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

St John's College MS 51

Alexander Nequam, De naturis rerum


Language(s): Latin

Fols. 1ra-172va:
Incipit: Forma decens adiuratione dignis nature munifice dotata deliciis modico cultu contenta
Explicit: actiones uberrimas persoluentes deo omnium bonorum largitori cui honor et gloria per infinita seculorum secula amen
Alexander Nequam, De naturis rerum (Sharpe, no. 102 [51—3], with additional references), books 1—2 ed. Thomas Wright, RS 34 (1863), 1—354. For further discussion, see R. W. Hunt, ed. Margaret Gibson, The Schools and the Cloister: The Life and Writings of Alexander Nequam (1157—1217) (Oxford: Clarendon, 1981), 134—6. Across the foot of fol. 172 v in red arabesque capitals with green highlight: ‘Henricus istum scripsit librum’.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: -cipio cum pater
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (HSOS/HFFH).
Extent: ii + 172 + ii (numbered iii—iv).
Dimensions (leaf): 315 × 212 mm.


1–218 22? (the four leaves, fols. 169–72, perhaps all singles, the last certainly so). Catchwords below the gutter column (some cut away, as at fols. 64, 96). No signatures.


In double columns, each column 238 × 65 mm. , with 18/19 mm. between columns, in 40 lines to the column. An extra column, 22 mm wide, along the leading edge for comments. Regular prickings; bounded and ruled in black ink.


Written in protogothic bookhand. Punctuation by point, punctus elevatus, and punctus interrogativus.


At the heads of the books, 6- and 7-line arabesque capitals, red on red and green flourishing.

On fol. 1, extended red and green vine-work to form a bar border.

Chapters introduced by alternate 2-line red and green arabesque capitals on flourishing of the other colour.

Sentences typically introduced by a capital in the text ink, occasionally by red paraphs or red and green (occasionally blue) 1-line arabesque capitals with flourishing of the other colour.

See AT, no. 144 (17), dating s. xiii in.


A modern replacement. Sewn on three thongs. At the front and rear (iii–iv), a marbled paper leaf and a modern paper flyleaf.


Origin: s. xii/xiii ; English

Provenance and Acquisition

‘Netlton Hnry Savil’ in shorthand, i.e. the early seventeenth-century collector Henry Savile of Banke (fol. 1, upper margin). See Watson, Savile, no. 9 (18).

‘Liber Collegij Divi Johannis Baptistae Oxon’ ex dono Domini Gulielmi Paddei Militis et eiusdem Collegii olim Convictoris 1634’ (fol. 2, upper margin).

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.

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2020-11: First online publication

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