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

MS. Buchanan g. 2


Language(s): Latin

[Item 1 occupies quire I]

(fols. 1r-6v)


About one third full, most months headed by a note on the length of the calendar month in red; major feasts (in red) include Remigius, Germanus, Vedast, and Bavo (1 Oct.), Livin (12 Nov.); feasts in ordinary brown ink include Vincent (22 Jan., crossed through in red, and with a red cross next to the entry), Adelgundis (30 Jan.), Vedastus and Amandus (6 Feb.), Gertrude (17 Mar.), Guntram (partly erased) (28 Mar.), Ursmar (18 Apr.), Gudwal (6 June), Lebuinus (25 June), Amalburga (10 July), Hilarianus (16 July), Bertin (5 Sept.), Lambert (17 Sept.), Firminus (25 Sept.), Benedicta (8 Oct.), Severinus (23 Oct.); Elizabeth of Thuringia (19 Nov.) is a contemporary addition; drypoint additions include Dominic (5 Aug.); a group of 14th-century additions by a single hand, relating to altars and indulgences, are: (i) 'Dominica secunda xl [i.e. quadragesime] est dedicatio altaris sancti Eligii episcopi et confessoris tres anni indulgentiarum et tres carenas' written next to the first few days of March; (ii) 'Inuentio sancte crucis est dedicatio ante crucem .xl. dies indulgentiarum', next to the feast of the Invention of the Cross (3 May); (iii) 'Dominica proxima post festum beati remigij episcopi dedicatio altaris sancti Judoci confessoris quadraginta dies indulgentiarum et unam carenam' written below the feast of Remigius, et al. (1 Oct.); (iv) 'Dominica proxima ante festum omnium sanctorum dedicatio altaris sancte marie magdalene unus annus indulgentiarum et .i. carenam' written below the feast of All Saints (1 Nov.); 15th-century additions in another hand are Louis ('Ludouici regis francie'; canonized 1297) (25 Aug.), and the rank 'chardenalis' added to Jerome (30 Sept.).

[Items 2–5 occupy quires II-XXV, with a change of scribe at quire XIII, the start of Ps. 80]

[fol. 7r is blank, fol. 7v has a full-page historiated initial incorporating the first two words of the following text]

(fols. 7v-198v)

Psalms 1–150

Psalm 80 starting imperfect in verse 13 (at [desi-]'||deria cordis eorum ...') due to the loss of a leaf before fol. 114; 14th-century corrections, omissions and antiphons supplied in the margins (e.g. fols. 19v-20r, 104r).

(fols. 199r-217v)

Canticles and Athanasian Creed

The six ferial canticles followed (fols. 210v-217v) by the Benedicite, Benedictus, Te Deum, Magnificat, Nunc dimittis, and Quicumque.

(fols. 217v-222v)

Litany and collects

The litany with Martial last among seventeen apostles and evangelists; Livin (2) and Lambert (17) among eighteen martyrs; Bavo, Landoald, Macarius, Amandus, 'Amauri' (Amor of Aquitaine, venerated in Liège ?) (1–5), and Servatius, Willibrord, Giles, Winnoc (16–19) among nineteen confessors; Vinciana (3), Amalberga, Gertrude (14–15), and Elizabeth (18) among eighteen virgins; followed by five collects (fols. 221v-222v)

Incipit: Deus cui proprium est misereri
(pr. Corpus orationum, no. 1143)
Incipit: Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui facis mirabilia magna
(pr. ibid., nos. 3938b-c)
Incipit: Pretende domine famulis et famulabus tuis
(pr. ibid., no. 4587a)
Incipit: Ecclesie tue quesumus domine preces placatus admitte
Incipit: Absolue domine animas famulorum famularumque tuarum
(pr. ibid., no. 16)
(fols. 222v-230r)

Office of the Dead, Cluniac(?) Use

The nine lessons are those of Ottosen's 'Group 1f' and the responses correspond to his numbers 14,72,24; 90,32,57; 68,28,38: Ottosen states that all the Offices he has studied with this series are of Benedictine houses connected with the monastic reform of either Cluny or William of Volpiano (see Ottosen, Office of the Dead, 53–64, 146–7); fol. 230v blank.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: (Calendar) KL martius
Secundo Folio: (text, fol. 9) ⟨[conturba-||]⟩bit eos
Form: codex
Support: Parchment.
Dimensions (leaf): 110–5 × 80–5 mm.
(the leaves are rather cockled, so all measurements are approximate).
Dimensions (ruled): 70 × 50 mm.
Dimensions (written): 68–70 × 47–51 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in modern pencil: 1–230.


