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

MS. Lyell 52

Mathematics and astronomy


Language(s): Latin

1. (fol. 1r)
‘Introductorius qui et pulveris dicitur in Mathematicam’
Rubric: Incipit introductorius liber qui et pulveris dicitur in mathematicam disciplinam
Incipit: Si quis in quatuor mathematicis disciplinis exercitandus expeditius … Numeri principium et origo
Explicit: (fol. 18v) omnes ille partes que sunt ab uno in decem.
Final rubric: Explicit de numeris.

Followed by:


Two short pieces:


On Roman minutiae

Incipit: (fol. 18v) Scire autem oportet quod monas in xii dividitur untias
Explicit: leviter poterit invenire
On subtraction
Incipit: (fol. 18v) Si volueris a quolibet numero quaslibet subtrahere partes
Explicit: (fol. 19r) cum sua tertia et quarta sibi addita. Et sic in omnibus.
Final rubric: Explicit
b. (fol. 19v–20r)

Two tables:

Rubric: Multiplicationes astrologice in quibus adduntur nomina fractionum
Rubric: Multiplicationes vulgares in quibus multiplicantur nomina fractionum.

These items are also found in MS. Vat. Reg. Lat. 1285, 14th cent., fol. 14–20v; see a detailed description (with extracts) by E. Narducci, ‘Sur un manuscrit du Vatican du xiv siècle contenant un traité de calcul emprunté à la méthode Gobari. Lettre … à M. Aristide Marre’, Bulletin des sciences mathématiques et astronomiques (ed. by Darboux and others), ser. ii, 7 (1883), pt. i, 247–56. See also G. Eneström in Bibliotheca Mathematica 3 Folge, 9 (1908–9), 2–4, 323–5, who prints further extracts from the Vatican MS. and says that the treatise (without items a and b) is an abbreviated version of the Liber algorismi de pratica arismetrice which begins ‘Quisquis in quatuor matheseos disciplinis’ ed. B. Boncompagni, Trattati d’aritmetica 2, Rome, 1857, pp. 25–93 and attributed by him on the basis of Paris B.N. lat. 7359 to Johannes Hispalensis. There is an incomplete copy of the Liber algorismi beg. ‘⟨S⟩i quis in quatuor’ instead of Quisquis, ends ‘pro lx pones unum in superiori differentia et’ (equivalent of our MS. fol. iiv 1. 23), in MS. Selden Sup. 26, 13th cent., fol. 17–22v.

Fol. 20v is blank.

2. (fol. 21r)
Liber ysagogarum Alchorismi
Rubric: In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti. Incipit liber ysagogarum Alchoarismi ad totum qua⟨drivi⟩um
Incipit: Quoniam de quarta introducendis matheseos.

Five books only, the last ‘de temporibus et motibus’

Explicit: (fol. 34r) Motus itaque decimi in spatio 24 horarum mira celeritate finitur ut patet. Deo gratias et beate Marie virgini.

A version of Al-Khwarizmi’s Algebra, possibly by Adelard of Bath; see eTK 1271B, . F. J. Carmody, Arabic Astronomical and Astrological Sciences in Translation, 1956, p. 48 (4. 2c) attributes it to John of Seville. The first three books are pr. M. Curtze, ‘Über eine Algorismus-schrift der xii Jh.’, Abhandlungen zur Gesch. der Mathematik 8 (1898), 17–27.

Fol. 34v is blank.

3. (fol. 35r)
‘Algorismus de integris abbreviatus’
Rubric: Algorismus de integris abbreviatus
Incipit: Cum hec scientia de numeris que algorissmus ab inventore ut [sic for vel] ab algo quod est inductio et rismos
Explicit: (fol. 41v) sub loco millenarii. Hec dicta de Algorismo ad presens sufficiant.
eTK 0301H cite three other MSS. It is also in MS. Auct. E. 5. 23, 13th cent., fol. 212v–214v. It is a slightly expanded version of a Tractatus de Algorismo in MS. Bodl. 679, 13th cent., fol. 5v–56, which has the same incipit, but lacks the last chapter. These versions are closely related in content, and often in wording, to the Algorismus of Johannes de Sacrobosco, ed. M. Curtze, Petri Philomem de Dacia in Algorismum Vulgarem Johannis de Sacrobosco Commentarius …, Copenhagen, 1897, pp. 1–19.

