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

Christ Church MS. 153

John Lydgate, Troy Book; England, s. xv3/4


Language(s): Middle English

Fols 1–107v
Incipit: ||y comen | mote be kepte chaste and wondre | ⟨A⟩nd of colour surmounteth euery grene
Explicit: no lenger to lyen here | but whyle the weder is so feire and clere||
John Lydgate, Troy Book

IMEV 2516; DIMEV 3995–8; ed. Henry Bergen, EETS es 97, 103, 106 (1906–10), a fragment including only 1.3342–2.6134 (EETS 97:111–320). Within this portion, our manuscript also lacks 1.3742–3868, 1.4309–4436 (1.4343–4410 appear on the misplaced leaf, fol. 79), and 2.5355–5422, owing to missing leaves. Neither Bergen nor IMEV knew the manuscript.

Fol. 79, on the same paperstock A as the first quire and in the scribal hand, contains 1.4343–4410. Its relationship to the first quire remains problematic, since it can only then have awkwardly followed fol. 13, the original 18th leaf of quire 1, which ends with 1.4308.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: ⟨o⟩on of hem sholde
All flyleaves later paper and unnumbered
Form: codex
Support: Parchment and paper, the former the inner and outer bifolia of each quire (usually FSOS, but HSOS also occurs), the latter folded in folio.

There are six watermarks:

  • A: Tête de licorne/Einhorn, resembles Piccard 10 (Fabeltiere) iii, nos 1105, 1109 (Ravenna 1460 × 1461; Ferrara 1455 × 1456): five full sheets in quire 1 (all except the centre paper sheet), fol. 3 an unwatermarked half sheet and fol. 79 (which, in all likelihood, originally followed fol. 13) a watermarked one
  • B: Balance/Waage, generally of the type Piccard 5, iv, frequent s. xv med.: the centre paper sheet of quire 1 (fols 6+7) and two sheets in quire 2 (fols 16+29, 19+26)
  • C: Balance/Waage, generally of the type Piccard 5, i, primarily Italian and German papers of the 1440s and 1450s: the remaining five sheets of quire 2 and all seven of quire 3
  • D: Tête de bœuf/Ochsenkopf, not in Piccard or Briquet: all eight sheets of quire 4 and seven of quire 5
  • E: Cloche, not in Briquet, but cf. no. 4040 (Lucca, 1472): the single sheet fols 71+89 in quire 5
  • F: Monts/Dreiberg, generally of the type Piccard 16, i, nos 69ff., Italian papers of c. 1448–55: the six full sheets of quire 6, fols 92 and 103 unwatermarked halves
Extent: Fols: iv + 107 + iv. Fols 1–2 are fragments of leaves, now mounted on paper (s. xix), and all leaves through to fol. 8, as well as fols 13 and 79, have lost their leading edges.
Dimensions (leaf): 295 × 210 mm.
Dimensions (written): 220 × 128 mm.


[three missing quires] 120 (-1 to -3, -10, -11, -19, -20; 19 may be misbound as fol. 79) 2–318 420 520+1 (+10, fol. 79, perhaps the 19th leaf of quire 1) 620 (-7, -19, -20). Catchwords. All leaves in the first half of each quire signed with letter and arabic number, in the main in an informal contemporary hand, but the signatures on the opening leaves of quires appear to be the scribe’s. In this system, quires 1–6 = d-I.


In long lines, 32–34 lines to the page.

No signs of pricking, bounded in brown crayon but unruled.


Written in anglicana.

Unpunctuated, a rare point at line ends.


Undecorated; some instructions for headings, but none provided. Four-line spaces for initials left blank.


Tan reversed calf, s. xix, with incised border. Inside the back cover a note of repair 21 February 1900, counting 107 pages [sic]. Thongs no longer discernible. Pastedowns and flyleaves modern paper, a ChCh bookplate on the front pastedown.


Origin: England ; s. xv3/4

Provenance and Acquisition

The only indication is the note ‘Ch Ch Lib Wake’ (front pastedown, in the hand of the 1900 note on the repair to the binding). It was not from the Archbishop himself (it does not appear in the schedule of manuscripts, MS 352/8), but was added to that collection on arrival. It was patently in place for G. W. Kitchin to catalogue it, so it was most likely acquired in the early nineteenth century. Kitchin, in his catalogue, provides a title for the work, but that seems not to have been taken from our manuscript itself: Kitchin (52) records the codex as ‘valde mutilus in initio et fine’ and records the opening as the first which is fully visible; in other words, it is unlikely that Kitchin had available to him any more than is now present.

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.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)

Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.

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