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

MS. Lat. bib. e. 7

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

Bible with select Missal texts ('The De Brailes Bible'); England (Oxford), 13th century, second quarter
Secundo Folio: et usum


Language(s): Latin

Very unusually for an English Bible of the first half of the 13th century, the choice and sequence of books corresponds to those of the standard Paris Bible, except that I Esdras/III Ezra is omitted. Also very unusually, almost all prologues are omitted (even Ecclesiasticus 1:1–5, ‘Multorum nobis … vitam agere’, and Luke 1:1–4, ‘Quoniam quidem … vertitatem’, both often treated as prologues, are absent). There are very few rubrics, except for the tituli to the psalms, and Baruch 6 (alias the Prayer of Jeremiah, fol. 272r).

[Art. 1 occupies Quire 1]

1. (fols. 2r–4v)

The usual General prologue and the usual prologue to the Pentateuch (Stegmüller nos. 284, 285), written without chapter divisions.

[Arts. 2–3 occupy Quires 2–18]

2. (fols. 5r–198v)

Genesis–Psalms; Job is followed by ‘Iob quoque exemplum patientie … spes mea in sinu meo’ (Stegmüller no. 350).


Various texts, on leaves originally left blank:

a. (fols. 199r–204r)

Missal texts, mostly for the temporale (for Nativity, Epiphany, Lent, etc.) or votive (for one’s father and mother, benefactors, etc.); the last two masses are ‘De beato Dominico’ and ‘Pro uerbum dei predicantibus’, with ‘In translatione beati Dominici’ added in the lower margin (fol. 204r); no other saint is provided with a proper mass.

b. (fol. 204v)

John 1:1–14 (‘In principio erat verbum … plenum gratiae et veritatis’), added by a slightly later hand.

c. (fol. 205v)

An Easter table and key, added in plummet, with 10 columns and 20 rows, starting at the year 1152, but with faint annotations apparently ‘Ann(us)’ above the the 5th column and to the left of the 14th row, thus perhaps indicating the year 1245.

d. (fols. 206r–207v)

Miscellaneous very faint plummet notes.

[Arts. 4–5 occupy Quires 19–38]

(fols. 208r–406r)

Proverbs–Revelation; II Timothy with a very short prologue (Stegmüller no. 772); treated as a continuation of the text of I Timothy.

(fols. 406r–438v)

The Interpretations of Hebrew Names, in the common version from ‘Aaz’ to ‘Zuzim’, each name underlined in red but not starting on a new line as in most copies; each letter of the alphabet with a 2-line flourished initial, and each sub-division (e.g. ‘Post b & a, sequitur b’, ‘Post b & a, sequitur d’, etc.); fols. 439r–441v originally blank.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Parchment, very thin, often somewhat cockled, some edges with cuts (often repaired with parchment or by sewing).
Extent: iii (paper) + 440 + iii (paper) leaves
Dimensions (leaf): c. 165 × 115 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in 20th-century pencil i–iii, 1–177, 179–444 (‘178’ accidentally omitted).


Almost entirely in regular quires of 12 leaves; apparently composed of two main codicological units (Genesis to Psalms, and Proverbs to the end, as is often the case in 13th-century Bibles), plus an extra quire at the beginning: 14 (fols. 1–4) | 2–1712 (fols. 5–197), 1810 (fols. 198–207) | 19–3712 (fols. 208–435), 386 (fols. 436–441); no quire signatures apparent; very few catchwords, or traces of them, survive (fols. 64v, 197v); likewise, ‘ad hoc’ leaf signatures rarely survive (e.g. ‘\’ to ‘\\\\\\’ from fol. 149r, and ‘|’ to ‘||||||’ from fol. 269r).


Ruled in plummet for 2 columns of 48 lines, the ruled space c. 115–20 × 72–4 mm. (c. 79 including the pairs of vertical bounding lines), each column c. 33 wide; prickings sometimes survive; the first and third line from top and bottom ruled across the width of the page, as also in the middle of the page, with pairs of closely spaced (c. 2–3 mm apart) lines to each side of the text, and in the inner, outer, and upper margins, the latter used to guide the running titles.


Written in dark brown/black ink in two columns of 48 lines (except the Missal texts, which are in one column), below top line, in a medium-grade gothic script; the Missal section and prefatory prologues apparently by a different scribe. Chapters routinely start on a new line only as far as fol. 11v, as if the scribe tried this modern development and then reverted to older habits; chapter numbers are in the margins throughout.


