Cosin MS V.i.8Anselm and Augustine
Held by: Durham University Library: Cosin Manuscripts

An early 14th century university textbook, produced in Oxford for a Durham monk studying at Durham College, Oxford. It contains two works by St Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury and two by St Augustine of Hippo.


Physical description of manuscript

Parchment (0.13 mm.; smooth; some flaws, sewn up on f.115, and rough edges; quires with flesh-side outermost). Outer and lower edges cropped, see loss of leaf numbering. All leaves tend to fold back on themselves down the line of the space between the written columns; Graham Pollard observed this phenomenon in other university manuscripts and suggested that it was was caused by folding unbound books for storage or transport.

Extent: [1] + 1 (coarse, s. xvii ?) + 141 + 1 (coarse, former pastedown) + [1] f.
Size: 325 mm x 220 mm


Foliated 1-142, repeating 60.

Secundo folio: agat quibus

1-1112, 1210 wants 10 (blank ?).

Catchwords: Catchwords on quires 1-11. Quires 4 and 6 numbered on first recto at extreme lower left. Leaves in the first half of quires 1 and 6-12 numbered in roman in soft brown.
Signatures: Quires 1-10 signed two thirds down lower outer margin in soft brown, a-k, with x at each central gutter on the recto.

The only pricking visible is for the main page and column single or double frame lines (quire 4, f.38-49), or triple for top and bottom writing lines, quire 7, f.73-84).
Written space 250-252 mm (quires 1-2), 253-255 mm (quire 3) or 248-250 mm x 164-166 mm (quires 1-3), 160-175 mm (quire 4), 157 mm (quires 5-7), 154 mm (quire 8), 149-151 mm (quires 9-10) or 146-148 mm.; ruled in greyish brown.
2 columns.
62-67 (quires 1-3) or 52-56 lines per page.


Written expertly, f.1-14/46 (hand I) and ff. 14/46-36v/6 (hand II) in fere-textura, by two hands, with wording for rubrics (hand I) in margins in anglicana;
f. 36v/7 onwards (hand III) in textura, probably all by one somewhat variable hand, using paler ink to start with.


Running titles in red for titles, and for book numbers of (3) and sermon numbers of (4), alternately red and blue characters, under or over cursive pencil prescriptions; repeated for (4) in margin beside initials. Text capitals stroked with red, rather inconspicuosly in stint (I). Paraphs, red or blue, in stint (I). The principal parts of each work are indicated by historiated initials, six in total, featuring humans either as author portraits or clerical figures. Pencilled directions to the artist are still visible next to these:Michael 1998 identifies the artist's work as also found in a copy of Secreta secretorum (BL Add.MS. 47680), also with Oxford connections.

Corrections and annotation

Some side notes in original hands. Notes in soft brown, f.35-38. 15th century notes in ink, f.45-47 and 49-51. sc repeatedly in soft brown in the margins.


Standard Tuckett binding, mid 19th century full brown calf over thick wooden boards (Charles Tuckett, binder to the British Museum, rebound most of the Cosin Manuscripts in the 19th century). f.142v has marks of leather turn-ins of a previous binding, possibly medieval.

Manuscript history

Written in England, Oxford, early 14th century.


The acquisition of this book by Robert Graystanes (d. 1334), a Durham Priory monk who studied at Durham College, Oxford, is recorded in the inscription at the end of the book. Similar inscriptions are found in Durham Cathedral Library MSS A.I.2, B.I.10, B.II.19, B.II.20, B.II.28 and C.I.18). It is likely that the book was both written and bought in Oxford. How it left Durham Priory is not recorded, but by 1663 it was owned by George Davenport, implying it may not have strayed far from Durham Cathedral. Through Davenport the manuscript came into the care of Bishop Cosin's Library.

After the end of the last column of the text, f.141rb, in a larger textura hand and different ink is written on alternate lines of the original ruling, but damaged by partial erasure creating holes in the membrane: liber S. Cuthberti de Dunelmo ex procuracione fratris Roberti de Graystanis. Et continent in eo libri subscripti de similitudinibus de concordia. predestinacionis presciencie et gracie cum libero arbitrio. Anselmi. De libero arbitrio. De uerbis domini super .4. euangelia. De uerbis apostoli. Augustini.

