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Ancient manuscripts - Introduction to the catalogue

Sir Roger Mynors: Catalogue of the Manuscripts of Balliol College Oxford, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963.

c. Oxford University Press 1963. Reproduced with permission.


This catalogue purports to describe all the manuscript volumes now in Balliol College library [NB as of 2011 in the Historic Collections Centre at St Cross Church] (with a few which have strayed elsewhere, excepting only those which partake of the nature of records (such as minute-books, rentals and College statutes), or which are mainly of domestic value, In both number and importance the weight lies in Latin manuscripts of the later Middle Ages and the earlier Renaissance, and of these over 300 are survivors from the pre-Reformation library of the College, which have always lived in the room built for their reception in the fifteenth century. They are of interest as containing a high proportion of texts good or scarce, especially in medieval philosophy and theology; but more than that, something like 180 (with ten others now in other libraries) came to the College from a single donor, and form incomparably the largest surviving collection of books formed by any medieval Englishman - a man who was at the same time one of the earliest English humanists. To this most intelligent benefactor, William Gray, bishop of Ely, who died in 1478, more space has been allotted in the introduction than is usually considered appropriate in a catalogue; but it is to be feared that even so, imperfect justice has been done to a significant figure of our intellectual history.


Videte quoniam non mihi soli laboravi, sed omnibus exquirentibus ueritatem.[1] For, in sending to the printer a work whose compilation has lasted all my academic life, I cannot but be conscious of its many imperfections, as well as of the unlimited kindness of other people to which it owes such utility as it may possess; indeed, 'without very great store of honorable freinds, to further the designe, and without speciall good leasure to follow such a worke, it could but have proved a vayne attempt and inconsiderate.' Without the inspiration of the late MR James, and his great example, I should never have started; and I should have got nowhere at all without the unflagging encouragement and unmeasured help of Dr Richard Hunt and Mr Neil Ker. Such credit as this book may earn is mainly due to them. Among other Oxford friends, I am conscious of special obligations to the Very Revd Dr Daniel Callus, Dr AB Emden, Professor VH Galbraith, Mr WA Pantin, Mr Graham Pollard, Professor RW Southern; but over a long space of years I have incurred a complex debt of gratitude to others which it is impossible here to specify, much less to acknowledge adequately. Friends known and unknown have helped with books in unusual languages, especially Professor AJ Arberry with Arabic and Persian and Professor GR Driver with Hebrew. The list of abbreviations which follows gives a bald indication of the principal books to which the compiled of a catalogue such as this is every day beholden.

The Jowett Copyright Trustees have made a generous contribution to the cost of printing, and the Clarendon Press have given me fresh cause to admire their skill and patience.

Mr JN Bryson, the College librarian, and his sub-librarian, Mr EV Quinn, have done all in their power to ease my task, and the unfailing kindness of the staffs of the Bodleian Library and Cambridge University Library is not the less appreciated because one has come to take it for granted.

To my former colleagues, the Master and Fellows of Balliol, I can only offer my own share in this volume as a small and inadequate token of gratitude for twenty-two years spent within the walls of that unique society.

[1] Ecclus. 24.30 'See, I have not laboured for myself alone, but for all who seek wisdom.'

[ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] [ 8 ] [ 9 ] [ 10 ] [ 11 ] [ 12 ] [ 13 ] [ 14 ]

[ 15 ] [ 16 ] [ 17 ] [ 18 ] [ 19 ] [ 20 ] [ 21 ] [ 22] [ 23 ] [ 24 ] [ 25 ] [ 26 ] [ 27 ]


Enquiries about the collection and requests to access the ancient manuscripts should be made in writing (preferably by email if possible) to the College Archivist and Curator of Manuscripts, Anna Sander.



MSS 1-50

MSS 51-100

MSS 101-150

MSS 151-200

MSS 201-250

MSS 251-300

MSS 301-350

MSS 351-400

MSS 401-450

MSS 451-475

- Anna Sander

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The archives and manuscripts of Balliol College are open by appointment to enquirers in person at the Historic Collections Centre in St Cross Church, Holywell.
Enquiries should be sent in writing (email or post).
There is no charge for Archive enquiries, but donations for Archive purposes are always appreciated.
Updated 15.viii.14
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