Manuscript Research: Identifying Texts and Locating Secondary Literature

I. Identifying Latin Texts in Manuscripts

II.  Locating Scholarship on Latin Manuscripts

I. Identifying Latin Texts in Manuscripts

As a rule the best and easiest way to identify texts is to locate a reliable and up-to-date catalogue of the manuscript in question. See the separate bibliography on Medieval and Modern Manuscript Catalogues. Failing that, or if there is some reason to doubt the cataloguer’s attribution, a text can be identified by author or title, or by incipit or explicit. Note that many of the databases listed under “Incipits and Explicits” can also be searched by author or title.

Comprehensive Reference Works:

Bibliographies and Repertories:

Richard Sharpe, List of Identifications (large .pdf file). Prepared for the series Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues, now incorporated into the database Medieval Libraries of Great Britain.

For other bibliographies and repertories of medieval Latin named and anonymous authors generally, see the separate bibliography on Medieval Latin Literature. For bibliographies of patristic authors and medieval Latin theologians and exegetes, see the separate bibliographies on The Bible and Its Interpretation and Theology and Dogma. For repertories of named and anonymous authors of other genres, see the relevant topical bibliographies.

Introductions, Guides, and Handbooks:

Richard Sharpe, Titulus: Identifying Medieval Latin Texts. An Evidence-Based Approach (Turnhout, 2003).  Thorough guide to the methods and bibliography of identification; covers inter alia authors and titles, incipits, medieval library catalogues, databases, and includes “A Shelf of Reference Books.” See esp. “Author and Title,” pp. 34-45; “Incipit,” pp. 45-59; “Incipitaria,” pp. 127-51; and in the “Shelf of Reference Books” sections A (Authors) and B (Texts).

Jacques BerliozIdentifier sources et citations, l’Atelier du médiéviste 1 (Turnhout, 1994). Table of Contents.

Pascale Bourgain, Identification des textes (Theleme).


François Dolbeau, “Critique d’attribution, critique d’authenticité. Réflexions préliminaires,” Filologia mediolatina 6-7 (1999-2000), 33-61. 

By Author

Attributions in manuscripts (and in early print editions) are often wrong, so must be controlled by current literature on the author in question.


CALMA: Compendium Auctorum Latinorum Medii Aevi (500-1500), ed. Michael Lapidge et al. (Florence, 2000- ).   Through Henricus de Coisveldia as of 2016. The list of sources in the supplement is a valuable comprehensive bibliography of repertories.

For pseudonymous works that were wrongly attributed to patristic authors see J. MachielsenClavis Patristica Pseudipigraphorum Medii Aevi, 3 vols. 5 parts (Turnhout, 1990- ). :  IA-B: Homiletica; IIA: Theologica Exegetica; IIB: Ascetica Monastica; IIIA Artes Liberales.

Authority Files:

For the variant forms of medieval authors’ names consult the standard authority files, especially:

BISLAM. Bibliotheca Scriptorum Latinorum Medii Recentiorisque Aevi = Repertory of Medieval and Renaissance Latin Authors, vol. 1: Gli Autori in “Medioevo Latino: = Authors in “Medioevo Latino,” ed. R. Gamberini (Florence, 2003).  Intended to be a complete listing of all known medieval Latin authors, with standard and variant forms of their names. Volume 1 includes all authors registered in Medioevo Latino. 1-21; each entry lists the standard form of the name along with any variant forms, and indexes all references in Medioevo Latino.  Included in the database  Mirabile: Digital Archives for Medieval Latin Culture (as “BISLAM”),

Index scriptorum novus mediae latinitatis. Ab anno DCCC usque ad annum MCC (Hafniae, 1973). 

Bruno Bon et al., Index scriptorum novus mediae latinitatis. Supplementum (1973-2005) (Geneva, 2006). 


Maria Teresa Donati, “The Authority File of the Biblioteca di Cultura Medievale,” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 39 (2004), 585-96. 

Roberto Gamberini, “The Compilation of an Authority List for Medieval Latin Authors: Objectives, Methodological Issues, and Results,” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 39 (2004), 597-606. 

Roberto Gamberini and Maria Teresi Donati, “Medieval Latin Authors: Authority List and Authority File,” E-LIS E-prints in Library and Information Science

Introductions, Guides, and Handbooks:

See generally Berlioz, Identifier sources et citations, pp. 27-32.

For texts printed in the Patrologia Latina, begin with P. Glorieux, Pour revaloriser Migne: Tables rectitatives (Lille, 1952)  and follow up as necessary with more recent literature.

By Title

Titles often vary in wording and/or word-order, and texts sometimes had alternative titles (e.g., Isidore of Seville’s De natura rerum was often called Liber rotarum because of all the wheel-diagrams it contains).  See especially Sharpe, Titulus, and consult the major repertories of authors and texts in the separate bibliographies Medieval Latin Literature and General Bibliographies and Reference Works.

Editions of medieval book catalogues will also help determine the various titles under which a given work might circulate; for these, see the separate bibliography on Medieval and Modern Manuscript Catalogues. A particularly good resource for information on variant titles is the edition of the early fourteenth-century Registrum Anglie de libris doctorum et auctorum veterum by Richard H. Rouse, Mary A. Rouse, and R. A. B. Mynors, Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues (London, 1991).

Mirabile: Manoscritti. Search under “Texts / Anonymous Works: Title.”

Bianca-Jeanette Schröder, Titel und Text: Zur Entwicklung lateinischer Gedichtsüberschriften. Mit Untersuchungen zu lateinischen Buchtiteln, Inhaltsverzeichnissen und anderen Gliederungsmitteln (Berlin, 1999).

Specific Titles:

Generic Titles:

Paul Lehmann, Mittelalterliche Büchertitel, Sitzungsberichte der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil.-hist. Klasse 1948, no. 4 and 1953, no. 3. Discusses generic titles of medieval works both descriptive (e.g., expositio) and metaphorical (e.g, speculum). The second part has an index of authors and titles.

C. Moussy, “Les appelations latines des titres des livres,” and Louis Holtz, “Titre et incipit,” in Titres et articulations du texte dans les oeuvres antiques, ed. J.-C. Fredouille et al. (Paris, 1997), pp. 1-7 and 469-89.

Vocabulaire du livre et de l’écriture au moyen âge, ed. Olga Weijers (Turnhout, 1989). Includes François Dolbeau, “Noms de livres,” pp. 79-99.

Dictionnaires et répertoires au moyen age: une étude du vocabulaire, ed. Olga Weijers (Turnhout, 1991). 

Herbert Grabes and Gordon Collier, The Mutable Glass: Mirror-Imagery in Titles and Texts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (Cambridge, 1982) Catalogues texts with titles beginning with Speculum (etc.) or Specula (etc.).

