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

Exeter College MS. 129

John Lydgate, The Seege of Troy; London?, England, s. xvex


Language(s): Middle English

(fols. 1r-139v)
John Lydgate, The Seege of Troy,

without the concluding ‘Lenvoye’

(fols. 1r-2v)
Rubric: ⟨P⟩rologus
Incipit: O mighti mars þt wt thy sterne liʒt
Explicit: for thurgh her support þus I wol begine.
Final rubric: Explicit Prologus
(fols. 3r-139v)
Incipit: In the reigne and lond of Thessalye þe whiche now is named Salonye
Explicit: [fol. 3v] in his fader reigne ||
Incipit: || [fol. 4r] The fire þat he slouʒ
Explicit: [fol. 9v] the veyl was [cut] a tuo ||
Incipit: || [fol. 10r] and with þat worde with hert
Explicit: [fol. 17v] with spere nor with shelde ||
Incipit: || [fol. 18r] þis al and som ye gete
Explicit: [fol. 45v] Be not behinde our journe to apreue ||
Incipit: || [fol. 46r] to Wexe grene
Explicit: [fol. 78v] ne miʒt not fle ||
Incipit: || [fol. 79r] Recouere his doutir
Explicit: [fol. 87v] for to helpyn in woo ||
Incipit: || [fol. 88r] with her bemis
Explicit: [fol. 110v] to so foul a dede [catchword But woode and] ||
Incipit: || [fol. 111r] that þei of Troie stodyn
Explicit: [fol. 120v] to hem a prerogatif ||
Incipit: || [fol. 121r] Hou þe goddis
Explicit: It to support and thus an ende I make.
Final rubric: And thus here endith the book of sege of Troie translated by Dan John Lidgate Monke of Buri out of latine into English and[sic].

Ed. H. Bergen, EETS ES 97, 103, 106, 126 (1906–35). Our manuscript is not used for the edition but is described (as MS 14) in vol. 126 pp. 42–3. IMEV 2516. The gaps in our text, caused by the excision of leaves, are (fols. 3v–4r) 1. 199–590; (fols. 9v–10r) 1. 1748–2327; (fols. 17v–18r) 1. 3866–4057; (fols. 45v–46r) 2. 5258–5666; (fols. 78v–79r) 3. 3491–3690; (fols. 87v–88r) 3. 5439–5635; (fols. 110v–111r) 4. 4428–4625; (fols. 120v–121r) 4. 6606–7003. By error the scribe omitted 2. 4713–76 between fol. 43va/17–18. Other errors are shared with BL, MS Royal 18 D. vi, with which our copy shares a common exemplar. On fol. 42v an obedient owner complied unnecessarily with the royal proclamation of 1535 (STC 7786) which required that the words ‘pope’ and ‘papa’ should be erased from service books: misreading the catchword ‘Devoide of pompe’ in which the ‘m’ in ‘pompe’ is expressed by a contraction mark over the ‘o’, he read the word as ‘pope’ and erased it. At the end of the text, before the colophon, are three smudged lines, ‘To the I tell you plainte he that lukht(?) | Ma⟨ke⟩ dno seceynge(?) | Will not I nec most true that[sic]’ (s. xvi) and opposite this in the blank col. b is ‘Amoungest the Trogiance alle | Hector he did excell | As Helen with the Greciance | for Beytie bare the Bell’ (s. xviin).

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: 2o fo. For aftir.
Form: codex
Support: parchment FHHF
Extent: 139 leaves, preceded by two 18th-century paper flyleaves (fols. iii, iv) and their large stubs (fols. i, ii) and followed by two 18th-century flyleaves (fols. I, II) and their large stubs (fols. III, IV)
Dimensions (leaf): 388 × 265 mm.
Dimensions (column): 290 × c. 85–104 mm.


18 (wants 4, 5) 28 (wants 4–6) 38 (wants 7) 4–68 78 (wants 4, 5) 8–108 118 (wants 7) 128 138 (wants 1) 14–158 168 (wants 1) 178 (wants 4, 5) 18–198. Catchwords at bottom centre of final leaf of quires, written in a large bookhand and enclosed in a coloured cartouche. There are no quire signatures or numbers.


Two columns, 49 lines. Ruled in purple and brown inks.


Bastard secretary, neat at first but becoming larger and sprawly and failing to keep between ruled verticals. Headings and colophons are in a large and inferior book script. There are cadells in top lines and in incipits, and there and in bottom lines ascenders and descenders are extended for ornamental effect. Punctuated only by a double virgula between raised points.


On fol. 1r, for the prologue, is a 6-line illuminated capital O on a blue and purple background, extended down the inner margins with flowers, leaves, and gold blobs; all rather rubbed. Otherwise the decoration is 3-line blue lombards flourished red, with ochre stroking of the first words of lines, and infilling of loops of cadells and of extended ascenders and descenders. Large spaces were left at the beginnings of some books, presumably for miniatures, but these were filled with very large colophons. Alexander and Temple, no. 596.


Sewn on six bands. Standard Exeter binding but with three blind fillets on outer edges: simple and quite elegant, calf over millboards, the calf bearing blind decoration of a floral type, early 19th century.


Origin: s. xvex ; London?, England

Provenance and Acquisition

On the grounds that our text has close resemblances to copies made in London, Bergen (see above), 4. 40–43, argues that it was probably produced by the London book trade, and since our text shares an exemplar with BL MS Royal 18 D vi (see Contents, above), it has been suggested that these two manuscripts may be evidence that by the middle of the fifteenth century some stationers retained copies of some poetic texts in stock: see A. I. Doyle and M. B. Parkes, ‘The production of copies of the Canterbury Tales and the Confessio Amantis in the early fifteenth century’, Ker Essays, 163–203, at 201 n. 104.

On fol. 50v is a large cartouche above which is a monogram TC and ‘ser thomas I tell you playn he that made thys boke toke greate payne’ (s. xv/xvi).

On fol. 20rhowell ap John apparry’ in an elegant italic script of s. xvimed.

On fol. 139v is ‘vij mark Edward Morgan me Possidet et fecit finis’ (Edward ... Possidet in rasura) (s. xvi).

On the outside of the front cover and on a label on the spine is ‘47’, referring to the catalogue of the library of Sir William Glynne (CMA ii. 49–54, no. 1971. 47), the majority of whose manuscripts came to Exeter by bequest of Joseph Sandford: see MS 87, History.

Exeter library identifications are: on fol. iiir, a title in a 19th(?)-century hand, ‘176 K 1’, ‘Coxe CXXIX’ (pencil) and the round Exeter book stamp, which is also on the front pastedown. ‘47’ is on a square paper label on the spine.

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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