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

MS. Laud Misc. 108

Summary Catalogue no.: 1486

South English legendary with other poetry; England (perhaps Oxford?), c. 1300 with additions


(fol. iii recto)
Rubric: These ben þe namys of seyntys lyfys þat lakyn in this booke
Incipit: In primis seynt Stevyn
Explicit: Item seynt Andrewe
'Negative' table of contents to the South English Legendary (fols. 1–200)

Added, late 15th or early 16th century.

Language(s): Middle English
(fol. iii recto)
Incipit: Jhesu mercy Jhesu mercy
Explicit: miserere mei et totius populi christiani amen. pater noster aue maria et credo

Added, 15th century; transcribed in full in Allen (1984) p. 8.

Language(s): Latin and Middle English
1. (fols. 1–200)
South English Legendary

Fols. 23r-198r, 228v-33v printed from this MS. in Carl Horstmann, ed., The Early South-English Legendary, EETS o.s. 87 (1887); for full details of editions see the entries in the Digital Index of Middle English Verse (=DIMEV).

(fols. 1r-10v)
The Ministry and Passion of Christ

DIMEV 4633

Cf. O. S. Pickering, The South English Ministry and Passion, edited from MS St. John’s College, Cambridge, B.6. (1984).

Fragment, 901 lines, beginning incomplete at l. 874, and ending incomplete at l. 2047, with apparently three leaves (272 lines) missing between fols. 1 and 2. These leaves may have been misbound at one stage in the manuscript's history: a fifteenth-century note at the foot of fol. 10v reads 'Verte ad istud signum in isto libro [in principio libri added later] et ibi inveniet plus de pasione [post assumpcionem sancte marie added later]

Text of this fragment printed C. Horstmann, Leben Jesu: ein Fragment, und Kindheit Jesu (1873), 29–69.

(fols. 11ra-22rb)
The Apocryphal History of the Infancy
Rubric: Ici commence le enfaunce ihesu crist
Final rubric: Explicit hic infantia Jhesu Christi.

DIMEV 2605

Pr. from this MS. in C. Horstmann, Altenglische Legenden (1875), pp. 3–61

Fol. 22v blank.

(fols. 23r-29v)
Sancta crux

DIMEV 5337

(fols. 29v-30b)
St Dunstan

Incomplete; missing lines 106–60 (in Horstmann's numeration) due to the loss of most of fol. 30b.

DIMEV 4584

(fols. 30b-31v)
St Augustine of Canterbury

Incomplete; missing lines 1–36 due to the loss of most of fol. 30b.

DIMEV 4543

(fols. 31v-32v)
St Barnabas

DIMEV 4545

(fols. 32v-34r)
St John the Baptist

DIMEV 4647

(fols. 34r-38r)
St James the Great

DIMEV 4620

(fols. 38v)
St Oswald the King

DIMEV 4741

(fols. 39r-41v)
St Edward the Elder

DIMEV 4590

(fols. 41v-46v)
St Francis

DIMEV 4597

(fols. 46v-47v)
St Alban

DIMEV 4534

(fols. 48r-50v)
St Wulfstan

DIMEV 4773

(fols. 50v-52r)
St Matthew

DIMEV 4719

(fols. 52r-v)
St Leger

DIMEV 4660

(fols. 52v-54r)
St Faith

DIMEV 4595

(fols. 54r-55v)
The Eleven Thousand Virgins

DIMEV 1184

(fols. 56r-59r)
St Katherine of Alexandria

DIMEV 4656

(fols. 59r-60v)
St Lucy

Partly written as prose, see Layout.

DIMEV 4663

(fols. 61r-87v)
St Thomas of Canterbury

DIMEV 6687

Rubric: Ici poez oyer coment seint Thomas de Kanterbures nasqui e de quev manere gent de pere & de mere
Rubric: (fol. 63r) Hic Isci comence la vie seint Thomas Erceeueske de Kaunterbury
(fols. 87v-88r)
Translation of St Thomas of Canterbury

DIMEV 4768

Treated in the numbering as part of the preceding item.

