Images from over 2,500 medieval manuscripts from the Bodleian and Oxford colleges, with 500 fully digitized items.
The Bodleian’s collection of medieval manuscripts originates with the first books that the University of Oxford acquired. Some were lost with the destruction of Duke Humfrey’s Library in the 16th century, but Sir Thomas Bodley's re-establishment of the university library in 1602 brought in more manuscripts from around the world than the medieval university itself possessed. Many manuscripts originated from the dissolved monasteries of Great Britain.
The collection was further enhanced by donations through the 17th and 18th centuries, such as those of William Laud, Sir Kenelm Digby, and Elias Ashmole. The 19th and early 20th centuries brought further opportunities for acquisitions, notably of books belonging to Francis Douce and Matteo Luigi Canonici. The priorities and interests of such collectors have determined the manuscripts surviving in the Bodleian as much as their medieval creators.
Digitized items include MS. Ashmole 1511, “the Ashmole bestiary”, a richly decorated early 13th century English bestiary; MS. Junius 1, “the Orrmulum”, a 12th century book of verse written in phonetic Middle English, and Exeter College’s MS 47, a psalter owned by both Elizabeth of York and Katherine of Aragon.