On fol. 38–38v at the end of the chapter on multiplication, our MS. contains a passage:

Incipit: Sciendum quod de multiplicatione

Followed by verses (23 lines)

Incipit: Si digitum digito debes numerare videto.

These are not in MS. Auct. F. 5. 23.

4. (fol. 42r)
⟨Liber restauracionis⟩
Rubric: Liber qui secundum Arabes vocatur algebra et almucabala

An algebra adapted from Al-Khwarizmi.

Incipit: Unitas est principium numeri. Numerus enim est collectio unitatum
Explicit: (fol. 49v) ex predictis regulis inveniatur solutio.
Final rubric: Explicit.

Pr. B. Boncompagni, ‘Della vita e delle opere di Gherardo Cremonese’, Atti Acc. Nuovi Lincei 4 (1851), 28–51, from MS. Vat. Lat. 4606, which has the above title and in which it is called a translation by Gerard of Cremona from the Arabic. It is almost certainly not by Gerard; see A. Bjömbo, ‘Gerhard von Cremona’s Übersetzung von Alkwarizmi’s Algebra und von Euklid’s Elementen’, Bibl. Mathematica 3 Folge, 6 (1905), 239–48. Carmody, op. cit., p. 47 (4. 2b), suggests William de Lunis as a possible author. See also W. Kaunzner in Östernr. Akad. de Wiss., Math.-Naturwiss. Kl. Denkschriften 116, 5, Vienna, 1975, pp. 5–12 and Plate of fols. 45, 46.

5. (fol. 50r)
⟨Tabulas Humeniz philosophi summi Egiptiorum⟩
Rubric: Tabule locorum Saturni secundum Eumenium magistrum filie regis Ptolomei regis quas Azarchellus mutavit de annis egyptiorum ad annos Alexandri magni

Tables from the Latin translation (probably by Johannes de Pavia), of Arzachel’s Almanac, known as the Tables of Humeniz. The explanatory canons are omitted here. Our MS. contains:


Tables of the planets:

(i). (fol. 50–52v)
Rubric: Tabula Saturni

Tab. 26–31 in edition of the tables from the Arabic text by J. Millas Vallicrosa, Estudios sobre Azarquiel, Madrid-Granada, 1943–50, pp. 158–234 (henceforth cited as M. V.); see also his plate vi, facing p. 385.

(ii). (fol. 53–7)
Rubric: Tabula Iovis
M. V. tab. 32–9;
(iii). (fol. 57v–65)
Rubric: Tabula Martis

M. V. tab. 40–53.

(iv). (fol. 65v–66)
Rubric: Tabula Veneris

M. V. tab. 54–5.

(v). (fol. 66v–70v)
Rubric: Tabula Mercurii

M. V. tab. 56–63. The months in the tables go from September–August, and sometimes the Egyptian names are also given (fol. 50, 53, 65v–66).

b. (fol. 71–72v)
Sun tables, one year on each leaf, with no captions, and in the wrong order; those for the third and fourth years precede the first and second

M. V. tab. 11–14; 7–10. In the last table the headings have not been filled in. For the Latin version of the Almanac see M. V., pp. 151–2, 378–92; eTK 1394G, 1397H, ; E. Zinner, Verzeichn, astron. Hss. des deutschen Kulturgebietes, Munich, 1925, nos. 635–40. Zinner’s 637 is our MS., then MS. Admont 4º 612 (he quotes the old foliation: 85–107).

