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

St John's College MS 99

Bede, Historia ecclesiastica


Language(s): Latin

1. Fols. 1ra–94va:
Rubric: Incipit prefatio venerabilis BEDE presbiteri super ecclesiasticam historiam gentis anglorum ad ceo\w/lfum regem
Incipit: Gloriossissimo regi ceolwulfo beda famulus cristi et presbiter Historiam gentis anglorum ecclesiasticam quam nuper edideram […] [fol. 2va, the text] Britannia occeani insula cui quondam albion nomen fuit inter septemtrionem
Explicit: nostre insulę ac gentis in libris quinque ⟨M⟩artirologium de nataliciis ||
BEDE, Historia ecclesiastica

CPL 1375, Sharpe, no. 152 (70–6, at 73), ed. Bertram Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors, Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Oxford, 1969), breaking off in 5.24 (570). A table for book 1 intrudes between preface and text (fols. 1vb–2va). The editors associate this MS (pp. liii–v) with several Yorkshire books sharing the explicit; see further Michael Gullick, ‘The Origin and Importance of Cambridge, Trinity College R.5.27’, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society 11 (1998), 239–62. A great many marginal notes, largely to identify contents, added through s. xiv. A reference to our MS appears in the earlier edition by Charles Plummer, Venerabilis Baedae Opera historica (Oxford, 1896), vol. 1, p. cxxi.

2. Fols. 94vb–95vb:
Incipit: Dilectissimo in cristo lectori cuthwino CUTHBERTUS condiscipulus in cristo salutem Munusculum quod misisti multum libenter accepi multumque gratanter
Explicit: sed lingue ineruditio breuitatem sermonis fiat\cit/ vale Felix qui scripsit sit et qui talia finxit
CUTHBERT, The letter on the death of Bede (Sharpe, no. 212 [94]), without the Old English verses, ed. Elliott Van Kirk Dobbie, The Manuscripts of Caedmon’s Hymn and Bede’s Deathsong (New York, 1937), 119–27 (odd pages), with a reference to our MS at 87–8.
3. Fols. 96ra–117va:
Rubric: Incipit prologus sancti BERNARDI abbatis clareuallis in uita sancti malachie episcopi hybernie
Incipit: Semper quidem opere precium fuit illustres sanctorum describere uitas […] [fol. 96vb, the text] Malachyas noster ortus hibernia de populo barbaro ibi educatus ibi litteras
Explicit: habeamus ducem tecum et cum ipso pariter regnaturi in secula seculorum Amen

Ed. J. Leclercq et al., Opera, vol. III (Rome, 1963), 307–78 (our MS mentioned at 301).

4. Fols. 117va–21vb:
Incipit: Ego NENNIUS sancti Elbodi discipulus aliqua excerpta scribere curaui que ebetudo gentis […] [the text] Britannia insula a quodam bruto consule romano dicta Hec consurgit
Explicit: esset pater eius At ipsa fecit quod edocta erat Sanctus uero germa- [CW: -nus] ||
NENNIUS, Historia Brittonum (Sharpe, no. 1072 [382]), ed. T Mommsen, MGH Auct. Antiq. 13 (1895–8), 143–180/19. The texts are not quite identical, and Michael Lapidge and Richard Sharpe, Bibliography of Celtic-Latin Literature 400–1200 (Dublin, 1985), no.133 (45) identify our MS as having a unique recension of the work.

Added text:

fol. iv:
? JOHN THWING OF BRIDLINGTON, ‘Versus prophetiales’,

'Rusticus ipse crucis transibit ad ardua lucis | Bruti prosperitas albanis associata | Anglica rengna premet Marti labore nece’ [bracketed, with notation ‘Bridlingt’’].

(Sharpe, no. 619 [220]), ed. Thomas Wright, Political Poems and Songs, RS 14/1 (1859), the opening of 3.2 (182). Added s. xv.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Ut archadio
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (HSOS/HFFH).
Extent: Fols. iv + 121 + iii (numbered fols. v–vii).
Dimensions (leaf): 265 × 175 mm.


1–118 128 (–8, a stub, probably blank) [fol. 95, a booklet boundary] | 1310 14–158. Catchwords under the inner column (in booklet 2, later), most cut away. Five early quires signed with a roman numeral on the final verso (2–6 = ii–vius).


