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Oxford, Bodleian Library MS e Museo 35

Described by: Ryan Perry
Source: microfilm analysis
Revision Date: June 1st, 2010


Nicholas Love, Mirror of the Blessed Life, c. 1410-25.

Condition of the MS

Some of the decorative initials at the beginning of chapters have been roughly removed with the parallel text; there are some localised examples of water damage, smudging and staining.

Number of Items

3 (although only items 1 and 3 were 'commisions' by the patron of the book); there are a number of other added sub items.

Title(s) of Pseudo-Bonaventuran Text(s)

Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ





Secundo Folio




Languages of the MS

The main items are in English though so,e Latin items can be found in the flyleaves.

Detailed Description of Contents

    1. Mirror of the Blessed Life, pp. 1-218

    2. English prayer, beginning, 'Ihu my god and my maker I be com þi creature as to þe þt is my cretourur and my maker', ends, 'blysee & lowyng; pp. 219-20. This appears to be a 'filler text' that has been subseqently added in the blank space between items 1 and 3.

    3. A Mirror to Lewed Men and Women, begins imperfectly, 'litel or none deuocion';  IPMEP 209; Manual 7.XX.8.; pp. 221-467.

    There are a number of texts on the front flyleaves which are probably contemporary with the accomplished ink drawing of a crucifix on p. vi, which is dated 1475*:
  • Latin goliardic poem, beginning, ‘Cur mundus militat’, explicit’, ‘Explicit quod Barnardus [?] insecurus [?]’, p. v.
  • Latin poem on the deaths of the Apostles, begins, ‘In cruce Petrus obit’, p v.
  • English verse on the canonical hours of St. George’, begins, ‘Saynt George of kyngryk of Capidous so clere’, IMEV 2902; ed. K. Hammerle, "Verstreute me und frühne Lyrik," Archiv 166 (1935), pp. 200-2; p. vii.
  • A part of a large leaf containing text from a treatise on civil law (?) forms a protective bifolium before the Mirror, pp. xi-xii.

*Due to the poor quality of the film images for the flyleaves I am partially dependant on the descriptions of the MS in the Summary Catalogue for these entries

Estimated Date of Production

Using the evidence of the decoration in the book Kathleen Scott dates the book to c. 1420 ('Illustration', p. 68)

Writing Support




vii (v-vii original or early) + pp. 470; paginated in pen (though the page numbers are only marked on the recto sides).

Dimensions of Page and Writing Space


  • Leaf size: 306-11 x 210-15
  • Writing Space: 207-11 X 135-9*

*Dimensions kindly checked by Eva Oledzka from the Special Collections in the Bodleian Library.



The entire volume appears to have been constructed of quires of 8; the quire signatures in the booklet containing the Mirror to Lewed Men and Women begin at 'a', and the first leaf of this quire is missing.


1 column, 36 lines (in both items 1 and 3); no signs of pricking and lines not visible from film (though the quires were certainly ruled).

Rubrication/ Ordinatio

  • Initials: New chapters marked by very high quality 6-line painted initials with a variety of spray decorations; the quality of the initials in the first gatherings, whilst high, does not appear to be in the same style or artistic quality of those which begin on p. 27 (chapter 7); the high-quality initrials bearing a similar range of motifs continue in the Mirror to Lewed Men and Women, and may well be by the same artist or 'shop'.
  • Titles, Headings, Rubrics: Running headers are applied somewhat sporadically; titles and chapter numbers in text block, red ink with paraphs (alternating gold and blue) set in pen-work decoration; these paraphs also mark textual divisions; direct citations from biblical characters etc underlined in red; sidenotes underlined in red.
  • Other:


There are 7 borders in the book (beginning of proheme, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday); the two roundels at the bottom of the opening full bar border bear the letters M and N, which in combination with the arms in the shields Neville and Beaufort (the first erased but which has been examined under ultra-violet), links the book to Margaret Neville (d. c. 1426), wife of Thomas Beaufort. Both the Mirror of the Blessed Life and Mirror to Lewed Men and Women have beautifully executed spray initials at the beginning of new chapters. Click link for an image from p. 80, courtesy of the Bodleian Library.

The art-work in the manuscript has been linked to the output of an artist of the Bedford Hours (BL MS 42131). The same artist was involved in the production of the Admiralty Ordinances (BL Cotton Vespasian B.  xxii) for Thomas Beaufort, the husband of Margaret Neville. The artist was invoved in the production of a number of other books for patrons of magnate rank, including Huntington Library, HM 19913, BL Arundel MS 38 and BL MS Harley 4866 (Hoccleve, Regiment) BL MS Stowe 16 (Book of Hours), Rennes, Bibliotheque Municipale, MS 22 and Bodleian Library MS Don.d.85 (Psalter) and Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, MS anglais 25, Guy de Chauliac Cyrurgie.