By Incipit/Explicit


Sharpe, Titulus, pp. 127-51 and 275-81. 

Berlioz, Identifier sources et citations, pp. 38-43 and 204-7.

Medieval Latin Literature, ed. Mantello and Rigg, sect. BC: “Repertories of Authors, Texts, and Initia,” pp. 37-43.

Leonard Boyle, Medieval Latin Palaeography: A Bibliographical Introduction (Toronto, 1984), pp. 295-98.   Note also the cross-references on p. 295 to other works in the bibliography which contain lists of incipits.

Laurel Nichols Braswell, Western Manuscripts from Classical Antiquity to the Renaissance: A Handbook (New York, 1981), pp. 101-104. 

Medioevo Latino. See the section “Dizionari, Elaborazione elettronica dei dati, Incipitari, Manuali, Repertori ed enciclopedie.” In the Mirabile database search “Incipitari e explicitari.”

Comprehensive Incipitaria:

In Principio: Index of Latin Texts. Combines incipits from the Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Texts, the Hill Monastic Microfilm Library, and  Bibliothèque nationale de France as well as from other sources, including Stegmüller, Repertorium Biblicum Medii Aevi.  Can be searched and browsed by incipit, explicit, author, and title (“work”) as well as my manuscript. See the User’s Manual for details.

Hill Museum and Manuscript Library: Detailed Manuscript Text Search.  Requires free registration.  Search HMML manuscript descriptions by author, title, or incipit (use the “Legacy Catalogue”).

Mirabile: DB Mediolatino. Can be searched by author, title, incipit or by manuscript.  In “Ricerca avanzata” (go to “Ricerca globale” and then change the URL in your browser from “globale.aspx” to “avanzata.aspx”), under “Opere / Testi anonimi” click on “Dati generali” to open search boxes for incipit and explicit.

Repertorium initiorum manuscriptorum latinorum Medii Aevi, ed. Jacqueline Hamesse, 4 vols., Textes et études du moyen âge, 42 (Louvain-la-Neuve, 2007-2010). Includes primarily unpublished material, focusing on philosophical and theological manuscripts from the High Middle Ages and later.  Vol. 4 contains supplemental incipits and indices of authors, sermons, and manuscripts.  See the review essay by Kent Emery, “Two New Heuristic Instruments and the Ideal Order of Research in Medieval Philosophy,” Bulletin de Philosophie Médiévale 52 (2010), 235-50.

B. Haureau, Initia operum scriptorum latinorum medii potissimum aevi ex codicibus manuscriptis et libris impressis, 8 vols. (repr. Turnhout, 1973-74).  Collected from manuscripts in Paris and the Vatican, with two volumes of appendices collected from manuscripts in Munich, Göttingen and Brussels.

For the later Middle Ages, also consult:

A. G. Little, Initia operum latinorum quae saeculis xiii., xiv., xv. attribuuntur secundum ordinem alphabeticum disposita (Manchester, 1904).  Based on Bodleian and Oxford College manuscripts.

Full-Text Databases Searchable by Incipit/Explicit and/or Author and Title

GoogleGoogle Books and Google Scholar can also be profitably searched for incipits.  With all such searches the most distinctive and least variable sequence of words is best, but experiment with multiple possible variations in spelling and word order or grammatical form, and with likely substitutions of synonyms and with or without words that might easily be omitted or added.

Bibliotheca Teubneriana Latina (Stuttgart, 1999). .  Can be searched by title, author, and genre; incipits can be found by full-text search (but results cannot be limited to incipits).  See the Search Help.

dMGH: Monumenta Germaniae Historica.  In addition to searching for incipits in full-text, one can locate indexes of initia in the series by searching “Initienverzeichnis” and “Initienregister.”

Databases of Manuscript Catalogues Searchable by Incipit/Explicit and/or Author and Title


Europeana Collections.  Search “manuscripts” and “(la)” for Latin; then narrow by selecting Providing Country, Aggregator, or Institution, or by adding other search terms (author, title, incipit, iconographic motif, etc.).

Europeana Regia, a Digital Collaborative Library of Royal Library Collections.  Main focus is on three collections:  Biblioteca Carolina (manuscripts from royal Carolingian libraries); Library of Charles V and Family; and Library of the Aragonese Kings of Naples.  Searchable by title and author as well as shelfmark, but not by incipit.

Manuscripta Mediaevalia. Database of manuscript catalogues mainly of libraries in German-speaking countries. Select “Initium/Incipit”; can be searched inter alia by author, title, title keyword or keyword.

Manuscriptorium: Digital Library of Written Cultural Heiitage.  Aggregates digital collections of the National Library of the Czech Republic; Museum of Western Bohemia; Moravian Library; Madrid, Universidad Complutense; Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, and others. Go to “Digital Library” for search screen; searchable by Titles, Authors, Shelf-mark, Description, Location, Date, Keywords, and more.

Monastic Manuscript Project.  Includes pull-down lists of initia, authors, and titles.

By Region/Country:

Austria: Mittelalterliche Handschriften in Österreich. Searchable by incipit, author, title, shelfmark and (under “Detailsuche”) many other categories.


Catalogue Collectif de France: Manuscrits et Archives. Allows simultaneous searches of Calames, Catalogue général des manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France, BnF-Archives et Manuscrits.  Searchable by author, title, and more; under “2 Saissez vos critères de recherche” use the search box “Mots clés” to search incipits.

Calames. Online catalogue of archives and manuscripts in French University and Research libraries. Incipits searchable as “Keywords”; under “More search options” can be searched (and browsed, select “Feuilleter”) by title words and in the pull-down Index menu also by subject, individual person, and work title.

BnF: Archives et manuscrits: Formulaire de recherches. Includes the catalogues of the BnF, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Europeana Regia [under “Collections Partenaires,” including the Bibl. Sainte-Geneviève and the municipal libraries of Amiens, Valenciennes, Reims, Grenoble, Louviers, Rouen, Besançon and Angers] and [under “Collections Partenaires: Gallica marque blanche”] the Bibl. nationale et univ. de Strasbourg).  Incipits can be searched under “Tous les mots”; also searchable by author, title, and shelfmark.

Marie-Hélène Jullien and Françoise Perelman, Clavis Scriptorum latinorum medii aevi. Auctores Galliae 735-987, 4 vols. to date (Turnhout, 1994- ).   Vol. I: Abbon de Saint-Germain – Ermold le Noir; Vol. II: Alcuin; Initia are inlcuded in Vol. II: Indices.


Manuscripta Mediaevalia.  See above under “Comprehensive.”

Bibliotheca Laureshamensis digital.  Database of manuscripts originally from the library of Lorsch, now dispersed. Can be searched by author/person, title or title phrase, incipit, subject, and shelfmark.

