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

MS. Fr. e. 32

Summary Catalogue no.: Not in SC (late accession): no full description available


1. (fols. 1r-27v)
La Chevalerie Vivien
Incipit: Seignors et dames p(or) deu or escoutez

Ending imperfect (at '... Au uif. deables. porroit. il iames. estre. ||': line 1634 of the Terracher ed.) with about 300 lines missing, due to the excision of five leaves after fol. 27v

Pr. A.-L. Terracher, La chevalerie Vivien: chanson de geste (Paris, 1909); see also A.-L. Terracher, ed., La tradition manuscrite de la Chevalerie Vivien (Paris, 1923).

Language(s): Old French
2. (fols. 28r-147v)
Incipit: A ciel ior que la dolors fu g(ra)ns

Ending (garbled and) imperfect (at ... Fis de roi sui bien le doi conmander | Prenant lors obers vont lor armois troucer ||')

Pr. Erich Wienbeck, Wilhelm Hartnacke, and Paul Rasch, eds., Aliscans (Halle, Max Niemeyer, 1903).

Language(s): Old French

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment, mediocre quality
Extent: 149 leaves
Dimensions (leaf): 190 × 120 mm.
Dimensions (ruled): 140–5 × 80–100 mm.
Foliation: Modern pencil: 1–58, 58a-148


Mostly in quires of eight leaves: I-III8 (fols. 1–24), IV8–5 (4th-8th leaves cancelled) (fols. 25–27) | V-XIII8 (fols. 28–98), XIV10 (fols. 99–108), XV-XVI8 (fols. 109–124), XVII8+1 (5th leaf inserted, fol. 129) (fols. 125–133) | XVIII8 (fols. 134–141), XIX8–2+1 (9th leaf inserted; 7th & 8th leaves cancelled) (fols. 142–148); quires I-III with quire signatures .i.-.iij.; remaining quires with a new series of similar signatures, of which only .vij. (fol. 82v) and xiiij (fol. 141v) survive.


Ruled in leadpoint with 25–31 lines extending the full width of the page, and three vertical lines to the left and one to the right, the leftmost pair used to guide the first letter on each line.


Written in gothic vernacular script by three main hands, studied in detail by I. Short in The Medieval Alexander legend and romance epic: essays in honour of David J. A. Ross (1982), pp. 173–91: Scribe A wrote fols. 1r-27v; B wrote almost all of fols. 28r-66r; C wrote part of the remainder, in concert with the A and B; the final verso is particularly crudely written, presumably by a fourth scribe.


One seven-line red initial containing a rampant lion (fol. 28r); one similar three-line initial (fol. 29r).

Other two- and three-line initials in plain red.

Doodles of a male face in profile (fols. 36r, 66v).


Original(?) sewing on three split thongs, laced into pasteboards covered with original(?) stained red leather; a thread bookmark between fols. 1134 and 114); without pastedowns or flyleaves.


Origin: 12th century, late-13th century, early ; French, East or North-east

Provenance and Acquisition

Inscribed, late 13th or early 14th cent.: 'Sire W de morlens [me deit(?) effaced]' (fol. 107r; cf. fol. 124r)

Inscribed, 14th cent.: 'icet romans est de W dorenge' (fol. 93v); inscribed, 14th-cent. with 'Nota' marks (e.g. 73v, 74r); inscribed in blind, unknown date: 'ROS'(?) and 'ALISPATVN' (the 'S's back-to-front) (fol. 133v).

Thomas Arnold, St. Augustine's, Canterbury ('Liber fratris T. Arnold' de libr' sancti Augustini Cantuariensis': see A. B. Emden, Donors of Books to St. Augustine's Abbey Canterbury, Oxford 1968, 5), with 15th-cent. letter-identifier '.Cum. .H.' (M. R. James, The Ancient Libraries of Canterbury and Dover, Cambridge 1903, 374, no. 1533)

Inscribed '106' (fol. 1r, top right).

Savile library, sold at Sotheby's 6 Feb. 1861, lot 16, bought by Powis for £150

Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792–1872), MS. 25074

Bought Sotheby's, 30 Nov. 1971, lot 495, pl. 7 (fol. 28r).

Record Sources

Unpublished draft description by Peter Kidd, late 1990s.


Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.