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

St John's College MS. 113

Walter Burley, commentaries on Aristotle; herbal

Physical Description

Comprising two originally separate manuscripts
Form: codex
Support: both on vellum (both FSOS/FHHF).
Extent: Fols. ii (numbered fols. ii-iii) + 141 + i (numbered fol. iv).
Dimensions (leaf): 245 × 170 mm.


A modern replacement. Sewn on five thongs. The front pastedown has a mark left by a chain-staple in Watson’s position 6. At the front, two medieval vellum flyleaves; at the rear, one modern paper leaf (iv).


Origin: s. xv in. ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

‘Hunc librum dedit Frater Thomas Besford’ Rad’ fratribus claustralibus ad studendum quem qui alienauit vel fraudem de eo fecit uel uiola\uerit/ anathema sit In hoc uolumine continentur isti libri videlicet Problemata aristotilis Item liber metherorum Item de celo mundo Item quidem tractatus de phisica [added: videlicet de stillacione aquarum Item de zucra Rosacea]’ (fol. i, a piece of vellum once pasted down, now inserted loose in the front of the book; s. xiv ex., the additions s. xv). Unknown to Ker, MLGB and Watson’s Supplement, , but identified and discussed by Coates from information supplied by M.B. Parkes; see 99–100, 104, 165, . Besford also gave Reading a copy of Robert Holcot’s Wisdom commentary, now BL, MS Royal 4 C.vi.

Clement Bu⟨r⟩det’ ’ (fol. iii, upper margin).

The old shelfmark ‘Abac: ij Nº. ‘17’.

‘Liber Colegij Sancti Joannis Baptistae Oxon Ex dono Magistri Joannis Stonor generosi de Northstoke in Comitatu Oxon’ (fol. iiiv, upper margin).

MS 113 - flyleaf

flyleaf text (a)


Language(s): Latin

a. Fol. iiira–vb:
Incipit: Nota vnita et velocitas motus facit disperere Questio interpolati homines respirant
Explicit: 2o propter aperacionem pororum 3o propter purgacionem scabei Explicit expliceat ludere scriptor eat Vltra posse viri non vult deus vlla requiri Amen

A rejected leaf, the equivalent of the current fol. 49 but spaced to fill the entire leaf, with the end of item 1 below. Written in anglicana in a secretary duct (no secretary letter forms), s. xv, by the hand responsible for quire 4. The correspondence of fols. iii and 49 suggests a superseded fascicle boundary. Fol. iii would have been a singleton bearing the end of text 1 and of a booklet. The leaf would have become expendable and would have been replaced when the decision was made to continue the first booklet by adding text 2.

Manuscript 1 = Fols. 1–120


Language(s): Latin

1. Fols. 1ra–49vb:
Rubric: [later rubric: Problema aristotilis]
Incipit: Felix qui poterit causas cognoscere rerum Felicitas autem siue beatitudo est summum bonum […] [fol. 1rb, the text] Qvare egritudines \generantur [margin]/ per superhabundanciam et defectum Respondeo primo propter distemperamentum
Explicit: 2o propter aperacionem pororum 3o propter purgacionem scabei etc. alleluia Explicit expliceat ludere scriptor eat Vltra posse viri non wlt deus vIla requiri
WALTER BURLEY, Abbreviatio libri Problematum Aristotelis [secundum ordinem alphabeti] (Sharpe, no. 1902 [709–29, at 720]; Lohr, no. 35, Traditio 24 [1968], 185), equivalent to the ‘summa causarum problematum aristotelis’ of BodL, MS Digby 206, fols. 96ra–129rb; and to Oriel College MS 28, fols. 58–93v (atelous); see further Lynn Thorndike, ‘Peter of Abano and Another Commentary on the Problems of Aristotle’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine 29 (1955), 517–23, for some further MSS with the same incipit.
2. Fols. 49vb–60ra:
Incipit: De primis igitur causis etc. In isto libro qui dicitur metherorum intitulatur aristoteles dat completam ordinationem tocius philosophie naturalis
Explicit: formam et naturam alicuius re tunc scimus principium motus eiusdem rei etc. Quoddam ||
WALTER BURLEY, Expositio libri Meteororum

Lohr, no. 26, Traditio 24 (1968), 182 (Sharpe 717). Only six lines on fol. 60, the remainder blank, but fol. 60v bounded. At the head, a 9-line space for a rubric, unfilled; but the title, ‘Liber metheterorum’, added later (fol. 50, upper margin) and appears as a running title throughout. The text includes a series of diagrams, the space for one (fol. 56va) unfilled.

