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

MS. Bodl. 578

Summary Catalogue no.: 27663


Ps.-Bonaventure, Meditationes vitae Christi
Final rubric: Explicit Meditacio de vita & passione & resurrectione & in celum ascensione Ihesu Christi secundum Bonaventuram ex tercia sua et breuissima licet fortilissima edicione
Incipit: Non est in ornatis sermonibus [Latin prologue]
Incipit: Seynt Jerom sayth that Anna and Emerea were sustres [Middle English text ]
Explicit: neuer be forsake dede ne quyke

The book is divided into sections, each with a heading

Middle English translation/adaptation, Life of the Virgin and Christ, also extant in Cambridge, Trinity College MS. B.15.42 (IMEP XI.20); ed. Elisabeth Blom-Smith, 'The lyf of oure Lord and the Virgyn Mary: edited from MS Trinity College Cambridge B.15.42 and MS Bodley 578', doctoral thesis, King's College London (1993) [pdf]

Language(s): Middle English with some Latin

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: paper
Extent: iii + 50 leaves
Dimensions (binding): 9 × 6.375 in.
Dimensions (leaf): 218 × 150 mm.


1 col., 32-36 lines, column space: 150 × 108 mm.


Written in a clear Anglicana. We find the distinctive two compartment a (alongside a Secretary one). The letter d has two forms, one Anglicana with a looped ascender, the other a form with a triangular body, and an ascender consisting of the lengthening of the right hand side of the triangle. This ascender is straight and has no loop, and shows the Secretary influence in the hand. The g is still the typical 8-shaped two compartment one of Anglicana. Of the letter r we find four forms, the long r, and three 2-shaped varieties, resembling v, z and 3 respectively. Initially and medially we find long s, finally short s. The letters y and thorn are clearly distinguishable. The y is not dotted but has a descender curving to the right and is differently shaped from the thorn. Yogh is used and has the flat-topped 3-shape, much like the z. This hand does not feature any Anglicana forms of w, but consistently has the simple Secretary variety. It is a firm and clear, upright script. The loops are generally rounded rather than angular. These features combine to suggest a date around the middle of the fifteenth century (Blom-smith, 'The lyf of oure Lord and the Virgyn Mary', p. lvi)


Origin: 15th century, first half ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

According to an inscription on fol. iii, given by Dr John Brabourne in 1720: 'NE.F. 9. 20. EN. 91 / A.D. 1720 / Bibliothecae Bodleianae d.d. / Joannes Brabourne S.T.P. / Aulae Nov. Hospitii / Principalis' (from Blom-smith, 'The lyf of oure Lord and the Virgyn Mary', p. lv). See also a similar inscription in MS. Bodl. 43

Record Sources

Description adapted (April 2024) by Stewart J. Brookes from the Summary Catalogue (1905), with additional reference to published literature as cited. Page and column sizes follow Blom-Smith (1993)

Last Substantive Revision

2024-04-08: Description revised to incorporate all the information in the Summary Catalogue (1905)