Bibliotheca Palatina digital.  Database of manuscripts originally from the Palatine library of Heidelberg, now in the Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg and the Vatican Library.  Same search menu as the previous database.

Virtuelles Skriptorium St. Matthias (Trier).  Database of manuscripts originally in the Benediktinerabtei St. Matthias, Trier, now dispersed.  Under “Erweitete Suche” can be searched by title, author, incipit, shelfmark.

Great Britain and Ireland:

T. Tanner, Bibliotheca Britannico-Hibernica: sive De scriptoribus qui in Anglia, Scotia, et Hibernia ad saeculi XVII initium floruerunt . . . commentarius (Oxford, 1748; rpt Tuscon, AZ, 1963). 

Richard Sharpe, A Handlist of the Latin Writers of Great Britain and Ireland before 1540 (Turnhout, 2001).   Does not regularly provide incipits since the works are identifiable by author/title.

Michael Lapidge and Richard Sharpe, A Bibliography of Celtic-Latin Literature 400-1200, Royal Irish Academy Dictionary of Medieval Latin from Celtic Sources, Ancillary Publications 1 (Dublin, 1985). Incipits are included in the General Index. 

Low Countries:

Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections.  Searchable by author and title/contents. Incipits can be searched under “Free text search” but they are not systematically recorded.

Online Guide to Manuscripts in Wallonia and Brussels. Search incipits in “free search”; “assisted search” allows searching by author/title.

Brussels, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique.  Searchable by author, title, subject.

Italy and Vatican City:

Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. Searchable by author/name, title, subject, incipit and explicit.

Biblioteca Ambrosiana


Manuel C. Díaz y Díaz, Index Scriptorum Latinorum Medii Aevi Hispanorum (Madrid, 1959).

Biblioteca Digital Real Academia de la Historia. Searchable by author and title.

Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España


e-codices: Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland. Searchable by person names, text title, incipit, explicit, shelfmark, decoration.

By Library:

Basel, Universitätsbibliothek:

HAN Combined Catalogue.  Searchable by title and author; incipits can be searched under “Keywords in all fields” and browsed (select Initium in the pull-down menu “Choose a list”).

Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, Parker Library:

Parker Library on the Web

Cologne (Köln), Dombibliothek:

Codices Electronici Ecclesiae Colonienis.  Searchable by author, title, incipit and explicit (whole line or individual words).

London, British Library:

Archives and Manuscripts. Choose “Description” to search incipits and titles; also searchable by name and subject.

Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek:

Münchener DigitaliseirungsZentrum: Digitale Bibliothek. Searchable by title, author, and shelfmark.

Schneller Sucheinstieg in Kataloge und Datenbanken (in Auswahl).  Choose from multiple databases relating to  Munich manuscript holdings.

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France:

Gallica. Select “Rechercher … dans les manuscrits.”

Vatican City, Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana:

Digital Vatican Library.  Searchable by author, title, shelfmark; incipits can be searched in “All fields.”  A check-box enables including non-digitized items.

Wolfenbüttel, Herzog-August Bibliothek:

Handschriftendatenbank.  Titles, authors, and incipits can be searched in the simple search box (there is no advanced search function). Can also be browsed by author.

Würzburg, Universitätsbibliothek:

Libri Sancti Kyliani Digital.  Database of manuscripts originally in the Würzburg Dombibliothek.  Searchable by person, title, incipit/explicit.

Print Manuscript Catalogues with Indices of Incipits

See the separate bibliography on Medieval and Modern Manuscript Catalogues.

For print catalogues that have been digitized, see the lists of online catalogues:

Manuscripta Mediaevalia

Handschriftenkataloge Online (UB Kassel)

Online Catalogues of Medieval Manuscripts (Monastic Manuscript Project)

Many print manuscript catalogues that have not been digitized in a manuscript or library database will have been digitized in Google Books.

An exhaustive search for manuscripts of a given text will involve systematically browsing the incipit indices of print catalogues that have not been digitized. The standard comprehensive list of print catalogues is Paul O. Kristeller and Sigrid KramerLatin Manuscript Books before 1600.  The indices from catalogues listed in Kristeller to about 1980 are reproduced in microfilm by F. E. CranzA Microfilm Corpus of the Indexes to Printed Catalogues of Latin Manuscripts Before 1600 A. D. based on P.O. Kristeller, Latin Manuscript Books before 1600, 3rd ed. (New London, 1982). Since 1996 Medioevo Latino has been indexing contents (by author, with titles gathered under generic headings; incipits sometimes included) from catalogues published in the year covered in each volume.

By Genre


Alfred Cordoliani, “Les Traités de comput du Haut Moyen Age: 526-1003,” Archivum Latinitatis Medii Aevi (Bulletin du Cange), 17 (1942), 51-72. 

Alfred Cordoliani, “Répertoire, par ordre d’incipits, des pièces de vers de comput,” Studi medievali ser. 3, vol. 2 (1961), 181-208. 

Alfred Cordoliani, “Contribution à la littérature du comput ecclésiastique au haut moyen âge,” Studi medievali, 3rd ser. 1 (1960), 107-37 and 2 (1961), 167-208. 

Commentaries on Classical Authors:

Paul Oskar Kristeller, ed., Catalogus translationum et commentariorum: Mediaeval and Renaissance Latin Translations and Commentaries. Annotated Lists and Guides (Washington, D. C., 1960- ).

Gregory Hays, The Commentary Tradition in the Middle Ages: An Introductory Bibliography

See also the separate bibliography on The Classics in the Middle Ages: Transmission and Influence.


Charles H. Lohr, Latin Aristotle Commentaries. III: Index initiorum – Index finium (Florence, 1995). 

Steven J. Livesey, COMMBASE: An Electronic Database of Medieval Commentators on Aristotle and Peter Lombard’s Sentences

Rodney M. ThomsonCatalogue of Medieval Manuscripts of Latin Commentaries on Aristotle in British Libraries, Volume II: Cambridge. Catalogue of Medieval Manuscripts of Latin Commentaries on Aristotle in British Libraries 2 (Turnhout, 2013). 

Niels Jürgen Green-Pedersen, The Tradition of the Topics in the Middle Ages. The Commentaries on Aristotle’s and Boethius’ ‘Topics’ (Munich, 1984). Incipits at pp. 382-431. 


Frank T. Coulson and B. Roy, Incipitarium Ovidianum (Turnhout, 2000).

Frank T. Coulson, “Addenda and Corrigenda to Incipitarium Ovidianum, Journal of Medieval Latin Studies 12 (2002) 154-80. 

Kathryn McKinley, Reading the Ovidian Heroine: “Metamorphoses” Commentaries 1100-1618 (Leiden, 2001).


See Kaske, Medieval Christian Literary Imagery, pp. 130-31.


