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

MS. Bodl. 579

Summary Catalogue no.: 2675

‘The Leofric Missal’; England (?), s. ix/x, with additions at Canterbury and Exeter, s. x-xi.


Summary of Contents: This complex volume is divided by scholars into three parts. The original core, 'Leofric A' is not a missal but a hybrid sacramentary, pontifical and ritual, probably made in England by continentally-trained scribes for use at Canterbury, in the late ninth or early tenth century, perhaps for Archbishop Plegmund. 'Leofric B' consists of calendrical, computistical and liturgical material added at Canterbury down to the end of the tenth century, both on inserted leaves and quires and as additions on existing leaves of part A. 'Leofric C' comprises masses and other material added at Exeter in the eleventh century after the manuscript had been acquired by Bishop Leofric, again both as separate codicological units and as additions on existing leaves of parts A and B.

Physical Description

Extent: iii + 1 + 377 + iii fol.
Dimensions (leaf): 200 × 153 mm.


See Orchard 2002, 13–14: 1(8) (fols. iv-7), fol. 8 (singleton) | 2(4)-3(4) (fols. 9–16) | fol. 17 | 4(8)-5(8) (fols. 18–33), 6(4) (fols. 34–37) | 7(8)-8(8) (fols. 38–53), 9(6) (fols. 54–59) | 10(8)-14(8) (fols. 60–99), 15(8)(3 and 6 are singletons) (fols. 100–107), 16(8)-18(8) (fols. 108–123), 18(8) (lacks 6) (fols. 124–130), 19(8)-20(8) (fols. 131–154) | 22(4) (fols. 155–157) | 23(8)-29(8) (fols. 158–213), 30(10) (fols. 214–223), 31(8) (fols. 224–231), 32(10) (fols. 232–241), 33(12) (fols. 242–253) | 34(8) (2, 3, and 7 are singletons, fol. 261 is a half-leaf inserted in the late tenth century) (fols. 254–261) | fols. 262–263 (singletons) | fols. 264–265 (singletons) | 36(8) (fols. 266–273) | 37(4) (fols. 274–277) | 38(8) (fols. 278–285, fol. 278 erased and re-written, early 10th century), 39(8) (fols. 286–293), 40(10)-42(10) (fols. 294–323), 43(12) (fols. 324–335) | fol. 336 (singleton) | 44(8)-48(8) (fols. 337–377)


Conserved and rebound as two volumes by Sabina Pugh, 2006-7. MS. Bodl. 579/1 = fols. fols. 1-189, MS. Bodl. 579/2 = fols. 190-377


Provenance and Acquisition

Given to Exeter Cathedral by Bishop Leofric.

At Exeter until given to the Library by the Dean and Chapter of Exeter in 1602.

MS. Bodl. 579 - 'Leofric A' (fols. 9–16, 60–154, 158–253, 262–3, 266–273, 278–336)


Sacramentary- Pontifical

[For fols. 1r-8v see part C.]

(fols. 9r-16v)

Blessings and prayers.

[For fol. 17 see part B.]

[For fols. 18–37 see part C.]

[For fols. 38–59 see part B.]

(fols. 60r-154r)

Temporal, beginning with the Canon of the Mass.

[For fols. 155–157 see part C.]

(fols. 158r-253)
(fols. 158r-210r)

Sanctoral from St Stephen (26 Dec.) to St Thomas, apostle; fols. 204–210r, common of the saints.

Fols. 210–211v originally blank: added, fols. 210v-211r, missa in tribulatione; fol. 211r-v, apologiae sacerdotis.

(fols. 212r-240r)

Votive masses.

(fols. 240r-245v)

Masses for the dead.

(fols. 246r-253r)
Ordo defunctorum

Fol. 253v originally blank.

[For fols. 254–261 see part B.]

(fols. 262–3)


[For fols. 264–265 see part B.]

(fols. 266r-273r)
(fols. 266r-267v)

Litany, incomplete.

(fols. 268–73)

Ordination offices.

[For fols. 274–277 see part B.]

(fols. 278r-336r)

Ordination offices (fols. 278r-81r); ritual of the dedication (fols. 281v-84); various blessings and consecrations (fols. 284–318v); ordo ad visitandum et ungendum infirmum (fol. 319); orationes pro peccatis (fol. 324); cotidianae (fol. 326); matutinales and vesperales (fol. 329); orationes cotidianis diebus ad missam (fol. 331v); episcopal blessings cotidianis diebus etc. (fol. 332v); blessing of Holy water (fol. 334v).

[For fols. 337–377 see part C.]

Language(s): Latin

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Dimensions (written): 147 × 97 mm.


21 lines

Musical Notation:

English and continental musical notations are added in many places.


