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Detailed record for Harley 4733

Title Miscellany of Middle English Verse containing: 'Cato Major' and 'Parvis Cato' by Benedict Burgh (ff. 3-30), 'Proverbs of Old Philosophers' (ff. 30-40), and 'Destruction of Jerusalem' ('Titus and Vespasian') (ff. 40v-127)
Origin England
Date Second half of the 15th century
Language English
Script Gothic cursive
Decoration Two decorated initials in blue with red pen-flourishing (ff. 3-4). Small initials in blue (ff. 3-4); small initials in red (ff. 30-40v). Rubrics in red (ff. 3-40v).
Dimensions in mm 210 x 130 (160 x 95)
Official foliation ff. 128 (+ 1 unfoliated parchment flyleaf and 2 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the beginning and 3 at the end)
Form Parchment and paper codex
Binding BM/BL in-house.
Provenance Added text, 15th century: excerpt from the 'Libro Bruti' (f. 127v).
John Penyngton, 15th century: inscribed with 'Master John Penyngton schole master of Worcestur ys possessed of thys booke' (f. 2v).
John Bland, 16th century: inscribed with his name (ff. 1, 127, 127v).
John Pygyn, 16th or 17th century: inscribed with his name (ff. 1-2v, 127v).
John Russel, 16th or 17th century: inscribed with his name (f. 1v, 127v).
Latin inscriptions, 17th century (f. 2).
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 Leaf signatures.
Some decorated catchwords.
A late-12th century fragment of the 'Brut' in Anglo-Norman, is bound as a flyleaf with the reverse as a recto (f. 128). Wormholes indicate f. 128 has been bound with Harley 4733 for a long while.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), III (1808), no. 4733.

Max Förster, 'Die Burghsche Cato-Paraphrase', Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Litteraturen, 115 ( 1905), 298-323 (p. 299).

Cyril Ernest Wright, Fontes Harleiani: A Study of the Sources of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1972), p. 447.

Gisela Guddat-Figge, Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Middle English Romances, Münchener Universitäts-Schriften Philosophische Fakultät Texte und Untersuchungen zur Englischen Philologie, ed. by Helmut Gneuss and Wolfgang Weiss, 4 (Munich: Wilhem Fink, 1976), no. 51.

Peter Damian-Grint, ‘A 12th-century Anglo-Norman Brut fragment (MS BL Harley 4733, f.128)’, Anglo-Norman Anniversary Essays, ed. by Ian Short, Anglo-Norman Text Society, Occasional Publications Series, 2 (London: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 1993), 87-104.

Maria Careri, Christine Ruby and Ian Short, Livres et écritures en français et en occitan au XIIe siècle: Catalogue illustré (Rome: Viella, 2011), no. 41.

* * *
Decorated initial

f. 3
Decorated initial
Painted initial

f. 40v
Painted initial

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