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Detailed record for Harley 632

Author John of Wales
Title Opera , imperfect at the end
Origin England
Date 1438
Language Latin
Script Gothic cursive (Secretary)
Scribe 'I.M.' and other scribes
Decoration Puzzle initials in blue and red with pen-flourished decoration in blue and red. Initial in red with pen-work decoration in green (f. 168). Initials in blue or red with pen-flourished decoration in red or ink. Paraphs in red, blue and green. Rubrics, underlining of words and marginal notabilia in red. Red initials to the left of the text marking paragraphs. Occasional cadels in green, red and ink (see f. 187). Initials highlighted in red. Decorated frames for catchwords at the end of gatherings in red and ink, one decorated with a maiden's face (f. 72).
Dimensions in mm 295 x 220 (220/225 x 150/160)
Official foliation ff. 2* + 319 (f. 1* is a paper slip, f. 2* an original parchment flyleaf, ff. 318-319 are fragments of excised leaves; + 3 unfoliated modern paper flyleaves at the beginning and the end)
Collation Gatherings of 12 and 16 (ff. 168-247), with quire signature in the lower right corner of the rectos in the first half of the gatherings and horizontal catchwords in decorated frames in the lower right corner of the last verso.
Form Paper codex
Binding BM/BL in-house. Rebound in 1965.
Provenance The main scribe dated the manuscript 1438 and signed in cipher 'IX XII', i.e. I.M. (ff. 131v, 167; see Gillespie 2001).
Thomas Graunt (b. 1425?, d. 1474), fellow of Oriel College, Oxford: his gift to Syon abbey (see Wright 1972).
The Bridgettine abbey of St Saviour, St Mary and St Bridgit of Syon, Ilseworth, Middlesex, founded by King Henry V in 1415: its late 15th-century table of contents (f. 2*v); listed as manuscript O.10 in its library catalogue, now Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 141 (see Bateson 1898; Gillespie 2001).
Richard Grafton (b. c. 1511, d. 1573), printer and historian: described as 'ex domo Ricardi Grafton' in the index of books of British authors compiled by John Bale between 1548 and 1552 (see Gillespie 2001).
Sir Simonds d'Ewes (b.1602, d. 1650), 1st baronet, diarist, antiquary, and friend of Sir Robert Cotton: his MS. 45 (see f. 1); title and note in his hand (ff. 2*r-v'; see Watson 1966).
Sir Simonds D’Ewes (d. 1722), 3rd baronet and grandson of the former: inherited and later sold the D’Ewes library to Robert Harley on 4 October 1705 for £450 (see Add. 70478 (formerly Loan 29/254 packet 2); Watson 1966).
The Harley Collection, formed by Robert Harley (b. 1661, d. 1724), 1st earl of Oxford and Mortimer, politician, and Edward Harley (b. 1689, d. 1741), 2nd earl of Oxford and Mortimer, book collector and patron of the arts.
Edward Harley bequeathed the library to his widow, Henrietta Cavendish, née Holles (b. 1694, d. 1755) during her lifetime and thereafter to their daughter, Margaret Cavendish Bentinck (b. 1715, d. 1785), duchess of Portland; the manuscripts were sold by the Countess and the Duchess in 1753 to the nation for £10,000 (a fraction of their contemporary value) under the Act of Parliament that also established the British Museum; the Harley manuscripts form one of the foundation collections of the British Library.
Notes The manuscript is mostly written in one column, but in two on ff. 133-167, 168-169.
The manuscript edges are still equipped with medieval tabs, a typical feature of Syon abbey's books (see de Hamel 1991).
Old foliation in ink '1-335', omitting no. 188 and including a blank after f. 167 as '168', omitted by the modern pencil foliation that corrects the old one from f. 168 onwards.
Loss of 16 leaves (i.e. one gathering) after f. 247, corresponding to old foliation '250-265', with consequent loss of the rarely attested 'Pastoralia' described in the library's catalogue as beginning on f. 261 of the old foliation.
For a detailed table of contents, see Gillespie 2001, pp. 307-08.
Select bibliography Edward Bernard, Catalogi librorum manuscriptorum Angliæ et Hiberniæ in unum collecti, cum indice alphabetico, 3 vols (Oxford: Sheldonian, 1697), II, p. 386, no. 9900.

A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), I (1808), no. 632.

Mary Bateson, Catalogue of the Library of Syon Monastery Isleworth (Cambridge: University Press, 1898), pp. xviii-xix, 138-39.

John Bale, Index Britanniae scriptorum quos ex variis bibliothecis non parvo labore collegit Ioannes Bale?us, cum aliis: John Bale’s Index of British and Other Writers, ed. by Reginald Lane Poole, Anecdota Oxoniensia, Mediaeval and Modern Series, 9 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1902; repr., with introd. by Caroline Brett and James P. Carley, Cambridge: Brewer, 1990), pp. 213-14.

Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books, ed. by Neil R. Ker, 2nd edn, Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks, 3 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1964), p. 185.

Andrew G. Watson, The Library of Sir Simonds D'Ewes (London: British Museum, 1966), pp. 142 no. A322, 290 no. B40.

Siegfried Wenzel, The Sin of Sloth: Acedia in Medieval Thought and Literature (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1967), pp. 215 n. 77; 219 n. 27; 237 n. 60; 247 n. 19.

Cyril Ernest Wright, Fontes Harleiani: A Study of the Sources of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1972), pp. 131, 170, 323, 384.

Jenny Swanson, John of Wales: A Study of the Works and Ideas of a Thirteenth-Century Friar, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, Fourth Series, 10 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 243-44 no. 196, 269, 270.

The Friars’ Libraries, ed. by Kenneth W. Humphreys, Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues, 1 (London: The British Library, 1990), p. 219 no. 20.

Christopher de Hamel, Syon Abbey: The Library of the Bridgettine Nuns and their Peregrinations after the Reformation, with the manuscript at Arundel Castle (London: Roxburghe Club, 1991), pp. 60 and n. 23, 104, 114-15 no. 3, 125 and n. 16.

Syon Abbey, ed. by Vincent Gillespie, with The Libraries of the Carthusians, ed. by A. Ian Doyle, Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues, 9 (London: The British Library, 2001), pp. lxvi, lxix, 307-08 no. 952, 676.


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Puzzle initial

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