(fols. 88r-v)
Prologue to the South English Legendary

Numbered '28', 'fab. Seb.', so here treated as part of the following item.


(fols. 88v-89v)
SS Fabian and Sebastian

DIMEV 4594

(fols. 89v-91r)
St Agnes

DIMEV 4532

(fols. 91r-93r)
St Vincent

DIMEV 4772

(fol. 93r-v)
St Paul
Rubric: Vita sancti Pauli

DIMEV 4745

(fols. 93v-94v)
St Bridget of Ireland (shorter version)
Rubric: Vita sancte Brigide virginis

DIMEV 4570

(fols. 94v-96r)
St Agatha
Rubric: Vita sancte Agathe

DIMEV 4530

(fol. 96r-v)
St Scholastica

DIMEV 4756

(fols. 96v-104r)
St Patrick, with his Purgatory
Rubric: Purgatorium sancti Patrici abbatis

DIMEV 4742

(fols. 104r-110r)
St Brendan
Rubric: Vita sancti Brendani abbatis de Hybernia

DIMEV 4567

Missing lines 68–247 due to the loss of two folios after fol. 104.

Fol. 110v blank.

(fols. 111r-116r)
St Nicholas

DIMEV 4737

Missing lines 360–448 due to the loss of a folio after fol. 114.

(fols. 115v-116r)
St Julian the Confessor
Rubric: Vita sancti Juliani confessoris

DIMEV 4651

(fols. 116r-117v)
St Julian the Hospitaller
Rubric: Vita sancti Juliani boni hospit(is)

DIMEV 4652

(fols. 117v-121v)
St Mary of Egypt
Rubric: Vita sancte Marie Egiptiace

DIMEV 4702

(fols. 121v-124r)
St Christopher
Rubric: Vita sancti Cristofori

DIMEV 4576

(fols. 124r-127r)
St Dominic
Rubric: Vita sancti Dominici confessoris

DIMEV 4583

(fols. 128r-130r)

DIMEV 5554

(fols. 130r-131r)
St George

DIMEV 4603

(fols. 131r-132r)
St Edmund the King
Rubric: Vita sancti Edmundi regis

DIMEV 4588

(fols. 132r-141r)
St Michael

In three parts, DIMEV 4732, DIMEV 4731, DIMEV 5451.

(fol. 132r)

DIMEV 4732

(fol. 133v)

DIMEV 4731

(fol. 136v)

DIMEV 5451

(fols. 141r-147r)
St Clement

DIMEV 4577

(fols. 147r-149r)
St Lawrence

DIMEV 4659

(fols. 149r-153r)
St Kenelm
Rubric: Vita sancti Kenelmi regis

DIMEV 4658

(fols. 153r-154v)
St Gregory
Rubric: Vita sancti Gregorij

DIMEV 4609

(fols. 154v-155v)
St Cuthbert
Rubric: Vita sancti Cuthberti

DIMEV 4579

(fols. 155v-156r)
St Mark
Rubric: Vita sancti Marci ewangeliste

DIMEV 4697

(fols. 156r-157r)
SS Philip and James
Rubric: (fol. 156v) Vita sancti Jacobi
Rubric: Apostolorum Philippi et Jacobi

DIMEV 4752

(fols. 157v-160v)
St Bartholomew
Rubric: Vita sancti Bartholomei

DIMEV 4547

(fols. 161r-165v)
St Thomas the Apostle

DIMEV 4767

(fols. 165v-166r)
St Matthias

DIMEV 4728

(fols. 166r-167r)
St Sylvester
Rubric: Hic incipit uita sancti Siluestri

DIMEV 4764

(fols. 167r-169r)
St Eustace

DIMEV 4592

Missing most of lines 86–179 due to the loss of most of a folio after fol. 167.

(fol. 169v-174r)
St John the Evangelist

DIMEV 4634

(fols. 174r-175r)
All Saints' Day


(fols. 175r-179v)
All Souls' Day


(fols. 179v-185r)
St Edmund of Canterbury

DIMEV 4587

Missing lines 224–313 due to the loss of a folio after fol. 181.