The following items were added later to this part in a different hand or hands:

a. (fol. 73–74v)
Campanus of Novara

Four tables headed:

Rubric: Almanac coniunctionum mediarum solis et lune ad primum cyclum decemnovenalem post meridiem No varie.

These tables are also found, following Campanus’ Computus Maior, in MS. Canon. Misc. 561, 15th cent., fol. 38–38v and in MS. Digby 215, 15th cent., fol. 93–4, where they are accompanied by an explanatory text.

b. (fol. 75–75v)
Rubric: Tabule ad inveniendum coniunctionem solis et lune secundum hebreos

8 tables, 12–13 × 4 mm. , showing the ‘dies’, ‘ferie’, ‘hore’, and ‘puncta’ of the conjunctions in the months, January–December, of the years 1280–7.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: i+76 leaves (fol. i, 76 are flyleaves), modern foliation, a slightly earlier foliation goes from [36] to 110.


1⁸–2⁸, 3⁴, 4⁸, 5⁶, 6⁸ (8 canc.), 7⁸–9⁸, 1012(?) (4–5 canc.); the quires are numbered 1–10 at the beginning of the quire.
Secundo Folio: dextra parte


fol. 1–20; 42–49v: 230–3 × 165 mm. ( 150–3 × 88 mm. ): 28 long lines ruled with a hard point; catchwords in first part: red headings in first part;

fol. 21–34: 232 × 160 mm. ( 193 × 150 mm. ): 31 long lines ruled with a hard point: catchword;

fol. 35–41v: 233 × 165 mm. ( 155 × 90 mm. ): 32 long lines;

fol. 50–72v: 232 × 160–5 mm. (tables 155 × 110 mm. )


Written in Italy in the 14th cent, in four hands.

fol. 1–20; 42–49v; tables on fol. 73r–75v;

fol. 21–34;

fol. 35–41v;

fol. 50–72v.

There are some later marginal corrections and additions in item 3. The notes on the use of the tables on fol. 50, 53, and the dates inserted on fol. 51v, 52, 54v, 55v, are probably in the hand of Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa; see A. Krchfiâk, ‘Neue Handscriften in London und Oxford. Reisebericht’, Mitteilungen und Forschungsbeiträge der Cusanus-Gesellschaft 3 (1963), 104–5.


Initials in fol. 1–20, 42–49v partly red and green, in the rest red and blue.


Portions of the medieval boards preserved. A 14th-cent. list of contents inside the upper board.

Bound in modern wooden boards, backed with modern pale-brown goatskin.


Origin: 14th century ; Italian

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly MS. 612 in the library of Admont (paper label on front board); it is listed in the Admont catalogue of 1380: ‘Item introductorius liber in mathematicam, incipit ‘Si quis’; in eodem liber ysagogarum algorismi et algorismus de integris et tabule planetarum’; see G. Möser-Mersky, Mittelatt. Bibl.kat. Österreichs in, 1961, pp. 61 1. 30–2.

Sold by Admont in or after 1934 to L. and A. Brecher of Brünn (Möser-Mersky, op. cit., p. 9).

Bought by Lyell in January 1941 from Davis and Orioli; see their Cat. 78 (1937), no. 5.

James P. R. Lyell, 1871–1948

Chosen as one of the hundred manuscripts bequeathed to the Bodleian by Lyell in 1948.

MS. Lyell 52 - parchment endleaves


Language(s): Latin

Commentary on Decretals

Parts of a leaf from a 13th-cent. commentary on the Decretals (Lib. v. tit. xviii cap. 3–4; tit. xix cap. 1–16).

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment


Origin: 13th century

Additional Information

Record Sources

Description adapted from A. de la Mare, Catalogue of the Medieval Manuscripts Bequeathed to the Bodleian Library Oxford by James P. R. Lyell (1971); with additions by Andrew Dunning.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)


Last Substantive Revision

2020-12-16: Andrew Dunning Revised from description by Albinia de la Mare.