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

St John's College MS. 204



Language(s): Latin and Middle French

1. Fols. 1v–13:
an ungraded calendar, in French.

Many expected French saints (e.g., Victor, Germaine, Denis, Geneviève) but some perhaps specifically associated with the north (Cyr, June 16; Eloy, 25 June and 1 December; Omer, September 9; Rémi, October 1). Becket included and not defaced. Fol. 13v is blank.

2. Fols. 14–170v:
Incipit: Beatus uir qui non abiit in consilio impiorum et in uia peccatorum non stetit
Explicit: bene sonantibus laudate eum in cymbalis iubilacionis omnis spiritus laudet dominum
The Psalter.

Lacks, owing to missing leaves, Ps. 67:8–68:27 after fol. 87; 77:20–52 after fol. 98; 78:9–80:7 after fol. 100; 96:2–97:3 after fol. 116; 98:15–31 after fol. 133; and 113:18–115:19 after fol. 137. The sections of Ps. 118 receive separate numeration.

Fols. 170v–7v, 181–8v, 178–80:
Incipit: confitebor tibi domine quoniam iratus es michi conuersus est furor tuus
Explicit: fideliter firmiterque crediderit saluus esse non potuit
The full set of twelve Canticles, ending with the Athanasian Creed.

Fols. 178–80 have been misbound (see Collation).

4. Fol. 180rv:
Incipit: Kyrieleyson Cristeleyson Criste audi nos Pater de celis deus miserere nobis
Explicit: Sante thoma ora pro nobis […]
A fragment from the head of the litany,

incomplete at what was originally the end of the MS.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Ego autem (fol. 15)
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (HSOS/HFFH).
Extent: Fols. v + 188 + vi (numbered fols. vi–xi).
Dimensions (leaf): 146 × 96 mm.
Dimensions (written): 84 × 55 mm.


114 (–1, probably blank; fol. v appears pasted to the stub of fol. 13) 2–108 118 (–3 to –6) 128 136 (–2, –5) 148 158 (–8) 16–178 188 (–2, –7) 19–208 218 (lacks one in the first half, a cancel with no text loss) 22–238 2412? (–12, a stub, followed by at least one additional stub; three bifolia have been reversed, so that the original 9–11, fols. 178–80, have been bound in ahead of their conjugates as 1–3). No catchwords or signatures. The outer leaves of the quires show heavy wear, consistent with the MS having been long unbound.


In long lines, 18 lines to the page. No prickings; bounded and ruled in brown ink.


In gothic textura semiquadrata, written in alternate lines of blue and gold ink. Punctuation by point and punctus elevatus.


In the calendar, KL for each month a champe; decorative geometric line-fillers in red, blue, and gold leaf.

Individual psalms have 2-line gold leaf lombards on red and blue flourishing (in quire 3 on green and red flourishing); the versals alternate 1-line gold leaf and blue lombards, on blue and red flourishing respectively.

Originally, historiated initials at the incipit (also a full vinet, with floral sprays, two birds along the leading edge and a lion at the foot, part of the floral extenders cut away) and the head of the nocturns (with floral demivinets). Five of these survive; the missing leaves after fols. 87, 100, and 116 were presumably removed for their illuminations:

Fol. 14 (Ps. 1): an 8-line initial with David harping on a chequered ground;

Fol. 41 (Ps. 26): a 6-line initial with God anointing David;

Fol. 59 (Ps. 38): a 7-line initial with God looking down from heaven on David on a chequered ground;

Fol. 75 (Ps. 52): a 6-line initial with a fool with staff and stone watched by God from heaven;

Fol. 134 (Ps. 109): a 7-line initial with the two persons talking, each holding books, the holy spirit descending as a dove.

See AT, no. 726 (72), dating s. xiv2/4 and saying the calendar suggests French Flanders, and plate xliii (fol. 14).


Black leather over millboards, with a gold-stamped centrepiece, an elaborate diamond lozenge (with eagles at the corners) within a geometric leaf and flower border (also stamped on the inner edges), s. xvii. The spine also gold-stamped, with vine, leaf, and flower. Sewn on five thongs. ‘204’ in black ink on the leading edges. Pastedowns and endleaves marbled paper, a College bookplate on the front pastedown. At the front, the marbled leaf, three modern paper flyleaves and a vellum flyleaf (perhaps a former pastedown); at the rear, two vellum flyleaves (a bifolium), three modern paper flyleaves, and another marbled leaf (vi–xi).


Origin: s. xiv med. ; Northern France

Provenance and Acquisition

‘Nata fuit Margareta Selyng’ anno domini 1475’ (fol. 9v, added to the calendar under 13 September; mixed anglicana/secretary, s. xv ex.).

‘Liber Collegij S⟨ ⟩ Joannis Baptistae Oxon’ ex dono Robertj Trauers Magistrj Artium Conuictor⟨ ⟩ 1607’ (fol. 1; the inscription partly cut away, perhaps indicating that the binding was imposed while at St John’s).

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.


    J. J. G. Alexander and Elźbieta Temple, Illuminated Manuscripts in Oxford College Libraries, the University Archives and the Taylor Institution (Oxford, 1985).

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2022-03: First online publication

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