The Virgilian Tradition. The First Fifteen Hundred Years, ed. Jan M. Ziolkowski and Michael C. J. Putnam (New Haven, 2008). 

See also KaskeMedieval Christian Literary Imagery, pp. 118-21.


M. W. Bloomfield, B.-G. Guyot, D. R. Howard, and T. B. Kabealo, Incipits of Latin Works on the Virtues and Vices, 1100-1500 A.D. (Cambridge, MA, 1979).

Richard Newhauser and István Bejczy, A Supplement to Morton Bloomfield et al. Incipits of Latin Works on the Virtues and Vices, 1100-1500 A.D., Instrumenta Patristica et Mediaevalia 50 (Turnhout, 2008).


Regesta Imperii, Initienverzeichnis


G. L. Bursill-Hall, A Census of Medieval Latin Grammatical Works (Stuttgart, 1981).


Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Manuscripta

Monastica: A Dynamic Library and Research Tool


See also the separate bibliography on Sermons and Homilies. Many of the comprehensive incipitaria listed above include sermons. Among those devoted specifically to sermons are:

Répertoire d’incipit de sermons latins. Antiquité tardive et Moyen Age (Paris, 1987). 240 microfiche reproducing the card-files of the IRHT  These are presumably now all incorporated into the In Principio database.

Johannes Machielsen, Clavis Patristica Pseudepigraphorum Medii Aevi, I: Opera Homiletica, 2 vols. (Turnhout, 1990) II, 941-98. 

Réginald Grégoire, Homiliaires liturgiques médiévaux: Analyse des manuscrits (Spoleto, 1980).

Henri Barré, Les Homiliaires carolingiens de l’école d’Auxerre, Studi e Testi 225 (Rome, 1962).

Germain Morin, Sanctus Caesarius Arelatensis sermones, Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina 103-104. The alphabetical inventory includes many falsely attributed sermons.

Johann Baptist Schneyer, Repertorium der lateinischen Sermones des Mittelalters für die Zeit von 1150-1350, 11 vols., Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters 43/1-11 (Münster i.W. 1969-90).  For analyses of Schneyer’s work, see Kaske, Medieval Christian Literary Imagery, p. 81, and Berlioz, Identifier sources et citations, pp. 204-5.

Johann Baptist Schneyer, Wegweiser zu lateinischen Predigtreihen des Mittelalters (Munich, 1965).  Alphabetical list of biblical ‘themes’ of sermons and initia from the 12th through16th centuries. See KaskeMedieval Christian Literary Imagery, , p. 81. Includes a bibliography of lists of initia of scholastic preachers and anonymous scholastic sermons, pp. 547-55.

Jacques-Guy Bougerol, “Initia latinorum sermonum ad laudes S. Francisci,” Antonianum 57 (1982), 706-90. 

For others, see BerliozIdentifier sources et citations, pp. 204-7.


Ursula Jaitner-HahnerInitia humanistica latina. Initienverzeichnis lateinischer Prosa und Poesie aus der Zeit des 14. bis 16. Jahrhunderts:  I: Poesie (Tübingen, 1985); II/1: Prosa A-M (Tübingen, 1990); II/2, Prosa N-Z (Tübingen, 2004). 


Initia Corporis Iuris Civilis

Giovanna Murano, Initia Operum Canonici Medii Aevi. A Shortlist of Works, arranged by Their Incipit Words

Repertorium utriusque iuris. A Tool for Identifying Legal References

Medieval Manuscripts of Canon Law and Roman Law

H. Mordek, Kirchenrecht und Kirchenreform im Frankenreich: Die Collectio Vetus Gallica (Berlin, 1975).

Stephan Kuttner, Index titulorum decretalium ex collectionibus tam privatis quam publicis conscriptus (Milan, 1977). Covers the period 1140-1317.

Linda Fowler-Magerl, Clavis Canonum: Selected Canon Law Collections before 1140: Access with Data Processing, MGH Hilfsmittel 21 (Hannover, 2005).  Now searchable online:  Fowler-Magerl Clavis Canonum.


Klaus Gamber, Codices Liturgici Latini Antiquiores, 2 vols., Spicilegii Friburgensis Subsidia 1 (Fribourg, 1968). The standard catalogue for liturgical manuscripts up to c.a. 800. With an Ergänzerungs- und Registerband, ed. B. Baroffio et al. (Fribourg, 1988).

Andrew Hughes, Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to Their Organization and Terminology (Toronto, 1982).

Andrew Hughes, Medieval Liturgical Books in Twenty-Three Spanish Libraries: Provisional Inventories (New York, 1982).

Pierre Salmon, Les manuscrits liturgiques latins de la Bibliothèque vaticane, 5 vols. (Vatican City, 1968-72).

J. Wickham Legge, Missale ad usum ecclesie Westmonasteriensis, 3 vols., Henry Bradshaw Society 1, 5, 12 (London, 1891-97).  Initia in vol. 3, pp. 1637-1729. 

See also the catalogues of liturgical manuscripts listed in the separate bibliography on Manuscript Catalogues.

CURSUS: An Online Resource of Medieval Liturgical Texts. Includes an Incipit List of Antiphons, Responds, and Prayers.


Medieval Logical Manuscripts

Auguste Pelzer, Repertoires d’incipit pour la littérature latine, philosophique et theologique du moyen âge (Rome, 1951). 

Gaudens E. Mohan, “Incipits of Logical Writings of the XIIIth-XVth Centuries,” Franciscan Studies 12 (1952), 349-489. 


Manuscripta medica

Ernest Wickersheimer, Les manuscrits latins de médecine du haut moyen âge dans les bibliothèques de France (Paris, 1966). 

Joël Chandelier et al., “Manuscrits médicaux latins de la Bibliothèque nationale de France: Un index des oeuvres et des auteurs,” Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire 73 (2006), 63-163. 

Gerhard Fichtner, Corpus Hippocraticum. Verzeichnis der hippokratischen und pseudohippokratischen Schriften (Tübingen, 2002). 

Nicholas Everett, “The Manuscript Evidence for Pharmacy in the Early Middle Ages,” in Writing the Early Medieval West, ed. Elina Screen and Charles West (Cambridge, 2018), pp.

Joël Chandelier, Laurence Moulinier-Brogi and Marilyn Nicoud, “Manuscrits médicaux latins de la Bibliothèque nationale de France: Un index des oeuvres et des auteurs,” Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Age 73 (2006), 63-163.

Mireille Ausécache ,”Manuscrits d’antidotaires médiévaux: Quelques exemples du fonds latin de la Bibliothèque nationale de France,” Médiévales 52 (2007), 55-73.


Lexikon musicum Latinum Medii Aevi

Thesaurus Musicarum Latinarum

Papal Documents:

Hans Martin SchallerInitienverzeichnis zu August Potthast, Regesta pontificum Romanorum (1198-1304), Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Hilfsmittel 2 (Munich, 1978). 