Important borders, arched frames, and initials. Franco-Saxon school. (Pächt and Alexander i. 422, pl. XXXIV) Fine initial on fol. 154v in Consecratio hiasmatis is an English addition from 10th century, second quarter. (Pächt and Alexander iii. 20, pl. II)

Red initials with gold and a line in black rustic capitals with red and green brush strokes (77, 78, 82v, 149v, 159, etc.); larger initials of plain gold, edged with red, and an opening line as above (65, 71, 76, 94, 102, etc.); large gold initials elaborately shaped and ornamented with a few lines in gold uncial letters (67v, 115v, 128, 131); a full-page of coloured uncials at the beginning of the preface (60), followed by 2 full-page initials with the common preface and Te igitur in gold on a black ground (60v-2).


Origin: 9th century, second half ; England, perhaps Canterbury


Previously associated with the Arras/Cambrai area, but more recently attributed to England, perhaps Canterbury, on liturgical grounds; perhaps made for Archbishop Plegmund (d. 914)

MS. Bodl. 579 - 'Leofric B' (fols. 17, 38–59, 254–261, 264–265, 274–277, and additions elsewhere in empty spaces: additions made at Canterbury in the tenth century)


Language(s): Latin

(fol. 17r-v)

Missa ad pluviam postulandam

(fols. 38r-58)

Calendar (fols. 39r-44v), preceded and followed by elaborate paschal tables, solar and lunar calculations, etc., among which an Easter table of the years 969–1006 and a paschal hand; Spera Apulei Platonici (fols. 49v-50r, with drawings of Vita and Mors),

(fols. 254–61)

Blessings and prayers; masses (fols. 258–261)

(fols. 264–5)


(fols. 274–7)

Ordination offices

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Dimensions (written): 140–5 × 95–100 mm.


1 col., c. 34 lines


Many scribes: see Orchard, 2002, pp. 133–134, 151, 156–7.


Important miniatures (drawings in coloured inks), borders, diagrams. Paschal tables from 969. St. Edward Martyr, d. 979, not in calendar. (Pächt and Alexander iii. 25, pl. III)


Origin: 10th century, end (c. 969–979 (?)) ; England, Canterbury, Christ Church


Previously attributed to Glastonbury abbey on the evidence of the calendar; more recently attributed by Orchard to Christ Church, Canterbury, with the calendar and computus material added by Archbishop Dunstan under Glastonbury influence.

'Fol. 53 contains Easter tables for 969–87 and 988–1006, and fol. 57, a table of the number of weeks between Christmas and Ash Wednesday in the years 979–1011. This suggests a day of writing in or after 979 and before 987, when the first Easter cycle would become obsolete. A table of Golden Numbers on fol. 57 supports this deduction by fitting the years 973–9 within the first Easter cycle.' (Watson)

MS. Bodl. 579 - 'Leofric C' (fols. iv-8, 18–37, 155–157, 59, 337–377, and additions in parts A and B: additions made at Exeter in the eleventh century)


Language(s): Latin and Old English

(fols. 1r-8v)

Ex dono inscription of Bishop Leofric in Latin and Old English (fol. 1r); manumissions (fol. 1r-v); texts relating to Leofric and the diocese of Exeter (fols. 2r-3v); masses (fols. 4r-5v); list of Exeter relics (fol. 6r-v); mass (fol. 7v; 7r blank); manumission (fol. 8r-v)

(fol. 11v)

Charter (Sawyer 1452) in Old English.

(fols. 18r-37v)


(fols. 155r-157v)

Blessings (incense, church goods).

(fols. 337r-377v)

Masses and prayers

Partly occupying separate quires, partly written on blank leaves of parts 2 and 3 (A and B)

Additions in parts 'A' and 'B' (Orchard I.212–14): cues for chant and readings added throughout 'A' by Leofric; fol. 11v, added charter; fols. 38r-44r, additions to the calendar; fol. 52v; fol. 58v; fol. 59r-v;

For items in Old English (fols. 11v, 1, 377v, 8rv) see also Ker, Catalogue.

Pr. Orchard, 2002, material in monospaced type.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment


Scribes: see Orchard, 2002, I.209–214

Musical Notation:

Some musical neums are written over the liturgical texts; all in different handwritings, either English or continental.


Origin: 11th century, second half (in part before 1072) ; England, Exeter, cathedral priory

Additional Information

Record Sources

Description adapted (2020) from the following sources, corrected and updated with reference to the published edition by Orchard.
S. J. P. Van Dijk, Handlist of the Latin Liturgical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Oxford : Vol. 1: Mass Books (typescript, 1957)
A. G. Watson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts c.435–1600 in Oxford Libraries (Oxford, 1984), no. 103 (fols. 38–59)
Otto Pächt and J. J. G. Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford , I (1966), no. 422, III (1973), no. 25


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Digital Images

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Last Substantive Revision

2020-04-09: Revision of description begun.