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Detailed record for Harley 468

Title The Book of St Gilbert
Origin England
Date 1st half of the 13th century
Language Latin
Script Gothic, written above the top line
Decoration 1 large and framed puzzle initial in red, blue and brown, with foliate motifs on a coloured ground (f. 4v). Numerous initials in blue or red with penwork decoration in the alternate colour. 2 initials in red with penwork decoration in brown (ff. 1, 9), one including a tonsured head (f. 9). Simple initials in red or blue. Rubrics in red.
Dimensions in mm 160 x 115 (125/135 x 85/95)
Official foliation ff. 129 (+ 3 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the beginning and 3 at the end).
Form Parchment codex
Binding BM/BL in-house.
Provenance Written after c. 1202: Gilbert of Sempringham (b. 1083, d. 1189) was canonized by Innocent III in 1202 and the 'Liber sancti Gilberti' (in this manuscript headed by the rubric '(...) vita sancti gilberti confessoris') was probably assembled as a 'canonization dossier' (see Golding 2004).
A Gilbertine house (?); the exemplar might have been Cotton Cleopatra B I, ff. 33-168 (see discussion The Book of St Gilbert, p. lxvii).
Added, ?13th/14th century, three inscriptions (ff. 51v, 88v, 120v), including '(...) Simone de (...) magi[str]o de oyen[(...)]' (f. 120v), texts including drafts for letters (f. 128v), notes in Latin and English (ff. 129, 129v).
Added, 16th century: prayer to St Gilbert (f. 129 and repeated on f. 129v; transcribed in The Book of St Gilbert 1987, p. lxvi).
Sir Simonds d'Ewes (b.1602, d. 1650), 1st baronet, diarist, antiquary, and friend of Sir Robert Cotton (see Wright 1972): inscribed '34' (f. 1); no. A852 in his catalogue.
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 Erased inscriptions (ff. 1, 129v); catchwords.
Crossed tironian ets.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), I (1808), no. 468.

Sir Simonds d'Ewes (b. 1602, d. 1650), 1st baronet, diarist and antiquary: his binding and arms, (see Andrew G. Watson, The Library of Sir Simonds D'Ewes (London: British Museum, 1966), p. 199 (no. A852).

C. E. Wright, Fontes Harleiani: A Study of the Sources of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1972), p. 131.

The Book of St Gilbert, ed. by Raymonde Foreville and Gillian Keir (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), pp. lxv-lxvii.

Brian Golding, 'Gilbert of Sempringham [St Gilbert of Sempringham] (1083-1189)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) [, accessed 7 Aug 2007].

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Puzzle initial

f. 4v
Puzzle initial

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