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Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 131

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


Nicholas Love, Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ, with other religious literature and one historical text, after 1431- c.1440.

Condition of the MS

Generally good condition, leaves darkened through use; clasp lost.

Number of Items


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

Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ; the volume also includes an abridged copy of the Latin Meditationes de Passione Christi.


  • Heading at the beginning of the table of Contents: "Aat [sic] þe begynnyg of þe buke þat es called þe mirur of þe blyssed lyfe of ihesu criste", fol. 1r.
  • Heading at the beginning of the Proheme: Here begynns þe proheme of the boke þat es cald þe mirrur of þe blyssed lyfe of Ihesu crist", fol. 2v.


"Explicit speculum vite xpi quod John morton", fol. 121v.

Secundo Folio

"Of þe passion of ouur Lord Ihesu crist & fyrst of his prayer".


See Colophon.

Languages of the MS

This book contains a mixture of English and Latin texts.

Detailed Description of Contents

  • A bifolium from a Gradual is bound in at the front of the book.

  • 1. Mirror of the Blessed Life, fols 1-121v.

  • 2. William Flete, English I text of the De Remediis contra Temptationes, (Jolliffe, K.8 (a); IPMEP 230), fols 122r-131r; this version is most closely related to that in BL MS Harley 2409, which is also translated from the A iv version of the Latin text; the last three chapters of the text are drawn directly from chapter 6 Stimulus Amoris (see Hackett et al., pp. 217-9) and are treated separately as part of this description.

  • Flete, chapter 9, begins, "Bonauentur in a buke þat es cald Simulus Amoris says þus: AA þi wondirfull mercy all myghty lord Ihesu þt suffers vs here to be assaied with dyuers temptacions", ends, "& þare þe no3t drede nane of þine Enmyse", fols 129r-v. See Notes for a full transcription of the text.

  • Flete, chapter 10, begins, "Mak þis all way for a generall reule þt when so wuer þou couetts to helde & bowgh doune to þe ouur lord god : depely & law : ber þou þe woundes of IHesu cryste in þi hert", ends, "I suppose þat yof nowþer reuerence ne luf myght lett hym fra synn : þis maner of be haldyng of pyne shuld mak hym abstene hym & leue his synn"; fols 129v-130r.

  • Flete, chapter 11, begins, "Iff it swa be þat þou se criste greued wt þe : & wrathe agayne3 þe : for þi wickednes : ffle þan to his blyssed modir mary whilk es made hope & triste & specially advocate to all synfull", ends, "he þt hies hym self : he sall be made law : & he þat lawe3 & mekes hym self : he sall be hied in blys [cf. Matthew 23:12] To þat blis bryng vs he : whas mercy is to all men fre Amen", fols 130r-131r.

  • 3. 'Cleanness of Soul', an extract from the English translation of St. Catherine's Dialogo (ed.in Horstmann, YW, i, p. 108) begins, "A sely saule askid of god ouur stedfast lord clennes of saule And god apered to hir & sayd : If þu will haue þt clennes þt þu askys : ye be houes be oned to me parfitely þat am sufferan clennes", ends, "þe third es if þu deme any gate3 my seruandis werke3 deme no3t eftir þine Awne dome bot eftir my dome"; Jolliffe I. 7 (c); fol. 131r. A version of this text also survives with another remedy against spiritual temptations in BL MS Royal 18. A. X. Given John Morton's demonstrable links with the house of Austin friars in York, it is tempting to consider that such texts may have been sourced through this connection.

  • 4. English translated extract from the Revelations of St. Birgitta of Sweden, begins, "þere ar twelf poynts þe whilk crist taght bryde his spouse vndir þis forme", ends, "þis I suffer þe for I am þi spouse And þis I conseile þere fore I am þi frend", Jolliffe I. 13 (c); fol 131r-v .

