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Finding Aids - Papyri, Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library: Medieval Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries

Medieval Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries

Medieval Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries is the online catalogue of western medieval manuscripts in the Bodleian Library and selected college libraries. It contains brief descriptions of every Bodleian manuscript, including links to images of the Summary and Quarto catalogue entries, and full descriptions just under 500 Bodleian and college manuscripts, including most of those acquired by the Bodleian since 1916.

For post-medieval manuscripts, see the online catalogue of manuscripts c.1500 - c. 1900.

Scope and Contents

The catalogue aims to provide a record for every medieval Western manuscript in the Bodleian (including Byzantine manuscripts), and for the Western medieval manuscripts of selected Oxford colleges. Currently the catalogue provides full coverage of Christ Church medieval manuscripts and one sample manuscript from Balliol College.

Included for the Bodleian are manuscripts and papryi from antiquity to c. 1500 written in Latin, Greek, and the Western vernacular languages, including Slavonic and Mesoamerican languages. Criteria for inclusion of college manuscripts differ according to each institution. The Christ Church manuscripts extend to c. 1600 in date and do not include the Greek manuscripts, which will be catalogued separately.

The catalogue does not include most of the Library's collections of charters, deeds, and rolls. Finding aids for these collections are described here.

It includes only a small selection of manuscript fragments found in printed books, and in predominantly post-medieval collections. Cataloguing of these fragments is ongoing.

Detailed descriptions

The catalogue contains detailed descriptions of the following manuscripts or collections:

  • Christ Church. Descriptions previously published in Ralph Hanna and David Rundle, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Western Manuscripts, to c. 1600, in Christ Church, Oxford (Oxford, 2017)
  • Dep. Most of those manuscripts acquired since 1916; descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.
  • MSS. Buchanan. Descriptions previously published in Peter Kidd, Medieval manuscripts from the collection of T. R. Buchanan in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Oxford, 2001).
  • MSS. Bywater. Descriptions by Peter Kidd previously published online on the Library's old catalogue.
  • MSS. Don. Most of those manuscripts acquired since 1916; descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.
  • MSS. Douce. Those manuscripts acquired since 1916; descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.
  • MSS. Dutch. Most of those manuscripts acquired since 1916; descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.
  • MSS. Eng. Most of those manuscripts acquired since 1916; descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.
  • MSS. Finch. Those manuscripts acquired since 1916; descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.
  • MSS. Fr. Most of those manuscripts acquired since 1916; descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.
  • MSS. Germ. Most of those manuscripts acquired since 1916; descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.
  • MSS. Holkham Gr. Fresh cataloguing by Dimitris Skrekas is currently in progress, and the records for this collection are regularly updated.
  • MSS. Holkham misc. Descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.
  • MSS. Ir. Those manuscripts acquired since 1916; descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.
  • MSS. Ital. Most of those manuscripts acquired since 1916; descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.
  • MSS. Kennicott. Those manuscripts acquired since 1916; descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.
  • MSS. Lat. Most of those manuscripts acquired since 1916; descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.
  • MSS. Radcliffe Trust. Most of those manuscripts acquired since 1916; descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.
  • MSS. Top. Most of those manuscripts acquired since 1916; descriptions by library staff, previously unpublished.

Summary descriptions

The remaining manuscripts or collections have summary descriptions. Most of these were originally created by Elizabeth Solopova in the years around 2000 for an earlier cataloguing project, and were revised by Matthew Holford between 2014 and 2017 for the current catalogue.

Almost all the summary descriptions are based on published sources, although a small number include detailed descriptions of decoration taken firsthand from the manuscripts. These descriptions were created by Elizabeth Solopova around 2000.

The summary descriptions typically provide the following information:

  • summary of textual content
  • language(s)
  • date
  • origin (if known)
  • material
  • summary of decoration (if any)

They typically do NOT provide:

  • codicological description (dimensions, collation, watermarks, binding, etc.)
  • provenance history

 

The main published sources used to compile the descriptions were the Quarto and Summary Catalogues, and the catalogues of illuminated manuscripts by Pacht and Alexander (for non-Byzantine manuscripts) and Hutter (for Byzantine manuscripts). A range of repertories and incipitaria were used to improve the identification of texts in some entries. The resulting records therefore sometimes correct, but rarely supersede completely, the descriptions in the Quarto and/or Summary Catalogues. Each record contains images of the relevant pages of the Quarto and Summary catalogues, which should be consulted for fuller information.

Format of entries

Layout of a typical entry in the online catalogue

Layout of a typical entry in the online catalogue

Indexes

The indexes provide searchable and browsable lists of persons, places, organizations and works mentioned in the records. Persons and organizations may be filtered by role, works may be filtered by language and subject, but the subject filter applies only to anonymous works.

(Since many records are summary, the indexes are not exhaustive; in many cases the indexes to our printed catalogues will be fuller.)

Organizations are indexed under places according their location, e.g. "Abingdon, Benedictine abbey".

We have attempted to index all persons, places and organizations mentioned in the records with the exception that auction houses and booksellers are NOT currently indexed.

Links to external resources

Links are provided to the following external resources, if relevant records exist: