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Detailed record for Harley 6291

Author John Gower
Title Vox Clamantis (beginning imperfectly) (ff. 1-134v), Cronica Tripertita (ff. 134v-49v), and shorter poems (ff. 149v-61)
Origin England
Date Last quarter of the 14th century
Language Latin
Script Gothic
Decoration 3 large 'champ' initials with foliate tendrils extending into the margins (ff. 23, 33, 34v). 1 large initial in gold with purple pen-flourishing (f. 134v). Numerous large initials in blue with red pen-flourishing. Small initials in red and blue.
Dimensions in mm 230 x 155 (180 x 100)
Official foliation ff. 164 (+ 4 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the beginning and 4 at the end)
Form Parchment codex
Binding BM/BL in-house.
Provenance Inscribed, 17th century: content list (f. 161v).
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 Macaulay's 'Manuscript H' (see Macaulay 1899, pp. lxiv-lxv).
Parkes' 'Scribe 2' is the main copyist for Harley 6291, with revisions by a number of other scribes as identified by Parkes (Parkes 1995, pp. 87-89, 90-94).
The version of Vox Clamantis found in this manuscript suggests it was completed c.1383 - c.1390 and the Cronica Tripertita after the death of Richard II (b. 1367, d. 1400), with Vox Clamantis having been revised to account for historical changes that occurred after it was initially copied (see Parkes 1995, pp. 82-86). The shorter poems (ff. 149-58) were composed after Gower's death in 1408 (Parkes 1995, pp. 89).
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), II (1808), no. 6291.

The Complete Works of Gower, ed. by George Campbell Macaulay (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899-1902), pp. lxiv-lxv.

Malcolm Parkes, 'Patterns of Scribal Activity and Revisions of the Text in Early Copies of Works by John Gower', New Science out of Old Books, ed. by Richard Beadle and A. J. Piper (Hants: Scolar Press, 1995), pp. 81-121.

Derek Pearsall, ‘The Manuscripts and Illustrations of Gower’s Works’, in A Companion to Gower, ed. by Sian Echard (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2004), pp. 73-97 (pp. 78, 84).

Maria Wickert, Studien zu John Gower (Cologne: Cologne University Press, 1953), pp. 16-33.

John H. Fisher, John Gower, Moral Philosopher and Friend of Chaucer (New York: New York University Press, 1964), p. 108.

John Gower,Trilingual Poet: Language, Translation, and Tradition, ed. by Elisabeth Dutton, with John Hines and R. F. Yeager. (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2010), p. 89.

* * *
Decorated initials

ff. 125v-126
Decorated initials

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