Rudolf Hiestand, Initien- und Empfängerverzeichnis zu Italia Pontificia I – X., Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Hilfsmittel 6 (Munich, 1983). 

Rudolf HiestandInitienverzeichnis und chronologisches Verzeichnis zu den Archivberichten und Vorarbeiten der Regesta pontificum Romanorum, Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Munich, 1983). 

Patristic Texts and Biblical Commentaries:

See also the separate bibliography on The Bible and Its Interpretation. Note that the Patrologia Latina database and Library of Latin Texts  can in effect be used as a database of incipits to identify texts.  The edition cited in LLT can then be consulted for lists of manuscripts.

Friedrich Stegmüller, Repertorium biblicum medii aevi, 11 vols. (Madrid, 1950- ). The online database can be searched by Author, Title, Incipit, and Explicit.

Eligius Dekkers, Clavis patrum latinorum, 3rd ed. (Steenbrugge, 1995). The standard inventory of patristic texts; coverage extends through Bede. Includes an index of initia.

Jean-Marie Clement, Initia Patrum latinorum, 2 vols., Corpus Christianorum, Excerpta (Turnhout, 1971 and 1979).

Marco Vattasso, Initia patrum aliorumque scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum, 2 vols., Studi e Testi 16-17 (Rome, 1906-8). Primarily drawn from Migne’s Patrologia Latina, covering up to beginning of 13th century.

Adalbert Hamman, Patrologiae Latinae Supplementum, vol. 5 (Paris, 1974). , pp. 121-219.  Initia of works in the 5-volume supplement to the Patrologia Latina.

J. Aumer, Initia librorum patrum latinorum sumptibus Academiae Caesareae Vindobonensis (Vienna, 1865). .  Initia of works in manuscripts of what is now the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek.

Die handschriftliche Überlieferung der Werke des Heiligen Augustinus, series in the Sitzungsberichte der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, 263, 267, etc. Bd. 1. Italien. 1. Werkverzeichnis. 2. Verzeichnis nach Bibliotheken — Bd. 2. Grossbritannien und Irland. 1. Werkverzeichnis. 2. Verzeichnis nach Bibliotheken — Bd. 3. Polen. Anhang: Die skandinavischen Staaten, Dänemark, Finnland, Schweden — Bd. 4. Spanien und Portugal — Bd. 5. Bundesrepublik Deutschland und Westberlin. 1. Werkverzeichnis. 2. Verzeichnis nach Bibliotheken — Bd. 6. Österreich. 1. Werkverzeichnis. 2. Verzeichnis nach Bibliotheken — Bd. 7. Tschechische Republik und Slowakische Republik. 1. Werkverzeichnis. 2. Verzeichnis nach Bibliotheken –Bd. 8. Belgien, Luxemburg und Niederlande. 1. Werkverzeichnis. 2. Verzeichnis nach Bibliotheken — Bd. 9. Schweiz. 1. Werkverzeichnis. 2. Verzeichnis nach Bibliotheken. — Bd. 10. Ostdeutschland Berlin 1. Werkverzeichnis. 2 Ostdeutschland Berlin Verzeichnis nach Bibliotheken — Bd. 11. Russland, Slowenien und Ungarn.

The volumes covering manuscripts in each country or countries include lists of initia.  Note that the descriptions in the series inventory all the contents of each manuscripts, not just works by Augustine, so the initia cover a wide range of texts.

Bernhard Lambert, Bibliotheca Hieronymiana manuscripta, 4 vols., Instrumenta Patristica 4 (Steenbrugge, 1969-72). Inventory of surviving manuscripts of the works of St. Jerome and of works falsely attributed to Jerome. The table of initia in Vol. IVB includes all pseudo-Hieronymian works.

For works wrongly attributed to patristic authors, see Johannes Machielsen, Clavis Patristica Pseudepigraphorum Medii Aevi (Turnhout, 1990- ).  

For Greek patristic texts:

Maurice Geerard, Clavis Patrum Graecorum, 5 vols. (Turnhout, 1974-98).  Initia in vol. 5.

C. Baur, Initia patrum graecorum, Studi e Testi 180-1 (Rome, 1955).


Auguste PelzerRepertoires d’incipit pour la littérature latine, philosophique et theologique, du moyen âge (Rome, 1951). 

Repertorium edierter Texte des Mittelalters aus dem Bereich der Philosophie und angrenzender Gebiete, ed. Rolf Schönberger et al., 2nd ed. (Berlin, 2011).


Poetria Nova: Latin Medieval Poetry (650-1250 A.D.). With a Gateway to Classical and Late Antiquity Texts. CD-ROM, ed. Paolo Mastandrea and Luigi Tessarolo (Florence).

Dieter Schaller and Ewald Könsgen, Initia latinorum saeculo undecimo antiquiorum (Göttingen, 1977). With a Supplementband (2005), ed. John Tagliabue and Thomas Klein

Hans Walther, Initia carminum ac versuum medii aevi posterioris latinorum. Alphabetisches Verzeichnis der Versanfdnge mittellateinischer Dichtungen, 2nd ed., with Ergänzungen und Berichtigungen (Göttingen, 1959-69).

Otto Schumann, Lateinisches Hexameter-Lexikon: Formelgut von Ennius bis zum Archipoeta, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Hilfsmittel 4 (Munich, 1979-83). With initia in pt. 6. 

A. G. Rigg, “Medieval Latin Poetic Anthologies,” Mediaeval Studies 39 (1977), 281-330; 40 (1978), 387-407; 41 (1979), 468-505. 

Josef Szövérffy, Weltliche Dichtungen des lateinischen Mittelalters: Ein Handbuch, I: Von den Anfängen bis zum Ende der Karolingerzeit (Berlin, 1970). Includes an index of initia.

Ulysse Chevalier, Repertorium hymnologicum. Catalogue des chants, hymnes, proses, sequences, tropes en usage dans l’Eglise latine depuis les origines jusqu’a nos jours (Brussels, 1920-21).  Supplemented by C. Blume, Repertorium Repertorii. Kritischer Wegweiser durch U. Chevaliers “Repertorium Hymnologicum”. . . (Leipzig, 1901). and now being superceded by J. Szövérffy, Repertorium hymnologicum novum (Berlin, 1983ff). 


Samuel Singer, ed. by Kuratorium Singer der Schweizerischen Akademie der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften, Thesaurus proverbiorum medii aevi = Lexikon der Sprichwörter des romanisch-germanischen Mittelalters, 13 vols. (Berlin, 1995). 

Hans Walther, Proverbia sententiaequae latinitatis medii aevi, 6 vols. (Göttingen, 1963-69). Supplemented by a Nova series (vols. 7-9) ed. Paul Gerhard Schmidt. 


