physical Description

Secundo Folio: lacking
Form: codex
Support: parchment FHHF
Extent: 87 leaves, preceded and followed by two 19th-century paper flyleaves. The membrane leaves are of inferior quality and many are mis-shapen.
Dimensions (leaf): 192 × 130 mm.


114 (wants 1, 14) 2–516 66 (wants 6, canc?) 76. Quire numbers IIIIus–VIIus survive on the last pages of the present quires 2–5. Catchwords are in the scribes’ hands.


The information provided by the several inscriptions on fol. 81v suggests that the whole book is probably in the hand of Peter the Hermit: see History below. A is in a good gothic cursive bookhand, punctuated by punctus versus. The gloss is in the scribe’s glossing script. DMO, 795 (pl. 133 reproduces part fol. 31v). B is in a small, rather variable, gothic bookhand punctuated by low point.


At the beginnings of books and prologues of books are 4/8-line decorated initials, some with a touch of silver, and some (as on fol. 59v) with very elaborate decoration.

Elsewhere 2-line red and blue lombards flourished in the other colour, some with elaborate marginal decoration.

There are also marginal drawings of animals, human heads, human and animal grotesques, and fish. All the decoration is very crude but the animal drawings have some style: see DMO pl. 133.

B, 1-line red initials and red underlining of lemmata. Alexander and Temple, no. 705.


Sewn on four bands between millboards covered with 19th-century leather; marbled pastedowns.


Origin: A: 1288; B: 1290 ; N. France?

Provenance and Acquisition

Apparent connections of the text of item B with the north of France may suggest an origin there. In stating that Peter the Hermit glossed the book that he had written (A), and that then, because there was not enough room on the page, he went on to write the commentary in four quaternions, the first inscription after the scribal colophon on fol. 81v suggests the probability that B is that copy, its six surviving leaves now running only as far as the gloss on l. 477.

Apart from Peter, the first recorded owner is probably he who wrote 'Iste liber est Iohanni ad Caputia' at the top of fol. 2v, the position perhaps suggesting that by then the first quires of the book had been lost. The same Johannes perhaps also wrote the second added inscription on fol. 81v. If 'JK' in the partly monogram 'JKprums' on fol. 2r is tentatively read as 'Johannes ad Kaputia', the 'prums' may be even more tentatively read as 'prumensis' (or a variant of that), connecting him with Prüm in the Eifel where there was a noted Benedictine abbey.

On fol. 81v is also 'liber domini Iohannis Louell' (s. xiv).

There is no record in Ecloga or in CMA of the book’s being at Exeter c. 1600 or a century later, and a rather illiterate 18th-century pentrial on fol. 14r, 'John Sanders his my name and Engalad(?)' followed by figures up to 20, may suggest that it was not in the College’s possession at that time. Sanders’s name is also on fol. 36v.

Exeter library identifications are, on fol. ir, ‘Q2–18 Gall’ (pencil, deleted), ‘171–B–22’, ‘Coxe LXIX’ (pencil) and the book stamp; on fol. 1r ‘69’ encircled in pencil; and on the spine ‘22’ on a round paper label over another with serrated edges.

Exeter College MS. 69 – Part A (fols. 1r-81v)


Language(s): Latin

(fols. 1r-81v)
Gautier de Châtillon, Alexandreis
Incipit: || Palluit primo defectum passa nitoris | Demum sanguineo penitus suffusa rubore
Explicit: Viuemus pariter viuat cum uate superstes | Gloria Guillermi nullum moritura per euum.
Final rubric: Explicit liber alexandreidos perscriptus anno domini mº. ccº octogesimo octauo. In mense Junij. Gaudens gaudenti. flens flenti. pauper egenti ... [4 lines] Nostris corporibus transitione nocent. Iste liber est Petri heremite quem ipse scripsit decimo octauo anno heremitagii sui.

[In a later hand] Petrus heremita correxit istum librum secundum maiores glossulas ut ⟨dicuntur⟩ Aurelianenses anno domini mº. ccº. Nonagesimo [corrected from septuagesimo?] in uicesimo anno ipsius habitus et scribuntur per se predicte glosule in quatuor quaternis ideo que margo libri non ei uidebatur sufficere et est liber autenticus et ordinatus ad hystoriarum testimonia. [In a second later hand, that of Johannes ad Caputia: see History, above] Post obitum Petri heremite istius libri scribe ego eundem comparaui cuius nomen in hoc potest innotescere. caro sophia neue. anno domini millesimo quadringentesimo tercio in tricesimo die Ianuarii. JKprums’ (JK written as a fused capital letter, the rest following without a break. For a tentative suggestion of the meaning of this see History, below).

Pr. PL 209.463–574; ed. M. L. Colker (Padua, 1978). Walther, Initia, 7195. On the author and his work see R. T. Pritchard, Walter of Châtillon: The Alexandreis. Translated with an Introduction and Notes (Toronto, 1986), and for 30 manuscripts in the British Isles out of over 200 known manuscripts, id., Scriptorium, 34 (1980), 261–8, at 268. Because of the loss of the first two quires and the first leaf of the present quire 1 our text begins at 3. 472 and the loss of the last leaf of that quire entails the loss of 4. 488 to 4. 534. Roughly every tenth line of the text is numbered in an 18th-century hand. The verses 'Gaudens ... nocent' following the explicit are Walther, Initia, 7098, referring to two BNF manuscripts, of which one, MS lat. 8247, was written in Paris in 1466–7.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Dimensions (column): 150–155 × 80 mm.


One column, 23–24 lines. Ruled in crayon, pencil, and drypoint.

Exeter College MS. 69 – Part B (fols. 82r-87v)


(fols. 82r-87v)
An accessus to the Alexandreis
Rubric: ⟨Hic incipit⟩ glosula super librum alexandreidos nou .
Incipit: Quia scientis est opponere uel proponere quo stupeant ignorantes
Explicit: suffire. id est subfumigar ||

Beginning as the text in Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, MS 568 (s. xiiiex), pr. by Colker, 350–514, but soon adopting a very summary form and breaking off abruptly in the gloss on l. 477. Colker comments on the difficulty of tracing the origins of the commentary but draws attention to the mention of the Orleans glosses in our manuscript and to a couplet at the end of the text in Oxford, Corpus Christi College, MS 211, which suggests that the author was one Geoffrey de Vitry, unidentified but named in another copy of the text, in Zürich, Zentralbibl., MS Rh. 98. At the foot of fol. 82r is 'vechi [void?] le liure dalexandre' (s. xiv).

Language(s): Latin and small amount of French

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Dimensions (column): 150 × 100 mm.


One column, c. 39–41 lines. Ruled in crayon, pencil, and drypoint.

Additional Information

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.

Last Substantive Revision

2020-04-29: First online publication