Mostly in quires of 10 leaves: I6 (fols. 1–6) | II4–3? (of two(?) bifolia, only the last leaf remains, see below) (fol. 7) | III-XII10 (fols. 8–107), XIII6 (fols. 108–113) | XIV10–1 (1st leaf missing, before fol. 114) (fols. 114–122), XV-XXIV10 (fols. 123–222), XXV8 (fols. 223–230) | XXVI8–8 (a whole quire cut out: unfoliated stubs remain); stubs between fols. 6 and 7 suggest that quire II may originally have been a quire of four (or more?) leaves, of which only the last survives; CATCHWORDS occasionally survive, in a smaller and somewhat more cursive script, in the bottom gutter corner (e.g. fols. 57v, 97v) LEAF SIGNATURES sporadically visible, lower right or left, perhaps more than one series, using various systems, including combinations of circlets and horizontal or vertical strokes (e.g. fols. 48r-52r, 98r-102r, 203r-206r), some in a green/blue ink (e.g. fols. 153r-157r).


19 lines ruled in plummet, between a single vertical bounding line to the right, and double lines to the left to guide the placement of verse initials, the verticals extending the full height of the page, the first two and last two horizontals extending the full width of the page; ; prickings frequently survive at all three outer edges. 18 lines of text per page

There are up to 31 lines of writing in the calendar, but ruling lines are not visible


Written in a rounded gothic bookhand, by two scribes, one writing the first 79 psalms (fols. 8r-113v), the other writing the remainder of the text (fols. 114r-230r), as is very common in 13th-century Flemish Psalters; it appears unlikely that either of these scribes wrote the calendar, but comparison is made difficult because it is written in a much smaller script; the Office of the Dead written in two sizes of script according to liturgical function.


Headings in red, capitals touched in red on one bifolium of the last quire (fols. 225r-v and 228r-v), further rubrics added in the 15th? century (see under Provenance); many of the psalm initials have a drypoint symbol in the margin alongside, perhaps a letter 'g' (e.g. fols. 64r, 77r) perhaps a marker for the person executing the initials.

One full-page historiated initial: (fol. 7v) Initial 'B'[eatus]. King David harping in the upper compartment, David confronting Goliath in the lower compartment; the letter in pink on a blue and gold ground, the colours with white decoration; the right border with three three-quarter-length nimbed male figures each holding a scroll, and a human-headed hybrid; the lower border incorporating the letters 'EATVS VIR'; rubbed and worn, with some oxidisation of the white, and flaking of the gold.

Nine (of an original ten) eight-line initials, at the remaining ten-part divisions of the psalms (that to Psalm 80 missing, with an offset on fol. 113v), each in gold (with some flaking), edged in black, on a rose and blue 'quartered' field (some powdering), with white and silver (? now oxidised) tracery, with similar bar borders surrounding the text on all sides: Ps. 26 (fol. 36v); Ps. 38 (fol. 56r); Ps. 51 (fol. 73r); Ps. 52 (fol. 74r); Ps. 68 (fol. 91v); Ps. 97 (fol. 133v; pl. 000); Ps. 101 (fol. 136r); Ps. 109 (fol. 155v); a similar initial at the first Canticle, (fol. 199r) Confitebor, but without the bar borders; three-line initials in gold, edged in black, indented, with extensions running the height of the text area, on a field of rose and blue with white tracery (some powdering) to psalms and the 'KL' monograms in the calendar; one-line initials in burnished gold, edged in black, usually aligned between the left vertical bounding lines, to verses and other minor text divisions; line-fillers in gold edged in black, present only on the outer faces of the first bifolium of the text, i.e. fols. 8r and 17v.