(fols. 185r-188r)
St Martin

DIMEV 4699

(fols. 188r-190r)
St Leonard

DIMEV 4661

(fols. 190r-197r)
St Mary Magdalene

DIMEV 4928

(fols. 197r-198r)
St Hippolytus

DIMEV 4615

Language(s): Middle English (with rubrics in Anglo-Norman and Latin). The scribal dialect of hand A has been localized to West Oxfordshire (Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English, LP 6920; Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English, entry 1 for this MS.)
2. (fols. 198ra-199rb)
The Sayings of St Bernard

DIMEV 5215

Ed. from this and other MSS. in F. J. Furnivall, The Minor Poems of the Vernon Manuscript, II, EETS o.s. 117 (1901), 511–22

Language(s): Middle English
3. (fols. 199rb-200vb)
The Vision of St Paul

DIMEV 4814

Ed. from this MS. C. Horstmann, 'Die Sprüche des h. Bernard und die Vision des h. Paulus nach Ms. Laud 108', Archiv 52 (1874), 33–8

Language(s): Middle English
4. (fols. 200v-203v)
Dispute between the Body and the Soul


Ed. J. W. Conlee, Middle English Debate Poetry: A Critical Anthology (1991)

Language(s): Middle English. The scribal dialect of hand B has been localized to the Isle of Ely (Cambridgeshire), or possibly west Norfolk or north-east Suffolk Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English, entry 2 for this MS.)
5. (fols. 204ra-219va)
Havelok the Dane
Rubric: ⟨Incipit vita Hauelok⟩ quondam Rex Anglie

DIMEV 1795

Ed. G. V. Smithers, Havelok (1987)

Language(s): Middle English (with a Latin rubric), scribal dialect localized to west Norfolk (Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English, entry 3 for this MS.)
6. (fols. 219va-228rb)
King Horn


Critical edition by R. Allen, King Horn: An Edition Based On Cambridge University Library MS. Gg.4.27(2) (1984); parallel text edition by J. Hall, King Horn (1901).

Language(s): Middle English, scribal dialect localized to West Norfolk with a substratum localized to south-east Surrey, south-west Kent, or north Sussex (Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English, entry 3 for this MS.)
7. (fols. 228v-230r)
St Blaise, from the South English Legendary
Rubric: Vita et passio sancti Blasij martiris

DIMEV 4565

Language(s): Middle English (rubric in Latin), scribal dialect suggestive of western England (Gloucestershire?) with an East Anglian overlay (Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English, index of sources; no linguistic profile).
8. (fol. 230v-233v)
St Cecilia, from the South English Legendary
Rubric: Vita et passio sancte Cecilie virginis et martiris

DIMEV 4572

Language(s): Middle English (rubric in Latin), scribal dialect as preceding item.
9. (fols. 233v-237ra)
Life of S. Alexis
Rubric: Vita cuiusdam sancti viri nomine Alex. optima vita

DIMEV 4923

Ed. from this and other MSS. F. J. Furnivall, Adam Davy’s 5 Dreams about Edward II, etc (1878), pp. 20–79

Language(s): Middle English (rubric in Latin)
10. (fols. 237ra-v)
Somer soneday
Rubric: Here bigynneþ somer soneday

DIMEV 6125

Ed. T. Turville-Petre, Alliterative Poetry of the Later Middle Ages (1989), pp. 142–7.

Language(s): Middle English

Added texts on the back endleaf, 15th century (second half?):

Language(s): Middle English
(fol. 238r)
Incipit: By holde merueylis a mayde ys moder / Isaye vijº

Two couplets, transcribed in DIMEV.

(fol. 238v)
Incipit: ⟨A⟩llas deceyte þat in truste ys nowe

DIMEV 270 (with transcription)

(fol. 238v)
Incipit: Be þu nauȝt to bolde to blame Leste þu be founde in þe same

Five lines of text, treated by DIMEV as three items (all with transcriptions): 779 (one quatrain, first two lines of our text); 1833 (couplet, one line of our text); 835 (couplet, final two lines of text).

