The Alcobaca manuscripts – catalogue located, and lots online at Lisbon!

In my last post, I referred to a manuscript of the Alcobaca monastery in Portugal, number 113.  Afterwards I started to search for information.  I discovered that the modern catalogue in three volumes by Thomas L. Amos, The Fundo Alcobaça of the Biblioteca Nacional, Lisbon (1988), is online at!

  • Vol. 1 –
  • Vol. 2 –
  • Vol. 3 –

This was excellent news, and I naturally looked for manuscript 113 in volume 1.  But it wasn’t there!  The manuscripts had two numbers – a Roman number, and a modern Arabic number. The monastery was suppressed long ago and its holdings ended up in the Biblioteca Nacional, and the Arabic number is what they use.

Doing Ctrl-F in the file – ah, the excellence of searchable PDFs – revealed that my manuscript was CXIII, now 414.  So off I went to volume 3, and there it was, on page 178.  It was volume 3 of a set of homilies.

But this did not refer to St Nicholas!  So I did another Ctrl-F, and found an incipit at the back, on – by coincidence – page 414:

[Text] Nicholaus itaque ex illustri prosapia ortus …. 414: 141a-.

Fortunate for me that I had forgotten to search for “Nicolaus”, and had used “Nicho”!  And this told me that the folio was 141a.  (By now all these 1’s and 4’s were starting to get confusing!)

I then wondered whether any of these Alcobaca manuscripts were online.  There is a website:

But it is very hard to use.  It doesn’t allow you to enter shelfmark, only author, title, etc.  I searched for “V”, for Vita, and got nothing.  Then for H, for Homilies; and on the third click, I found MS 414 here.  Blessedly it has a 108Mb download and a monster 2.4Gb download!  So useful!!!  Thank you!  It is supposed to have an IIIF manifest too, but the link took me elsewhere.

[Homiliário / copiado por João Pecador]. – [Alcobaça, 1201-1300]. – [1] f., [2] f. papel, [254], [1] f. (2 colunas, 27 linhas) : pergaminho, il. color. ; 412×290 mm

But a link here was provided to the full catalogue.  Not that this said anything about Nicholas!

I downloaded the PDF and went to page 282 (i.e. folio 141 x 2), and then down a bit, and there it was!  BHL 6104, the start of John the Deacon.

Alcobaca 414, start of John the Deacon

Even better, it started Sic omnis materia, rather than the much more common materies, and someone had written in a correction.

The PDF also comes with some useful bookmarks.

But then disaster!  I tried to add a bookmark of my own and I could not!  The blessed PDF was “secured”, drat it.  Even though everything was marked “public domain”.  I can’t mark it up.

I shall poke around some more.  I might write them a polite note.  I shall try to find the IIIF manifest.

Update: The Biblissima page here gave the IIIF manifest, thankfully, even though the website did not.