DCL MS. A.II.15Gospels, glossed
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

Glossed Gospels, written in France or England in the early 13th century, consisting of four broadly matching parts - one for each gospel - plus contemporary endleaves. An additional preliminary quire (f.1-4) was prefixed to the volume, presumably after the note of donation by Henry of Melsonby had been added to the original front-leaf, in the 13th century, but probably not long thereafter given that the principal scribes of the extra leaves, whose hands look to be early/mid 13th century, contributed copious supplementary glosses to the original pages; the preliminary quire had certainly been added by mid 14th century when a title for the content of the original core was written on its first page.

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t2m3x816m684.html

Physical description of manuscript


Extent: i+249+i f
Size: 388 mm x 280 mm


Modern pencil foliation

Secundo folio: Matheus cum primo

I (added quire)4 (structure unclear, but seemingly a bifolium, followed by two singletons (a pair of leaf stubs between f.2 and 3, and of another pair after f.4 suggest that the singletons might have been a quaternion from which the first two and the last four leaves have been lost or cancelled), II-IX8, X9 (= 10 with leaf 10 cancelled), XI-XVI8, XVII3 (= 4 with leaf 4 cancelled), XVIII-XIX8, XX6, XXI-XXXII8, endleaves = singleton within a bifolium. The irregular quires X and XVII are the end of Matthew and Mark respectively.

Catchwords: Original catchword (comprising the next word or words of both the gloss and the gospel text) survive on f.158v
Signatures: Two sets of early signatures (both placed on final versos, lower margin, centre), one of roman numerals in brown ink, the other of Arabic ones in black ink. The set of Roman numerals starts in John’s gospel (the first surviving examples are ‘II’ and ‘III’ on f.222v and 230v, the end of its second and third quires), continuing next in Mark (‘VI’-‘[XII]’), then in Luke (‘XIII’-‘[XXII]’) and finally ending in Matthew (‘XXIII’-‘[XXXI]’). The Arabic set starts with ‘1’ on the first quire of Matthew and continues, following the current order of the book to ‘26’ at the end of Luke; there are no Arabic signatures in John’s Gospel.

Written area (of main gospel text plus gloss): 255 x 142 mm. Generally written below top line. In the added first quire, the written area varies: items (a)-(d) f.1r-2v, 265 x 212 mm (2 columns, width 98 mm); items (e)–(f), f. 3r, 288 x 188 mm (3 columns, width, 62 mm); item (g), f.3v-4r, 286 x 220 mm (4 columns of 28, 74, 14, and 82 mm wide respectively). Lines. Gospel text: varies from 18-28, most commonly 26. Gloss in main written area: up to 50. In the added first quire, f.1r-2v (items (a)-(d)) have 53 lines (space, 5 mm; height of minims, 1.5 mm), f. 3r-4r (items (e)-(g)) have 55.

Pricking: knife in Mark, Luke and John; awl in Matthew and in the added first quire. Throughout, the pricking for the horizontal rulings was done in both side margins. Prickings regularly survive in all four margins.

Ruling. Ink. The main text area was laid out according to ‘third phase’ or ‘complex’ glossed book principles, in which the line length of the gospel text (which is written every other line) and the gloss (written every line) changes from page to page and line to line. Wide margins on all sides were used for further strata of glosses, a single column being defined in the inner side margin, two columns in the outer margin. In Mark, Luke and John the basic ruling grid comprises five pairs of verticals, plus single outer ones (all running the length of the page), thereby defining: a main text block of three zones, flanked by an inner margin of one zone, and an outer one of two zones. The horizontals run right across the main text area and sometimes continue into the side margins; all four margins may have extra horizontals added in lead. A further horizontal at the very top and another at the very bottom of the page (surviving on e.g. f.158r) delimit the zones for additional glosses in the upper and lower margins. In Matthew’s Gospel only the single verticals at the outer edges of the margins and the double verticals flanking the main text area extend the full length of the page (the others, much fainted, are confined within the main text area). In the added preliminary quire, the medium and pattern vary from text to text. f.1r-2v, ruled in ink, have double verticals flanking both columns (three in total in the intercolumnar space); no horizontals extended. f.3r (lead) has four pairs of verticals defining three columns, plus an additional single vertical bisecting the outer margin; the first two, middle two and last two horizontals are extended. f.3v-4r (ink) have five pair of verticals defining four columns; otherwise as f.3r.