Adolph Franz, Die kirchlichen Benediktionen im Mittelalter, 2 vols. (1909; repr. Graz, 1960). Initia in vol. 2, pp. 649-75.

André Wilmart, Auteurs spirituels et textes dévots du moyen-âge latin: Etudes d’histoire littiéraire (Paris, 1932). Incipits at pp. 587-91.

Placide Bruylants, Les Oraisons du missel romain: Texte et histoire, 2 vols. (Louvain, 1952). Lists incipits of prayers in vol. 2. 

Pierre Salmon, Analecta liturgica: Extraits des manuscrits liturgiques de la Bibliothèque Vaticane. Contribution à l’histoire de la prière chrétienne (Vatican City, 1974). Incipits at pp. 329-44.

Corpus orationum, CCSL 160A-I (Turnhout, 1992- ).

For others, see BerliozIdentifier sources et citations, pp. 113-117.


Quodlibase: Base de données des Quodlibets théologiques (1230-1350).  Based on Palémon Glorieux, La littérature quodlibétique, 2 vols. (Paris, 1935). Table of incipits, vol. II, pp. 327-35. 

Bernardo C. Bazán et al., Les Questions disputées et les questions quodlibétiques dans les facultés de théologie, de droit et de médecine, Typologie des sources médiévales 44-45 (Turnhout, 1985). 


Lynn Thorndike and Pearl Kibre, A Catalogue of Incipits of Medieval Scientific Writings in Latin, Medieval Academy Publications 29, rev. ed. (Cambridge, MA, 1963). Searchable via the online Voigts-Kurz Search Program.

Theodore Silverstein, Medieval Latin Scientific Writings in the Barberini Collection: A Provisional Catalogue (Chicago, 1957).  Indicates which incipits are not in Thorndike-Kibre.

Jordanus: An International Catalogue of Scientific Manuscripts.  Can be browsed and searched by author, title, incipit, explicit, contents.


Auguste PelzerRepertoires d’incipit pour la littérature latine, philosophique et theologique, du moyen age (Rome, 1951). 

J. Machielsen, Clavis Patristica Pseudepigraphorum Medii Aevi, 2A-B: Theologica (Turnhout, 1994). 

D. Amand, “Tables generales de la Revue Benedictine des tomes XXII a LIV, 1905-1942” (1945).  Includes incipits of all works published in these volumes.

André Wilmart, Auteurs spirituels et textes devotes du Moyen âge latin, études d’histoire littéraire (Paris, 1932), pp. 587-91. 

Friedrich Stegmüller, Repertorium Commentariorum in Sententias Petri Lombardi, 2 vols. (Würzburg, 1947).

Victor Doucet, Commentaires sur les sentences: supplément au répertoire de M. Frédéric Stegmueller (Florence, 1954). 

Palémon Glorieux, Répertoire des maîtres en théologie de Paris au XIIIe siècle, 2 vols. (Paris, 1933).

Gaudens E. Mohan, “Initia Operum Franciscalium,” Franciscan Studies 35 (1975), 277-380; 36 (1976), 313-399; 37 (1937) 229-417; 38 (1978) 311-434 (separately numbered pp. 1-498). 

Thomas Kaeppeli and Emilio Panella, Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum Medii Aevi, 4 vols. (Rome, 1970-93) Index incipitarius in vol. 4, pp. 579-718.

There are also incipitaria for Carmelite works, alchemical tracts, etc., etc., many of which can be found in Pelzer and BerliozIdentifier sources et citations.

See also the thematic and topical manuscript catalogues listed in the separate bibliography on Medieval and Modern Manuscripts Catalogues.

For first-line indices of vernacular texts, see BerliozIdentifier sources et citations, pp. 43-45 and 95-101.

II. Locating Scholarship on Particular Manuscripts

Comprehensive Bibliographies:

First check the relevant catalogues listed in Paul O. Kristeller and Sigrid KramerLatin Manuscript Books before 1600: A List of the Printed Catalogues and Unpublished Inventories of Extant Collections, Revised digital edition 2016. 


Then consult the following on-line bibliographical databases. Remember to try variations in the format of the shelfmark, including forms of the city and library in different languages; also try adding “MS” “Cod.” and “Hs” immediately before the number. To locate older scholarship you will also need to try any older shelfmarks.

Scriptorium  (includes the references to the “Bulletin Codicologique” manuscript index in each year of the journal; see also the separate volume by Eugène Manning, Tables générales de Scriptorium T. I-XXX (1946-1976) (Wetteren, 1984), Manuscripts are listed in the “Table analytique” and in a separate index of dated manuscripts.  Many volumes of Scriptorium are available full-text at Persée. Can be searched by manuscript or by key words.

Mirabile: Manoscritti. Search under “Manuscripts Section: Shelfmark.” Other options include date range, place of origin, material data, and history (owners: institutions; persons).

TLION MSS – b: Bibliografia dei manoscritti citati in rivista: Indice degli indici di manoscritti citati in rivista. Bibliography of manuscripts cited in journals.  Input the manuscript shelfmark, or browse all manuscripts by clicking on “Manoscritti” in the left column.

International Medieval Bibliography A collection of bibliographical references to medieval manuscripts

The major full-text article databases:


Project Muse


Major publishers with searchable databases of journals and/or monographs:

Brepols Online


Search Engines:

Google, Google Books and Google Scholar. Experiment with different forms of shelmarks as they might be cited in the literature, including older shelfmarks and abbreviated library names (e.g., “BM” as well as “Bibliothèque Municipale”) and shelfmarks (e.g., “lat.” as well as “latin”; or “Cott. Tib.” and “Cott. Tiber.” etc. as well as “Cotton Tiberius”) and alternative city names (e.g., Munich/München, Kassel/Cassel; Paris/Parigi; etc.). Also try adding “MS” or “Cod.” or “HS” to the shelfmark, esp. if it is just a number. Generally the briefest distinctive form is best.  Try searches with all elements enclosed in quotation marks and with only some part enclosed in quotation marks:

Topical Bibliographies:

By Date:

For Latin manuscripts dated ca. 800 or earlier, see E. A. Lowe, Codices Latini Antiquiores, 11 vols. and Supplement (Oxford, 1934-71).  Volumes are arranged geographically.  Check the bibliography in the back of the relevant volume, and be sure to check the updated bibliography in the Supplement volume (by entry number). See also Bernhard Bischoff and Virginia Brown, “Addenda to Codices Latini Antiquiores,” Mediaeval Studies 47 (1985), 317-66 (nos. 1812-1865) and 54 (1992), 286-307 (nos. 1866-1884).   Now incorporated (minus the facsimiles) in a database, see following item.

Earlier Latin Manuscripts: Tools for Studying the Scripts of the Oldest Latin Manuscripts.

