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Detailed record for Harley 4388

Author Samson de Nanteuil , Guichard de Beaulieu , Elias of Winchester
Title Samson's 'Les proverbes de Salemon' (ff. 1-86v), Guichard's 'Sermon' (ff. 87-99v), 'Disciplina clericalis', in Anglo-Norman translation, imperfect (ff. 99v-115v), Elias's ‘L'Afaitement Catun’, an Anglo-Norman translation of the 'Disticha Catonis' (ff. 115v-119v).
Origin England or France
Date 1st quarter of the 13th century
Language French (Anglo-Norman)
Script Gothic, written above top line
Decoration Large initials with foliate decoration extending into the margins in blue, silver, red and green. Small initials in blue, silver, red or green. Rubrics in red.
Dimensions in mm 280 x 190 (210/220 x 130/140) in two columns
Official foliation ff. 119 (+ 3 unfoliated modern paper flyleaves at the beginning and the end)
Collation Gatherings mostly of 8, with quire signature at the centre of the lower margin of the last verso of each gathering.
Form Parchment codex
Binding BM/BL in-house. 19th century; edges gilt.
Provenance James Ravenscroft (b. 1595, d. 1680), lawyer and merchant, Jesus College Cambridge, 1613; B. A. 1616; Inner Temple 1616: his name 'Jacobus Ravenscrofte' (f. 1).
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
Samson de Nanteuil composed 'Les proverbes de Salemon' in 12,000 octosyllabic couplets for Aeliz de Condet between 1136-1154, possibly as a manual of moral instructions for her son Roger: this manuscript is the only surviving copy of the text (see MacBain 1995, Short 2005).
The French translation of the 'Disciplina clericalis' is imperfect due to the loss of a quire between ff. 110 and 111.
One of four copies of Guichard de Beauliu's sermon.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), III (1808), no. 4388.

Harry L. D. Ward and John A. Herbert, Catalogue of Romances in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum, 3 vols (London: British Museum, 1883-1910), II: Harry L. D. Ward (1893), 247-52.

M. Dominica Legge, Anglo-Norman Literature and its Background (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), pp. 134-38.

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. 282, 444.

William MacBain, 'Anglo-Norman Literature', in Medieval France: an encyclopedia, ed. by William W. Kibler and Grover A. Zinn (New York and London: Garland, 1995), pp. 35-38 (p. 37).

Ruth Dean and Maureen Bolton, Anglo-Norman Literature, A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (London: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 1999), nos 254, 263, 458, 597.

Ian Short, 'The Texts: Introduction', in The Trinity Apocalypse (Trinity College Cambridge, MS R.16.2), ed. by David McKitterick (London: British Library, 2005), pp. 123-36 (p. 132).

Maria Careri, Christine Ruby and Ian Short, Livres et écritures en français et en occitan au XIIe siècle: Catalogue illustré (Rome: Viella, 2011), no. 40.

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Decorated initials

f. 41v
Decorated initials

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