Most books and prologues lack rubrics, despite spaces having been left for them; majuscules are stroked in red erratically, not corresponding to logical textual units (fols. 81r–90r, for example, comprise Judges 10 – I Samuel 11). Chapter numbers and running titles throughout (except, as normal, in Psalms) in alternate red and blue characters, changing in style of the at the beginning of Quire 13 (fol. 149r).

Books of the Bible each have an illuminated initial, for the body of which the scribe left an indented space typically (6, 7) 8–9 (10, 11) lines high (ascenders and descenders of letters such as h, F, I, L, P, often extend a significant distance up or down); the lower ends of initial often terminate with a wavy-eared dragon.

The subjects of the illuminations are described by Warner, 1920, and more summarily by Morgan, 1982. Notable features include:

  • Moses is not shown with horns, except in the additional miniature facing the Genesis initial, in which he apparently has horns of fire.
  • I Chronicles: Adam(?) is depicted with very long hair, like Samson’s.
  • Psalm 26: the hand of god crowns David (who appears to wear academic garb), who bends his knees before a haloed male figure
  • Apart from Christ, no figure has a halo except Habakkuk, and Paul at the beginning of Ephesians.

The decoration is in three distinct styles:

  • (fols. 5r–399v) Genesis–I John: William de Brailes (perhaps with assistance).
  • (fols. 400v–401r and 406r) II John–Revelation: an artist to whom Nigel Morgan attributes some of the illumination in another de Brailes work, the New College Psalter.
  • (fols. 1r–4v, 199r–v) The prologues and Moses miniature in the first quire, and the Missal section: using no gold, and the blue typically paler than the rest.

In the style of William de Brailes:

  • (fol. 5r) Genesis. Initial I, the full height of the page. In six vessica-shaped compartments: God creating earth; dividing the waters; creating the grass and trees; creating the sun and moon; creating the fish; and creating man; below this a square miniature of the Crucifixion, with the Virgin and St. John Evangelist.
  • (fol. 21r) Exodus. Initial H, foliate.
  • (fol. 34v) Leviticus. Initial U. God speaking to Moses.
  • (fol. 44r) Numbers. Initial L. God speaks to Moses.
  • (fol. 57v) Deuteronomy. Initial H. Moses addressing a crowd (of Israelites).
  • (fol. 69r) Joshua. Initial E. Joshua(?) addressing two men.
  • (fol. 77r) Judges. Initial P. Samson breaking open the jaws of the lion; the terminal with a hooded man.
  • (fol. 85v) Ruth. Initial I. With dragon terminal.
  • (fol. 86v) I Samuel I/Kings I. Initial F. A seated king holding a drawn sword.
  • (fol. 98r) II Samuel/Kings II. Initial F. A seated king holding a drawn sword.
  • (fol. 107r) I Kings/Kings III. Initial E. Foliate.
  • (fol. 117v) II Kings/Kings IV. Initial P. A seated king holding a drawn sword; the base of the initial terminating with a hooded man lying on the ground.
  • (fol. 128r) I Chronicles. Initial A. A long-haired man (Adam?) seated, holding a book.
  • (fol. 137r) II Chronicles. Initial C. A seated king (Solomon?) holding a drawn sword.
  • (fol. 148v) Ezra/Esdras. Initial I.
  • (fol. 159v) Judith. Initial A. Judith praying.
  • (fol. 164r) Esther. Initial I.
  • (fol. 168v) Job. Initial U. God enthroned, disputing with Satan, who wears a fringed skirt.
  • (fol. 176v) Psalm 1. Initial B. David playing the harp.
  • (fol. 180v) Psalm 26. Initial D. The hand of God crowning David, who appeals to a nimbed priest(?) (Samuel?).
  • (fol. 183r) Psalm 38. Initial D. David seated, covering his mouth.
  • (fol. 184v) Psalm 51. Initial Q. David and Goliath.
  • (fol. 185r) Psalm 52. Initial D. David seated, his hand to his head.
  • (fol. 187r) Psalm 68. Initial S. Jonah emerging from the fish, below; God, above.
  • (fol. 189v) Psalm 80. Initial E. Jacob wrestling with angel.
  • (fol. 191v) Psalm 97. Initial C. Three tonsured clerics in copes singing at a lectern.
  • (fol. 192r) Psalm 101. Initial D. King David(?) with raised arm (praying?).
  • (fol. 194r) Psalm 109. Initial D. God enthroned, blessing and holding a book.
  • (fol. 208r) Proverbs. Initial P. King Solomon enthroned, holding a sceptre.
  • (fol. 217r) Song of Solomon. Initial O. Two women embracing.
  • (fol. 218r) Wisdom of Solomon. Initial D. King Solomon, seated, with drawn sword.
  • (fol. 223v) Ecclesiasticus. Initial O. King Solomon, seated, with drawn sword.
  • (fol. 237r) Isaiah. Initial V. Isaiah asleep in bed; an angel addresses him from above.
  • (fol. 251v) Jeremiah. Initial U. Jeremiah seated with book.
  • (fol. 269r) Lamentations. Initial E. Jeremiah holds his hand to his face, lamenting.
  • (fol. 270v) Baruch. Initial H. Baruch writing at a sloped desk; Jeremiah, in the lower terminal, addresses him.
  • (fol. 272r) Letter of Jeremiah (Baruch 6). Initial P.
  • (fol. 273r) Ezekiel. Initial E. Ezekiel holding a book.
  • (fol. 289r) Daniel. Initial A. Daniel in an enclosure with six lions, appealing to the Dextera Dei above.
  • (fol. 295v) Hosea. Initial V. Hosea looks up to the Dextera Dei.
  • (fol. 297v) Joel. Initial U. Joel lifts hand towards Dextera Dei, blessing.
  • (fol. 298v) Amos. Initial V. Amos holds cloak to his face (lamenting?).
  • (fol. 300r) Obadiah. Initial U. Obadiah asleep in bed.
  • (fol. 300v) Jonah. Initial E. Jonah comes out of the whale; the Dextera Dei blesses; Nineveh behind.
  • (fol. 302v) Habakkuk. Initial O. Habakkuk, nimbed, points to heaven.
  • (fol. 303v) Zephaniah. Initial U. The upper terminal with a hawk(?).
  • (fol. 304v) Zechariah. Initial I. The upper terminal with a hawk(?).
  • (fol. 307r) Malachi. Initial O.
  • (fol. 307v) I Maccabees. Initial E. Two knights in square helmets with shields.
  • (fol. 325v) Matthew. Initial L.
  • (fol. 343r) Luke. Initial F.
  • (fol. 354v) John. Initial I.
  • (fol. 363v) Romans. Initial P. The Conversion of St. Paul: he falls from his horse.
  • (fol. 371v) II Corinthians. Initial P.
  • (fol. 374v) Galatians. Initial P. The lower terminal with a hawk(?).
  • (fol. 375v) Ephesians. Initial P. St Paul, seated, with a drawn sword.
  • (fol. 378r) Colossians. Initial P. The lower terminal with a man, wearing a coif, crawling on all fours.
  • (fol. 379r) I Thessalonians. Initial P.
  • (fol. 380r) II Thessalonians. Initial P.
  • (fol. 380r) I Timothy. Initial P.
  • (fol. 381v) II Timothy. Initial P.
  • (fol. 382r) Titus. Initial P. The lower terminal with a lion.
  • (fol. 382v) Philemon. Initial P. The lower terminal with a peacock.
  • (fol. 386r) Acts. Initial P.
  • (fol. 397v) I Peter. Initial P. St Peter, tonsured, holding key and book.
  • (fol. 399v) I John. Initial Q. St John (his lower face and neck flaked away), holding book.

By the second artist:

  • (fol. 400v) II John. Initial S. Above: St John(?), bearded, holding a scroll; below: four young men look up to him.
  • (fol. 400v) III John. Initial S. Very like the previous initial
  • (fol. 400v) Jude. Initial I. St Jude, full length.
  • (fol. 401r) Apocalypse. Initial A. St. John the Evangelist writing on a long scroll draped over a sloped writing-desk.
  • (fol. 406r) Interpretations of Hebrew Names. Initial A.

By the third artist:

  • (fol. 2r) General prologue. Extending most of the height of the page, with a dragon terminal at the base.
  • (fol. 4v). Miniature of Moses, horned with flames, seated before a lectern, holding the tablets(?) in his right hand, raising his left towards the blessing dextera dei which emerges from a cloud.
  • (fol. 199r) Missal Preface. Initials P(er) and U(ere).
  • (fol. 199v) Canon. Initial T(e).