Original sewing and remains of the binding. Sewn on four split thongs; endbands sewn with green and red over plain thread; the upper board lacking; the thongs enter the lower board through its thickness, emerging in four horizontal channels on the outside, and fixed into holes with wood pegs; the endbands entering the board through smaller channels at the corners, at an angle of about 45 degrees, also pegged; the three outer edges of the oak board roughly bevelled on both the inner and outer face; two groups of three nail-holes in a triangular pattern are visible on the outer face at the fore-edge, for clasp-fittings (fol. 1 has rust-stained holes caused by the corresponding fittings of the upper board); two pairs of nail-holes visible on the inner face of the board near the outer corners, three still with traces of nails, perhaps for securing the turn-ins of a tanned leather covering, of which only tiny traces survive; the upper two thongs, half of the third thong, and the endbands all broken; the remaining bands weak. In a 20th-century box, lettered on the spine 'HORAE BEATAE | MARIAE | VIRGINIS' (sic) at the top, and 'MS. BUCHANAN | g. 2' at the bottom.


Origin: Flemish, Ghent (?); 13th-14th century, c. 1300

Provenance and Acquisition

The preponderance of saints in the calendar and litany whose relics were at Ghent (Livin, Bavo, Landoald, Macarius, Vinciana, Gertrude, etc.), point to that region, but the Office of the Dead, and the absence of some other Ghent feasts, such as the elevation and translation of the relics of Bavo, suggests that the book may have been intended for use in the diocese, rather than the town itself. The absence of St. Louis from the original calendar suggests that the book was made before, or not long after, 1297.

Unidentified 14th-century owner: responsible for frequent corrections to the text (e.g. fols. 19r, 28v).

Unidentified 14th-century owner: additions to the calendar indicate the book's use by someone whose church had altars dedicated to Judoc, Eloi, and Mary Magdalen.

Unidentified 14th-century Netherlandish owner; inscribed (fol. 204r): 'in wil\s/e [??] nyet langherbeyde(n) sal'.

Unidentified 14th/15th-century Northern owner; responsible for the erasure and rewriting of earlier corrections (fols. 19v-20r).

Unidentified 15th(?)-century Italian owner; rubrics indicating the days and canonical hours added in a neat (14th/)15th-century Italian hand, e.g. (fol. 186r): 'Die veneris Ad vesperas'.

Unidentified 15th/16th-century Italian owner; with erased, but partly legible, inscriptions in an untidy humanistic script: 'questo salmo se debe dire con deus laudem meam' (fol. 47v, next to Ps. 34); 'questo el quinto salmo che salmo[?] se debe dire per bono rispeto non domino(?) altro' (fol. 153v, next to Ps. 108, which begins 'Deus laudem meam'); similar, erased, inscriptions next to Ps. 21 (fol. 30r), and Ps. 54 (fol. 75r), and perhaps also Ps. 68 (fol. 91v); of approximately the same date is the marginal numbering of the psalms in lower-case Roman numerals, as far as Ps. 38 (numbered 'xxxvii', fol. 56r).

Female owner: a partly erased post-medieval(?) inscription at the end of the text, written in a 15th-century style of script, has been read by a previous Bodleian cataloguer as (fol. 230r): 'liber nobillissim[e] domine | eleza[bete] marie sho[...?]way', but the whole of the name is erased and very unclear.

Unidentified 19th-century English owner: the inner face of the lower board has a pasted-in slip of paper, inscribed: 'This is a complete Psalter of the 15th century.'

Rt. Hon. T. R. Buchanan (1846–1911)

Given to the Bodleian by his widow, Mrs. E. O. Buchanan, in 1941.

Record Sources

Adapted from Peter Kidd, Medieval Manuscripts from the Collection of T. R. Buchanan in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Oxford, 2001)


    Printed descriptions:

    S. J. P. van Dijk, Latin Liturgical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. 2: Office Books (typescript, 1957), p. 24

Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.