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

Christ Church MS. 113

Virgil, Æneid; Italy (Ferrara), 1456


Language(s): Latin; pen-trials in Italian

1. Fol. 1v
Incipit: Primus habet libicam ueniant ut troes in orbem | et docet excidivm troiae
Explicit: bello turni eneæ finem

[two blank lines]

Incipit: Eneas primo libie depellitur oris | uir magnus bello nilli[sic] pietate secundus
Explicit: narrare parabat
De xii libris Aeneidos

WIC 14461, variously attributed in witnesses to Basilius or Asmenius, followed by ps.-Ovid, ‘Epigrammata’, lines 11–20, with an extra verse preceding (WIC 580), both ed. Emil Baehrens, Poetae latini minores 4 (Leipzig, 1882), 151 and 162, respectively.

2. Fols 2–156v
Incipit: Ille ego qui quondam gracili modulatus auena
Incipit: Arma virvmque cano troie qui primus ab oris | Italiam fato profvgvs lavinaque
Explicit: soluuntur frigore membra | Vitaque cum gemitu fugit indignata sub umbras
Final rubric: Pvblii Virgilii Maronis eneidos liber explicit d. g. a.
Colophon: Mantua me genuit calabri rapuere tenet nunc | Partonope cecini pascua rura Duce [ends in flourish followed by blank line] Manu mathei Domini herchulani de vulterris ss’ Ad clarissimam ciuitatem F & c. Mºccccºlvi
Virgil, Aeneid

Ed. Otto Ribbeck, Opera, 3 vols (Leipzig, 1894–95), vols 2–3. The text begins with the four-line prologue of ps.-Virgil (WIC 8699), and each book is preceded by the appropriate verses from ps.-Ovid (21–130), in each case with an extra verse preceding the ten-line units, ed. Baehrens, 162–68. The explicit and colophon is reproduced as Chambers, fig. 1 (191).

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Eoliam (fol. 3)
Form: codex
Support: Parchment (FSOS)
Extent: Fols: iii + 158 (numbered fols 1–156, but there are unnumbered leaves after fols 111 and 152) + v (numbered fols 157–60, 160 bis). All flyleaves paper added with binding (the very first and very last marbled), except fol. 157 and 158 which are parchment from the original binding, blank and unruled.
Dimensions (leaf): 260 × 182 mm.
Dimensions (written): 167 × 114 mm.
(to the bounds, not the line ends)


1–1510 158. Catchwords, written vertically placed between the right tramlines with the feet of the letters sitting on the line closer to the text, and usually followed by a decoration of two shell-shapes. All leaves in the first half of each quire were originally signed with letter and arabic number, although many have been cut away and only one fragment (fol. 134) survives after quire 11. In this system, quires 1–11 = a-L.


In long lines, 32 lines to the page. Some signs of prick-holes in line with the double vertical borders; bounded and ruled in stylus, sometimes leaving a reddish brown mark. Single top bounding line, and double vertical borders (the left tramlines reserved for the capital opening each verse), all extending to the edge of the folio; the full ruling sits within the inner bounding line of these double borders.


Written in a humanist littera antiqua with frequent ligatures and rounded feet to many letters by Matteo Contugi of Volterra.

Matteo Contugi, who must have been born by 1429 and who died in 1493, was active as a scribe in several north Italian locales. There are two recent and independent reconstructions of his career: Maria Gabriella Critelli, ‘Per la carrier di Matteo Contugi. A proposito di un testimone delle orazioni di Giovanni Antonio Campano (MS BAV, Urb. lat. 324) e della sua datazione’ in Ambrogio M. Piazzoni ed., Studi in onore del Cardinale Raffaele Farina, Studi e Testi 477–78, 2 vols (Vatican City, 2013), 1:251–302, and David S. Chambers, ‘Matteo Contugi of Volterra (d. 1493): scribe and secret agent’ in Robert Black, Jill Kraye and Laura Nuvoloni ed., Palaeography, Manuscript Illumination and Humanism in Renaissance Italy: Studies in Memory of A. C. de la Mare (London, 2016), 171–198. Chambers provides a listing of twenty-two manuscripts attributed to him (186–89, this manuscript and its companion, MS 114, at 187). Twelve of those codices are signed, with the Benedictines of Le Bouveret, Colophons des manuscrits occidentaux des origines au xvie siècle, 5 vols, Spicilegii Friburgensis Subsidia 2–6 (Fribourg, 1965–79), 4:166–67, noting ten of them (nos 13398–13408; this MS is their no. 13406, misassigned to Corpus Christi College; their listing omits Florence: Biblioteca Laurenziana, MS Plut. 54. 20 and BAV, MS Urb. lat. 548, and has duplicate entries, at no. 13400 and 13408, for BL, MS Yates Thompson 7). Contugi also appears, as scribe no. 291, in Albert Derolez, Codicologie des manuscrits en écriture humanistique sur parchemin, 2 vols (Turnhout, 1984), 1:184 (with this MS and MS 114 as catalogue no. 605, at 2:94).