The sequence of production seems to have been:

  • 1. The writing of Genesis–Revelation and the Interpretations of Hebrew Names, omitting prologues.
  • 2. The illumination of these texts, by William de Brailes and, for the last few biblical books only, a colleague with whom de Brailes collaborated on at least one other manuscript (see above).
  • 3. The addition of the first quire (with two prologues) and the Missal texts, illuminated by a third artist.
  • 4. The addition of two further masses in margins, including that for the 1233 translation and 1234 canonisation of St Dominic.

A feature of the production process of the volume is a series of plummet numbers in the lower margins adjacent to illuminated initials: when an illuminated initial occurs on a verso the number is below it, and when an initial occurs on a recto the number is on the facing age (i.e. the numbers are always on a verso). The numbers indicate how many leaves there are since the previous illuminated initial: thus the Genesis initial is on fol. 5r; the Exodus initial is 16 leaves later, on fol. 20r, and fol. 20v has ‘16’; the Leviticus initial is 14 leaves later, on fol. 34v, and has ‘14’; and so on; the next several numbers are ‘9’ (fol. 43v), ‘14’ (fol. 57v), ‘11’ (fol. 68v), ‘7’ (fol. 76v), ‘9’ (fol. 85v), and ‘1’ (fol. 86v).

Flourished initials in item 5.


Mid(?)-17th century, Antwerp(?). Sewn on four split alum-tawed straps, laced into wood boards c. 8 mm thick, with bevelled inner edges, covered with polished brown leather, each cover tooled in gilt with a panel enclosing a gilt stamp depicting the Virgin holding a sceptre and the Child, a serpent underfoot, surrounded by seven stars and the legend ‘.SODAL(ITAS). IMMAC(VLATAE). CONCEPT(IONIS). D(OMINAE).V(IRGINIS). M(ARIAE). ANTVERP(IENSIS).’; the second compartment of the spine lettered in gilt ‘BIBLIA | M.S.S.’; two brass clasps (fastening from the back to the front cover); the front and back flyleaves each formed of a quire of two bifolia, one leaf serving as a pastedown; in a green Dyson Perrins box.


Origin: 13th century, second quarter ; English, Oxford

Provenance and Acquisition

Doubtless written and illuminated in Oxford, and apparently adapted for a Dominican during production or shortly after completion, perhaps a few years before St Dominic’s canonization in 1234, as the mass for this feast is an addition (fol. 204r). Annotation in the Easter table (art. 3c) also suggests a date before 1245.

Various marginal annotations by 13th-century readers, e.g. a word in Greek characters is transliterated as ‘sintagina’ (fol. 4v).

A 13th-century plummet inscription seems to indicate ownership by the Order of St John (the Knights Hospitaller) in Harlem; it begins very indistinct, but is much more easily legible towards the end: ‘[ … ] pr(ior)(?) dom(us) s(an)c(t)i ioh(ann)is in haerlem ordinis iheroslim(itani)’ (fol. 439v).

An erased inscription at the end of Revelation was read by Warner (1920, p. 27) as ‘Liber hic pertinet michi b …’ (fol. 406r).

Prior Johannes Linden, presented to Brother Nicholas Boheler de Spira, 15th century: erased inscriptions have been read as ‘Dominus iohannes linden prior domus huius concessit michi fratri nycolao boheler hunc librum’ (fol. 438v) and ‘Frater nycolaus boheler de spira professus monachus, granarius(?) eiusdem’ (fol. 440v) (Warner, 1920, p. 27; accepted by Sotheby’s, 1959 and 1978). A Nicholas Böheler de Spira (Speyer) occurs as the scribe of a manuscript from the Carthusian house in Mainz, written in 1436 (Mainz, Statdbibliothek, Hs. I 206, on which see Gerhard List, Die Handschriften der Stadtbibliothek Mainz, II: Hs I 151 – Hs I 250 (Wiesbaden, 1998), pp. 211–14). Mainz is 85km due north of Speyer (both are on the Rhine); Linden is 80km north-east of Mainz.

A Carthusian house (perhaps the one at Mainz): characteristic Carthusian marginal annotations ‘a’–‘h’ and ‘P’, ‘S’, ‘T’ (primus, secundus, tertius), appear in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Isaiah; marginalia perhaps of the same date refer to days of the week from feria 2 to feria 6 followed by Sabbato (sic!); one annotation appears to read ‘In xl’ (i.e. quadragesima) at ‘Locutus est dominus ad Moysen …’ (Numbers 15:1; fol. 50r), and two others refer to the 2nd and 3rd Sundays (presumably after Pentecost) at ‘Onus deserti maris sicut turbines …’ (Is. 21:1) and ‘Consolamini consolamini populus meus …’ (Is. 40:1); the two readings marked ‘In refectorio’ correspond to those for the 4th and 5th Sundays in Sexagesima in Raymond Étaix, ‘Le lectionnaire cartusien pour le réfectoire’, Revue d’études Augustiniennes, 23, nos. 3–4 (1977), pp. 272–303.