In a late 14th century hand D., and D. Ans de Similitudinibus (followed by erasure, probably of ex-libris), at the top of f.2r, in the usual styles of Durham Priory. This manuscript is in the Durham Priory Cloister Library catalogue of 1395, in the Libri Anselmi section (Durham Cathedral Library MS B.IV.46, f.27v).

Geo.Davenport. 1663. on a paper slip from the previous binding stuck to front pastedown; his list of contents, f.1v. Usual Durham Episcopal Library inscription and shelf-mark by Thomas Rud on f.2r.

Manuscript contents
SECTION: (1)     f.2r-14r
Original title: Similitudines Anselmi
Author: Anselm, Saint, Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109)
Robert de Braci (-1137)
Alexander of Canterbury (active early 12th century)
Incipit: Quod uoluntas dicitur tribus modis. Uoluntas tripliciter intelligitur. voluntas enim dicitur illud anime instrumentum.
Explicit: ita angeli spiritus malignos a sua seuicia cohercent et opprimunt ne nobis noceant inquantum uolunt.
Rubric: Anselmus Cantuariensis archiepiscopus de humanis moribus siue de similitudinibus
Language: Latin

A mixed text of Anselm's De similitudinibus incorporating revisions now attributed to Robert de Braci of Alexander of Canterbury's De humanis moribus, a compilation of the teachings of St Anselm (see their respective entries in Sharp 1997). Additional matter in caps 71 (Memorials of St. Anselm, p. 63/7-9, 98 (ibid., p. 80/18-19), 124 (ibid., p. 86/3-4; etc.), and 125 (ibid., p. 86/15-17). A number of rubrics are omitted. As originally copied there were 203 divisions, counting 18 which has space for a rubric but not for a capital; this results from the amalgamation of 52 & 53, 99 & 100, 105 & 106, 152 & 153, 190 & 191, the division of 5, 6, 25, 89, 104, 122, 132, 182 and 188 into two, of 159 into three, and of 131 into six. Subsequently divisions were introduced where chapters had been amalgamated, save in the case of 190 & 191, and a further division was made in 25. The chapters were numbered 1-197, with no number assigned to 5ii, 25ii & iii, 100, 158, 159i & ii, 160, 182i & ii, and 192.

Edited: Patrologia Latina 159, 605-708
Edited: Memorials of St Anselm
SECTION: (2)     f.14r-19v
Original title: De concordia presciencie et predestinacionis. et gracie dei sum libero arbitrio.
Author: Anselm, Saint, Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109)
Incipit: De tribus illis questionibus in quibus dei presciencie. atque predestinacioni nec non et gracie liberum arbitrium repungnare uidetur
Explicit: si hoc scriberem; quod gratis accepi gratis uolui petentibus impende. Explicit liber anselmi. Cantuariensis archiepiscopi.
Rubric: Incipit liber de concordia presciencie et gracie.
Language: Latin

In addition to the normal tripartite division the scribe indicated by means of marginal numbers a division into 21 sections, of which 8 and 9 comprise Quaestio II.

Edited: Schmitt, S. Anselmi Cantuariensis archiepiscopi opera omnia, v.ii, 245-288.
SECTION: (3)     f.19v-36v
Original title: De libero arbitrio
Author: Augustine, of Hippo, Saint, 354-430
Incipit: Dic mihi queso te utrum deus non sit auctor mali.(R) Dicamus (si) planum feceris; de quo malo queras.
Explicit: et ab hac disputacione requiescere aliquando compellit. Explicit liber augustinus de libero arbitrio.
Rubric: Incipit augustinus. de libero arbitrio.
Language: Latin

Sample readings do not point consistently to any one of the four recensions in CCSL 29. The two speakers are indicated by lightly written letters, mostly in spaces provided, but a few by interlinear addition; as in MS R, the letters are A and R, corresponding to Evodius and Augustinus in CCSL 29.