For early medieval manuscripts it is always good to find out what Bernhard Bischoff has said, for which you can consult Sigrid Krämer, Bibliographie Bernhard Bischoff und Verzeichnis aller von ihm herangezogenen Handschriften, Fuldaer Hochschulschriften, 27 (Frankfurt am Main, 1998).

Arno Mentzel-Reuters, ed., Handschriftenarchiv Bernhard Bischoff, MGH Hilfsmittel 16 (Munich, 1997). Microfiche reproduction of Bischoff’s handwritten notes on medieval manuscripts. 

Though not a bibliography of secondary literature, Bischoff’s descriptions of ninth-century manuscripts are fundamental: Katalog der festländischen Handschriften des neunten Jahrhunderts (mit Ausnahme der wisigothischen), 4 vols. (Wiesbaden, 1998-2017), ; for manuscripts from Bavarian and Austrian scriptoria, see Bischoff, Die südostdeutschen Schreibschulen und Bibliotheken der Karolingerzeit, 2 vols., 2nd ed. (Wiesbaden, 1960-1980). 

By Region/Country:

For modern catalogues of medieval manuscripts by country and region see the separate bibliography on Medieval and Modern Library Catalogues.

Austria: Bibliographie zu mittelalterlichen Handscriften in Österreich. On-line bibliography of manuscripts in Austrian libraries.


Helmut Gneuss and Michael Lapidge, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts: A Bibliographical Handlist of Manuscripts and Manuscript Fragments Written or Owned in England up to 1100 (Toronto, 2015). 

The Production and Use of English Manuscripts, 1066-1220. Includes a Catalogue of Manuscripts and a Bibliography.


Bibliografia dei manoscritti in alfabeto latino conservati in Italia. Go to “Sedi”: “SIGLEB” for an alphabetical list of the sigla for the libraries to use in searching the database.

Codex: Inventario dei manoscritti medievali della Toscana


e-codices: Virtuelle Handbibliothek der Schweiz. Extensive collection of digital facsimiles of manuscripts in Swiss libraries. The description of a given manuscript (click on “Beschreibung”) will usually include bibliography or a link to a Union catalogue such as the St. Galler Bibliotheksnet.

By Library:

Published catalogues of the manuscripts of individual libraries are often de facto bibliographies of their manuscripts, though of varying degrees of coverage. For modern catalogues of medieval manuscripts by library see the separate bibliography on Medieval and Modern Library Catalogues.

London, British Library.  Explore Archives and Manuscripts

Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Die Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Forschungsdokumentation Handschriften. In addition to locating bibliography on a given manuscript, the site allows one to generate links to Munich manuscripts keyed to particular publications by names of authors or subjects.

Oxford, Bodleian Library.  Electronic Catalogue of Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts and Bodleian Library Western Manuscripts bibliography

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France. Catalogue BnF Archives et Manuscrits.  Browse by choosing “Collections” then “Département des manuscrits,” then “Latin”; or search the shelfmark.  In the entry for a particular manuscript click on “Consulter la fiche bibliographique numérisée.”  One can also browse through the Fichier bibliographique des manuscrits latins et grecs.

Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek. Literatur zu Handschriften

Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. Bibliographic References.  In “Search Index” choose “Shelfmark” and then choose the collection (e.g., “Pal. lat.”; then enter the number (e.g., 220) in “Term(s)”.  Or, choose “Bibliographic resources” from the top menu bar, then enter the shelfmark (in the form “”).

Codici Vaticani Latini: A Research Bibliography for Vatican Library Manuscripts (.pdf file). Includes listings for individual authors as well as topics.

Marco Buonocore, Bibliografia dei fondi manoscritti della Biblioteca Vaticana (1968-1980), 2 vols., Studi e Testi, 318-19 (Vatican City, 1986).

Massimo Ceresa, Bibliografia dei fondi manoscritti della Biblioteca Vaticana (1981-1985), Studi e Testi, 342 (Vatican City, 1991).

Massimo Ceresa, Bibliografia dei fondi manoscritti della Biblioteca Vaticana: 1986-1990, Studi e Testi, 379 (Vatican City, 1998). 

Bibliografia retrospettiva dei fondi manoscritti della Biblioteca Vaticana, I (Vatican City, 1994). 

Girard J. Etzkorn, Iter Vaticanum Franciscanum: A Description of Some One Hundred Manuscripts of the Vaticanus Latinus Collection (Leiden, 1966).

By Script:

For example:

Bibliografia Manoscritti in scrittura Beneventana

E. A. Lowe and Virginia Brown, Bibliografia dei manoscritti in scrittura beneventana (Rome, 1993- ). 

By Scriptorium:

For example:

David Ganz, Corbie in the Carolingian Renaissance, Beihefte der Francia 20 (Sigmaringen, 1990).

Klaus Zechgel-Eckes, “Handschriften aus Corbie (bis 850). Eine Bestandsaufnahme”

By Named Author:

A few examples only:

Menso Folkerts, Manuscripts of Euclid’s Elements

Janet M. Bately and J. A. Ross, “A Check List of Manuscripts of Orosius ‘Historiarum adversum paganos libri septem,'” Scriptorium 15 (1961) 329–34. 

Marina Passalacqua, I codici di Prisciano (Rome, 1978). 

C. P. E. Springer, The Manuscripts of Sedulius: A Provisional Handlist, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society n.s. 85 no. 5 (1995).

By Anonymous or Pseudonymous Text:

For example:

Zbigniew Izydorczyk, Manuscripts of the ‘Evangelium Nicodemi’: A Census, Subsidia Mediaevalia 21 (Toronto, 1993).

By Genre:


Lotte Kéry, Canonical Collections of the Early Middle Ages (ca. 400-1140): A Bibliographical Guide to the Manuscripts and Literature (Washington, DC, 1999).


Repertorium Chronicarum: A Bibliography of the Manuscripts of Medieval Latin Chronicles


Guy Sabbah, Pierre-Paul Corsetti, and Klaus-Dietrich Fischer, Bibliographie des textes médicaux latins: antiquité et haut moyen âge (Saint-Étienne, 1987). .  Premier supplément, 1986-1999; Second Supplement (2000).

Augusto BeccariaI codici di medicina del periodo presalernitano (secoli IX, X e XI) (Rome, 1956).

Carmélia Opsomer, Index de la pharmacopée du Ier au Xe siècle (Hildesheim, 1989).

Wilhelm Weinberger, Catalogus catalogorum. Verzeichnis der bibliotheken, die ältere handschriften lateinischer kirchenschriftsteller enthalten (Vienna, 1902).

For fuller listings, see:

Leonard Boyle, Medieval Latin Palaeography, with the on-line updating in Electronic Palaeography (below).

