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

St John's College MS. 15

Epistle collections: Augustine, Ambrose, Becket


Language(s): Latin

1. Fols. 1va–114va:
Incipit: Dilectissimo et in cristi membris honorando fratri valentino et fratribus […] Cresconium felicem et alium felicem dei seruos qui ex vestra congregacione
Explicit: facere soleas vel faciendum esse reperias
Final rubric: Expliciunt epistole AUGUSTINI doctoris
AUGUSTINE, Epistle collection

CPL 262, , ed. Al. Goldbacher, CSEL 34 (1895–8), 44 (1904), 57 (1911), 58 (1923) variously, . There are four indices, two by the main scribe: (a) a list of the 142 epistles (1ra–va); (b) a table giving for each the ‘intencio epistolarum’ (fols. 114va–16rb); (c) an alphabetical index of major topics (fols. 116rb–19vb); (d) a list of the epistles identifying addressees (fol. 120rac, three columns). About half of fol. 120rc and the entire verso are blank.

2. Fols. 121ra–71va:
Incipit: AMBROSIUS iusto de significacione didragmi cuius dimidium hebreus recipitur […] Pvlcre admones frater iuste vt epistolares fabulas et sermonem absentium
Explicit: conuertant meo sanguine sitim suam expleant
AMBROSE, Epistle collection

CPL 160, , ed. Otto Faller and Michaela Zelzer, CSEL 82, 3 vols. (1968–82), 1–3:125, , ending with 10.76. An index, which includes the next three items as if they were part of this text, appears at fol. 182rb–vb, copied by the main scribe, although in a significantly larger hand than elsewhere.

3. Fols. 171va–74vb:
Rubric: De obitu Theodosij imperatoris et de eius laude lxxvij.
Incipit: Hoc nobis motus terrarum graues hoc iuges pluuie minabantur
Explicit: augusto sepulti corporis tenebis hospicio
AMBROSE, De obitu Theodosii

CPL 159, ed. Otto Faller, CSEL 73 (1955) 369–401. The text intrudes before Ambrose’s final epistle (10.77, the next item), of the same title.

4. Fols. 174vb–76ra:
Rubric: De Inuencione et deposicione sanctorum martirum Geruasij et prothasij lxxviij
Incipit: Domine sorori uite atque osculis preferende frater Quia nichil sanctitatem tuam
Explicit: in hodiernum diem differremus reliquias
AMBROSE, epistola 77,

ed. CSEL 82, 3:126–40.

5. Fols. 176ra–82rb
Rubric: Incipit Apologium dauid regis a beato AMBROSIO editum lxxix.
Incipit: Appologium prophete dauid arripuimus stilo scribere non quo ile indigeat
Explicit: [fol. 182ra] optulere martirio vt cristi sibi graciam mercarentur cui est honor [form ending] […]
Final rubric: Expliciunt epistole beati AMBROSIJ Mediolan’ episcopi
AMBROSE, De apologia prophetae Dauid

CPL 135, ed. Karl Schenkl, CSEL 32 (1897) 299–355.

6. Fols. 183ra–253rb:
Incipit: Desiderio desideraui videre faciem uestram et loqui vobiscum multum quidem
Explicit: iugi supplicacione pulsatus apud dominum intercedat Dat’ Signum iiijto. Idus Marcij
Final rubric: Expliciunt Epistole sancti THOME CANTUARIENSIS Archiepiscopi
THOMAS BECKET, Becket's correspondence,

most recently ed. James Craigie Robertson, Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, RS 67/5–7 (1881–5), , with 808 letters, as they are here, in a chronological arrangement; see further Anne Duggan, Thomas Becket: A Textual History of his Letters (Oxford: Clarendon, 1980)., The text of our MS is followed (253rb–7v) by an index of the 564 epistles in order, divided into the five sets in which they are presented, with the addressee and incipit for each. (This long-line presentation, in a later hand, begins by being squeezed into the blank remainder of a single column).

Added texts:


The third and fourth indices to item 1 above: the last twenty lines of fol. 116ra are in an informal anglicana, s. xv; the remainder in another, using secretary a, of s. xv med.