Punctuation by point, punctus elevatus, and virgula.


At the opening of the introductory verses, six- and three-line red and blue Roman square capitals, unflourished; the same introduce the verses summarising each book. At the opening ‘Arma’ (fol. 2), an eleven-line gold Roman capital with blue, red and green vinework (heavily speckled with a pattern of three white dots), penwork and floral borders head and foot, that at the foot with a blazon. The arms are ‘barry or and sable, on a chief gules a rose argent’; Chambers (172) notes the suggestion that they are the coat-of-arms of the Corboli (or Calboli) family of Forlì. At the openings of the books, two- to four-line gold Roman square capitals on green and violet grounds. Watson calls the direction ‘Ferrarese’, an identification which can be corroborated by noting that the bianchi girari initial is in an identical style with those that appear in Oxford: Corpus Christi College, MS. 79, a manuscript of Livy written by Antonio Farina, who dates and localises his work to Ferrara, 1458; it is Watson, DMO, no. 769 (1:127). See, for our manuscript and the next, AT no. 986 (102) and plate lxix (fol. 2).


Green morocco over millboards, gold-stamped outline border, and floral decoration in the compartments on the spine, s. xviii. Sewn on five thongs. In the top spine compartment, in gilt on a red leather label, ‘M.S. Virgilii Eneidos liber 1456’. Pastedowns and endleaves modern marbled paper, a ChCh bookplate on the front pastedown.

Accompanying Material

Held with the codex is a letter from the late A. C. de la Mare, dated 20 May 1986, describing it as significant ‘as it is the earliest manuscript signed by a very important and prolific Italian scribe’.


Origin: Italy (Ferrara); 1456 The manuscript appears in Watson DMO, no. 763 (1:126) and plate 539 (fol. 128).

Provenance and Acquisition

The scribe identifies himself in the colophon but names the place of production only by the initial ‘F’. It is on the basis of the illumination that this manuscript can be firmly localised to Ferrara, a city which he is known to have been resident at several points of his life (Chambers, 175–76). If the recent attribution of the arms is correct, the manuscript may have been intended to be transported to Forlì. Certainly, this and its companion volume remained in north-east Italy in their early years, as is shown by the pentrials (s. xvex) at fol. 158v, which include a repeated couplet in Italian ‘Chi serue a Dio cum purita de core | Vive contento & poi saluato More’, and the address, ‘Magnifico et generoso Domino ant Contarino’, suggesting it may have been present in Venetian lands, by someone seeking to ingratiate themselves with the patrician Contarini family (the Antonio is presumably not the man who was to be patriarch of Venice, 1509–1524, considering this is an address to a non-cleric). There is also, at the preceding recto, the motto ‘virtutem pueri primis discatis ab annis’ in a humanist cursive which also appears in our MS 114 (s. xv2).

Donated by John Moore. The gift is recorded by Edward Smallwell at fol. ii: ‘D. D. Joannes Moore, S. T. P. hujusce Ædis Canonicus et Sub-Decanus An. 1766’; Smallwell also entered it in the Donors’ Register, MS LR 1, for 1766 (p. 249b) where Moore gave ‘Virgilii Codicem Manu Matthei Domini Herculani de Vulterris ss An. 1456 2 Voll. 4º’, i.e. both this volume and the next. Moore matriculated at Pembroke College in 1745, and received degrees of BA, MA, BD, and DD in 1748, 1751, and 1763 (both degrees in divinity), respectively. He was canon of Christ Church from 1763, eventually bishop of Bangor (1775–83) and archbishop of Canterbury (1783–1805). He died in 1805, aged 75 (AOmod , 975; Nigel Aston in Oxford DNB). Edward Smallwell also wrote the New Library shelfmark above the donation note at fol. ii: ‘C.1.’ (See Appendix IV).

Record Sources

Ralph Hanna and David Rundle, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Western Manuscripts, to c. 1600, in Christ Church, Oxford (Oxford, 2017).


For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact Christ Church Library.

Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.

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