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Detailed record for Harley 4197

Author Giovanni Boccaccio, translation by John Lydgate based on a translation by Laurent de Premierfait
Title The Fall of Princes
Origin England
Date 3rd quarter of the 15th century (c. 1470)
Language English
Script Gothic cursive
Decoration Large initial in colours and gold combined with a foliate border including acanthus leaves and besants at the beginning of the text (f. 1). Numerous initials in blue with red pen-flourishing including foliate motifs (e.g., f. 56). Cadels in brown ink.
Dimensions in mm 360 x 270 (275 x 210), in 2 columns
Official foliation ff. 163 (+ 4 unfoliated paper flyleaves and 1 parchment flyleaf at the beginning + 4 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the end)
Collation i-xx8, xxi3
Form Parchment codex
Binding BM/BL in-house; marbled endpapers.
Provenance Inscribed with a monogram and 'ao Septembare by my ?sonsoxley', 15th century.
Added pen-drawing in purple of foliate decoration, 15th-16th century (f. 11).
Added pen-drawings of a hybrid figure, 16th century (f. 7v)
Added head in profile of a woman (f. 32), the head in profile of a man in armour identified as Scipio (f. 103v), the head of a king identified as Amulthar (Hamilcar) (f. 104v) 16th century.
Added pen-drawing of a lady in elaborate costume standing on a slug, late 16th century (f. 92).
Added pen-drawing of 2 men playing a ball game (resembling cricket), 16th century (f. 95).
Added partly-hand-coloured print of a wild man holding a club (printed in red) pasted onto the page at the end of book 1, 16th century but may have been mounted and painted in the 17th century, stem of sweet peas painted in colours above it (f. 34v) (for all these additions, see Reynolds 1988).
Added pen-drawing of different types of crowns, 17th century (f. 79r-v).
Inscribed 'John [trimmed]', 17th century (f. 33).
Added headings and annotations throughout in English and Latin (e.g., ff. 10, 10v, 39), in various 17th-18th-century hands, including one reading 'Kardinall Wolsey you sed this theame to the Duke of Suf[folk] when he was in th[e] Kinges displeasu[re]' (f. 73).
John Batteley (b. 1647, d. 1708), Church of England clergyman and antiquary: sold to Edward Harley with the rest of his collection through his nephew John Batteley on 5 November 1723.
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 ‘5 die Novembris, A.D. 1723’ (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 Catchwords. Leaf signatures.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), III (1808), no. 4197.

Henry Noble McCracken, The Lydgate Canon: Appendix to the Philological Society's Transactions 1907-1909 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & co. for the Philological Society, 1908), pp. iii-xlvi (p. xiv).

Lydgate's Fall of Princes, ed. by Henry Bergen, 4 vols, Early English Text Society, 121-124 (London: Early English Text Society, 1924-27), IV, pp. 53-55, as H4.

The Diary of Humfrey Wanley 1715-1726, ed. by Cyril Ernest Wright and Ruth C. Wright, 2 vols (London: Bibliographical Society, 1966), II: 1723-1726, p. 263 n. 1.

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. 66-67.

Catherine Reynolds, 'Illustrated Boccaccio Manuscripts in the British Library (London)', Studi sul Boccaccio, 17 (1988), 113-181 (pp. 151-53).

Boccaccio visualizzato: Narrare per parole e per immagini fra Medioevo e Rinascimento, ed. by Vittore Branca, Biblioteca di Storia dell'arte, 30, 3 vols (Torino: Giulio Einaudi, 1999), III: Opere d'arte d'origine francese, fiamminga, inglese, spagnola, tedesca, p. 286, no. 113 [by Catherine Reynolds].


Images
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Decorated initial and border

f. 1
Decorated initial and border

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