Item 5, Balliol College MS 317

Balliol College, MS 317

5. Earliest surviving gift of a book to an Oxford college

Balliol College, MS 317

Bequest of Peter of Cossington (died by May 1276)

This 12th-century copy of Boethius’ De institutione musica was bequeathed to Balliol in 1276, making it (probably) the book that has been longest in the possession of any Oxford college. Music theory was one of the seven liberal arts taught in medieval monasteries, cathedral schools and universities. De Musica was a ‘set book’ in the University statutes until the mid-19th century.

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