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

Christ Church MS. 456

Calendars; England, 1595


Language(s): Latin

Fols i-iii: blank

1. Fol. 1r-v
Rubric: [title centred] Calendarium Romanum
Incipit: Quæsiuit a me nuperrimè summa Vestra Prudentia
Explicit: esse interest distantia

A discussion of the difference of the calendar used ‘by us’ and that used ‘in transmarinis partibus’, ie an Englishman writing about the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Unruled, and extending slightly beyond the bounding lines at edge side. 24 lines to fol. 1r; bottom third of fol. 1v blank.

Fol. 2r: blank

2. Fols 2v-8r

Ordered a page by month, arranged in ten columns: five columns, each of 6mm, providing (in sequence) the dates ‘anni novi’ (ie Gregorian calendar), ‘anni veter.’, golden number, dominical letter, Latin date; central column, 47mm wide, providing the feasts; four columns, each of 10mm, providing timings of ‘dilucul.’, ‘ortus solis’, ‘occ. solis’, ‘crepusc.’ (ie dawn, sunrise, sunset and dusk). Many English saints present, including Swithun (15 July), Osmund (16 July), Kenelm (17 July), Frideswide (19 October) and ‘Thomas Cantuariensis’ (29 December).

Fol. 8v: blank

Fol. 9r
Rubric: ‘Calendarium Hebraicum

Title only to following calendar.

Fol. 9v-10r


3. Fols 10v-16

Arranged in five columns, the first two, each 6mm, providing, first, the date by Christian month, second the date by Jewish month; the second two, each 14mm, headed ‘Lunationes’, left being ‘mediæ’ and right ‘veræ’, and with lunar and astrological data sporadically in the columns; the last, and widest, at 83mm, provides summaries of events in the life of Christ. The dates appear to attempt to provide a concordance of AD 1595 (by the Julian calendar) with the Hebrew year 5355-56.

Fol. 16v: blank

Rubric: Fol. 17r Calendarium { Atheniensum | Aegiptiorum | Alexandrinorum | Persarum | Arabum

Title to following calendar

Fol. 17v-18r: blank

4. Fols 18v-24

Arranged with column of 6mm at the left, giving the Christian date, followed by five columns, each subdivided into two (6mm, 17mm), each column for one of the calendars mentioned at fol. 17, the subdivision allowing a number to the left and, in the right, sporadic information about names of months and (particularly for the Athenian calendar) historical events (so, at fol. 20v, next to 22 May: ‘Hoc die Troia est capta a Græcis vindicantibus raptum Helenæ’).

Rubric: Fol. 25 Calendarium Iathromathematicum

Title to following tables and calendar.

5. Fols 25v-32

The calendar is preceded at fol. 25v-26 by tables and diagrams. At fol. 25v, a list of religious festivals (Easter is 20 April, ie confirming date of 1595). At fol. 26, dates and diagrams of eclipses of the sun and moon. The calendar follows at fol. 26v, once more a page for a month, with five columns, the Christian date to the left (7mm), followed by three columns of astrological data (15mm, 4mm, 13mm), with the widest column (72mm) given for occasional text describing stellar events and the portents of the weather (eg fol. 26v, next to 22 January: ‘Si lux sine nube fuerit vitis tunc abundantes fundit prodiga fructus’).

fol. 32v-35: blank

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Paper (watermark: golden fleece; English royal arms within the garter, as in our MS 140)
Extent: Fols: 38 (numbered: i-iii, 1-35)
Dimensions (leaf): 195 × 150 mm.
Dimensions (written): 156 × 123 mm.


14 (first unnumbered pastedown) 2-58 64 (last unnumbered pastedown). No catchwords or signatures.


A single border (all four lines extending to edge of page) drawn consistently through volume, fol. 1-32.

The layout varies for each item and is described under Content.


Written by one scribe, usually in a tiny italic script, but item 1 in a larger and more uneven variant, and the notes at fol. 25v-26 are in secretary.


Limp leather with, on front and on the spine ‘Calendarium Romanum Written’ in a slanted humanist bookhand (probably neither the scribe nor the named early owner), s. xvi/xvii. Two small holes on each cover where there would have been ties. A ChCh bookplate on inside of front cover, above which the pencil shelfmark ‘O.S.3.10’ (s. xix), cancelled and replaced by present shelfmark which is also on a tab on the spine.


Origin: England; 1595. Item 1 mentions ‘hoc anno 1595’, a date confirmed by the list of feasts at fol. 25v.

Provenance and Acquisition

The paperstock of this fascicule, from the mill of John Spilman (like our MS 140), suggests that it was compiled in England, with the opening letter discussing the differences in the celebration of Easter between the author’s community and those ‘overseas’, in other words, placing the author in England and discussing the recent papal reform of the calendar. The small manuscript may not, though, have stayed in England for long. The only internal evidence for the early history of this fascicule is the signature of an early owner which appears thrice within the book: ‘Tho: Carre’ (fol. 2, 9, 17). Given the Catholic affinities of the first calendar, this owner is presumably to be equated with Miles Pinkney of County Durham who took the alias of Thomas Carre when entering the English College at Douai in 1618. If so, he patently could not have been the pamphlet’s first owner: he was baptised four years after it was compiled (on him, see Joseph Gillow, A Literary and Biographical History, or bibliographical dictionary of the English Catholics..., 5 vols (London, 1885-1887), 5:313-17; Joseph Bergin in Oxford DNB). His career was based mainly in Paris (with a brief return to England at the Restoration, in the train of the dowager queen, Henrietta Maria), and it was in the French capital that he died on 31 October 1674. This suggests that the manuscript travelled across the Channel a few years after production and spent there some of its early life.

The next stages in its history, after Carre’s ownership, are not known. The shelfmark at the front pastedown (see binding) demonstrates that, at ChCh, it entered the Orrery collection but it would appear that it was not given by Charles Boyle, 4th earl of Orrery (1674-1731) himself: the manuscript records no earlier shelfmark, as do other Orrery volumes, it does not appear under this shelfmark in the earliest of the catalogues (MS LR 22 and 23), and it was placed in a section of the collection where other non-Orrery material was placed (so that O.S.3.9 is a collection of pamphlets with handwritten letters from George Keith to David Gregory, Savilian professor of astronomy, both dated 1697). We might surmise that our manuscript was a late arrival, held in the Orrery collection and (as it was not catalogued by Kitchin) removed to the manuscript collection only some time after 1867.

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.