Edited: CCSL 29, Aurelii Augustini opera, II,2, (Turnhout: Brepols, 1970), 211-321
SECTION: (4)     f.36v-141r
Original title: De verbis Domini et apostoli
Author: Augustine, of Hippo, Saint, 354-430
Incipit: Agite penitenciam appropinquabit enim regnum celorum
Explicit: Deo Gracias. Qui scripsit Carmen sit benedictus. Amen.
Rubric: Incipit liber.augustini. de verbis. domini.
Language: Latin

A cycle of sermons by St Augustine of Hippo broadly consisting of De verbis domini, on texts from the Gospels, and De verbis apostoli, on texts from Acts and the Epistles.

Patrologia Latina 39, 2429-31, lists the collections; in De verbis domini this copy diverges in having Sermon App. 72 instead of App. 70 as No. 14, and in De verbis apostoli in having Sermon App. 109 between Sermons 131 and 163, and ending after Sermon 167. These features are discussed in Verbraken 1967, where a classification of the manuscripts is offered. Although here the rubric and the illuminated initial at the beginning of Sermon 384 (f.102) make it the first in De verbis apostoli, putting this copy in Family A, the capitula to De verbis apostoli come after Sermon 384, with the next sermon, Sermon 131, numbered 1 (f.102v), indicating an exemplar with Sermon 384 as the last in De verbis domini, and so belonging to Family B. The opening of Sermon 117 (f. 70v) is not divergent, quite possibly as a result of intelligent correction, but otherwise this copy has the features of the group B1* type, described by Verbraken (p.37) as spécifiquement anglaise. Sermon 112 ends obdormiam in morte (f.67v), while De verbis apostoli has Sermon App. 109 as No. 2, and ends after Sermon 167. In the capitula to De verbis domini (f.36v) no. 2 is divided and the latter part is numbered 3, so that the following capitula are numbered one too high, up to 50, numbered 51; since what should be 51 is omitted, 52-65 are numbered correctly. Durham Cathedral Library MS B.II.18, the twelfth century copy of these sermons that belonged to Durham Cathedral Priory, does not appear to be the immediate source of this error. Verbraken only cites DCL MS B.II.18 and does not include this manuscript in his study.

SECTION: (5)     f.141v-142r

Unruled blank, save for 14th century notes in soft brown on De verbis Domini and one in ink on De verbis Apostoli on f.142.

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

Digitised material for Durham University Library. Cosin Manuscript V.i.8 - Anselm and Augustine
Digitised October 2015 as part of the Durham Priory Library Recreated project


S. Anselmi ex beccensi abbate Cantuariensis archiepiscopi Opera omnia nec non Eadmeri monachi Historia novorum et alia opuscula (Patrologia Latina 158-9) (Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1853-1854)

Sancti Aurelii Augustini Hipponensis Episcopi opera omnia (Patrologia Latina 32-47) (Paris: J.-P. Migne, 1841-1865)

Gameson, Richard, "A Durham monk at university", in Gameson, Richard, ed., Treasures of Durham University Library   OCLC citation, 54-57 (London: Third Millennium, 2007)

Michael, M. A., "Urban production of manuscript books and the role of the university towns" in The Cambridge history of the book in Britain. Volume 2, 1100-1400   OCLC citation, ed. Morgan, Nigel J. and Thomson, Rodney M. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 168-194

Schmitt, F. S., S. Anselmi Cantuariensis archiepiscopi opera omnia (Rome/Edinburgh: Seckau, 1938-61)

Southern, R. W., and Schmitt, F. S., Memorials of St. Anselm Auctores Britannici Medii Aevi 1 (London: OUP for British Academy, 1969)

Green, W. M., ed., Aurelii Augustini opera, II,2, (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina, 29; 1970)

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])

Sharpe, Richard, A handlist of the Latin writers of Great Britain and Ireland before 1540   OCLC citation (Turnhout: Brepols, 1997)

Verbraken, P., "La collection de sermons de Saint Augustin «De verbis Domini et apostoli»", Revue Bénédictine 77 (1967), 27-46

Index terms