You are in Introduction. Click here to skip the navigation.
British Library
Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts
 Detail from the Roman de la Rose
About Simple search Manuscript search Advanced search  Virtual exhibitions Glossaries Contact us  Main
print Print this page
home Home
site search Search British Library website
back Back

search tips  Search tips



Detailed record for Harley 1717

Author Benoît de Sainte-Maure
Title Chronique des ducs de Normandie
Origin France, N. W. (?Normandy) or England
Date 1st half of the 13th century
Language French
Script Gothic, written above top line
Decoration 9 large historiated initials in colours and gold occasionally with dragons, of a baptism, a monk swinging a censer over the coffin of Gille, the first wife of Rollo, first duke of Normandy, men swearing allegiance to William of Normandy, Richard the Fearless becoming duke of Normandy, Richard riding towards a group of monks, Richard II, Richard II and his sister 'Maheut', Richard III, and Robert II le diable, father of future William I the Conqueror (ff. 13v, 59, 61v, 86, 112, 163, 172, 181v, 182v). Large decorated initials in colours and gold with interlace and animal heads, dragons, foliate decoration, fighting animals, etc. (ff. 1 (including dragon), 23, 61, 154v, 156v, 160, 166v, 174v (with a fabric curtain), 218, 236). Initials in colours and gold (ff. 143, 170v, 179, 188, 192, 220v, 228v, 243v). Initials in red or blue with pen-flourishing in the other colour. A miniature in colours and gold painted on a separate piece of parchment was lost (f. 13; no pigment bleeding through onto the verso, but traces around the edges remain). Many paraphs, ascenders and descenders decorated with brown pen-flourishing (e.g., ff. 85v, 86, 129v).
Dimensions in mm 300 x 205 (235 x 135), in 2 columns
Official foliation ff. 252 (+ 1 unfoliated parchment flyleaf and 1 unfoliated paper flyleaf at the beginning and 1 unfoliated parchment flyleaf at the end)
Form Parchment codex
Binding BM/BL in-house. Gold-tooled light brown leather over wooden boards; gilt edges.
Provenance Added Prophecy of the Eagle, or of Merlin Silvester, 13th century, in Latin (f. 250v).
Inscribed, 15th century, price 'xxvi s. viii d.' (on a piece of parchment pasted onto f. [ii]).
?The collegiate church of St. John of Beverley, Yorkshire, 15th century: inscribed 's[an]c[t]i Beverlaci' (f. 252).
Added Prophecy of Merlin, 15th century, in English (ff. 249v-250).
Added inscriptions in 15th-16th-century hands (ff. 251v-252).
Thomas Lorde, 16th century: inscribed with his name (f. 252).
Erased inscription, post-medieval (f. 244).
Henry Worsley (b. 1675, d. 1747), scholar and manuscript collector, envoy at the Court of Portugal (1714-21) and governor of Barbados (1721-31); donated by him to Robert Harley together with other manuscripts from Worsley's collection (now Harley 1585-1747, 1811, 1812) before December 1712 (see Diary 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 Full digital coverage available for this manuscript: see Digitised Manuscripts at
Musical notation, on four-line red staves (f. 251v).
Quire marks.
F. 1* is a paper flyleaf.
Ff. 251 and 252 are a reused leaves from another manuscript used as flyleaves. F. 251 recto is blank. F. 252 is a former pastedown.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), II (1808), no. 1717.

Harry Leigh Douglas Ward, Catalogue of Romances in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum 3 vols (London: British Museum, 1883-1910), I (1883), p. 312.

Augustus Hughes-Hughes, Catalogue of Manuscript Music in the British Museum, 3 vols (London: British Museum, 1906-1965), I, p. 422.

The Diary of Humfrey Wanley 1715-1726, ed. by Cyril Ernest Wright and Ruth C. Wright, 2 vols (London: Bibliographical Society, 1966), I: 1715-1723, pp. xix-xx.

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. 72-73, 227, 361.

Maria Careri, Christine Ruby and Ian Short, Livres et écritures en français et en occitan au XIIe siècle: Catalogue illustré (Rome: Viella, 2011), pp. XXV, 206.

* * *
Decorated initial

f. 1
Decorated initial

f. 13v
Coffin of Gille

f. 59v
Coffin of Gille
Coffin of Gille

f. 59v
Coffin of Gille
Musical notation

f. 251v
Musical notation

print Print this page
home Home
site search Search British Library website
back Back
top Back

About Simple search Manuscript search Advanced search
Virtual exhibitions Glossaries Accessibility Contact us Main

All text is © British Library Board and is available under a CC-BY Licence except where otherwise stated