Isabella Fernandez, presented in 1647 to:

The Sodality of the Immaculate Conception, Antwerp: inscribed ‘Sodal. Concept. Immac. BVirg. | gall Antuerp. | 1647 | D. D. Isabella Fernandez’ (fol. 1r), the first line over a thorough erasure; the volume rebound for them; the first, third, and fourth compartments of the the spine inscribed in black ink with their(?) shelfmark ‘5’, ‘E / NO 10’ and ‘H’.

Alfred Pfeiffer (1858–1913), of Vienna: with a rectangular book-label c.25 × 50mm edged and printed in gold with a coronet above the monogram ‘AP’, inscribed in black ink ‘1823’; below this his very large (c.135 × 110mm) bookplate printed in the centre with arms, crests, helms, and mantling, the motto ‘INTEGER VITAE’, surrounded by the legend ‘EX LIBRIS ALFRED PFEIFFER’, signed ‘STERN – PARIS’ (this bookplate obscuring older pencil inscriptions on the pastedown): his sale by C. G. Boerner, Leipzig, Auktion 126, Katalog der Bibliothek Alfred Ritter von Pfeiffer, Wien … Versteigerung 4. – 6. Mai 1914, lot 800, perhaps bought by, or on behalf of:

Leo Olschki (1861–1940), bookseller of Florence, his no. 36982 (the front pastedown inscribed in pencil ‘not. 36982’, top left); described in his ‘Manuscrits très precieux (continuation)’ La Bibliofilia, 16, no. 7/8 (Oct–Nov 1914), at p. 276 and pl. VIII; the Pfeiffer bookplate inscribed in pencil with a price, ‘₤7,700’; bought in 1915 by:

C. W. Dyson Perrins (1864–1958), collector of books and ceramics: with his rectangular booklabel, with ‘DP’ and his coat of arms, and his small round label printed ‘C. W. DYSON. PERRINS’ around the edge, inscribed in ink with his manuscript number ‘5.’ in the centre (MS 5 in the 1920 Warner catalogue); his sale at Sotheby’s, 1 December 1959, lot 59; bought by Maggs for £4,000.

Robin Howard (1924–1989), CBE: sold as ‘The Property of the Contemporary Dance Trust Ltd. (Formerly in the library of Robin Howard, Esq., C.B.E.)’, at Sotheby’s 5 July 1976, lot 81; bought by Quaritch on behalf of the Bodleian for £23,000.

The Bodleian Library: the lower left corner of fol. ir inscribed in pencil ‘P.[urchased] 5.7.76 | Sotheby’s lot 81’, and the Pfeiffer bookplate inscribed in pencil with shelfmarks ‘MS. Lat. bib. e. 7’ and ‘= Arch. F. e. 28’.

Record Sources

Description by Peter Kidd, March 2020.


To ensure its availability to future readers, access to this item is restricted, and readers are asked to work from reproductions and published descriptions as far as possible. To apply to see the original, please send a message to specialcollections.enquiries@bodleian.ox.ac.uk, outlining the subject of your research, the importance of this item to that research, and the resources you have already consulted.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (72 images from 35mm slides)


    Select bibliography:

    George Warner, Descriptive Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts in the Library of C. W. Dyson Perrins, D.C.L., F.S.A (2 vols, privately printed at the University Press, Oxford, 1920), pp. 25–26 no. 5 and pl. VI e–k.
    Sotheby & Co, London, The Dyson Perrins Collection, Part II: Catalogue of Forty-Six Western and Oriental Illuminated Manuscripts … 1 December 1959, lot 59 (ills.).
    Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co, London, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts and Miniatures ... Which Will Be Sold by Auction … 5th July, 1976, lot 81 (col. and b&w ills.).
    Nigel Morgan, Early Gothic Manuscripts [I]: 1190–1250, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles, 4 (London: Harvey Miller, 1982), no. 69 (ills.).

Last Substantive Revision

2020-06-03: Description revised by Peter Kidd.