  • 5. An abridged copy of the Latin Meditationes de Passione Christi with added prefatory material which introduces the hours of the Passion, beginning, "In libro qui dem legenda auria sic scribitur~~~~Consecratur ecclesia vt ibid laudes..."; the text corresponding to Stallings edition of the MPC begins, "Meditacio passionis xpi [i]n matutinis Attende igitur ad singula ac si presens esses //~~~Cum eum a cena surrexit Ihc sermone completo in ortum cum discipulis suis vadit" (cf. Stallings, p. 98, ll. 1-8), ends, "Non tamen poterat ispa domina gaudenter stare propter mortem filij sui dul[c]issimi & cetera", (cf. Stallings, p. 128, ll. 52-3); fols 131v-136v.

  • 6. Unique form of confession in respect of the basic tenets of catechetical instruction (Seven Deadly Sins, Seven Works of Mercy, the Five Wits [inward], the Five Wits [outward], Ten Commandments, Seven Sacraments, Fourteen Points of Truth), begins, "I knaw me to god & to ouur lady saynt marie & to all þe blyssed compa felaghship of heuen and to þe my gostly fadir : þat I haue lyfed vnwyttely and wrangwisly anents god . & my nawne saule", ends, "þat it may be to wurschip & louyng of my maker & saluacion to my saule Ideo precor gloriosam virginem genitricem dei & omnes sanctos & sanctas dei & te pater orare pro me Amen", (Jolliffe, C.33), fols 136v-139r.

  • 7. Unique text on the necessity of suffering, begins, "Beatus vir qui suffert temptationem quonium cum probates fuerit accipiet coronam ; vite quam repromisit deus diligentibus se [James 1:12] Blyssed & cely es þe man : þat hafe3 in fayndyng gude sufferaunce . for when he es proued . he shall be crowned wt þe crowne of lyfe", ends imperfectly, "Ego quos arguo castigo þat es þo þt I loue I upbrade & chastis ne betis he none bot wham he lufe3 & haldis for his : nomore þan þu wold a fremmed child : if all he mysdid", (Jolliffe, J.1), fols 139r-140r.

  • 8. Unique text advising on the need for oral confession, "Tell þi syns wyth þi mouthe be fore also", ends, "say what þi syns ar : & wha was þi fere : why & when & whar þu it dyd : how ofte & of whilk maner", (Jolliffe, E.18), fol. 140r.

  • 9. "Anonymous Chronicle of the Kings of England"; IMEV 444; the names of Kings (William I to Henry VI) occur in crowns, with added genealogical information added (heirs, brothers etc.) fols 140v-144r.

  • 10. Short text, headed, "þe tytell of fraunce", begins, "Phelyp þe kyng of ffraunce hadde Isshew iij sons whiche sonnes died wt [out] Isshew", ends, "& disherite þe sayd Edward rightful syre of Ingland & ffraunce", fol. 144r.

  • 11. Latin verses on cenobitic life, begins, "Ad regnum celi suspires mente fideli" (in Hans Walther, Carmina Medii Aevi Posterioris Latina I: Initia Carminum ac Versuum Medii Aevi Posterioris Latinoum (Gottingen: Vandenhock & Ruprecht, 1959), n. 432); fols 144v-145v; Michael Sargent notes that a "similar set of verses...occurs in Trinity College, Cambridge, MS O.ii.53, [fols] 25-6, where they are described as having been written over the door of the cells of London Charterhouse" (intro. 132, n. 84); see also Grey.

  • 12. Latin devotional text, begins, "Homo quidam fuit domine nostre deuotus sed multus vicijs in volutus", fols 145v-6v.

  • 13. Latin text, begins, "O uero [? darkened, and text unclear] quidam existens in caritate fecit plura...", ends, "Illa reuiuiscunt que mortificata fuerunt / Viuere non possunt que mortua nata fuerunt", fol. 147v.

Estimated Date of Production

1431- c. 1440; the historical text provides a terminus pro quem, as it records the coronation of Henry VI.  This text is usually dated c. 1431-1448; if this text was penned by John Morton (d. 1434), son of Roger Morton of Bawtry (in the Doncaster area, and thus near to the dialectal reference point in LALME) then we might locate the making of the book to 1431-4.