A good many uneven lower margins, e.g. fols. 46 and 47.


in double columns, each column 189–97 × 65 mm. with 10 mm between columns, in 36 lines to the column. Frequent prickings; bounded and ruled in black and brown ink.


Written in caroline, each booklet perhaps by a different scribe. Punctuation by point and punctus elevatus.


Headings in red, a good many unfilled.

Bede’s prologue and the opening of the text have 8- and 10-line vine-tendril initials respectively, in ink with red and green highlights, the first including a dragon, the second a human head.

Elsewhere alternating red and green (occasionally gold) 2- to 4-line arabesque initials.

See AT, no. 48 (9).


A modern replacement. Sewn on five thongs. At the front, a modern marbled paper flyleaf, two modern paper flyleaves, and a medieval vellum leaf; at the rear, two modern paper flyleaves and another marbled leaf (v–vii).


Origin: s. xii med. and xii3/4 ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

‘liber sancte Marie de Ioreualle [followed by an erasure, and the name of the house also over an erasure] Quicumque librum istum alienaverit Anathema sit’ (fol. ivv; the original s. xii/xiii, the curse added s. xv) (Ker, MLGB 105). Gullick suggests (239) that if the MS originally belonged to another house dedicated to the Virgin, it was probably Bridlington (OSA).

Further notes suggesting a Yorkshire provenance (a) fol. iv: a listing ‘Nomina Archiepiscoporum Ebor”, to Thomas de Corbrigg’ (1299–1304), with Willielmus de Grenefeld (1304–15) and Willielmus de Meltun (1316–40) added in different later hands; (b) on a vellum tab pasted to fol. ivv: ‘Anno gracie do lxxx.iij. sanctus Ioh’ Beuerl’ consecratur episcopus Ebor’ (s. xii med.). There is also erased writing, illegible, s. xiii, following the explicit (fol. 95vb).

Examined while still at Jervaulx by John Leland; for discussion, see Caroline Brett, ‘John Leland, Wales and Early British History’, Welsh History Review 15 (1990), 169–82 at 172–3.

‘Liber Collegii Sanctj Iohannis Baptistae Oxon’ ex dono Venerabilis virj Guilielmj Laud Sacrae Theologiae Doctoris ejusdem Collegii Praesidis et Ecclesiae Cathedralis Gloucest Decanj 1620’ (fol. ivv). Exhibited Laud Exhib, no. 8 (9).

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.


    An Exhibition of Manuscripts to Commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the Birth of Archbishop Laud 7 October 1573–10 January 1634 (Oxford, 1973).
    J. J. G. Alexander and Elźbieta Temple, Illuminated Manuscripts in Oxford College Libraries, the University Archives and the Taylor Institution (Oxford, 1985).
    Caroline Brett, ‘John Leland, Wales and Early British History’, Welsh History Review 15 (1990), 169–82.
    Bertram Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors (eds.), Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Oxford, 1969).
    Eligius Dekkers and Aemilius Gaar, Clavis patrum latinorum, 3rd edn. (Turnhout, 1995).
    Elliott Van Kirk Dobbie (ed.), The Manuscripts of Caedmon’s Hymn and Bede’s Deathsong (New York, 1937).
    Michael Gullick, ‘The Origin and Importance of Cambridge, Trinity College R.5.27’, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society 11 (1998), 239–62.
    N. R. Ker, Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books. Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks. 2nd edn. (London, 1964), extended by Andrew G. Watson, MLGB: Supplement to the Second Edition. RHS Guides and Handbooks 15 (1987).
    Michael Lapidge and Richard Sharpe, Bibliography of Celtic-Latin Literature 400–1200 (Dublin, 1985).
    J. Leclercq et al. (eds.), S. Bernardi Opera, vol. III (Rome, 1963).
    Theodor Mommsen (ed.) Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Auctores antiquissimi 13 (1895–1898).
    Charles Plummer (ed.), Venerabilis Baedae Opera historica (Oxford, 1896).
    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).
    Thomas Wright (ed.), Political Poems and Songs, RS 14/1 (1859).

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2022-12: First online publication

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