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MS 181: Composite manuscript containing six texts, 14th century

Identifier: MS 181


Contains six texts, possibly written by two hands. The first four texts belong to a group of Latin textbooks largely used in schools during the Middle Ages, collectively known as Auctores octo morales ('Eight moral authors'). Catherine Borland erroneously attributes the second, third and fourth text (Liber Faceti docens mores hominum, Liber parabolarum and Liber cartule) to Pope Damasus (pope 366 - 384).

ff. 1r-8r: "Disticha Catonis" ("The Distichs of Cato").

ff. 8v-11v: "Liber Faceti docens mores hominum" ("Book of Facetus teaching the morals of men").

ff. 12r-24v: "Liber parabolarum" ("Book of comparisons") by Alanus de Insulis.

ff. 24v-32v: "Liber cartule".

ff. 33r-46r: "Prophecy of John of Bridlington".

ff. 47r-201v: "French Brute Chronicle, or 'Chronique d'Angleterre'"

The texts are described separately, under MS.181/ff. 1r-8r; MS.181/ff. 8v-11v; MS.181/ff. 12r-24r; MS.181/ff. 24v-32v; MS.181/ff. 32r-46r; MS.181/ff. 47r-201v.


The hand is typical of the late 14th century, fairly good, possibly written by two scribes.


The ornament consists of red and blue filigree initials with simple border on ff. 1r, 47r, and 53r. In the verse part of the Chronicle the ends of the lines are marked in red, and proper names throughout are frequently underlined in red.


  • Creation: 14th century

Language of Materials

Latin and French.

Physical Description

The rubrics have run a little, the margins are badly cropped, and at the beginning the leaves are worm-eaten and stained.

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

An English manuscript, the earliest mark of ownership being the signature on f. 1r C. or G.E. Alva (compare with MS 107). This, with the heraldic book-plate of Charles Areskine of Alva, Esqire, Lord Justice Clerk (1680-1763), bearing the motto Je Pense Plus ('I think more') and a shelf-mark g. 2. 46, show that it belonged to the Alva family. It appears in the Press Catalogue of Lord Alva's library (which is preserved in this library as Edinburgh, University Library, MS Laing 755), and must have been bought by Laing when this collection was dispersed. The signature of David Laing appears on f. 47r.

The content list on f. IV is in hand of Sir Robert Cotton (note of Richard Ovenden 16/1/2000).

Previous reference

Laing 51.

Previous title

Title given to the manuscript in Catherina Borland's catalogue: Cato Disticha; Damasus de Mundo Spernendo; John of Bridlington; Chronique d'Angleterre.

Physical Description

The rubrics have run a little, the margins are badly cropped, and at the beginning the leaves are worm-eaten and stained.

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum.

Binding: Modern blue morocco, gold tooling (compare with that of MS 107).

Collation: a8 - d8, e10, f4, g12, h12, i11, k12 - t12 = 201


17.15 cm x 11.43 cm


Secundo folio: Cumque mines aliquem.

Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 201, irregular number of 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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