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Detailed record for Harley 3884

Author Ranulf Higden
Title Polychronicon (to the 25th year in the reign of Henry VI, i.e. 1445), including 2 extracts from the Latin Brut Chronicle of England (ff. 227-228v) (imperfect)
Origin England, ?S. E. (Canterbury?)
Date c. 1460
Language Latin
Script Gothic
Decoration Marginal ink drawing of Noah's Ark (f. 14) and 2 diagrams (f. 37v). 5 initials in blue with blue, red and dark purple pen-flourishing extending into the margins at the beginning of each book (ff. 10, 32, 64, 89, 140v). Coloured initials in red or blue.
Dimensions in mm 360 x 270 (240 x 150), in 2 columns
Official foliation ff. 244 (+ 2 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the beginning and at the end)
Form Parchment codex
Binding BM/BL in-house. Rebound in 1960.
Provenance Includes a genealogy and chronological diagrams at the end including a diagram (ff. 235v-236) listing the archbishops of Canterbury to John Stafford (archbishop from 1443, d. 1452) and the popes to Pius II (elected 1458, d. 1464) (ff. 229v-236).
Added index (imperfect: A-T) in a 15th-century hand with spaces left blank for initials (ff. 237-244v).
John Baskerfyld, early 16th century: inscribed piece of vellum with his name 'This ys John Baskerfyld ys hand' (mounted on f. 1).
Nathaniel Noel (fl. 1681, d. c. 1753), bookseller, employed by Edward Harley for buying books and manuscripts chiefly on the Continent, where his agent was George Suttie: sold to Edward Harley on 13 August 1724 (see Wright 1972).
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, inscribed as usual by their librarian, Humfrey Wanley ‘13 die mensis Augusti, A.D. 1724’ (f. 1).
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 Years are entered in columns drawn in red on either side of the text.
Catchwords. Leaf signatures in red.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), III (1808), no. 3884.

Charles L. Kingsford, English Historical Literature in the Fifteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), pp. 158, 310, 342-3.

John Taylor, 'The Development of the Polychronicon Continuation', The English Historical Review, 76 (1961), 20-36 (pp. 23, 36).

The Diary of Humfrey Wanley 1715-1726, ed. by C. E. Wright and Ruth C. Wright, 2 vols (London: Bibliographical Society, 1966), II: 1723-1726, p. 305 n. 4.

John Taylor, The Universal Chronicle of Ranulf Higden (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), p. 154.

C. E. Wright, Fontes Harleiani: A Study of the Sources of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1972), pp. 65, 253-4.

Lister M. Matheson, The Prose Brut: The Development of a Middle English Chronicle, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 180 (Tempe, Arizona: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1998), pp. xxi, 16, 43.


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Decorated initial

f. 118v
Decorated initial

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