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Detailed record for Harley 324

Author John le Breton (attributed to)
Title The Treatise on the Laws of England (also known as Britton, and the Proposiciones digestorum) with a table of contents (ff. 2*v-4*v)
Origin England
Date 1st quarter of the 14th century (c. 1305)
Language French
Script Gothic cursive
Scribe Written by more than one scribe.
Decoration Numerous marginal drawings, some tinted in colours and others in black ink, including animals, hybrid or fanciful creatures, and hunting scenes. Puzzle initials in red and blue with red pen-flourishing. Blue initials with red penwork decoration. Paraphs in red or blue.
Dimensions in mm 250 x 155 (190 x 120)
Official foliation ff. 1* - 4* + 205 (+ 3 unfoliated parchment flyleaves at the beginning + 5 unfoliated parchment flyleaves at the end)
Form Parchment codex
Binding Post-1600. Brown leather with the gold-tooled arms of Sir Simonds d'Ewes in the centre of the upper and lower covers; brass clasps.
Provenance Edmund de Brantyngthorp, frater: 14th-century inscription recording the gift of the manuscript by him to the Cistercian abbey at Merevale, near Atherston, Warwickshire, 'Liber sanctae Marie Mirevallis per fratrem Edwardus de Brantyngthorp' (f. 4*v).
The Cistercian abbey of the Virgin Mary at Merevale, near Atherston, Warwickshire (see above).
Sir Simonds d'Ewes (b.1602, d. 1650), 1st baronet, diarist, antiquary, and friend of Sir Robert Cotton (see Wright 1972): his binding and arms; the motto, 'Ut moriare pius, vivere disce pie', and signature (f. [iii]).
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 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 For a detailed list of the contents, see the Harley Catalogue.
f. 205 is a parchment flyleaf.
At the order of Edward I, John de Breton, Bishop of Hereford (1268-1275), compiled tracts of English law in French. One of the greatest medieval English lawyers, John de Breton produced the work about 1275, just before his death. His legal compilation was part of the programmes of the king, one of whose most important accomplishments was his legal reform. John de Breton's book is written in French, the language of the Plantagenet king and the nobility. This manuscript copy of it is decorated in a general, contemporary style, the animals and scenes adding an entertaining and slightly luxurious note to its borders rather than having any relation to the text. In it an inscription states that it belonged to the small Cistercian Abbey of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at Merevale, near Atherston. The prologue to the law tracts begins, stating that Edward, "king of England and Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine" ordered the book's compilation.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), I, no. 324.

Walter de Gray Birch and Henry Jenner, Early Drawings and Illuminations: An Introduction to the Study of Ilustrated Manuscripts (London: Bagster and Sons, 1879), p. 8.

Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books, ed. by N. R. Ker, 2nd edn, Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks, 3 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1964), p. 130.

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. 82, 131.

J. H. Baker and J. S. Ringrose, A Catalogue of English Legal Manuscripts in Cambridge University Library (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1996), p. 564.

S. Worby, Law and Kinship in Thirteenth-Century England (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2010), p.183.


Images
* * *
 
Stag hunt

f. 1
Stag hunt
Monkey on horseback playing the harp

f. 2v
Monkey on horseback playing the harp
Rabbit riding a dog

f. 3v
Rabbit riding a dog
 
Fox and goose

f. 4
Fox and goose
Hunting scene

f. 4*v
Hunting scene
Dog pursuing an animal

f. 10v
Dog pursuing an animal
 
Man playing trumpet

f. 17v
Man playing trumpet

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