Writing Support

Mixed paper and parchment (parchment bifolia in outer and inner position in the gatherings).


ii + 150 fols

Dimensions of Page and Writing Space

  • Leaf Size: 210 x 150 mm (approx.)
  • Writing Space: 160 x 100 mm (approx.) prose items only.


124, 2-522 -1, (there is a stub of a trimmed leaf between fols 91 and 92, no loss of text) [fols 25-105]; 628 [fols 106-33]; 714 -1? (a stub, with signs of being ruled, occurs between fol. 146 and fol. 147) [fols 134-147].

The collation is offered here tentatively, particularly in respect of the last two gatherings.


1 column throughout, Mirror generally has around 34 lines, subsequent prose items 30-32, but there is variation throughout the volume; frames are ruled (in pen?) throughout, but no lines; no signs of pricking, although the book has been trimmed.

Rubrication/ Ordinatio

  • Initials: 2-line initials, described by Kathleen Scott as "divergent", having "red letters with brown flourishing" (Scott, 'The Illustration and Decoration', p. 71), and are drawn rather amateurishly, although with imaginative, enthusiastic flourishing. Item 2 begins with a 4-line intitial.
  • Titles, Headings, Rubrics: Chapter headings, the words of biblical characters, and Latin in the text (the phrases that are generally rubricated in the Mirror and italicized in Sargent's edition) are penned in a large formal script, sometimes underlined, or contained in a scroll device; the scale of the larger script varies in size somewhat; paraph breaks supplied by way of a squat vertical pillar, with horizontal arms stretching a little over the subsequent text and for a few words further beneath.
  • Other: Gatherings are generally marked at the front of the quire with a roman numeral (quire II is marked at the end of the first gathering).



Number of Scribal Hands


Item 12 is perhaps not penned by the main scribe, as it is penned in a notably thinner duct than other items, and with different graphs for some letters, esp. 'g'; however, a number of similarities between the hands, including the unusual predominance of a colon in punctuation means that the hand may be the same, or at least, bear some relationship to that of the main scribe.


Zachary Stone, who has been working on the MS, is convinced that all items are by the main scribe, noting s correspondence in ink and ruling in the latter part of the book.

Style of Hands

Cursive clerkly Anglicana with some Secretary influence; not unlike the kind of script penned by Robert Thornton (see Lincoln Cathedral MS 91); the graph for þ is the same as for y, although y is sometimes dotted.

Estimated Date of Hands

2nd quarter C15.

Scribal Annotation

There are a number of annotations that accord with the standard form in the Mirror, but comparatively few by normal standards. Some of the phrases normally occurring in the margins have been drawn into the body of the text; eg. "haec dies quam fecit dominus & c." (Sargent, p. 216), occurs before the Englishing of the Psalm in the text (see also Annotation , 'nota bene' on fol. 118v). The notae recorded below in the Annotation field may well have been applied by the scribe, but probably not at the same time that the more orthodox notae that correlate with standard versions of the Mirror were penned. As such, they may evidence reading activity in the household of John and Juliana Morton, as opposed to side notes copied from an exemplar.

Notable Dialect Features

LALME I:, III: ; LP 473. Grid 467 414, West Riding of Yorkshire in the vicinity of Thorne, NE of Doncaster.

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

Annotation and Marginalia


    Passages marked with a marginal '+' in the Mirror:


  • Fol. 3r: There are books in both English and Latin, taken from holy writ, for the edification of the faithful (Sargent 10:3-6)

  • Fol. 4r: St. Cecilia meditated on certain devout parts of the gospel with a clean heart (11:26).

