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

St John's College MS. 93

Gesta Romanorum; Grosseteste, Templum dei

Physical Description

Comprising two originally separate MSS
Form: codex
Support: both vellum (both FSOS/FHHF)
Extent: Fols. i + 38 + i (numbered fol. 39, probably a flyleaf associated with the second MS) + 8 (numbered fols. 40–7) + i (numbered fol. ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 268 × 200 mm.


Limp vellum with two string ties to close the book, s. xvii? Sewn on four thongs. At the head of the spine, ‘93’ in black ink on a paper lozenge pasted on, above it ‘Gesta Romanorum’; the number also in black ink on the front cover and rather indistinctly on the leading edges. Pastedowns modern paper, on the front one a College bookplate. At the front, a modern paper flyleaf; at the rear, a modern paper flyleaf (ii); in addition, an old vellum flyleaf (fol. 39) between the two MSS.


Origin: s. xv med. and xiv ex. ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

An erased ex-libris, almost entirely scraped away: ‘Iste liber Constat Domino W.llmo B...l ⟨ ⟩ S... scraye ex dono W.... de ...... anno domini M1CCCColxiijo. (fol. 1, lower margin).

The old shelfmark ‘Abac: ij. N.48’ (the front pastedown).

‘Liber Collegii Sancti Johannis Baptistae Oxon Ex dono venerabili viri Richardi Tilesly Sacrae Theologiae Doctoris et Archidiaconi Ecclesiae Roffens olim huius Coll Socij’ (fol. 2, upper margin).

Manuscript 1 = Fols. 1–38


Language(s): Latin

1. Fols. 1–38v:
Rubric: Prima narracio
Incipit: Ancellinus rengnauit in ciuitate Romana prudens valde qui portabat scutum de argento
Explicit: vidit famulum tortoribus mancipatum et penis affectum et non potuit nisi misereri Amen
Final rubric: [added s. xv ex.:] Explicit gestes [sic] Romanorum
Gesta Romanorum (so identified in a rubric added s. xvii). Ed. Hermann Oesterley (1872, rept. Hildesheim, 1963), passim , an edition recently superseded by one based upon Anglo-Latin copies by Philippa Bright and Diane Speed for Oxford Medieval Texts. The exact transmission of the text remains unclear, but copies produced in England clearly differ radically in contents and order from continental ones; see, most recently, Walter Röll, ‘Zur Überlieferungsschichte der “Gesta Romanorum” ’, Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch 21 (1986), 208–29.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Per Tercium (fol. 2)
Extent: Fols. 38.
Dimensions (written): 208–15 × 156 mm.


1–38 48 (? –4, –5, –7, –8) 510. Catchwords near the gutter, sometimes boxed. Originally all leaves in the first half of each quire were signed, many cut away (in quire 3, only the last four leaves signed), usually with a letter and a roman numeral; quires 1–5 = a–b, a, no letter assigned, a.


In long lines, 34 lines to the page. No prickings; bounded in black ink (brown from fol. 33), no rules.


In anglicana with frequent secretary a; shows the s. xv return to writing above the top line. Punctuation by virgula, double virgula, and occasional medial point.


At the head, a 3-line lombard with flourishing in the text ink.

Two-line blanks for initials at the heads of each of the 51 chapters, a very few filled, unprofessionally; guide letters in both text ink and rubricator’s red.

Chapter numbers in the margin in text ink, with red half-boxes.

Frequent red paraphs to break up the text, a few red- slashed capitals and red half-boxed words (mainly separating narration and moral).


Origin: s. xv med.

Manuscript 2 = Fols. 39–47


Language(s): Latin

2. Fols. 40–7:
Incipit: ⟨T⟩emplum dei sanctum est quod estis uos Ad corinthios ia. iijo. sermo iste quamuis omnis tangat quos spiritus dei inhitare [sic for inhabitare]
Explicit: quod quasi magis uolo vnde liberari ab eius seruitute est esse in temperancia
ROBERT GROSSETESTE, Templum dei (Sharpe, no. 1467 [539–51, at 544]), ed. Joseph Goering and F. A. C. Mantello (Toronto, 1984). There are only five written lines on fol. 47; fol. 47v is blank but ruled.

Added text(s): verses on the flyleaf fol. 39v, written continuously but bracketed in a way suggestive of a series of lyrics. Added in anglicana, s. xv in. (item [i] the same hand in a different ink).

Incipit: Scripta fidem monstrant firmant miracula testes
Explicit: Sponsio veritatis ac summa potencia cristi

WIC 17417, 9 lines.


'Cum bene pugnaris cum cunta subacta putaris | Que magis infestat vicenda superbia restat'

WIC 3557, a couplet; also in BodL, MS Rawlinson C.22, fol. 132.

Incipit: Sanc. timet est pauper regnat perit inde superbis
Explicit: Li. sapit et pacis est filius et venus exit

Unidentified, a seven-line mnemonic for the septenary of vices, virtues, etc.


'Iudex seuerus innobilis ira fu\tur/ra mors incerta | Mors incerta parum Meriti sunt causa timendi'

Unidentified, a couplet.


'De homini sublime dedit celumque videre | Iussit et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus’

Unidentified, a couplet.

Incipit: Spes hominum mentes retinet velud ancora nauem
Explicit: Elatus dauid Petrus Matheus auaris

Unidentified, 5 lines.

Incipit: Iustus Abel parens Abraham Samuelque benignus
Explicit: Discretus Daniel noe Iustus longanimusque

Unidentified, 5 lines.

Incipit: Explorat temptat excecat suggerit hostis
Explicit: vt turbo rapiens tollens vt fulgur adurens

WIC 6130, 5 lines; also in BN, MS lat. 13468, fol. 131v.

Incipit: Qui facit incestum deflorans aut homicida
Explicit: Isti presbitero nequiunt in simplici solui

WIC 15482 (cf. 9170), 7 lines, known from 38 MSS.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: proximus (fol. 41)
Extent: Fols. i + 8.
Dimensions (written): 220 × 161 mm.


68 (fol. 39 is a flyleaf from an earlier binding). Fols. 40 and 43 are signed ‘f i’ and ‘f iii’, respectively.


In long lines, 43 lines to the page. Prickings; bounded and ruled in black ink.


Written in gothic textura semiquadrata with some substantial shifts of ductus (cf. fol. 44v for a notable example). Punctuation by point and occasional double point.


An absolutely plain text; a two-line blank for an initial at the head.


Origin: s. xiv ex.

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), with updated reference to Bright and Speed's edition.


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


    Philippa Bright and Diane Speed (eds.) The Anglo-Latin Gesta Romanorum: from Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS 310, Oxford Medieval Texts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).
    Joseph Goering and F. A. C. Mantello (eds.), Templum Dei (Toronto, 1984).
    Hermann Oesterley (ed.) Gesta Romanorum (1872, rept. Hildesheim, 1963).
    Walter Röll, ‘Zur Überlieferungsschichte der “Gesta Romanorum” ’, Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch 21 (1986), 208–29.
    Richard Sharpe, A Handlist of the Latin Writers of Great Britain and Ireland before 1540. Publications of the Journal of Medieval Latin 1 (Turnhout, 1997).
    Hans Walther, Initia carminum ac versuum Medii Aevi posterioris Latinorum, 2nd edn (Göttingen, 1969).

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2022-02: First online publication

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