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Van der Weyden, Descent from the Cross
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Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 938

Described by: Ryan Perry from examination in the Bodleian Library and microfilm analysis.
Revision Date: June 1st, 2010


Religious manual/ devotional miscellany, 1st-2nd quarter C15.

Condition of the MS

Good condition, albeit with signs of being well read.

Number of Items


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

The Short Rule of the Life of Our Lady


    "Here bigynneþ þe reule of þe lijf of oure lady
    Aboute þe glorious maiden of who
    oure lord ihesu crist toke fleisch and
    blood.` we may biþenke vs of hit lif / Of
    whiche þou schalt wite þt when sche
    was þre 3eer olde", fol. 262r.



Secundo Folio



    "And what maner it was don men may fynde in þe legende of hir Natiuitee.
    Salue regina . Deo gracias", fol. 265r.

Languages of the MS

English. Some items with Latin marginal apparatus.

Detailed Description of Contents

Booklet 1
  • 1. A text of two parts enjoining the reader to keep the law the Old Testament, and to forgive one's neighbours their trespasses, as taught by Christ in the Gospels; section 1 incipit, " Thees ben þe wordis of god in þe olde law"; section 2 incipit, " þees ben þe wordis of crist in þe gospel"; the text contains sidenotes and internal references to Exodus 13, Deuteronomy 26, John 14, Matthew 6, and Mark 11; fol. 1r-v.

  • 2. A Short exposition of the Creed, incipit / beginning, " Here bigynniþ þe bileue whiche is þe ground of al [...] Credo in deus patrem omnipotentem I bileue in god fadir almi3ti"; cf. Bodley MS 789; fols 1v-2r.

  • 3. Treatise on the Ten commandments, incipit, " Here bigynniþ þe ten commandment3 which almi3ti god wrote wiþ his finger in two tablis of ston [...] þis is þe firste heeste~~~"; ends, "And so euery man þt kepiþ þees ten heestis of god þe whiche ben contened in loue to god & þi nei3bore .` leuiþ & fleiþ þe seuen deedly synnes", fols 2r-4r.

  • 4. Treatment of the seven deadly sins, incipit, " here bigynnen þe seuen deedly synnes .`"; begins, " Pride . Envie . Wraþþe . ben synnes of þe fend"; ends, "& cuffriþ it to haue þe maistry ouer his spirit leding it in wille or werk to do þe synne of lechery"; fols 4r-5v.

  • 5. List of the seven virtues against the deadly sins they combat, incipit, "Þees ben þe vertues a3ens þe seuen deedli synnes"; fol. 5v.

  • 6. Incipit, " here bigynnen þe seuen werkis of bodili mercy"; begins, "Crist schal seie at þe day of dome . to hem þat schule be sauid I hungrid : and 3e fedden me in my membris"; ends, "ffor alle cristen men þat wolen come to blisse ; bihouen to kepe þis lawe of loue"; fols 5v-6r.

  • 7. Incipit, "Here bigynnen þe seuen werkis of gostli mercy Teche Counseil Chastase Comfort . For3iue . Suffre . and Preie //"; begins, "Teche þou gladly þe good þat þou canst"; ends, "[...] as crist did & seynt steuen and reson nediþ þerto"; fol. 6r-v.

  • 8. Incipit, "Þees ben þe seuene 3iftes of þe holy gost"; begins, "Wisdom Undurstonding Counseil . Strenkþe Kunnyng Pite . & Drede of þe lord //"; begins, "Wisdom þat is be gostly wiis in sauyng þi soule"; ends, "[...] þi lord god in any þing wiþouten wanhope"; fols 6v-7r.

  • 9. Incipit, "Here bigynnen vii blessid vertues þt cristis spouse þat is mannes soule schulde be [g]ourned wiþ "; begins, "Temperance or mesure"; ends, "[...] loue god ouer al þing and þi nei3bour as þiself", fol. 7r-v.

  • 10. Incipit, "Here bigynnen fiue bodily wittis Heryng . Seyng . Smelling Tasting and Touching"; begins, "Heryng . þat is here þou gladly al goodnes"; ends, "þt is defendid him bi goddis lawe & reson"; fols 7v-8r.

  • 11. Incipit, "Þees be fiue gostli wittis Wille Mynde Undurstonding Ymaginacion & Reson"; begins, "Wille . þu goodnes . and wille euere redy to worschip god in þou3t word & dede wiþouten werynesse"; ends, "[...] bi cristis lawe and his teching wiþouten blyndenesse"; fol. 8r-v.

  • 12. Incipit, "Þees ben þe . xvi . condicions of charite ; begins, "Seynt poule seiþ . If I speke wiþ tungis of men & of angels and haue not charite I am maad as a belle sownyng þt distrieþ hir self"; ends, "[...] þat oþere as goddis loue failiþ not"; fols 8v-9r.

  • 13. "Þees ben þe seuen sacramentis of holy chirche "; begins, "Also it is to bileue þat þe sacramentis of holy chirche .` ben souerayne medicyns to recounseile to god . soulis forsaking synne & sorwing þerfore"; ends, "In þe name of þe fadir & of þe sone . and of þe holy gost . amen . so be it"; fol. 9r-v.

  • 14. Incipit, "Here bigyneþ þe pater noster; begins, "Pater Noster qui es in celis. Oure fadir þat art in hevenis"; ends, "But deliuer vs fro euyl amen. so be it"; fol. 9v.

  • 15. Incipit, "Here bigynneþ þe Aue marie"; begins, "Aue maria gracia plena . Heil marie ful of grace"; ends, "[...] blessid be þe fruyt of þ i wombe Ihesu sauyour. Amen . so be it"; fols 9v-10r.

  • 16. A text advocating that the readership know holy writ; Incipit, "Foure þingis ben nedeful to euery cristen man & woman to reule hem by"; begins, "Þe first is . þat he mot here þe word of god . and his lawe"; ends, "[...] þe whiche grante vs he of his royal mercy Amen"; Jolliffe I. 9, Manual 7. xx. 147; fol. 10r-v. The text argues for universal transmission of the Gospels (and the side notes reference several passages from the New Testament).

  • 17. 'A schort reule of Lif" (Wycliffite), incipit, "A schort reule of lif for ech man in general and for prestis & lordis & laboreris in special . hou ech schal be sauid in his degre"; begins, "FIrst when þou risist or fulli wakyt þenk on þe goodnes of god"; ends, "[...] for þe fals liuyng of wordly cristen men"; IPMEP 203 (ed. Arnold, SEW, III (1871) pp. 204-8); fols 10v-13r. (Item 12 in Westminster School 3; this is one of the items where the two MSS appear to have a shared exemplar, the others being 29 and 51- see Hanna, Pursuing History, p. 42 ff; the text also occurs in Laud. Misc. 174.)

  • 18. Proverbs of Solomon, incipit, "Here bigynnen summe prouerbis of salamon wt oþere auctoritees of notable materes of holi writt"; begins, "Drede god my sone & þe kyng ; & be þu not mengid wt bacbiters proverb . XXIIIIto"; ends, "scharper arewis of þe my3ti : wiþ toolis wasting . p 119o"; fols 13r-16r.

  • 19. "Here bigynnen þe comaundementis of god schortly declarid"; begins, "Þou schalt worschip no false goddis"; ends, "men þat in herte haue lust & likyng in siche wrongful coueting/ þus enden þees comaundmentis"; fols 16r-17v.

  • 20. Further exempla/proverbs in the style of item 18, (no incipit) begins, "Zacharie þe prophete sai3 a book fleying in þe eir . þat was twenty cubitis of lengþe . and ten of brede"; ends, "kepe þe comaundementis . Mt 14"; fols 17v-22v.

  • 21. "Thees wordis god seiþ . in. þe . 26 chapitre of leuitici"; begins, "Ill 3e walken in myn heestis & kepiþ my comaundementis fulfille hem"; ends, "And 3e schulen be my peple . þt is keping myn heestis"; fol. 22v-23v.
Booklet 2

  • 22. The Wycliffite exposition of the Pater Noster, no incipit, begins, "Siþ þe pater noster is þe best preier þat is . for in it mot alle oþere preiers be closid"; ends, "þat we may come to hym in blisse and ioy wiþouten ende. Amen"; IPMEP 604; Manual 2. III. 14 (ed. Arnold, SEW, III (1871) pp. 98-110); fols 24r-35v.

  • 23. Exposition of the Ave Maria, no incipit (although some blank lines may indicate the incipit has been left unfilled), begins, "Heyl marie ful of grace . þe lord is wt þee blessid be þou among wymmen. And blessid be þi womb. Ihc Amen so be it"; ends, "[...] in cristis ri3twisnesse . & maries sadnesse in bileue and mekenesse to make ende in perfite charite. Amen"; fols 35v-39v. Manual 2. III. 58; (ed. in Matthew, English Works of Wyclif, EETS 74 (1880, 1902), pp. 203-8); In its mention of the pope's pardon, this text partly parallels the supposedly Wycliffite exposition of the Ave in Bodley 789 (Manual 2. III. 15).

  • 24. The Creed from the Pore Caitif, no incipit ( though a space was left by the scribe and a contemporary hand [poss. the scribe] has written his/her own instructions in a small hand in this space and in the inner-margin : "Here begynneþ þe Crede þt is þe begynninge of þe pore caytyf & be cause þt þe materes of þe forseyd book pore caytiif sto[n]dyn not here in ordre y haue markyd þe materes be numbrarye . oon . ij . iij & to forþ"); begins, "The ground of al goodnes is stidfast seiþ eiþer bileue"; ends, "þilke liif he to vs graunte: þat bou3t vs wt herte blood. Amen. Here endiþ þe crede"; Jolliffe B; fols 39v-50r.

  • 25. Tract attributed to Wyclif, " Þre þingis distrien þis world . fals confessours . fals men of lawe . & fals marchant3"; begins, "Fals confessours ben cause of al 3e synne þat regneþ among clerkis . among lordis & among comunes"; ends, "And so þees þre fals men distrien þis world boþe in soule and wordly goodis"; IPMEP 170; Manual 2. III. 83, this MS not listed (ed. F.D. Matthew, The English works of Wyclif, EETS 74, pp. 181-6); fols 50r-56r.

  • 26. Incipit, " Here bigynnen þe xvi condicions of charite"; begins, "POule spekiþ of charite & seiþ on þis wise"; ends, "[...] he mi3t li3tly come to heuene . and wite went amys ~~~Explicit~"; Jolliffe G. 4 (e); Matthew, English Works, chapter 6 "Of Faith, Hope and Charity" (the text accords almost verbatim with Matthew's text once the properties of charity are introduced, though the text has been furnished here with an introductory passage not found in Matthew's edition); fols 56r-58r.

  • 27. Incipit, "Þou most loue god ouer alle þingis .' and þi nei3bour as þi self"; begins, "Charite schal euer more laste/ ffor when all oþere þinges schal passe .` charite schal laste"; ends, "And 3if he be vkunnynge . hym oweþ for to lerne goddis lawe~ Explicit~"; Jolliffe G. 25; fols 58r-59v.

  • 28. Short treatise on the Ten Commandments, incipit, "Kepe þis reule þt sueþ .` & þu schalt be gooddis child"; begins, "Salamon seiþ In alle þi werkis þenke on þi ende"; ends, "And for brekyng of þis heest : god sente þicke palpable derknessis ~~~Explicit"; fols 60r-62r. The item has had running headers added by a different, C15 hand: " the plags of egipt"- the Ten Commandments are paired with the Plagues of Egypt in the text (as occurs in St. Augustine and the Speculum Theologicae).

  • 29. Wycliffite tract on wedlock, incipit, "Of weddid men & wemmen & of her children"; begins, "Oure lord god almi3ty spekiþ in his lawe of two matermoynes or wedlokis"; ends, "And so euere haue her verry spouse ihesu crist in blisse of heuene wiþouten ende. Amen"; IPMEP 521; Manual 2. III. 26 (Click link for TEAMS edition; ed. from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS. 296 in Arnold, SEW III (1871) pp. 188-201); fols 62r-73v. Parts of this text have been censored, see Annotation. (Item 11 in Westminster School 3; this is one of the items where the two MSS appear to have a shared exemplar, the others being 17 and 51- see Hanna, Pursuing History, p. 42 ff).

  • 30. Long exposition of the Seven Deadly Sins, incipit, "Here bygynnen þe seuene deedly synnes"; begins, "Siþ bileue techiþ vs þat eueryche yuel is eiþer synne or comeþ of synne"; ends, "And faile not in þis trewe seruice . for scharp vengeaunce takiþ god for siche~~Expliciunt septem mortalia peccata"; (ed. from Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 647 in Arnold, SEW III (1871) pp. 188-201; the text is also found in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 273 and Trinity College Dublin MS C . v. 6.) fols 73v-117r. This exposition picks up on issues associated with Wycliffism. See, for instance, the exposition of 'Ire', fols 86r-v, where the idea of charity as a "cloþ þat partiþ þat oon chirche"; predestination and 'prescience' of God are mentioned as 'glues' that 'ioynen þees two bodyes". The lawfulness of the pope's capacity to call for war is also forcefully refuted in discussion of the same deadly sin. And yet, there are a number of features of the text that appear to be non-Wycliffite.

  • 31. Treatise on the Ten 'Heestis' from the Pore Caitif; no incipit, other than the information supplied by the hand who promises to number the parts of the Pore Caitif at the beginning of item 24: "ijo . þis is þe secunde mater of þe pore caytif"; begins, "A man axid crist what he schulde do .` to haue þe luf þat euere schal laste and crist seide to hym a3en . If þou wost entre in to euerlasting lif: kepe þu þe comaundmentis"; ends, "[...] grante vs ihesu crist . þat liueþ and regneþ wt outen ende . merciful god. Amen .`~/~", fols 117v-153v.

  • 32. Treatise on the Pater Noster from the Pore Caitif; marginal heading by the hand who promises to number the parts of the Pore Caitif at the beginning of item 24: "þis is þe iij mater of þe pore caitif . iij ."; incipit, "Þis is þe prolog on þe pater noster~"; begins, "Crist seiþ who þat louiþ him schal kepe his heestis"; ends, "[...] & to come to euerlasting rest of blis / þidur he vs bringe : þt bou3t man wt his herte blood . merciful god . Amen", fols 153v-166v.

  • 33. 'Counceil of crist' from the Pore Caitif; marginal heading by the hand who promises to number the parts of the Pore Caitif at the beginning of item 24: "þis is þe iiij mater of þe pore caitif . iiij ."; begins, "Crist not compelling but frely counceilling ech man to perfit lijf"; ends, "[...] fro þe chast & euerlasting loue of Ihesu crist to make his loue failing þingis ; & vnclenes of þis world", fols 167r-169v.

  • 34. 'On Virtuous Patience' from the Pore Caitif; marginal heading by the hand who promises to number the parts of the Pore Caitif at the beginning of item 24: "þis is þe v mater of þe pore caitif . V ."; incipit, " Of vertuous paciens; begins, "Bvt who þt is verily fed wiþ þilk bred þt cam doun fro heuene"; ends, "Al þis sentence . seiþ a seint in his book", fols 169v-171v.

  • 35. Treatise on temptation from the Pore Caitif; marginal heading by the hand who promises to number the parts of the Pore Caitif at the beginning of item 24: "þis is þe vi mater of þe pore caityf . VI ."; incipit, " Of temptacion.`; begins, "When þou art temptid eiþer troublid : haue mynde of þilk remedie þt oure sauyour seþ in þe gospell"; ends, "& entriþ vp bi odour of swetnes: in þe presence of god", fols 169v-171v.

  • 36. 'Chartre of heuene' (as titled in running headers, and by the scribe in the margin beside the opening of the text), from the Pore Caitif; marginal heading by the hand who promises to number the parts of the Pore Caitif at the beginning of item 24: "þis is þe vii mater of þe pore caytyf . VIJ ."; begins, "Euery wise man þat cleyueþ his eritage eþer askiþ greet pardon . kepiþ bisily and haþ ofte in mynde þe charter of his chalenge"; ends, "al þis sentence seiþ seint Austin in his book to þe erl", fols 172v-178r. (Item 7 in Westminster School MS 3, although Hanna argues that the texts are genetically unrelated- see Pursuing History, pp. 289-90, n. 12).

  • 37. From the Pore Caitif; marginal heading by the hand who promises to number the parts of the Pore Caitif at the beginning of item 24: "þis is þe viij mater of þe pore caytyf . VIIJ ."; incipit, " Hors eþer armer of heuene"; begins, "Almy3ti god seiþ bi holi Iob . þt al mannes lijf vp on erþe is fi3ting"; ends, "I clensiþ þe soule fro filþe of synne & makiþ it to se god & ofte to fle to heuene bi desire : hoping to duelle þere world wt outen ende", fols 178r-184v.

  • 38. On the love of Christ from the Pore Caitif; marginal heading by the hand who promises to number the parts of the Pore Caitif at the beginning of item 24: "þis is þe IX mater of þe pore caityf . IX ."; incipit, " Þe loue of Ihesu"; begins, "Who so þat euer þu be þt araiest þee for loue of god"; ends, "þerfor blessid be þe name of Ihesu in to worldis of worldis amen", fols 184v-187r.

  • 39. 'Desire of Jesus' from the Pore Caitif; marginal heading by the hand who promises to number the parts of the Pore Caitif at the beginning of item 24: "þis is þe X mater of þe pore caitif . X ."; incipit, " Desire of Ihesu; begins, "Oonli lord be to me teeris as looues bi day & ny3t"; ends, "[...] he schal so schyne in vertues : þ< no part of hym be derk [&] vicis", fols 187v-190v.

  • 40. Tract on meekness from the Pore Caitif; marginal heading by the hand who promises to number the parts of the Pore Caitif at the beginning of item 24: "þis is þe XI mater of þe pore caityf . XI ."; incipit, " Of Verry Mekenes.`"; begins, "To any degre of verri loue of ihesu may no soule ateyne . but if he be verrili meke"; ends, "þt þe vertu of crist duelle in him", fols 190v-192v.

  • 41. Tract on Will from the Pore Caitif; marginal heading by the hand who promises to number the parts of the Pore Caitif at the beginning of item 24: "þis is þe XIJ mater of þe pore caitif . XIJ ."; incipit, " Þe effect of wille; begins, "Euery dede preisable eþer repreuable . of mannes wille"; ends, "[...] & a3en clepid fro her yuelis", fols 192v-194r.

  • 42. Treatise on the Active and Contemplative Lives from the Pore Caitif; marginal heading by the hand who promises to number the parts of the Pore Caitif at the beginning of item 24: "þis is þe XIIJ mater of þe pore caytyf . XIIJ ."; incipit, " Of actif lijf and contemplatif; begins, "Crist loued myche marie & martha hir sister as þe gospel telliþ"; ends, "[...] wt bemes of his heuenli grace . blessid be oure lord in to worldis of worldis. Amen", fols 194r-196r.

  • Booklet 3 (see collation)

  • 43. 'Þe tretys of virginite' (title from running headers), from the Pore Caitif; marginal heading by the hand who promises to number the parts of the Pore Caitif at the beginning of item 24: "þis prolog wt V chapters of virginite folwynge is þe xiiij mater & þe last of þe pore caitif . XIIIJ ."; begins, "I write þis tretijs in fiue schorte chapiters to hem þat wolen liue chaast: in token of the fiue most scharp stones in whiche in figure kyng daviþ chees out of þe rennyng ryuer"; ends, "þt we mon regne wt þee in endeles blisse merciful lord Ihesu . Amen"; the numberer of the sections from the Pore Caitif adds in the margin, "Here endiþ þe mater of þe pore caytyf whic is a book so clepid"; fols 196r-209r. (Item 14 in Westminster School MS 3, although Hanna argues that the texts are genetically unrelated- see Pursuing History, pp. 289-90, n. 12).

  • 44. Richard Rolle, Form of Living; incipit, " Here bigynneþ a tretys which is clepid þe pricke of loue . after Richard hampol heremyte.` treting of . iij . degrees of loue.`"; begins, "In ilka synful man or woman [...]"; ends, "[...] þe grace of Ihesu crist be wt þee and kepe þee"; IPMEP 351; fols 209v-236v.

  • 45. Incipit, "Þis tretys techiþ hou men þat ben in heele schulde visite seeke men.`"; begins, "My dere sone or dou3ter in god"; ends, "Receiue it and help it for in þi merciful hondis I putte it. Amen"; IPMEP 460; Jolliffe L. 5 (b), N. 9 (b) (ed. in Horstmann, YW, II, pp. 449-53 [Univ. Coll. MS 97]); fols 236v-243v. (Item 6 in Westminster School 3; Hanna suggests a connection between the two copies, yet argues, "Bodley does not clearly reflect the same source"- see Pursuing History, p. 43).

  • 46. Incipit, "A schort declaracion of worching of þe fiue inward wittis of a mannis soule"; begins, "Alle þe my3tis of a mannes soule ben noumbred in fiue"; ends, "Ihesu amende it and helpe vs at oure moost nede . for his endeles mercy Amen"; Jolliffe D. 1; fols 243v-246r. (Hanna records that this is an excerpt from the Cloud of Unknowing [chapters 63-6] in The English MSS of Richard Rolle p. 143).

  • 47. Treatise on the five 'wittis of þe fleisch'; no incipit, begins, "Þe fiue wittis of þe fleisch ben þees / seying / veynly/ hering: folily/ smellyng: delicatly / Taasting: glotonously / Touchyng: to lustly"; ends, "And þis [is] wat is sette in þe hynder parte of þe hed"; fols 246v-247r.

  • 48. Incipit, "Þees ben þe seuene deedly synnes"; begins, "Pride . of whom comeþ . Veynglory / Bosting. Ypocrisy / Li3yng / Fforsweryng . Vnbuxomnesse . presumpcion . discord. heresie . Apostasy [...]"; ends, "[...] man falliþ to deeþ of dampnacion"; fol. 247r-v.

  • 49. Incipit, "Þe remedies a3ens þees synnes aforseid"; begins, "Now take we hede what remedy god haþ ordeyned vs a3ens þees forseid myschefis"; ends, "Prey hertely for fend & for foo"; fols 247v-248r.

  • 50. Incipit, "Here bigynneþ a tretys of tribulacion"; begins, "Seynt poule techyng vs to be wilfully pacient seiþ in þis wise / þerfore & we hauyng þe cloude of witnes put on to vs"; ends, "[...] þe whiche grante vs to fulfille þe holy trinite Amen"; Jolliffe J. 13; fols 248r-262r.

  • 51. 'The Short Rule of the Life of Our Lady'; incipit, "Here bigynneþ þe reule of þe lijf of oure lady "; begins, "Aboute þe glorious maiden of who oure lord ihesu crist toke fleisch and blood.` we may biþenke vs of hit lif / Of whiche þou schalt wite þt when sche was þre 3eer olde [...]"; ends, "And what maner it was don men may fynde in þe legende of hir Natiuitee. Salue regina . Deo gracias"; fols 262r-265r. (Item 8 in Westminster School 3; this is one of the items where the two MSS appear to have a shared exemplar, the others being 17 and 29- see Hanna, Pursuing History, p. 42 ff).

  • 52. 'Of Widowhood', unique copy; incipit, "Here men may se hou widewis schulde liue vertuously and fle delicis of þis wrecchid worlde.`"; begins, "Wydewis schulden knowe her cleping and liue vertuousli lijk þerto in holi & deuoute preiers . & abstinence . not oonli abstininyng her silf fro alle lusti & vnmesurable metis & drynkis . but also fro al wordli welþe . and fleschli daliance"; ends, "þt whiche þing . we present mon not 3iue . we absent bryng"; Manual, 7. XX. 151 (ed. Marta P. Harley, 'A Middle English Tract in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 938', Manuscripta 36 (1992), 178-90); fols 265r-267v.

  • 53. Wycliffite(?) treatment of the Seven Sacraments; incipit, "Thees ben þe . vij . sacramentis of holy chirche . bi vertu of whiche alle manere of synnes ben for3iuen . & þei token her vertu of þe glorious passion of oure lord ihesu crist .`"; begins, "BRiþeren & frendis 3e schulen vndurstonde þt þer ben . vij . sacramentis vsid in þe chirche . & briþeren we ben tau3t þt noman haþ power to mynistere hem to þe peple : but if he be a prest . saaf in tyme of nede"; "[...] ben but tokens of þe inner werkis : þat god him silf worchiþ wiþ his hi3e mercy & grace"; fols 267v-270v. Parts of this text have been censored, see Annotation.

  • 54. The Wycliffite Athanasian Creed, incipit, "Here bigynneþ Quicunque vult wiþ þe glose"; begins, "Quicunque vult salvus esse . ante omnia opus est : ut teneat catholicam fidem It is seid comynly þat þere ben þre credis"; ends, "And al if þis crede acorde vnto prestis : neþeles þe hi3er prelatis . as popis cardinals and byschopis . schulden more speciali kunne þis crede . and teche it to men vndir hem : / Explicit"; IPMEP 134 (T. Arnold ed., SEW, III, pp. 71-81); fols 270v-278v. This text is drawn from the commentary on the Canticles in the 'interpolated' version of Rolle's Psalter- cf. Bodleian MS Laud Misc. 174 items 3 (this text) and 2.

  • 55. Translation of 2 Timothy 3:16-17: "Euery scripture of god enspirid is profitable to techen & undurnymen to chastisen & to leren in ri3twisnes : þt þe man of god be perfit enfourmed to euery good werk 2 . thimo . 3o . "; fol. 278v.

  • John 6: 26 from the Latin Vulgate with commentary in Latin, added in a later hand, C15(?); suggestive, perhaps, of a priestly or religious owner; fol. 279r.
  • Comments in English and Latin against worldliness, C15(?), fol.280v.

Estimated Date of Production

1st-2nd quarter C15

Writing Support



Foliated i-vi + 283 fols. This foliation does not take into account that the numbers 3 and 47 are both repeated in the foliation. The original texts end on fol. 278v.

Dimensions of Page and Writing Space

  • Leaf size: 180 x 125 mm approx.

  • Writing Space: 135 x 80 mm approx.


ii (relatively early paper, foliated i-ii) + iv (foliated iii-vi; original flyleaves) + 358 + iv- 1 (the third flyleaf is now a stub and is not foliated; foliated 279-281; original flyleaves- fol. 281 was once a pastedown) + ii (relatively early paper, foliated 282-3).

Hanna argues that the collation reveals that the original book was constituted of 2 booklets including the first 3 quires (quire sigs a-c, ending fol. 23) and from quire 26 (fol. 199, quire d) until the end of the book. An intervening booklet was added to the book, largely comprised of the Pore Caitif. This theory requires that the scribe "had probably to recopy some materials in quires 26 and 27 to effect a clean join"; this argument is necessary because the items from the Pore Caitif continue from the interpolated booklet into quires 26 and 27 until fol. 209r (Pursuing History, p. 290, n. 12). Examining the MS however, there seemed to be no evidence of recopying. It is perhaps the case that quires 'd' and 'e' had been left blank, perhaps in expectation of an exemplar that never appeared, and then, still in a state of incompletion, the scribe decided to graft the two booklets together as he was in the process of copying Pore Caitif. The quires are numbered on the front recto side from the fourth gathering onwards.


Hanna has since ammended this argument in The English MSS of Rolle (see p. 144).


1 column, 26-7 lines; frames are ruled in crayon. The MS is not lineated other than the first folio, but the lines of script are generally evenly-spaced throughout the production.

Rubrication/ Ordinatio

  • Initials: The book opens with a 3-line capital with pen-work flourishes; 2-line initials with pen-work flourishes at the beginning of new items. Single line initials (or a paraph) open the rubricated headings to items.
  • Titles, Headings, Rubrics: Many of the items having running headers which read from the verso to recto sides (eg. fol. 155v: " Of þe pater", fol. 156r: " noster"); incipits in red ink, sometimes accompanied by a paraph. Some passages/ sentences are underlined. Side notes are regularly set against alternating red and blue paraphs, with the note written in text ink, and underlined in red; on the opening leaf side notes in red ink (biblical citations) are in red set against blue paraphs. Alternating paraphs also subdivide the texts. Letters beginning sentences are often touched with a yellow wash. Some punctuation is supplied in red.
  • Other: Catchwords are sometimes enclosed in a simply wrought rectangle. In addition to quire signatures, the quires are numbered on the recto side of the opening leaf.


The opening side of text is fully framed by a simple pen-work border decoration in red and blue coloured inks, with the lineation provided in red ink.

Number of Scribal Hands


Style of Hands

A clear and unfussy cursive Anglicana, with traces of Secretary influence; occasional use of single compartment 'a' though double-compartment predominantly used; descenders of long 's' and 'f' a tapering spike; falling backwards 'e' in terminal and sometimes initial positions; figure-of-eight 'g'; 'w' with loops; has the habit of dotting the i with a small crescent above the letter to the right of the vowel- the effect of this is to make 'in' look like 'ni'; 2-shaped 'r' after rounded shapes like o and b, otherwise short v-shaped 'r'; no feet on minums.

Estimated Date of Hands

1st-2nd quarter C15.

Scribal Annotation

Many of the items have a full marginal apparatus, which often consists of biblical references, or short Latin comments and tags. Most of the corrections in the MS are scribal, but there are examples where a C15 hand provides missing text (eg. fol. 221v).

Notable Dialect Features


No entry in LALME; Hanna rightly highlights that there is some mixing of forms in the MS, perhaps indicating the passivity of the scribe to the forms used in his sources; interestingly there are groupings of texts where the dialect appears to be consistent, and where this is so, they appear to reveal an Eastern Midlands dialect, as found in the writings produced by the scribe in John Colop's 'Common Profit' book, CUL MS Ff. 6. 31 (see LALME I, 67 [Ely]).

    Sample of Forms from throughout the reformist treatment of the Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Sacraments, fols 73v-117r and 267v-270v. Where the form differs between texts, the version from the Seven Sacraments is given in brackets.

    again: a3en

    against: a3ens

    any: any

    are: ben

    before: before

    busy: bisy

    but: but

    church: chirche

    each: eche

    eye/eyes: i3e/i3en

    flesh: flesch, (fleisch)

    give: 3iue,

    given: 3oue

    her: hir

    high: hi3e

    if: 3if, if

    much: myche

    might: my3t

    not: not

    one: oon

    said: seide

    self: silf

    shall: schal, schulen

    she: sche

    should: schulde(n)

    such: siche

    strength: strengþe

    them: hem

    then: þen

    these: þeise, þese

    they: þei

    thousand: þousend

    two: two

    when: when

    would: wolde(n)

    work (n.): werk

    work (vb.): worche

    world: world(e)

    worldly: wordly

    yet: 3it

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


Annotation and Marginalia

  • Item 24: The description of the second of three parts of Holy Church has been removed: the passage describes the second part of Holy Church as being comprised of the souls in purgatory. For discussion of Lollard responses to Purgatory see Hudson, Premature Reformation, pp. 309-10.

  • Item 29, fol. 62v: A reference to the mendicant orders has been scraped out- the line would have read: "and he not so made thes newe religions, it is betre and more to preise than thes newe ordris" (missing text supplied from the TEAMS edition).

  • Item 53: Most of a line of text has been scraped out, relating to the sacrament of the altar. The censorship occurs between, "þt þou receiuist of þe prestis hond" and "of þe bileue þat þou hast in crist"; 'quere de ista materia' is written in the margin by the censor; fol. 269r.

  • Almost all of the treatment of 'presthod' has been voided, with only an introductory sentence, "But of þe ordr of presthod . þat is", and a final word, "bischop", retained; fol. 269v.

  • Fol. 83r: Text scraped out relating in some manner to the various fragmented orders within the Church, as opposed to the simple structure of "prestis and dekens liuyng clerkis lif".

  • Fol. 180r: "of purgatorie &" scraped out.

  • 'quere' has been penned beside many passages by an auditor of the MS (probably the same person who expunged the passages above. A sample of the readings so marked follows:

  • Item 22, fol. 24r: The text questions why the Gospels should not be written in English, describing the contrary view as "eresie and blasphemye"; reprises of the discussion are marked by auditor on fols 24v and 25v.

    Fol. 28r: Beside the notice that "proude clerkis . symonyentis . sellers of pardons and indulgencis . of confession and oþere holy dedis" will not gain the benefit of the Pater Noster until they amend their wicked lives.

    Fol. 31r: The text argues that if the negligent bishops and prelates don't arrange for God's word to be spread; we should pray to Christ 'byschop of oure soule', so that 'trewe prechours' administer to the needs of the people.

    Fol. 34r: Those that oppose the preaching of the Gospels "and pursuen þe trewe tellers þerof" will die in sin.

  • Item 23, fol. 35v: The auditor marks the mention of the pope's pardon (for adding the names "Maria & Ihc" to the words of the Ave Maria as they come to us from the Gospel according to Luke).

  • Item 29, fol. 63v: 'quere' is penned beside the text's articulation that God ordained priests should marry, and that the Religious of both sexes fall into lechery (and to sin "a3ens kynde"), because many sons and daughters of the gentry are forced into a Religious vocation; fol. 63v; further discussion of this issue is marked on fol. 64r.

    Fol. 72r: 'quere' beside criticism of wives who maintain friars instead of giving alms, as they "fynden ypocrites to seie masses[...] in her falsnes to robbe þe pore".


  • Fol. ivr: What appears to be a list of four books or texts "this is left for 4 __(?), with only 2 of the items decipherable, "2 the trobled [mary (?) or mans] medisan (?)"; "3 a postell"; C16?

  • Fol. v: "The Poore caytyffe", C15-C16.

  • On an endleaf (identified by Doyle, and not visible on film): 'deus misereatur nostri et specialiter filij mei Johannis si tibi placeat'- he dates the inscription to the late C15- early C16; see Survey, II, p. 26.

Names recorded, signatures, ex libris marks

  • The MS was formerly S.C. 3054 (as marked on one of the front leaves).
  • Fol. ir: "Arch. B. 65 (3054)". Beneath is "MSS. Bodl. 938".
  • Fol. ivr: 'B. 31' crossed out, and with Arch. B. 65 written beside.

  • Fol. 279: Written in a cryptic cypher (and since partly obliterated), "Per me Geo[r]ge Page fili de Rica[r]di Page"


no userIt is notable that the MS opens and closes with items that strongly advocate the centrality of scriptural knowledge, and is thus suggestive of a pastoral position in line with Wycliffite thinking. A large proportion of the material in this book has previously been understood to be Wycliffite, or associated with his followers. Questionable articulations have regularly been marked and sometimes erased by an auditor, who writes 'quere', or 'quere de ista materia' in the margins beside offending passages. This is written in a pale ink that is distinguishable from the inks used by the scribe. More likely, however, is that the scribe penned the 'Corr__' that is written in the in the gutter at the end of many quires, with the ink sometimes closely matched to that in the catchwords. It is possible that the word is an abbreviation of "Correctio", indicating that the quire has been proof read by the scribe, and necessary corrections have been made.
The scribe is one of those who contributed to what became John Colop's Common-Profit book, CUL MS Ff. VI. 31; intriguingly, the scribe is not responsible for the Lollard associated material in this book, but pens the group of 3 texts by the Cloud author. The language of the scribes in that book is of the East Midlands, in the North East Hertfordshire/ Ely/ Cambridgeshire/ Huntingdonshire region, and although Hanna has questioned the consistency in dialect between texts in Bodley 938, the dialectal profile I have taken suggests that the book contains texts largely sourced, and perhaps written by a scribe, from this area. The co-occurrence of texts between the London codex Westminster School MS 3 and this book, with the possibility that at least one shared exemplar facilitated the making of parts of both of these collections (items 17, 29 and 51) with a further overlap of other items not necessarily drawn from a common exemplar (items 36, 43 and 45) strongly suggests that the scribe was working in London when Bodley 938 was produced. Although the scribe's work was included in Colop's Common-Profit book, his writings need not be exactly contemporary with the testamentary inscription on the codex, and its release as a Common-Profit production.

References and Other Resources

Summary Catalogue of Western MSS in the Bodleian Library, vol. II, pt. 1, pp. 578-9.

M. Teresa Brady, "Lollard interpolations and omissions in manuscripts of The Pore Caitif", Michael Sargent, ed., De cella in Seculum: Religious and Secular Life and Devotion in Late Medieval England (1989), pp. 189-204.

_ _ _, 'The Pore Caitif: Edited from MS. Harley 2336' (Diss., Fordham University, 1954), pp. xxviii-xxx.

Edmund D. Jones, 'The Authenticity of Some English Works Ascribed to Wycliffe', Anglia 30 (1907), pp. 261-8.

Ralph Hanna, 'The Origin and Production of Westminster School MS 3', Pursuing History: Middle English Manuscripts and Their Texts (Stanford, 1996).

_ _ _, The English Manuscripts of Richard Rolle (Exeter: Exeter University Press, 2011), pp. 142-5.

Amanda Moss, 'A Merchant’s Tales: A London Fifteenth-Century Household Miscellany', The Yearbook of English Studies, vol. 33, no. 1, (2003), pp. 156-169.

Catalogue of the Manuscripts the Library of the University of Cambridge Edited for the Syndics of the University Press, vol. 1, (München; Hildesheim : Kraus Reprint ; Georg Olms 1980), pp. 533-4 (description of CUL MS Ff. vi. 31).

Wendy Scase, 'Reginald Pecock, John Carpenter and John Colop's 'Common-Profit' Books: Aspects of Book Ownership in Fifteenth-Century London', Medium Aevum, 61.2 (1992), pp. 261-74.