  • Fol. 7r: The judgement is reached among the Four Daughters, that a man without sin should die for the sake of all humanity (17:38)

  • Fol. 8r: The 'persone of þe sone' shall 'performe þis dede' (18:40)

  • Fol. 11v: Mary's meek astonishment at Gabriel's praise of her (24: 30 ff.) [cf. annotation in Rylands MS 98]

  • Fol. 12v: Gabriel announces that Christ will reign in the House of Jacob, which is Holy Church (25:37-41)

  • Fol. 13r: Marian humility (26:38-41) [cf. annotation in Rylands MS 98]

  • Fol. 14v: Christ as the second Adam (28:39-29:3)

  • Fol. 26r: Absolute Humility of the Holy Family (46:33)

  • Fol. 30r: The benign and merciful nature of Christ (53:15 ff.)

  • Fol. 30v: The first point against ornate workmanship, 'curiosite', that it takes up more time than simple work (54:15-18)

  • Fol. 32v: John the Evangelist's age at his death (57:10)

  • Fol. 54r: Mary Magdalene and the importance of confession (91:40 ff.) [cf. annotation in Rylands MS 98]

  • Fol. 57v: Christ's manner of life based on that of the very poor (96:19-22)

  • Fol. 80r: Christ's simple 'aray' on his entry into Jerusalem (139:32)

  • Fol. 84r: The contemplative will not reveal the 'priuete' of the Lord (147:11-13)

  • Fol. 85r: Christ tells the disciples that he washed their feet as an example of meekness (148:30 ff.)

  • Fol. 86v: Love argues that the true teaching on the sacrament of the altar has been upheld for hundreds of years (151:27 ff.)

  • Fol. 93v: Meditation on the 'pacience' of Christ after his arrest (166:31-4)

  • Fol. 112r: The desire to be near to Christ (204:32 ff.) or perhaps, Christ's reverence to Mary (204:35-6)

  • Fol. 113r: Christ preserved his wounds (following the Resurrection) for three reasons...(206:35 ff.)

  • Fol. 116v: The singing and happiness at the Ascension, as prophesied by David (213:29-30)

  • Fol. 118v: The Ascension is an example for our own uprising (216:11 ff.)

  • Fol. 119r: The celebration in heaven, and the ascension of the souls of the patriarchs and prophets with Christ (217:3-9)


    Passages marked 'nota bene' in the Mirror:


  • Fol. 29v: Humility- do not consider oneself any better than others (52:21-5) [cf. annotation in Rylands MS 98]

  • Fol. 38v: Christ's humility, baptism by John the Baptist (67:2 ff.)

  • Fol. 43r: Advice on eating for the solitary/cenobite (74:16 ff.) [cf. annotation in Rylands MS 98]

  • Fol. 53r: Mary Magdalene and true repentance (90:34-8) [cf. annotation in Rylands MS 98]

  • Fol. 45v: Love responds to arguments against the need for penance if contrition is great (92:38 ff.)

  • Fol. 62r: The necessity of prayer (106:18 ff.)

  • Fol. 63r: Patience in 'tribulacion' (108:19) [cf. item. 7 in Contents]

  • Fol. 63v: Christ permitted the disciples to go though suffering, knowing the spiritual profit it would engender (108:42-109:7) [cf. item. 7 in Contents]

  • Fol. 68r: Martha becomes aware of Mary's lack of bodily work (117:40 ff.)

  • Fol. 79v: Christ chastised the scribes and pharisees, but did not advise the laity to withhold spiritual gifts from the Temple (138:14 ff.)

  • Fol. 80v: The three occasions on which Christ wept (140:10 ff.)

  • Fol. 85r: Christ offers his body to the disciples in the Last Supper becoming 'ouur sacrafice' (149:11 ff.)

  • Fol. 97v: Christ lays his own body against the Cross (175:1 ff.)

  • Fol. 98r: It was possible to count Christ's bones and see the blood streaming from his body (175:37 ff.)

  • Fol. 105v: The women go to the 'apoticarie' to obtain the embalming spices for the body of Christ (191:19)

  • Fol. 106v: On the third day after the Crucifixion Mary pleads for the return of Christ (194:31 ff.)

