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

MS. Holkham misc. 38

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


Alexander de Villa Dei, Doctrinale,

with commentary. Palimpsest of earlier MSS., including a Bible (?) of the 12th century (?).

Language(s): Latin

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: ii (modern paper) + 180 + ii (modern paper).
Dimensions (leaf): 340 × 250 mm.
Dimensions (ruled): 230–5 × 160–5 mm.
Foliation: Largely foliated in 18th-century (?) ink, the remainder in modern pencil: i-iii, 1–105, 107–117a, 117b-182, i.e. omitting 106 and repeating 117.


49 written lines per page; in 2 columns.


Average quality rounded bookhand, in three sizes: text, rubrics, and commentary.


Good initials. (P&A ii. 205)


Sewn on five cords and bound in typical Holkham binding of polished brown leather over pasteboards, each cover framed in gilt, the centre of the upper cover stamped in gilt with the Coke crest; the spine, much damaged, lettered in gilt 'COMMENTUM | SOPRA | DOCTRINALE | ALEXANDRI | DE | VILLA DEI' the bottom compartment with the Holkham MS. number '412'.


Origin: Italian ; 14th century, late (palimpsest of material from 12th - 14th centuries)

Provenance and Acquisition

The first 88 leaves, and some others, are re-used in palimpsest from a volume at least twice the size of the present book (each original leaf is re-used sideways to form a bifolium), handsomely written in a 12th-century (?) caroline in two columns (it was thus perhaps a Bible; see e.g. fol. 130); many of the remaining leaves appear to be re-used from 13th/14th-century texts written in much smaller more cursive hands, clearly visible in many places (see e.g. fol. 177v).

With the gilt oval booklabel of 'THOMAS WILLIAM COKE', formerly Norfolk, Holkham Hall, MS. 412.

Record Sources

Draft description by Peter Kidd, late 1990s

Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.