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Walters Ms. W.15, Glossed Gospels

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Glossed Gospels

Text title
Glossed Gospels


This manuscript is a glossed Gospel Book made in England in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century. The glosses contain commentaries on the Gospels written by several medieval theologians: Hrabanus Maurus and John Chrysostom on Matthew, Jerome and Bede on Mark, Ambrose and Bede on Luke, and Augustine on John. Written in Gothic script, the Gospels text is enlarged with smaller script employed for the glosses. The manuscript is decorated with simple illumination, consisting only of two large initials, and numerous smaller ones marking major divisions in the text. This Gospel Book is exceptional because it contains legal formularies of Oxford origin, written on five folios. The formulary mentions the kings Richard and John, and there are also references to the churches in Oxford and Northampton. The dates within the formulary are pieces of evidence that help date the manuscript. The binding in white deer skin over oak boards is original, and the remains of the original over cover are still preserved at the fore-edge of the lower board as well.


Late 12th century-early 13th century CE


Oxford, England








The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Support material


Medium-weight parchment, not particularly well selected and poorly prepared


Foliation: 257

Foliated in pencil, upper right corners, rectos; foliation to 256, but a leaf between fols. 130 and 131 was unnumbered


Formula: 1(10, -1,2,3,4,7,8,9,10), 2-8(10), 9(10,-2), 10-13(10), 14(4), 15(10,-1), 16-20(10), 21(12), 22(14), 23-26(10), 27(8)

Catchwords: In the center of the lower margin of the last verso of each quire

Comments: Quires begin on fols. 1(1), 3(2), 13(3), 23(4), 33(5), 43(6), 53(7), 63(8), 93(9), 82(10), 92(11), 102(12), 112((13), 122(14), 126(15), 134(16), 144(17), 154(18), 164(19), 174(20), 184(21), 196(22), 210(23), 220(24), 230(25), 240(26), 250(27); the last leaf of the last quire is the pastedown for the lower board


22.8 cm wide by 33.2 cm high

Written surface

15.7 cm wide by 18.8 cm high

  1. Columns: 2-3
  2. Ruled lines: 46
  3. Layout does not apply to Sermons (fols. 1r-3v), Canon law formularies (fols. 79v - 81v), prologue to Luke (fol. 125v), and Sermons (fols. 205r - 209v)

fols. 1r - 256r:
  1. Title: Glossed Gospels
  2. Hand note: Gothic script
  3. Decoration note: One large initial (37 lines); red and blue decorated initials (3 to 12 lines) marking the beginning of each Gospel; smaller initials in red or blue (1 line) for minor text divisions; text in black ink
fols. 1r - 2v:
  1. Title: Sermons
  2. Incipit: Spirituum societas reparatur
  3. Contents: Peter Damian, sermon 47; Bernard of Clairvaux, sermon 62; Peter Damian, sermon 9, 48, and sermon on John
fols. 3r - 256r:
  1. Title: Gospels
  2. Incipit: Nomen libri evangelium grece bonum nuncium
  3. Contents: Fols. 3r-4v: preface to Matthew; fols. 5r-5v: glossed prologue to Matthew; fols. 5v-79r: glossed Matthew; fols. 82r-82v: glossed prologue to Mark; fols. 83r-135r: glossed Mark; fol. 125v: preface to Luke; fols. 126r-204v: incomplete text of Luke (it begins with Luke 1:9); fols. 210r-256r: glossed John
  4. Decoration note: Red and blue initials for major divisions of the texts
fols. 79v - 81v:
  1. Title: Canon law formularies
  2. Incipit: H. dei gratia abbas illius loci B. clerico salutem
  3. Contents: Law formularies; references to Oxford and its churches (St. Frideswide, St. Peter, Mary, Oseney, and Thame); dates 1193, 1194, 1199, and 1203; Kings Richard and John as well as Pope Innocent III are mentioned
  4. Text note: Between the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, there are five folios with law formularies, which contain models for letters, sentences, donations, etc.; formularies are integral to the quire containing the end of the text of Matthew
  5. Hand note: Handwriting contemporary or sightly later than the glosses
fols. 205r - 209v:
  1. Title: Sermons for the liturgy
  2. Rubric: Die natali domini
  3. Incipit: Hodie fratres karissimi redemptor noster ad nos venit
  4. Contents: Sermons for Christmas day, Easter, Pentecost, and the beginning of Lent


fol. 5v:

  1. W.15, fol. 5v
  2. Title: Decorated initial "L"
  3. Form: Decorated initial "L," 10 lines
  4. Text: Gospels: Matthew 1:1


The binding is original.

White deer skin over oak boards; strap anchorage channels on upper boards; remains of original over cover at fore-edge of lower board, alum-tawed leather


Made in Oxford in the thirteenth century; fols. 79v-81v contain legal formularies for the use of Oxford

J. Reynoldes, England (?), seventeenth century; his ownership inscription on front pastedown, and also fol. 3r; additional name partially legible on fol. 3r reads "Thomas [?]"

Rowland Clegg-Hill, Third Viscount of Hawkstone Park, Shropshire (1833-1895); his ex-libris and pencil notation on front pastedown

Henry Walters, Baltimore, acquired before 1931


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


De Ricci, Seymour. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935, p. 768, no. 68.

De Hamel, Christopher. A History of Illuminated Manuscripts. Oxford: Phaidon, 1986, pp. 78, 111, 113 (for other examples of glossed Gospels)


Principal catalogers: Noel, William; Smith, Kathryn

Catalogers: Dutschke, Consuelo; Valle, Chiara; Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Bockrath, Diane; Emery, Doug; Noel, William; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.