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MS 136: Works on Latin prosody by John Seward, c 1410-1422

Identifier: MS 136
f. 49r
f. 49r

Scope and Contents

MS 136 is a volume of works by the fifteenth-century London schoolmaster, John Seward (or Seguarde). Seward wrote about a dozen short treatises on Latin prosody during the reigns of Henry IV and Henry V, and these works were primarly known and examined in a manuscript of Merton College, Oxford, thought to be unique. However, examination of MS 136 reveals that the Merton manuscript is a slightly later, and finer copy of the original text contained in MS 136. In fact, MS 136 is most probably Seward's own copy of his collected works, which he edited over his life, and was intended to be used for fair copies, such as the Merton College volume. Seward's works, in MS 136, are significant because they are a unique fifteenth-century study of Latin verse in England, which preserves both the long legacy of medieval Latin scholars, while also bearing early marks of Renaissance thought on English work on Latin poetry.

Compendium super modis significandi essentialibus et specificis partium singularium: starts on f. 1 recto. It opens with the words [A?]ncrosten theologice veritatis professori, and ends on f. 10v with in parte dextera coronandi. Amen. Explicit compendium Seward super modis signincandi essentialibus et speciebus partium singularium.

Hisagoga Metrica: begins on f. 11r, with the words [R]everendissimo in xpo patri et domino Domino Roberto divina providentia Sarum Episcoposuus Johannes Seward, and ends on f. 30r with det cuncta sciens cunctaque cernens qui sit laus honor et gloria semper. Amen. Explicit hisagoga metrica Johannis Seward.

Mamilla starts on f. 31v, with the words [Q]uam nuper inscripsi mamillam domino meo phillippo episcopo lincolniensi, and ends on f. 41v with eximie sancteque presul vale feliciter. Explicit mamilla Johannis Seguard.

Somnium begins on f. 42r, with Euthencus somnii Johannis Seguard Dialogicus et sinthachos ad magistrum Simonem Southrey Priorem monasterii sancti Albani sic incipit, and ends on f. 68v with et supradictorum solvuntur offendicula. Valete feliciter. Explicit Somnium Johannis Seguard.

Metristencheridion begins on f. 69r, opening with the words Metristencheridion J. S. ad magistrum Ricardum Courtenay divina providencia Episcopum Norwicensem. It ends on f. 143v, nee edax abolere vetustas. Explicit metristencheridion J. S.

Arpyilogus begins on f. 144r. It opens with [F]elix qui poterit causas cognoscere rerum, and ends with qui tres est et idem, deus incrementa ministret. Explicit Arpyilogus Johannis Seguard. on f. 170r.

Brachilexis sancte Arpyie begins on f. 170r, with Sancta Arpyia cuntis ait. [G]noti ce liton homo, and ends on f. 171r with venerare dei qui ministres. Explicit Brachilexis sancte Arpyie.

Antelopologie starts with Prosopepeie sed antelopologie Johannis Seguard ad serenissimum principem henricum primogenitum nuper illustrissimi principis henrici quarti post conquestum Regis Anglie dum hec fierent ; dei gratia principem Wallie; nunc autem eadem gratia Regem antedicti regni gratiosissimum invocatio on f. 171r, and finishes on f. 175r with quarti sub regni nono genuoque Novembri. Explicit antelopologia Johannis Seguard. Bis septingeni septembris ter quarto [?] quini—Unius hec opus esse dei scit et hinc onerat usque.

Epistola Johannis Seguard ad perspicatissimam et discretissimam universitatem Oxonie appears on ff. 176r-178r, beginning with [R]everendissimis in Xpo patribus et dominis Domino Cancellario, and ending with Anno regni Regis Henrici quarti post conquestum Anglie tertio decimo.

Ludicra starts on f. 179r, with the words [P]resumtuosos et errantes in metricis oblatratus eorum, and finishes on f. 189r with hec prodire faciat In communione. Valete. Expliciunt ludicra Johannis Seguard.

Invectives starts on f. 189v, with Hie incipiunt invectivae Johannis Seguard in Willelmum Relyk et magistrum Willelmum Sheffeld, and ends on f. 203v with vestraque tantillo concedite feria ludo.

Epigrams are contained on ff. 203v-220r, beginning with Johannes Seguard Rufino suo docenti grammaticam in Strata Lumbardorum epigramma, and finishing with Conclusio libelli. Ut Relyk ut Sheffeld in Seguard invehit usque. Jam praemissa brevis pagina quenquam docet.


The volume is in a typical fifteenth-century hand. The script does vary, to the point of seeming to be almost different hands, but it is in fact most probably the author's copy, and is a collected edition of Seward's works written over a period of years, and featuring many emendations and alterations to earlier passages. That the volume is by one hand is futher attested to by attempts to unify the text with references to the work that follows in one piece to the next.


Initials have never been inserted.


  • Creation: c 1410-1422


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to all. The manuscripts can be consulted in the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Main Library.


1 bound MS volume

Custodial History

On the first fly-leaf there is an inscription, partially cropped but still decipherable, indicating that the book was in the possession of the Austin Canons of St. Osyth at Chich (Essex).

Some indications of later ownership are also found. On the inner cover there is the name Tho. Martin, and the bookplate of John Towneley, Esq., and Laing's signature. The first refers to Thomas Martin of Palgrave, who got most of his books from Peter le Neve of Norfolk, and whose books were sold in 1769 and 1771. This may then have passed to the Towneley Collection, which was sold in its turn in 1814-15 and 1817. Laing may have obtained it then or later. Martin inserts on a paper fly-leaf a complete Tabula and some bibliographical notes. A second page of bibliographical notes by a more modern hand has been pasted in at the beginning.

Previous title

Title given to the manuscript in Catherine Borland’s catalogue: Opera Johannis Seguardi.

Previous reference

Laing 148


V.H. Galbraith, 'John Seward and his circle: Some London Scholars of the Early Fifteenth Century", Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies, Vol. 1 (1941), pp. 85-104.
N.R. Ker,’Patrick Young’s catalogue of the manuscripts of Lichfield Cathedral', Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies, vol. II, (1950), pp.159-168.
Brother Bonaventure, 'The teaching of Latin in later medieval England', Medieval Studies, Vol. 23, (1961), pp. 1-20.

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum

Binding: Modern

Collation: a101, b8, c3, d9, e11, f8, g8, h12, i8-p8, q7, r8, s5, t8-y8, z16, A16, B12=220.


20.64 cm X 13.97 cm


Secundo folio: entium non nisi

Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff . 220, about 28 lines to a page.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
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Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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