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

St John's College MS 66B

Vitruvius, De architectura


Language(s): Latin

Fols. 1–64:
Incipit: Cvm diuina tua mens et numen imperator Cesar imperio potiretur orbis terrarium […] [the text] Architecti est sciencia pluribus disciplinis et variis erudicionibus ornate
Explicit: totum corpus omnia architecture membra in decem voluminibus haberet explicata
Final rubric: VICTRUVIJ de architectura liber decimus explicit Completus est iste liber pridie vigiliarum Natalis Domini Anno domini Mocccoxvjo. Radulpho de Bourne tunc Abbate Sancti August’ Cant
VITRUVIUS, De architectura,

ed. Louis Callebat, Philippe Fleur et al., Vitruve de l’architecture, 7 vols. published (Paris, 1969–). From fol. 64 on, and including fols. iii—vi, the leaves are blank but ruled; fol. vi has been a pastedown in an earlier binding. Discussed in Watson, DMO, no. 872 (146) and pl. 158 (fol. 54v); a page reproduced in Thomson, Bookhands, pl. 97 (fol. 1). Our MS is listed among surviving copies by Carol Herselle Krinsky, ‘Seventy-eight Vitruvius Manuscripts’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 30 (1967), 36 – 70 at 53.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: bonam
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (HSOS).
Extent: ii + 68 (numbered 1 – 64, iii – vi) + i (numbered vii).
Dimensions (leaf): 293 × 185 mm.
Dimensions (written): 212 × 130 mm.


1–512 68. All leaves in the first half of each quire signed in lead with a letter plus roman numeral; in this system, quires 1–6 = a–f. Catchwords between the double rules at the page foot towards the gutter.


In long lines, 41 lines to the page. Regular prickings; bounded and ruled in black ink.


Written in anglicana formata (ascenders generally unlooped). Punctuation by medial point only.


Blanks for headings unfilled.

At the head, a 9-line high red and blue lombard with flourishing and vine and leaf patterns in the same colours.

Chapters begin with 2- and 3-line alternating red and blue lombards on flourishing of the other colour.

Sentences separated by alternate red and blue paraphs, also used at the head of marginal indications of contents in the scribal hand.


Brown leather over millboards, s. xvii, with William Laud’s arms as archbishop of Canterbury gold-stamped in the centre of both boards. Sewn on five thongs. On each board, two holes with stubs of cloth ties to close the volume. Gold ‘66’ at the head of the spine, in black ink on the leading edges. Pastedowns marbled paper, a College bookplate on the front pastedown. At the front, one modern paper flyleaf and one medieval vellum one, a former pastedown with holes and rust from the mounts for two straps; at the rear, one modern paper flyleaf (vii).


Origin: s. xiv in./1316 ; English St Augustine's Canterbury

Provenance and Acquisition

Fratris Thome de Wyuelesberghe De librario Sancti Augustinij Cantuar’ D. X. Ga. IIII’ (the last numeral added later); ‘Liber victruuij de Architectura’ (fol. iiv, s. xiv). The book appears, with a slightly different shelfmark, as no. 1124 in the St Augustine’s catalogue, ed. James, AL 320: ‘Vitruuius de Architectura T. de Wyuelesberghe 2º fo Bonam D.10.G.1’ (a new MLCGB edition is in progress). Wyvelsbergh gave St Augustine’s more than thirty books (see James, 542). A. B. Emden suggests that he may have copied our MS; see his brief discussion, ‘Donors of Books to S. Augustine’s Abbey Canterbury’, Oxford Bibliographical Society occasional publication 4 (1968), 19 (Ker, MLGB 47, 246).

‘H. Elsynge’ and a monogram ‘TS’ or ‘ST’ (fol. iiv, probably s. xvii). Probably Henry Elsynge, who was Clerk of the Lords.

‘Liber Guilielmi Laud Archiepiscopi Cant et Cancellarii Vniuersitatis Oxon’ 1639’ (fol. 1, lower 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

See the Availability section of this record for information on viewing the item in a reading room.