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

MS. Laud Misc. 394

Summary Catalogue no.: 1348

A: Chronicle, from Ninus, first king of the Assyrians, to the death of Emperor Heraclius, c. 642. B: Commentary on the Octateuch. Germany, late 12th century

Physical Description

Composite: two manuscripts together by the 14th or 15th century as witnessed by the inscriptions on fol. 1r.
Form: codex
Extent: i (paper) + 117 (31 + 86) + i (paper)
Dimensions (leaf): 230 × 155 mm.
Foliation: i, 1–118, in 17th(?)-century pencil


Laudian binding. Sewn on four bands laced into pasteboards covered with brown tanned leather, each covered framed with a pair of blind filets and stamped in the centre with the gilt arms of archbishop Laud; holes from a pair of ties towards the fore-edge.

The spine with a 17th-century paper label inscribed ‘Anna:[les?] C[hro]|nica usq[ue ad?] | Heraclium [ … ] | Comment. in | 5. libris M[oi]sis | M S’, with ‘A’ between the M and S; and three printed Bodleian paper labels printed ‘Laud. | I | 8.’, ‘Laud’, and ‘394’ respectively.

Rust-stains on fol. 1r doubtless caused by a pair of clasp-fittings from a former binding.


Provenance and Acquisition

Inscribed, 14th(?) century: ‘Iste liber continet Cronicam [ smudge ] et brevem stilum super(?) quinque libros Moysis’ (fol. 1r); copied below by a 16th-century hand, leaving a space for the unread word.

Inscribed, 15th century: ‘In culpam labitur mente qui non dominatur | Est miserum homini malum defendere rei’; ‘Quanto sanctiores(?) tanto rariores’; and ‘Contra naturam est superbire et ab equali velle timeri’ (Gregory, Moralia in Job, II, 21, 15).

Part A only with marginal summaries in a late 15th- or early 16th-century hand.

Samson Johnson, protege of William Laud, inscribed ‘Liber Samsonis Johnsoni’ (fol. 1r), 16th/17th-century; cf. MS. Laud Misc. 355.

William Laud, 1573-1645: with the usual inscription, dated 1635 (fol. 1v, lower margin).

Part of his first donation to the Bodleian, 1625. Former Bodleian shelfmarks: inscribed in ink ‘J. 8’ twice (cf. spine), ‘Laud 394’, and in pencil ‘olim 1348’ (front pastedown), and ‘J.8.’ (fol. ir).

MS. Laud Misc. 394 - Part A (fols. 1-31)


Language(s): Latin

1. (fols. 1v-30v)
1.1. (fols. 1v–2v)

Historical compilation from Ninus, first king of the Assyrians, to the death of Emperor Heraclius

⟨Exordia Scythica⟩
Incipit: Nynus fuit rex primus qui regnavit super Assyrios. Ante illum omnes gentes in pace erant. Ipse [ a few words erased ] primus cepit pugnare
Explicit: A vicesimo nativitatis suę anno regnare cepit et regnavit annos .xiii.
The text is close to Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, Hist. 3 (olim MS. E. III. 14), ed. Mommsen, MGH Scriptores, Auct. antiq., xi (1894), pp. 311–22.
1.2. (fols. 2v–4v)
⟨Excidium Troiae (abbreuiatio et paraphrasis)⟩
Incipit: Thetis fuit mater Achillis et ipsa Thetis electa est de numero quinquaginta Nereidarum
Explicit: uxoris sue appellavit Laviniam et regnavit tres annos et mortuus est.

Continues without a break from the previous text. A copy of a 10th-century paraphrase of a 6th-century work, edited (using the Bamberg MS. as the base text) by M. T. Kretschmer, ‘Aeneas without the Gods: a 10th-century abbreviation and paraphrase of the Excidium Troie’, Studi medievali, 51 (2010) 307–27, at 319–26.

1.3. (fols. 4v–29v)
⟨Historia Romana ex Paulo Diacono abbreuiata⟩ (I.1-XVI.8)
Incipit: Et dicunt alii primis in Italia regnavit rex nomine Ianus
Explicit: ut illorum ecclesias catholici episcopi consecrarent

Continues without a break from the previous text; an abbreviation of Paul the Deacon's work. Ed. by M. T. Kretschmer in Rewriting Roman history in the Middle Ages: the ‘Historia Romana’ and the manuscript Bamberg, Hist.3 (Leiden, 2007), at pp. 68–162; the present MS. is like the edition as far as line 2789 (on the 5th line from the bottom of fol. 29v).

