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

MS. Bodl. 581

Summary Catalogue no.: 2191


1. (fol. 1)
De Quadripartita Regis Specie
Incipit: Audiens sapiens sapiencior erit
Incipit: Reges sunt quatuor

A treatise on the duties of kings. At fol. 3 is an abstract of 'Phisomia', i.e. the Physiognomia, ascribed to Aristotle, with a list of the 51 chapters, or rather paragraphs.

Language(s): Latin
2. (fol. 6)
Somniale Danielis
Incipit: Philosophantes antiquos siue Iudeos

A list of things seen in dreams and a judgement on their significance, in alphabetical order

Language(s): Latin
Liber geomanciae
Incipit: Prime omnium bonorum cause

A treatise compiled (from Petrus de Abano and other sources) for the solace of Richard II (whose picture is on fol. 9) in March 1391. In the pref. the author calls himself 'minimus servientum' Regis. The account of it on fol. 90 distinguishes three parts 'Liber judiciorum cum duobus alphabetis questionum [fol. 11] & figurarum [fol. 15v]', 'Flores questionum veritatis et judiciorum Geomancie' [fol. 76], and 'Rosarium Regis Ricardi de figuris affirmantibus & prohibentibus effectum querentis & rei quesite cum certificacione hore planete sub quo questiones calculari debent'. On fols. 15v-22v are fourteen figures of philosophers. The whole treatise is partly astrological, and the present MS. may well be the one written for the King. A nearly erased note on the inner front cover refers to Petrus de Abano, and a printed edition of his work on geomancy.

Language(s): Latin

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: ii + 92 leaves
Dimensions (binding): 10.25 × 7.375 in.


Fine miniatures.

Fine borders.

Fine historiated initials.

Fine initials. Related to the earlier style of the Carmelite Missal. Same text and iconography as London, B.L., Royal 12 C. V. (Pächt and Alexander iii. 673, pl. LXX)


Stamped black leather on boards, clasps lost, Oxford early 17th cent. work,


Origin: 14th century, late (after 1391) ; English

Provenance and Acquisition

Presentation copy for Richard II (?).

The names of 'Charls Forster' and 'Robart Ladkins', both 16th cent. (foll. 23v, 91), occur.

Henry Savile of Banke (no. 8 in the catalogue of his library, ed. A. Watson, p. 18)

Presented by Thomas Twyne in 1612.

Record Sources

Description adapted (Jan. 2021) from the following sources:
Otto Pächt and J. J. G. Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, III (1973), no. 673 [decoration, origin, date, provenance]
Summary Catalogue (1922)

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (28 images from 35mm slides)

Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.