The index to item 6 above: in anglicana with secretary r and s, s. xv med.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: declinare
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (FSOS/FHHF).
Extent: Fols. i + 257 + i (numbered fol. ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 365 × 260 mm.


112 (–5, a stub pasted to fol. 5) 2–912 1012+1(+13) [fol. 120, a production boundary] 11–1512 162 [fol. 182, a production boundary] 17–2212 2312(–4, probably blank). Catchwords near the gutter; signed with roman numerals in the first half of quires, many cut away in binding, with letter signatures added later (quires 2–7, 9–12, 14–15, 22 = a–f h–l, n–o, y, although there is no apparent text loss). Each of the three authors was assigned a separate production unit.


In double columns, each column 270 × 85–90 mm. , with 16 between columns, in 60 lines. Frequent prickings; bounded and ruled in lead.


Written in anglicana with secretary ductus and secretary r. Punctuation by point and occasional punctus elevatus.


Headings in red.

Three-line unflourished blue lombards at heads of the letters; at larger divisions, 5-line red and blue ones.

Running titles in text ink with the number of the epistle.


Wooden boards from a medieval binding, re-covered with brown leather, in a small stippled pattern with stamped lattice design, s. xviii. Sewn on six thongs. Gold ‘15’ at the head of the spine, in black ink on the leading edges. At the front and rear, single paper flyleaves (the rear one fol. ii), both blank. A College bookplate on the front pastedown, with s. xviii notes on contents.


Origin: s. xv2/4 ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

No information.

MS 15 - Pastedown - upper board

Pastedown - upper board


Physical Description

Support: A cropped bifolium, the fuller surviving leaf 250 × 195 mm.


In double columns, each column 203 mm (pared) x 65/70 mm, with 12 mm between columns, in 66 surviving lines to the column.


Written in a small textura quadrata, s. xiii med.


Origin: s. xiii med.

MS 15 - Pastedown - lower board

Pastedown - lower board


Language(s): Latin


a fragment of an index, apparently to a text like that on the upper board pastedown, physiological topics and drug contents, presented alphabetically.


A wheel diagram illustrating the twelve primary winds and their geographical origins, with verses, ‘Euro vulturnus subsolanus quoque sedat’ (five lines, not in Walther).

Physical Description

Support: Another cropped bifolium, here only a small strip, just over a column width, from one leaf, the other 247 × 247 mm. , with diagram.


anglicana, s. xiv/xv (index).

Two hands in anglicana, s. xv (wheel diagram).




Origin: s. xiv/xv (index), s. xv (wheel diagram)

Additional Information

Record Sources

Ralph Hanna, A descriptive catalogue of the western medieval manuscripts of St. John's College, Oxford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)


For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact St John's College Library.


    Eligius Dekkers and Aemilius Gaar, Clavis patrum latinorum, 3rd edn. (Turnhout, 1995).
    Anne Duggan, Thomas Becket: A Textual History of his Letters (Oxford: Clarendon, 1980).
    Otto Faller (ed.), Sancti Ambrosii Opera, Corpus Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 73 (1955).
    Otto Faller (ed.), Sancti Ambrosii Opera, Corpus Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 82/1 (1968).
    Al. Goldbacher (ed.), S Augustini Epistulae. Corpus Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 34 (1895–8), 44 (1904), 57 (1911), 58 (1923).
    James Craigie Robertson (ed.), Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, The Rolls Series (Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores) 67/5–7 (1881–5).
    Karl Schenkl (ed.), Sancti Ambrosii opera. Corpus Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 32 (1897).
    Hans Walther, Initia carminum ac versuum Medii Aevi posterioris Latinorum, 2nd edn (Göttingen, 1969).
    Michaela Zelzer (ed.) Sancti Ambrosi Opera, Corpus Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 82/3 (1982).

Funding of Cataloguing

Conversion of the printed catalogue to TEI funded by the Thompson Family Charitable Trust

Last Substantive Revision

2020-12: First online publication

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