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Parchment, noticeably orange on the hair side except in the final quire (fols. 231–7).
Extent: ii (modern paper) + i (medieval parchment mounted on modern paper) + 240 or 243 (if three very fragmentary leaves are counted); foliated 1–239, see below.
Dimensions (leaf): 280 × 170–80 mm.
Dimensions (written): c. 230 × 140 mm.
The upper margin severly cropped, with loss of running titles, e.g at fols. 61r, 204r.
Foliation: Foliated i-iii, 1–239, with fol. 170 double (foliated 170a, 170b); in addition there are fragmentary leaves between fols. 1 and 2 (fol. 1*), 30 and 31 (fol. 30*), 167 and 168 (not foliated).


The probable collation is as follows; cf. Gorlach (1973), Liszka (1989), and da Rold (2014).
  • [Uncertain number of quires lost from the beginning of the MS.]
  • 1 (fols. 1–10v), structure uncertain, currently ten leaves, missing at least one folio before fol. 1, probably 3 folios between fols. 1 and 2 (fol. 1* is a strip from the third of these), and possibly one or more folios at the end; cf. Pickering (1984), 9.
  • [Uncertain number of quires lost.]
  • 2(12) (fols. 11–22)
  • 3(10), 9 (fol. 30*) mutilated (fols. 23–31) [da Rold suggests 3(12), lacking 5 after fol. 26 and 10 after fol. 30a, but there is no evidence of missing text at either point]
  • 4(12)-9(12) (fols. 32–103)
  • 10(12), missing 2 and 3 after fol. 104 (fols. 104–113)
  • 11(12), missing 2 after fol. 114 (fols. 114–124)
  • 12(12)-15(12) (fols. 125–160)
  • 15(12), 8 fragmentary (fols. 161–170b)
  • 16(12), missing 12 after fol. 181 (fols. 171–181)
  • 17(12) (fols. 182–193)
  • 18(12), 8 and 12 missing after fols. 200 and 204 (fols. 194–203)
  • 19(12), missing 8 after fol. 211 (fols. 204–214)
  • 20(12) (fols. 215–26)
  • 21(4) + 1 after fol. 230 [Gorlach and Liszka: 21(6), 6 cancelled after fol. 231] (fols. 227–231)
  • 22(6) + 1 after fol. 237 (fols. 232–237) [Gorlach and Liszka treat fol. 238 as a separate quire, 23(1)]
Catchwords all or partly visible on fols. 67v, 79v, 91v, 103v, 148v, 170b verso, 193v, 214v, 226v. Leaf signatures in several different styles, often not visible under normal light. The following account depends on the transcriptions made under ultra-violet light by Liszka (Manuscripta 33/1 (1989), 89–91). Quires 1–3 (fols. 1–31v), 5 (fols. 44–55), 11 (fols. 114–124), 19 (fols. 204–214), 21–23 (fols. 227–237): no signatures visible. Quires 4 (fols. 32–43), 6–8 (fols. 56–91): signed with a sequence of horizontal marks, sometimes in combination with roman numerals. Quires 9–10 (fols. 92–113), 12 (fols. 125–136): signed with roman numerals i-vi only. Quire 13 (fols. 137–48): signed with letters a-f only. Quire 14 (fols. 149–60): signed ci-c[vi]. Quire 15 (fols. 161–170b): signed with a combination of arabic and roman numerals only. Quires 16–18 (fols. 171–203): signed ai-avi, bi-bvi, ci-ciii (leaves 4–6 of quire 18 not signed).


Fols. 1–200v: 45 lines, in one column except for fols. 11–22 and most of fols. 198r-201v. Fols. 1–10, 23–198, 200v-203v, 228v-233v in one column, except for end of St Lucy (fol. 60r-v) written as prose in 2 columns, text flowing over into the lower margin. Elsewhere in two columns.