1. f.1r-2v (items (a), (b), (d)) plus many supplementary glosses in (h) and (j)-(l). Textualis libraria, compact.
2. f. 1r (item (c)). Informal semi-cursive
3. f.3r-4r (items (e)-(g)) plus many supplementary glosses in (h) and (j)-(l). Textualis libraria
4. f.5r-77r ((h): Matthew). The gospel text is written in Textualis quadrata, 4 mm high, the primary gloss in Textualis semi-quadrata, 2 mm high. The minims of the gospel text are suspended from the head-line; those of the gloss sit midway between the rulings; sentence capitals in the gospel text are 2 lines high (the quires by this scribe are also distinguished from those of Scribe 5 by the implement used for the pricking).
5. f.78r-127v, 129r-206v, 208r-246v ((j)-(l): Mark, Luke, John). Textualis semi-quadrata for both gospel text and primary gloss. The minims of the former (3-4 mm high) tend to be placed midway between the rulings. Sentence capitals in the gospel text are 1 line high.
Further glossing hands of differing degrees of formality, 13th century onwards.


A flourished initial, 9+ lines high, heads the first Matthew preface (f.5r), Matthew’s gospel incipit (f.7v), Mark’s preface (f.78r), the first Luke preface (f.129r), John’s preface (f.207r - with incorrect letter), and John’s gospel incipit (f.208r). Most are either red or blue, flourished in the other colour; however, that for John’s preface is red and blue flourished in both colours, while those for the Matthew and Mark prefaces are set against mauve panels. A 9-line-high space reserved for the initial ‘Q’ for Luke’s gospel remained unfilled; ‘uoniam’ was written in 3-line-high red capitals. Mark’s gospel incipit and the second Luke Preface are written in red capitals, 2+ lines high. The other Matthew prefaces are headed by 2-line-high initials, alternately red then blue, flourished in the other colour. Within Matthew, subdivisions in the gospel text are marked by 2-line-high initials, alternately red then blue (Christi autem at 1.18 merely has an ordinary ink sentence capital). Within Mark, subdivisions in the gospel text and all major blocks of marginal gloss are headed by a 2-line-high initial, alternately red then blue. Within Luke, subdivisions in the gospel text are marked by red or blue initials, 4 lines high, flourished in the other colour; between f.141v-206v each main block of marginal gloss is headed by a 2-line-high initial, alternately red then blue. Within John, chapters in the gospel text are headed by a flourished initial or a coloured capital, as are certain other divisions within the gospel text plus a few sections of gloss.


18th century full brown calf over boards, 2 metal clasps. A rust stain at the centre fore-edge of f.1-5 indicates a clasp fixture on an earlier binding.

Manuscript history

Written in England or France, early 13th century.


Inscriptions: “Liber sancti cuthberti de dunelm ex dono magistri Henrici de Melsaneby”, earlier 13th century, f.5r, upper margin. Henry of Melsonby, brother of Master Alan (see DCL MS B.I.33); between c. 1200 and 1237 he was presented to churches in Yorkshire and elsewhere by Durham Cathedral Priory.
“.A. iiijor Ewangelia Glosata. [Cymbolum – deleted]”, mid 14th century, amplified 15th/16th century by Thomas Swalwell with “Cimbolum apostolorum glo”, f.1r, upper margin (Piper 1978, plate 62).
“.A.”, later 14th century
“Quatuor euangelia glosata. de communi libraria monachorum dunelm”, early 15th century, f.5r, upper margin.
“13”, 15th/16th century(?), f.1r top right.
In Cloister catalogue.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.1r
Modern title: Anonymous exposition of the Pater Noster
Incipit: Pater noster etc. Pater cui nos amorem debemus et honorem
Explicit: Libera nos a malo. ne temptationi cedamus, uel in tormentis succumbanmus, contra luxuriam quae redigit in seruitutem
Language: Latin
Cited: Bloomfield 1979, 8743
(b)     f.1r
Modern title: Sentences on when the Active surpasses the Contemplative (and vice versa)
Incipit: Contemplativa precellit active
Language: Latin

With four alternatives arranged on separate lines.

(c)     f.1r
Modern title: Verses based around the Beatitudes
Incipit: Vt sapias nomen patris sanctum tibi queris
Language: Latin

A 15th/16th century hand (?Thomas Swalwell) added “beati pauperes spiritu et cetera” beside the seventh verse, and supplied a series of braces grouping the lines into seven separate entries.

(d)     f.1v-2v
Modern title: Commentary on Creeds
Incipit: Ut dicenda melius eluceant, sciendum est, triplex esse symbolum, quadripartitum concilium siue synodum, siue mauis octauum esse numerum synodorum
Explicit: mille annis post resurrectionem eos uolumptate carnis fructuros
Language: Latin

Some original underlining of lemmata. Much subsequent underlining and annotation 15th/16th century ?by Thomas Swalwell

(e)     f.3r
Original title: Peniteas cito peccator
Author: William, de Montibus, approximately 1140-1213
Incipit: Peniteas cito peccator cum sit miserator
Explicit: Affectus causa uitium persona notetur
Language: Latin

106 lines (the first 14 lines also appear in DCL MS A.IV.10)

Cited: Bloomfield 1979, 3812
Edited: Goering 1992
(f)     f.3r
Modern title: Didactic Verses
Language: Latin

These items run on directly from (e), probably written by the same scribe.
1: (2 lines) is the entry on ‘Cur deus flagellat’ from William de Montibus’s Versarius (Goering 1992, p. 414)
2: (6 lines) are the distichs that appear as a gloss on Gratian’s Decretum concerning impediments to matrimony (causa xxvii, q. 1); the concluding rubric was supplied by the same scribe but writing to a smaller gauge.

