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

Christ Church MS. 138

Nicholas Cantilupe, Historiola, and associated documents concerning the University of Cambridge; England, s. xv3/4


Language(s): Latin

1. Fol. 1ra-rb
Rubric: honorij
Incipit: Honorius episcopus seruus seruorum dei dilectis filijs doctoribus et scolaribus vniuersitatis Cantebrigie . . . Dilectissimi in domino filij non absque labore et plurima turbacione didicimus
Explicit: indignacionem omnipotentis dei se nouerit incursurum Scriptum apud sanctum petrum Anno ab incarnacione verbi ^se^centesimo vicesimo quarto vicesimo die mensis Februarij.

The ‘bull of Honorius I’ to Cambridge (not 624, but a forgery of probably c. 1400), ed. Thomas Hearne, Thomæ Sprotti Chronica (Oxford, 1719), 253–55. Like this manuscript and Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College, MS 249/277, part II, Hearne presents items 1–4 prefixed to item 5.

2. Fol. 1va-vb
Incipit: Sergius episcopus . . . doctoribus et scolaribus vniuersitatis Cantebrigie . . . Quoniam fama bone opinionis doctrina fidei ortodoxe vestre vniuersitatis vbique terrarum diffunditur
Explicit: [fol. 1va] et beatorum apostolorum Petri et Pauli se nouerit incursurum Scriptus Rome in ecclesia latranensi Anno ab incarna [fol. 1vb] cione verbi secentesimo octogesimo nono.

The ‘bull of Sergius I’ to Cambridge (not 689, but a forgery of probably c. 1400), ed. Hearne, 255–56.

3. Fols 1vb-2ra
Incipit: Iohannes episcopus . . . dilectis filijs vniuersitatis Cantebrigie . . . Inter singula que grata nobis oblectacione letificant grandi reficitur gaudio et leticia
Explicit: et beatorum Petri et pauli apostolorum se nouerit incurrisse Datus Auinione vjº. Idus Iulij pontificatus nostri Anno secundo.

A bull of John XXII (1318) to Cambridge, ed. Hearne, 256–58.

4. Fols 2rb-vb
Incipit: Memorandum quod die sabati proximo post festum corporis cristi Anno regni regis Ricardi a conquestu 2i. 4º. balliui et comunitas burgencium Cantebrig conuenientes in pretorio Iacobum de Grancet
Explicit: quidam perpetuis carceribus inclusi quidam varijs penarum generibus sunt cruciati
Notes on the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt in Cambridge

Ed. Hearne, 258–61. Since its use (from the s. xvi copy appended to the next item in BL, MS Arundel 350, fols 15v-18) by Edgar Powell, The Rising in East Anglia in 1381 (Cambridge, 1896), 51 etc., this text has been taken as a primary document describing the Revolt in Cambridge. Below the explicit, a brief note on the Revolt, s. xviiex.

5. Fols 3ra-7rb
Rubric: De Antiquitate et origine alme et immaculate vniuersitatis Cantebrigie
Incipit: Anno a mundi creacione 4321 inclitus rex britonum Gurgunt filius belini vir modestus prudens
Explicit: Aethelstanus eodem Anno coronatus qui in cronicis aliquando vocatur Aethelstanus aliquando Adelstanus Aliquando ethelanus.
Nicholas Cantilupe (or Cantlow), Historiola fundationis universitatis Cantabrigiae

Sharpe no. 1084 [385], ed. Hearne, 262–80; on this work, see Ad Putter, ‘King Arthur at Oxbridge: Nicholas Cantelupe, Geoffrey of Monmouth, and Cambridge’s Arthurian Foundation Myth’, Medium Ævum, lxxii (2003), 63–81. In the upper margin of fol. 3, a note identifying the text and author, with reference to ‘Joh. Leland de Scriptoribus Britannicis p. 326. MS.’; the note is signed by ‘Tho. Tanner OA[S]’.

Fol. 7v-8: blank but ruled.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: -situm dignis (for ‘propositum…’)
Form: codex
Support: Parchment (HSOS).
Extent: Fols: iii + 8 + xii. Pastedowns and flyleaves added with binding.
Dimensions (leaf): 290 × 195 mm.
Foliation: Fols 2–8v are numbered pp. 635–48 in an early modern hand.


18. All leaves in the first half of the quire are signed with roman numerals.


In double columns, each column 183 × 62–63 mm. , with 10 mm between columns, in 38 lines to the column.

Prickings; bounded and ruled in brown ink.


Written in secretary.

Punctuation by point only.


Headings in text ink, in bastard secretary. At the openings of the texts, three- and four-line unflourished blue lombards. Some texts are divided, by penwork capitals (item 4) or blue paraphs (item 5).


Brown leather over millboards, s. xx, with a stamped rectangular inner border with quatrefoil design. Probably flat-backed rather than on thongs. A ChCh bookplate on the front pastedown.


Origin: England; s. xv3/4

Provenance and Acquisition

From what codex these folios may have been extracted is unclear. Early signs of use include some erased notes on the subject matter (upper margin fol. 1, s. xvex), and the name ‘Richard’ (upside down, fol. 8v). What is definite is that this quire had been separated from its parent by the early eighteenth century, when Thomas Hearne saw this manuscript and, indeed, used it as the base text for his edition of Cantilupe’s text. We can date precisely his acquaintance with our manuscript: in his diary, he noted on 9th March 1712 that he had examined ‘in the Dean of Xt Church’s Study’ the books of Henry Aldrich (who was recently deceased) and among them was ‘Cantilupes Historiola Cantabrigiensis, & I am promis’d the loan of it’: Hearne, Remarks, 3:319. Confirmation of its presence in Aldrich’s collection is provided by the catalogue of his library, where it is recorded as ‘Nic. Cantilupi historiola Univ. Cantabrigiensis MS’: ChCh Library Records 11, fol. 9v; see David Rundle, ‘Nicholas Cantilupe and Thomas Hearne in Christ Church’, Christ Church Library Newsletter, 8 (2011–12), 34–35. Hearne must have returned the quire to ChCh and it then entered the Library.

Hearne was not, however, the first antiquary to study this manuscript, as is revealed by the fact that Thomas Tanner, later bishop of St Asaph, provided the title and author at fol. 3. His designation of himself as OAS, that is Omnium Animarum Socius, helps date the note to after his election to the Fellowship of All Souls on 2nd November 1696 but presumably before his departure from Oxford to Norfolk in 1701; on the timing of Tanner’s antiquarian studies, see Richard Sharpe, ‘Thomas Tanner (1674–1735), the 1697 Catalogue, and Bibliotheca Britannica’, The Library, 5th ser., 6 (2005), 381–421.

The manuscript contains, in the lower margin of fol. 1, the New Library shelfmark ‘F.8’ (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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