  • Fol. 111r: Unlike Christ, proud men will only converse with men of high estate (202:32-4)

  • Fol. 116r: Meditate on the first fathers of the Church and Mary (212:14-20)

  • Fol. 118v: The words of David [Ps. 117:24], 'þis is þe day þat ouur lord made be we mary þer In .' & glad" (216:12-15)

  • Fol. 118v: All God's works were to culminate in this end (216:30-6)

  • Fol. 119v: Christ asks the disciples to be joyful in his Ascension (217:31-4)


    Passages marked 'nota bene' in the English translation of De Remediis contra Temptationes:


  • Fol. 124r: In the fourth chapter of the text, "ffor as leo þe pape says in a sermon þat he make of þe circumcision of our lord..."

    Passages marked by maniculae in the Mirror:


  • Fol. 8v: The beginning of chapter 2 is indicated, helpfully, since there is no heading and the chapter begins without even a new line (19:32)

  • Fol. 58v: Abstinence through example of Christ and the disciples (99:21 ff.)

  • Fol. 85v: Without doubt, we receive Christ at the sacrament of the altar (150:3 ff.)

  • Fol. 92v:Christ demonstrates his care for the disciples even in time of his own distress (165:6)

  • Fol. 93v: Marks the beginning of chapter 41, here fully signaled in the ordinatio [cf. fol. 8v] (167:20)

  • Fol. 95r: Beginning of chapter 42, also fully signaled in the ordinatio (170:16-17)

  • Fol. 119v: The feasting of the orders of angels following Christ's Ascension (218:4-11)


    Other Annotation in the Mirror:


  • Fol. 4v: "loqundo cogitando & operando", a Latin translation of the English words, "spekyng & thankyng & doyng" (cf. 21:14)

  • Fol. 85: a tag has been made to mark this folio by the ingenious means of a thin slip of parchment being trimmed from the lower corner of the leaf, folded, and hooked through a small vertical slit. The tag, positioned in the lower corner of the folio (where the trimmed piece of parchment was harvested) is precisely aligned with Christ's words as he offers his body and blood to the disciples at the Last Supper (149:17-21)


  • Fol. 144r: "þra þen wrot bonaventur"; although in a less formal hand than that of the scribe, it may be that this is also penned by John Morton; C15.

  • Stub between fols 146-147: "Amen quod noght" (repeated), beside "In mynd of my trespas I cry god marcy" (repeated); possibly in hand of John Morton; C15.

  • Fol. 149v: "uno duo tres", and taken up in new clumsier hand, "quartu3 quinque sex", C15-C16.

Names recorded, signatures, ex libris marks

  • Other than the colophon, Morton is mentioned in letter of confraternity from the prior provincial of the Austin friars in York dated to 1438, naming John and his wife Juliana, bound in at the end of the book (fols 148-9). A C16-17 reader has apparently misconstrued Morton's colophon, and attributed Love's translation to him in a header on fol. 1r: "Speculum vitae Christi translated out off Bonaventure by Jh. Merton [sic] vide Infra fol. 121". For mention of another, possibly related John Morton, who died in York in 1431, see Meale, p. 26.
  • Another letter of confraternity, this time from the Carmelite convent in Scarborough by William the prior, dated Nov. 9, 1396 to Agnes Wyndhyll and her son John, and Robert (relationship uncertain?). A 'John Wyndhyll' occurs in the Calendar of Papal Letters as rector of Arnecliff in the diocese of York, at least between 1396-1415 (Papal Letters VI, p. 483 and V, p. 53; see also V, p. 134) A 'John Wyndhill' is also granted custody of the hospital of 'Newebyggyng' in Northumberland in March 1391 (Calendar of Patent Rolls: Ric. II, vol. IV, p. 398).


Full transcription of chapter 9 of Flete's De Remediis contra Temptationes (cf. chapter 6 Stimulus Amoris).