3. Fols. 61ra–119vb:
Rubric: [later rubric: liber de celo .. Mundo]
Incipit: ⟨I⟩n hoc libro qui dicitur de celo et mundo sunt quedam communia scienda et postea est procedendum
Explicit: quam corpus resistens tunc corpus resistens diuiditur et fit motus deorsum etc alleluia
WALTER BURLEY, Expositio libri De caelo et mundo

Lohr, no. 21 at 181 as above, this MS noted (Sharpe 716). Only three lines of text on fol. 119vb; fol. 120 is blank, but the recto is bounded and ruled and the verso bounded.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: stomachum (fol. 2)
Extent: Fols. 120.


1–512 [fol. 60, a booklet boundary] | 6–1012. In the first booklet, two catchwords, under the inner column, but routinely matching letters (a–d) on the last versos and first rectos of quires to keep the text in order. In three quires, all leaves in the first half signed, variously: with roman numerals (quire 5), by the opening with letters (quire 2), and with both letters and roman numerals (quire 1). In the second booklet, boxed catchwords under the gutter columns; all leaves in the first half of each quire are signed with roman numerals.


In double columns, each column 193 × 60 mm. , with 13 mm between columns, in 46 lines to the column (some variation). No prickings; bounded and ruled in brown and black ink.


Written in anglicana, s. xv in. (more than one hand: recognizable bounds to stints at quire ends 36/37, 48/49, but there are others; item 3 by a single scribe). Punctuation by medial point and double virgula (perhaps unexecuted signals for a paraph).


Booklet 1: 3-line blue lombards on red flourishing at textual divisions; alternate blue and red paraphs to break up the text.

Booklet 2: 3-line spaces left for medial capitals with guide letters.


Origin: s. xv in. ; England

Manuscript 2 = Fols. 121–41


Language(s): Latin, with glosses in Middle English

4. Fols. 121–39:
Incipit: Arnoglossa \id est plantago/ \frigida est et sicca/ cuius aqua bene distillata uulnera desiccat
Explicit: demones ab hominibus fugat sanat sciaticam passionem quadraginta diebus cotinuis [sic for continuis] bibita
An alphabetical herbal, ending with ‘Ypericon’ (eTK 0141L, the only other text cited BL, MS Sloane 382, fols. 188v–90v). Although ‘plantago’ is not, the glosses to plants named are customarily in English. Fols. 139v–41v were originally blank.

added text (b)

Fols. 140v–1:
Incipit: ⟨N⟩ota zucra rosacea sit bene fieri decet primo antequam folia rubea rosatea sint expansa collige
Explicit: fraxini et geneste et scolopendrie et unam partem aque abscinthij
A series of medical notes, ending with recipes using rosewater

In a hand similar to that of the main text, which has written recipe material into some earlier blanks, e.g. fol. 136.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Borago (fol. 122)
Extent: Fols. 21.
Dimensions (written): 217 × 135 mm.


1112 1212 (–10, –11, –12; probably all blank, and two of them stubs following fol. 141). No catchwords or signatures.


In long lines, 26 lines to the page. No prickings; bounded and ruled in lead, the rules washed.


Written in gothic textura quadrata, s. xv in. Punctuation by occasional medial point.


Two-line blue lombards on red flourishing at the head of each alphabetical section; other entries marked with red and blue 1-line lombards. Blank leaves left between alphabetical sections.


Origin: s. xv in ; England

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.


    Alan Coates, English Medieval Books: The Reading Abbey Collections from Foundation to Dispersal (Oxford, 1999).
    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).
    Charles L. Lohr, 'Medieval Latin Aristotle Commentaries: Authors G–I', Traditio 24 (1968): 149–245.
    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).
    Lynn Thorndike, ‘Peter of Abano and Another Commentary on the Problems of Aristotle’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine 29 (1955), 517–23.
    Lynn Thorndike and Pearl Kibre, A Catalogue of Incipits of Medieval Scientific Writings in Latin, 2nd edn. (Cambridge, Mass., 1963).

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2022-08: First online publication

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