François Dolbeau and Pierre Petitmengin, Indices Librorum: Catalogues anciens et modernes de manuscrits médiévaux en écriture latine, 2 vols., Bibliothèque de l’eecole Normale Supérieure, Guides et inventaires bibliographiques 3 (Paris, 1987-1995).   Online text: Vol. I: (1977/1983); Vol. II: (1984-1990) et compléments pour 1977-1983.  Can be browsed and searched for a particular library collection or a particular author or “theme” (mainly genres of texts).

Arno Mentzel-Reuters, “Literaturbericht Handschriftenkataloge,” Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelalters 51 (1995), 169-94; 53 (1997), 179-203; 54 (1999), 583-611; 57 (2001), 555-601; 60 (2004), 201-32; 63 (2007), 135-64.    Surveys recently published catalogues.

For literature since 1990 the best resource is Medioevo Latino (and the Mirabile database).

See also the catalogues of manuscripts by genre in the separate bibliography on Medieval and Modern Manuscript Catalogues.

Names and Shelfmarks of Manuscripts

Jeannine Fohlen, “L’Art de vérifier les cotes de manuscrits,” Scriptorium 63.1 (2009), 141-47

Wilma Fitzgerald, Ocelli Nominum: Names and Shelf Marks of Famous/Familiar Manuscripts (Toronto, 1992).  What is the actual shelfmark of “The Book of Kells”? Does a particular manuscript have a nickname?

Richard W. Pfaff, “Nicknames for manuscripts frequently referred to,” in his The Liturgy in Medieval England: A History (Cambridge, 2009), pp. xxvi-xxviii. 

New Shelfmarks: International Index of Manuscripts & Incunables recently acquired by Public Libraries.

For the correct forms of library names and to keep up to date with changes in library names, consult Kristeller-Kramer or the manuscript indices of the most recent volume of Medioevo Latino or the Mirabile database. The shelfmark system of individual libraries is usually explained on the library’s website, often with concordances of older shelfmarks. Recent published or online catalogues will also detail the shelfmark system and its history. For further details one should consult the appropriate library history.

On medieval shelfmark systems see Sharpe,Titulus; Sharpe, “Accession, Classification, or Location: Pressmarks in Medieval Libraries,” Scriptorium 50 (1996), 279-87.  

Eltjo Buringh, “Shelf Marks,” in Buringh, Medieval Manuscript Production in the Latin West: Explorations with a Global Database (Leiden, 2011), pp. 45-50. 

Names of Scribes and Owners

Sigrid Krämer, Scriptores possessoresque codicum medii aevi: Datenbank von Schreibern mittelalterlicher Handschriften. Requires license;

James J. John, “The Named (and Namable) Scribes in Codices Latini Antiquiores,” in Scribi e colofoni: Le sottoscrizioni di copisti dalle origini all’avvento della stampa. Atti del seminario di Erice X Colloquio del Comité international de paléographe latine (23-28 ottobre 1993), ed. Emma Condello and Giuseppe De Gregorio (Spoleto, 1995), pp. 107-21.

The Women Copyists Database (“aims at creating a database of women who left their names in manuscripts up to the fifteenth century”).

Late Medieval English Scribes

Privately-Owned English Urban Manuscripts, 1300-1476 (Urban Manuscript Project)

Bernhard Bischoff, Die südostdeutschen Schreibschulen und Bibliotheken der Karolingerzeit, 2 vols., 2nd ed. (Wiesbaden, 1960-1980), Each volume includes an index of names of scribes.

Index possesseurs (Libraria).

François Dolbeau, “Anciens possesseurs des manuscrits hagiographiques latins conservés à la Bibliothèque nationale de Paris,” Revue d’histoire des Textes 9 (1980), 183-238. 

C. E. WrightFontes Harleiani: A Study of the Sources of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts preserved in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum (London, 1972). 


CMO: Colophones librorum Manu scriptorum Occidentalium – Repertorium electronicum

Bénédictins du Bouveret, Colophons de manuscrits occidentaux des origines au XVIe siècle, Spicilegii Friburgensis Subsidia 2-7 (Fribourg, 1965-82).

Lucien Reynhout, Formules latines de colophons, 2 vols.: I: Texte; II. Annexes (Turnhout, 2006). 

Emma Condello and Giuseppe De Gregorio, Scribi e colofoni: le sottoscrizioni di copisti dalle origini all’avvento della stampa. Atti del seminario di Erice, X Colloquio del Comité international de paléographie latine, 23-28 ottobre 1993 (Spoleto, 1995).

Richard Gameson, The Scribe Speaks? Colophons in Early English Manuscripts, H. M. Chadwick Memorial Lectures, 12 (Cambridge, 2001).


Bibale: Historic Collections, Provenance, and Medieval Text Transmission (IRHT). “BIBALE is a database of the history of manuscript provenance and text transmission, for the study of historic collections (medieval and modern) and their owners. The data seek to aid in the reconstruction of the provenance trail that each manuscript left behind before its arrival in its present collection. The goal is to identify the medieval and modern libraries, public and private collections, public sales and booksellers’ catalogues, as well as now dispersed collections with medieval manuscripts that those collections passed through. The database describes both presently existing manuscripts (with their ex-libris, heraldic arms, and other ownership marks) as well as manuscripts known only through their recording in documents like inventories, catalogues, account books, chronicles, letters, and so forth.” See Hanno Wijsman, “The Bible Database at the IRHT: A Digital Tool for Researching Manuscript Provenance,” Manuscript Studies 1/2 (Fall 2017), 328-41.

David PearsonProvenance Indexes for Early Printed Books and Manuscripts: A Guide to Present Resources (Huntingdon, 1989).

Online Provenance Resources (Consortium of European Research Libraries)

Sales catalogues:

The Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts includes information on auction sales and provenance of manuscripts. Can be searched by author, title, keyword, provenance, artist, language, date, or codicological data, and browsed by author (including institutions), seller, or provenance.

Catalogues de vente numérisés contenant des manuscrits médiévaux



Codices manuscripti (1975- ).

Gazette du livre médévale 

Manuscripta (1957- ). 

Manuscript Studies (2017- )

Revue d’histoire des textes (1971- ). 

Scriptorium (1946/47- ).   Many volumes up to 2000 are available full-text at Persée.

Scrittura e civiltà (1977- ).


Historische Hilfswissenschaften: Handschriftenkunde/Kodikologie. Probably the best and most comprehensive site.

Alois Heidinger, Elektronische Hilfsmittel für den Handschriftenbibliothekar

Handschriftenkataloge, -listen und -datenbanken (Manuscripta Mediaevalia)

Stephen Reimer, Manuscript Studies Medieval and Early Modern

Paul Halsall, Byzantine Manuscript Indices Bibliography


Charles D. Wright:
last updated 12/18