1.4. (fols. 29v–30v)
⟨Bede the Venerable⟩, ⟨Chronica maiora⟩ (short excerpt)
Incipit: Iustinus senior annos .viiii. Iohannes Romanę ecclesię pontifex Constantinopolim veniens ad portam que vocatur aurea
Explicit: Heraclonas cum matre sua Martina anno ii. Cyrus Alexandrię Sergius et Pirrus regie urbis episcopi Acephalorum heresim instaurantes

Continues without a break from the previous text. The last three lines of the page are unwritten, so the ending here is not due to a lacuna in the present MS.

Cap. 66, lines 1693–1828; ed. Jones, CCSL, 123B (1977), pp. 520-5.

Items 1-3 circulate together in four manuscripts noticed by Kretschmer in 2010: Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, Hist. 3 (Halberstadt, late 10th or early 11th century, copied from a 10th-century Italian exemplar); Salisbury, Cathedral Library, MS 80 (Salisbury, late 12th or early 13th century); Oxford, Magdalen College, MS 14 (England, 13th century: a copy of the Salisbury MS.); and Vatican, BAV, Urb. lat. 961 (Italy, 14th century, ending at XVI.8). To these can be added the present MS. and Paris, BnF, ms. lat. 4794, fols. 30v-65v (also ending at XVI.8; Italy, 14th century; from the Visconti-Sforza library), also apparently Rome, Biblioteca nazionale centrale Vittorio Emanuele II, Vittorio Emanuele, Vitt. Em. 1119 fols. 9v-59r (again ending at XVI.8).

2. (fols. 31r–v)
Added (near-contemporary) anonymous Advent sermon
Rubric: Sermo de adventu domini
Incipit: Sapientis providentia rerum exitus solet metiri
Explicit: ad celestem patriam ascendere mereamini adiuvante domino nostro Ihesu Christo

Added to a leaf left blank at the end of a quire, and followed by the stub of a cancelled blank leaf.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: 31 leaves


1(8)–3(8), 4(8-1) (last leaf, doubtless blank, cancelled)


Ruled in faint plummet, for 37 lines; ruled space 175 × 110 mm. Written above top line.


Pre-gothic bookhand; change at fol. 22v line 7.


Initials in plain red, some with rudimentary ornament.


Origin: 12th century, end ; Germany

MS. Laud Misc. 394 - Part B (fols. 32-117)


3. (fols. 32r–117v)
Anonymous commentary on the Octateuch (beginning and ending incomplete)
Incipit: ||centes affer affer. Et terram manducabis
Explicit: quo facilius ad ea que restant ex||

With Genesis (fols. 32r–67r), Exodus (fols. 67r–87v), Leviticus (fols. 87v–98v), Numbers (fols. 98v–107v), Deuteronomy (fols. 107v–111r), Joshua (fols. 111r–113v), Judges (fols. 113v–117r), and Ruth (fol. 117r–v).

Found in MS. Canon. Pat. Lat. 175 (written in Beneventan script, attributed to Bari in the early 12th century), with the incipit ‘Catholicorum patrum studia maximis adeo sunt preconiis predicanda’.

Stegmüller, Bibl. RB no. 10061, cites only the Canonici MS. and the present one, and gives the incipits of the prologues. The Ruth commentary is C81 in de Martel, Répertoire des textes latins relatifs au Livre de Ruth, p. 130, also citing only these two MSS. A 14th-century copy of text is recorded in Naples, Archivio di Stato, Museo, 99.C.24, inventario 133, by A. Improta, ‘Tra sopravvivenza e distruzione: i codici dell’Archivio di Stato di Napoli, Bartolommeo Capasso e lo studio della miniatura a Napoli alla fine del XIX secolo’, Archivio Storico per le Province Napoletane, 131 (2013), 261–308 at 291 no. XXXIV.

Language(s): Latin

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: 86 leaves


5(8)-14(8), 15(8-2) (fols. 112-117: 7 and 8 missing after fol. 117 with loss of text); one catchword (fol. 87v)


Ruled in plummet for 1 column of 33-5 lines; ruled space 170 × 110 mm. Written above top line.


Protogothic bookhand


One 4-line initial in red with blue penwork at Genesis 12 (fol. 42v).

1- and 2-line initials in plain red.


Origin: 12th century, end ; Germany


Chapter numbers added, using medieval Arabic numerals.

Sporadic late medieval marginalia and a few manicula, e.g next to ‘Sed hec advertant monachi qui captant curas seculi’ (e.g. fol. 40v).

The beginning of Genesis 12 divided into readings by four ‘lectio’ annotations in the margins (fols. 42v–43r).

Medieval(?) damage and repairs to the first leaf, suggesting that the start of the text was lost early.

Additional Information

Record Sources

Description (April 2021) by Peter Kidd, edited by Matthew Holford. 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).

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)


Last Substantive Revision

2021-04-20: Description fully revised for Polonsky German digitization project.