Number of Scribal Hands

A:  pp. xii-218 (item 1).

B: pp. 219-20 (item 2).

C: pp. 221-437 (item 3).

D: pp. 438-467 (item 3).


Style of Hands

A: Good quality Anglicana with influence of Secretary forms; similar to scripts being developed by metropolitan scribes such as the so-called Selden scribe (see Manchester, John Rylands Library MS 98).

B: uncalligraphic Anglicana.

C: -

D: -


Estimated Date of Hands

A: c. late 1st quarter C15.

B: C15

C: c. late 1st quarter C15.

D: c. late 1st quarter C15.


Scribal Annotation


Notable Dialect Features

The dialect has been profiled to Warwickshire: Sargent writes, 'according to a characterization by Margaret Laing, the profile of this manuscript fits Warwickshire generally, and probably the northeast quadrant of the county in particular' (p. 107). My examination of the forms suggests that the deialect might be better placed slightly to the south and west, somewhere in the area where Warkwickshire meets Worcstershire and Gloucstershire. The scribes of item 3 are describe in LALME as both being of NW Lincs, although there is not a full linguistic profile for either hand (see LALME, I, p. 148).


Sample of Forms from Scribe A:

after: after, aftir, aftur

again: a3eyn

against: a3eynus

any: any

are: bene, ben

buried: biried(e)

burning: brennynge)

busy: bisy, besi

but: bot(e)

called: cleped, clepide

church: chirche

eyes: eyene

first: first(e)

flesh: flesh, flessh

gave: 3af

give: 3iue

given: 3iuen

her: hire, here

high: hie

many: many

much: miche, moche

said: seyde, seide

shall: shal, shole, shul

she: she

sister: sistere

sisters: sistres

should: shuld, sholde


such: sech

them: hem

then: þan, þanne, þen

these: þese

they: þei

think: þenke

together: to gedire

two: tweyn, tuen

when: when, whan, whon (very rare)

where: wher(e)

which: whech, which


will (vb): wole

work (n): werke

work (vb): werche

yet: 3it


Sample of Forms from Scribe B:

after: affter

again: agayne

but: bote

gave: gaffe

given: gyffyn

holy: holy

life: lyffe

love: luff

only: only

said: sayd(e)

should: suld

soul: saule

strenth: strenght, strenghe

when: qwen

where: qware

which: qwylke

with: qwith

Localisable on Google Earth
(click markers to view sample dialect forms)

Annotation and Marginalia




Names recorded, signatures, ex libris marks

The book was probably produced for the household of Margaret Neville and Thomas Beaufort (View the illustration [opens new window]).


The dialectal location of the scribal hands in this manuscript is very interesting in respect of imagining how the book came to be constructed. Scribe A, whose letter forms look like those adopted by metropolitan scribes working on high status books might well have copied his text literatim, thus revealing the forms in his exemplar. It is interesting that these dialectal forms are not far removed from other early α books, and it may be that copies such as CUL Add. MSS 6686, 6578, and BL MS Add. 19901 preserve forms that are close to Love's own dialect, or at least those of an early copying centre for the α text.

References and Other Resources

Kathleen L. Scott, 'The Illustration and Decoration of Manuscripts of Nicholas Love's Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ', Nicholas Love at Waseda (Cambridge: Brewer, 1997), pp. 61-86.

_ _ _, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 1390-1490, 2 vols (London: Harvey Miller, 1996).

Kantik Ghosh, 'Manuscripts of Nicholas Love's The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ and Wycliffite Notions of 'Authority' ', in Prestige, authority and power in late medieval manuscripts and texts, ed. Felicity Riddy (York Manuscripts Conferences: Proceedings Series, IV), Woodbridge, etc.: York Medieval Press, 2000, pp. 17-34 (p. 28).

Mary C. Erler, 'Devotional literature', in The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, vol. III, 1400-1557, eds. Lotte Hellinga & J. B. Trapp, Cambridge 1999, pp. 495-525 (p. 517).

Anne M. Dutton, 'Passing the book: testamentary transmission of religious literature to and by women in England 1350-1500', Women, the Book and the Ungodly: Selected Proceedings of the St Hilda's Conference, 1993, Vol. 1 (eds. Lesley Smith & Jane H. M. Taylor), Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1995, pp. 41-54, at p. 53

George S. Keiser, 'Ordinatio in the manuscripts of John Lydgate's Lyf of Our Lady: its value for the reader, its challenge for the modern editor', in Medieval literature: texts and interpretation, ed. Tim William Machan (Binghampton, NY: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1991), pp. 139-157 (p. 153)

Sargent Groupings


Sargent Pages

Plate 4; intro. 53, 88, 90, 97, 105-6, 110-11, 142, 148, 159.

Sargent Number



Please note: Descriptions of Mirror MSS are indebted to: Nicholas Love, The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ: A Full Critical Edition, ed. by Michael G. Sargent (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2005).