Bonauentur in a buke þat es cald Stimulus Amoris says þus: AA þi wondirfull mercy all myghty lord Ihesu þt suffers vs here to be assaied with dyuers temptacions: no3t for þat skill þat we shuld be takyn fra þe .` bot þat we for drede of ouur enmy shuld more brynnandly be stirred to fle vnto þe .` as to þe mast sekir hald & hauen of ouur hele . & a synguler refute of ouur defence like to a gude modir : qwilk when sho sees hir child far fro hir & desire3 to se hym sho mak hym fyrst ferd : & feres hym by some ferefull thyng : & when he for drede rynnes to hir for socour & beldenes : sho opyns hir armys & take3 hir child to hir wt gret Ioy & halfes hym & warmes hym . þt he ga namare so far away fra hir for drede of harme & disese sho comforte3 hym: sho halfe3 hym & giffe3 hym hir pappe to souke : right so dose þou ouur blyssed lord . wt all þi chosyn childir : & derlyngs whilk þou ordans to be hare3 of þine endles kyngdome : O a blysfull temptacione is þt . þat constrenes vs to fle to þe swete halfyng of ouur lordis bosome : Aa swete Ihesu þt suffers vs on euer ilk a syde : to be dressen thurgh temptacione. tribulacion & disese : & euer mare giffe3 þi self to vs a maste sekir & mast helefull refuyte : þat we may dwell wt þe : wt owten end qwat so euer þou be hafe no wondir þat þu fele3 temptacions & disese : bot fle to ouur lord wt lufly drede : & if þu will no3t be temped : sit þare wt hym : elles may þu lyghtly be takyn of þine enmy & perisch Bot neuer þe lesse if þu hafe made þi selfe so fer fra god : thurgh synne þat þu dar no3t go to hym wt full hert bot þou think þat þu art far fra hym in a cuntre of vnliklynes : ne þu may not atteyne to his godhede : rynn þan wt full hert to Ihesu criste .` þat es made þi broþer : & preuee neghbur thurgh taking of kynde & hide þe þare In þe hole of his blystfull syde hilland þeur wt a mantill of still murnyng & hertly compassion. & þare thar þe no3t drede nane of þine Enmyse

References and Other Resources


F. N. M. Diekstra, "A good remedie a3ens spirituel temptacions: A conflated Middle English version of William Flete's De Remediis contra Temptationes and Pseudo-Hugh of St Victor's De Pusillanimitate in London BL MS Royal 18.A.X", English Studies vol. 76. 4, (1995), pp. 307-354.

William Flete, 'Remedies against Temptations: The Third English Version of William Flete', ed. Eric Colledge and Noel Chadwick, Archivio Italiano per la Storia della Pieta, vol. 5 (Rome, 1968), pp. 201-240.

'Contra Temptationes by William Flete', Life of the Spirit, V (1950-51), 20-26, 120-25;

Andrew Grey, "A Carthusian 'Carta Visitationis' of the Fifteenth Century", Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research 40 (1967), pp. 91-101

Catherine Innes-Parker, "The 'Gender Gap' Reconsidered: Manuscripts and Readers in Late-Medieval England", Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: International Review of English Studies, 38 (2002), pp. 239-69.

Carol Meale, "'Oft siþis with grete deuotion I þought what I mi3t do pleysyng to god': The Early Ownership and Readership of Love's Mirrour, with Special Reference to its Female Audience", Nicholas Love at Waseda (D.S. Brewer, 1997), pp. 19-46.

Michael Benedict Hackett, Edmund Colledge and Noel Chadwick
, 'William Flete's "De Remediis contra temptationes" in its Latin and English Recensions. The Growth of a Text' Medieval Studies, vol. 26 (1964), 210-230.

Linne R. Mooney
, ‘Lydgate’s Kings of England and Another Verse Chronicle of the Kings’, Viator, 20 (1989), 255–89.

E. A. Jones
, 'A Source for the Anonymous "Kings of England"' Notes and Queries, 56.2 (2009), 194-197.

Sargent Groupings


Sargent Pages

Intro. 44, 67, 88, 97, 132, 135-6.

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,