Fols. 201r-203v: 35–39 lines, 1 column.

Fols. 204r-228r: 45 lines, 2 columns.

Fols. 229r-37r: 44–47 lines, 1–2 columns.

Prickings visible fols. 1–198r (to the end of St Hippolytus), fols. 227r-237r.


Four scribes in the main body of the manuscript, fols. 1–237: (A) fols. 1–200 (with a noticeable change of ink at fol. 174) (B) fols. 200v-203v (C) fols. 204–228r (D) fols. 228v-237v. Hands A-C textualis, late thirteenth or early fourteenth century, with B somewhat later than A and C; hand D cursiva (anglicana), 14th century, middle or third quarter.


Fols. 1–200v, 204r-226v: initials in blue (typically two-line), with penwork flourishing in red and blue, at the beginning of legends and other major text divisions. Patterson (as reported in Allen 1984) and Evans (2011) distinguish three flourishers: (A) fols. 1–10r, 56–160v, 204–226v (B) fols. 11–54r, 161–169v (C) fols. 174–199. First letter of each line usually touched in red (but not on fols. 221v-226r).

Four-line initial in blue and red with penwork flourishing in red and blue at the beginning of King Horn, fol. 219va.

Fols. 1–200v: paraphs in blue and red; rubrics in red for some lives.

Fols. 228v-237v: rubrics in red, some initials touched in red.


Origin: 13th century, late, or 14th century, early, with 14th century additions ; English, possibly Oxford (?)

Provenance and Acquisition

Fols. 1–203 and 204–28, the original core of the manuscript, are distinct production units, but both share some codicological features, notably the parchment with its strong contrast between flesh and hair sides, and the probable quiring in units of twelve.

Codicological, textual and decorative evidence also suggests several production units within part 1, although there is disagreement about where these fall. For a review, see Bell and Couch (2011).

The final quire (however that is defined: see collation) is a separate codicological unit added by Scribe D around the mid fourteenth century.

The items in the manuscript are numbered in Arabic numerals from 8 onwards in two sequences, one in red crayon, typically in the upper left corner of rectos, and one in brown ink, in the middle upper margin of both rectos and versos. The two sequences diverge at fols. 200v-203v (The Dispute between the Body and the Soul), which was not numbered in the first sequence and is item 70 in the second sequence. Havelok and King Horn, which had been 70 and 71 in the first sequence, were renumbered 71 and 72 (e.g. fol. 227r). This would appear to suggest that the first sequence of numbering took place before Hand B added the Dispute, and therefore that I and II were together by the early fourteenth century, probably very soon after both were written. The second sequence of numbering, which extends through folios 228v-237v ('73', '74'), was added by Hand D, who was presumably responsible for adding the third codicological unit, fols. 229–37.

I and II were together when the flourishing was carried out, since the principal flourisher worked on both parts.

An Oxford origin for the manuscript as a whole has been suggested by Patterson (reported in Allen 1984), on the basis of the penwork decoration, and by da Rold (2014), on the basis of the quire structure, signatures, and parchment.

The note on fol. 10v indicates that some text was lost or misbound by the fifteenth century, but that the MS. still then had some of items 1–7.

'Iste liber constat [Henrico Perueys, or Perneys; over erasure] testantibus Johanni Rede presbiter Willelmo Rotheley et aliis' (fol. 238v, mid-15th century?): possibly Henry Perveys, draper of London, fl. 1434–76, and William Rotheley, goldsmith of London. John Rede is unidentified. See Fitzgerald (2011), 88–95.

William Laud, 1573–1645, by 1633 (fol. 1r).

Given by him to the Bodleian as part of his first donation in 1635.

Record Sources

Description by Matthew Holford, March 2018. Previously described in the Quarto Catalogue (H. O. Coxe, Laudian Manuscripts, Quarto Catalogues II, repr. with corrections, 1969, from the original ed. of 1858–1885).


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Digital Images

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Digital Bodleian (6 images from 35mm slides)


Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.