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Composite manuscript containing four texts, 12th-13th century

Identifier: MS 123
f. 155v
f. 155v


This major text contained in this manuscript is Isidore of Seville’s Etymologiae, one of the most important texts of the Middle Ages, which was probably originally written around the start of the 7th century. It is accompanied by other related works in this manuscript, which dates from the 12th or 13th century and was probably made in Lucelle, France. The contents are as follows:

ff. 1r-144v: Etymologiae by Isidore of Seville

ff. 144v-154v: De natura rerum by Isidore of Seville

ff. 154v-155v: Descriptions of various medieval arts, from De coloribus et artibus Romanorum by Eraclius and De diversis artibus by Theophilus Presbyter

ff. 155v-158v: Antiphons in honour of Saint Thomas of Canterbury

There is a small extra section of vellum inserted after f. 158, with a small illumination. The front and back boards contain unidentified text.

The texts are described separately under MS 123/ff. 1r-144v; MS 123/ff. 144v-154v; MS 123/ff. 154v-155v; and MS 123/ff. 155v-158v.


The script is good and uniform, rather compressed, with plain red capitals to chapters.


Very handsome decorative book initials with conventional foliage and occasional human or animal heads boldly executed in rather unusual colouring, i.e. green, blue, vermilion, lake, and yellowish buff. All the pigments are heavy. There are diagrams throughout, and the tables of relationships are very fully illustrated with pen-drawings of various subjects in red and black on thin buff grounds.


  • Creation: 12th-13th century


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

The colophon to the first section on f. 144 v (see Contents of the Etymologiae by Isidore of Seville at MS 123/ff. 1r-144v) gives precise details as to the scribe.

In her Descriptive Catalogue of the Western Medieval Manuscripts in Edinburgh University Library, Catherine Borland suggests that the scribe was a writer of legal documents, as she understood lucelensis to be derived from lucellus or libellus, a particular land of deed of conveyance. She translates meticuriensis as a compound of Metac (Metz) and curia, suggesting a court scribe at Metz as the subject of the colophon.

However, in his article “A Manuscript from Lucelle” (see Bibliography), C.P. Finlayson suggests that meticuriensis means that one of the scribe’s parents was from Metz, and the other from Chur, Switzerland. He also suggests that lucelensis refers to the Cistercian abbey at Lucelle, where this manuscript was probably made.

The next mark of ownership is the inscription on f. 1, Ex Bibliotheca Reisachiorum 1809. This refers to the library of the Carmelite cloister of Reisach at Rosenheim in Upper Bavaria. The manuscript can be found in their 1806 catalogue (see Bibliography). Another inscription inside the upper board reads Isidori Episcopi Hispalcnsis Liber Ethimologiarum, etc. Ex Reis. 3 Feb. [1]820, No. 14, MS. to. This could refer to the manuscript’s movement to the sale-room. It was bequeathed to Edinburgh University Library in 1878 by David Laing.

Previous reference

Laing 147

Previous title

Title given to the manuscript in Catherine Borland’s catalogue: Isidori Hispalensis Etymologiae, etc.


Brown, Carleton. English Lyrics of the XIIIth Century. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1932. p. 198.
Finlayson, C.P. “A Manuscript from Lucelle.” Scriptorium 32 (1978): 259.
Reece, Gustave. Music in the Middle Ages: With an Introduction on the Music of Ancient Times. New York: W.W. Norton, 1940. p. 242.
Reisach, Hans Adam. Biblioteca Reisachiana. Steinberg, 1806. pp. 9-10.
Waley Singer, Dorothea. Catalogue of Latin and Vernacular Alchemical Manuscripts in Great Britain and Ireland Dating from Before the XVI Century, Vol. II. Brussels: Maurice Lamertin, 1930. pp. 593 and 689.

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum

Binding: Oak boards, covered pigskin, tooled, 5 studs on each board lost, 2 straps (one pin lost), chain mark, marks of metal frame in which the title was encased still visible on front board.

Collation: a8-t8, v6=158


41.91 cm x 27.94 cm


Secundo folio: singulis prout vult

Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 158, double columns, 42 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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