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 Detail from the Roman de la Rose
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Detailed record for Harley 4419

Title Lancelot du Lac (imperfect)
Origin Italy, ?N.
Date 2nd half of the 14th century
Language French
Script Gothic
Decoration Historiated initial in colours with a seated king and foliate decoration including acanthus leaves forming a partial border with a bird and 2 human figures (f. 1). Numerous large puzzle initials in red and blue with pen-flourishing in the same colours spreading between the columns and into the margins. Numerous smaller initials in red or blue with pen-flourishing in the other colour.
Dimensions in mm 330 x 230 (245 x 145), in 2 columns
Official foliation ff. 169 (+ 1 unfoliated paper flyleaf at the beginning)
Form Parchment codex
Binding Post-1600. Brown leather with the arms of Nicolas Foucault in gold in the centre of each cover.
Provenance Added drawings in a ?medieval hand (f. 169).
Inscriptions in a late 15th-century hand in French (on the 2nd parchment leaf forming f. 169, visible where the glue has dried and the leaves have partially detached).
Nicolas Joseph Foucault (b. 1643, d. 1721), Marquis de Magny, statesman and archaeologist: his arms on the binding and his book-plate with the legend 'EX BIBLIOTHECA | NICOLAI JOSEPH FOUCAULT | COMITIS CONSISTORIANI' with his arms [sable] a lion rampant, dexter, crowned [argent], as supporters two lions [argent]; a couronne de marquis surmounting the shield (inside the upper cover).
Thomas Ballard, bookseller and book auctioneer in London; his sale, 20 February 1720/21, lot 236, bought for Edward Harley through Nathaniel Noel.
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 '23 Februarij 1720/1' (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 Full digital coverage available for this manuscript: see Digitised Manuscripts at
The paper flyleaf at the beginning is made of ?16th-century documents pasted together; f. 169 is a folio made of 2 parchment flyleaves pasted together with 1 paper flyleaf with another part of the ?16th-century documents used at the beginning of the volume; these documents have also been used on the inside of the covers
Select bibliography H. Oskar Sommer, Le Roman de Merlin or the Early History of King Arthur (London: Privately printed, 1894), Facing p. xxiv.

A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), III (1808), no. 4419.

H. L. D. Ward and J. A. Herbert, Catalogue of Romances in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum, 3 vols (London: British Museum, 1883-1910), I, H. L. D. Ward, , pp. 353-54.

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, p. 91 n. 4.

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. 62, 155-56.

Roger Middleton, 'Manuscripts of the Lancelot-Grail Cycle in England and Wales: Some Books and their Owners' in A Companion to the Lancelot-Grail Cycle, ed. by Carol Dover (Woodbridge: D. S. Brewer, 2003), pp. 219-35, (p. 225).

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Historiated initial

f. 1
Historiated initial

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