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

MS. Bodl. 972

Summary Catalogue no.: 28066

Arnold von Harff, Reisebericht; Germany, 1554


(fol. 1r)

Letter from Karl Etter presenting the book to the Bodleian; dated 5 November 1813.

Fols. 1v-2v blank.

Language(s): English
(fol. 3r)
Incipit: Deys vorschreffen her Arndt van Harff Moder Was eyn dochter va(n) Hoemen en hie hadt tot eyne(n) Weyffe eyn dochter va(n) de(m) boengart de left noch ende wondt opt slot tot breydebent ey[—] landt va(n) goelich [—]

Note on the maternal descent of the author. In a different, later hand to that of the main text. The bottom part of the page is missing, and has been replaced by later paper.

Language(s): Dutch
(fols. 4r-162v)
Arnold von Harff, Reisebericht

The Travels of Arnolt van Harffe from Cologne to Italy, Egypt, Palestine and India, and back by Madagascar, the Upper Nile, Constantinople, and France, in 1496–99. These are illustrated with 47 coloured drawings.

Colophon: (fol. 162) Anno 1554 B.I.P.

Ed. E. von Groote, Die Pilgerfahrt des Ritters Arnold von Harff (Cologne 1860). (Without reference to this manuscript).

Fols. 163r-166v, 167v blank.

Language(s): German (Kölsch dialect)
(fol. 167r)

F. W. van Klipping, autograph poem, in German, of nine lines, bearing the Latin title of Memento nouissima (et) in Aeternum non peccabis with a drawing of an hourglass. After the author’s signature follows Die zeitt anderet alles. A(nn)o · 1654 den 4. januarij and the monograph FWVK.

Language(s): German with Latin

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Paper. Three watermarks can be identified in the paper. The first, on fols. 3–162, is similar to Briquet no. 12732 (Le Mans 1550–55); the others, only found in the 22nd quire, are eagles and resist identification.
Extent: 169 leaves (i + 159 + i medieval)
Dimensions (leaf): 276 × 195 mm.
Dimensions (written): 190–5 × 120–5 mm.
Foliation: 1–169


11 2–188 197 20–218 224 231, with an additional bifolium (fols. 1 and 2) pasted into the first quire, between the flyleaf and fol. 3; the first and last quires both contiguous with the pastedowns.


1 col., c. 29–34 lines.




Miniatures (coloured drawings), good initial. Copy of an original of c. 1500. (Pächt and Alexander i. 190, pl. XIV)

Thirty-nine coloured miniatures (pen drawings).

Penwork initial.

Coloured initials.


Blind-rolled leather over boards. One of the roulettes employed bears LEX prosenpata, 1563, P.B, others mors ero mors tva, and Ecce virgo conci (with '1563 NP'), in combination with religious subjects, also in the centre of one panel is a small crucifix with O iesv FILI dei, all gilt. 'Aº 1580' is also stamped on a panel, possibly an addition. The edges are partly chamfered, and one of the two clasps is lost.


Origin: 1554 ; German

Provenance and Acquisition

In 1654 the book was owned by F. W. van Klipping, who wrote some verses etc. on fol. 167.

On the inner front cover are an inscription and a printed bookplate, both nearly erased, and on fol. 1 is an English letter from Karl Etter of London, presenting the volume and his Russian Diploma (not found) to the Library, Nov. 5, 1813.

Acquired in 1813.

Record Sources

Description adapted (May 2019, with updates in October 2020 from Mossmann) from the following sources:
Unpublished description by Stephen Mossman, c. 2003.
A. G. Watson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts c.435–1600 in Oxford Libraries (Oxford, 1984), no. 125 [physical description, origin]
Otto Pächt and J. J. G. Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, I (1966), no. 190 [decoration]
Summary Catalogue (1905) [contents, binding, provenance]

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)
Digital Bodleian (17 images from 35mm slides)


Last Substantive Revision

2020-10-27: Revised for Polonsky German digitization project to incorporate additional information from description by Stephen Mossman.