Cited: Goering 1992, p.414
(g)     f.3v-4r
Modern title: Liturgical schedule of Gospel lections
Language: Latin

Each comprises: occasion (in red), incipit (the initial letters alternately red then green), and chapter reference; any spaces between the different elements are filled with wavy red lines. Otherwise largely confined to apostles etc., the proper of the sanctorale includes Cuthbert (the prescribed reading being, ‘Sint lumbi uestri’: Lk 12.35), Benedict (‘Dixit simon petrus ad iesum. Mt cxcvi’: presumably Mt 19.27), Oswald (‘Si quis uenit’: Lk 14.26), and the translation of Cuthbert ‘Vigilate quia nesciens’: Mt 25.13), pointing to production in Durham. f.4v is blank.

(h)     f.5r-77r
Modern title: Matthew’s Gospel with prefaces, glossed
Language: Latin

Extensive marginal glossing added throughout by several hands,13th century onwards, mainly in ink, occasionally in lead. f.77v is blank.

Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 589
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 590
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 7496
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11827
(i)     f.5r
Modern title: Verses on the Evangelists
Incipit: Versus de iiiior euuangelistis. Sunt euuangelici scriptores quattuor almi
Explicit: scandens est aquila quando celestia querit
Language: Latin

Added to the outer margin beside the bottom of column ii in Textualis semi-quadrata, compact. Eighteen lines, the last two separated slightly from the rest on account of having to be written below a pre-existing gloss on the main text.

(j)     f.78r-127v
Modern title: Mark’s Gospel with Preface, glossed
Language: Latin

Extensive marginal glossing added throughout by several hands, 13th century onwards. f.128r-v is blank.

Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 607
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11828.1
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11828.3
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11828.6
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11828.10
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11828.14
(k)     f.129r-206v
Modern title: Luke’s Gospel with Prefaces, glossed
Language: Latin

Extensive marginal glossing added throughout by several hands, 13th century onwards. The bottom of f.206v is blank.

Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 596
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 620
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11829.2
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11829.3
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11829.4
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11829.16
(l)     f.207r-246v
Modern title: John’s Gospel with Preface, glossed
Language: Latin

Extensive marginal glossing added throughout by several hands, 13th century onwards.

Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 624
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11830.1
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11830.2
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11830.19

Microfilmed in 1985/86 by the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, St John's Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota. Copies held by them and Durham Cathedral Library.

Digitised material for Durham Cathedral Library MS A.II.15 - Glossed Gospels
Digitised July 2018 as part of the Durham Priory Library Recreated project


Bloomfield, Morton W., Guyot, Bertrand-Georges, Howard, Donald R. and Kabealo, Thyra B., Incipits of Latin works on the virtues and vices, 1100-1500 A.D. Including a section of incipits of works on the Pater noster   OCLC citation (Cambridge, Mass.: Mediaeval Academy of America, 1979)

Catalogi veteres librorum Ecclesiae cathedralis dunelm. Catalogues of the library of Durham cathedral, at various periods, from the conquest to the dissolution, including catalogues of the library of the abbey of Hulne, and of the mss.   OCLC citation, Surtees Society 7, (London: J.B. Nichols and Son, [1838]).

de Hamel, Christopher, Glossed books of the Bible and the origins of the Paris book trade   OCLC citation, (Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: Boydell Press, 1984)

The Durham Liber Vitae. London, British Library, MS Cotton Domitian A.VII. Edition and digital facsimile with introduction, codicological, prosopographical and linguistic commentary, and indexes; including the Biographical register of Durham Cathedral Priory (1083-1539) edited by David and Lynda Rollason (London: British Library, 2007)

Goering, J., William de Montibus (c. 1140-1213) The schools and the literature of pastoral care   OCLC citation, (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1992)

Mynors, R.A.B., Durham Cathedral manuscripts to the end of the twelfth century. Ten plates in colour and forty-seven in monochrome. With an introduction [including a list of all known Durham manuscripts before 1200]   OCLC citation, (Durham: 1939)

Piper, A.J., "The libraries of the monks of Durham   OCLC citation" in Parkes, Malcolm B. and Watson, Andrew G., Medieval scribes, manuscripts & libraries: essays presented to N.R. Ker   OCLC citation (London: Scolar Press, 1978), 213-249

Stegmüller, Friedrich, Repertorium biblicum medii aevi   OCLC citation, (Madrid: 1950-1980)

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