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Detailed record for Harley 2253

Author Henri d'Acre
Title Various texts including secular and religious lyrics (also known as the 'Harley Lyrics'), including King Horn and the Follies of Fashion, and Psalms listed for recitation at certain times (imperfect)
Origin England, Central (Hereford, Ludlow)
Date 1st half of the 14th century
Language French, Latin, and English
Script Gothic and Gothic cursive
Scribe The Harley scribe (ff. 49-140v) (see Revard 1970)
Decoration Puzzle initial in red and blue with pen-flourishing in the same colours (f. 1). Coloured initials in red ink. Spaces for initials left blank. Some ascenders marked in red. Red cross (f. 132).
Dimensions in mm 280-290 x 190 (215 x 145), in 2 columns
Official foliation ff. 1* + 142 (+ 3 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the beginning and 2 at the end)
Form Parchment codex
Binding BM/BL in-house. Rebound in 1963.
Provenance ff. 49-140v have been written c. 1340 by the so-called 'Harley scribe', active in or near Ludlow, Hereford, from 1314 to c. 1349 (see Revard 1970, Fein 2000).
?The Benedictine priory of Leominster, Hereford: textual associations with Hereford and Leominster such as the 'Legenda de sancto etfrido presbitero de Leominstria' (ff. 132-133) (but Ker rejected the hypothesis that this manuscript may have belonged to the priory, see Ker 1964).
Added medical recipe, 16th century (f. 141v).
John Batteley (b. 1647, d. 1708), Church of England clergyman and antiquary: sold to Edward Harley with the rest of his collection through his nephew John Batteley on 5 November 1723.
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 ‘5 die Novembris, A.D. 1723’ (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
Ff. 1* and 142 are fragments of a manuscript written by the Harley scribe used as flyleaves with, on one side, accounts made at Ardmulghan, co. Meath, and on the other side, extracts from the ordinal of Hereford Cathedral.
For a more detailed list of contents, see Catalogue 1808. Possibly including Jacques de Vitry's reputed book III of the Historia Hierosolimitana Abbreviata (ff. 129v-131)
A composite manuscript.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), II (1808), no. 2253.

Harry Leigh Douglas Ward, Catalogue of Romances in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum 3 vols (London: British Museum, 1883-1910), I (1883), pp. 328, 447, 813.

Joseph Hall, King Horn: A Middle-English Romance, Edited from the Manuscripts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1901), pp. 2-177 (transcription).

A. Brandl, H. Morf, ‘Beiträge zur Mittelalterlichen Volkskunde’ 5, Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, 127 (1911), 31-84 (pp. 31-48).

Hans Marcus, Die Schreibung ou in frühmittelenglischen Handscriften (Berlin: Mayer & Müller, 1917), pp. 30, 97-118.

Carleton Brown, Religious Lyrics of the XIVth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924), pp. 3-14.

Carleton Brown, English Lyrics of the Thirteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933), pp. xxxv-xl, 131-63.

G. L. Brooks, The Harley Lyrics: The Middle-English Lyrics of MS. Harley 2253 (Manchester: University Press, 1948).

B. A. O'Connor, Henri d'Arci's 'Vitas Patrum' (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1949), pp. xxiv, and following.

M. Dominica Legge, Anglo-Norman in theCloisters: The Influence of the Orders upon Anglo-Norman Literature, Edinburgh University Publications Language and Literature, 2 (Edinburgh: University Press, 1950), p. 114.

Historical Poems of the XIVth and XVth Centuries, ed. by Rossell Hope Robbins (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959), pp. 7-29.

Rossel Hope Robbins, ‘Middle English Carols as Processional Hymns’, Studies in Philology, 56, 4 (1959), 559-82 (p. 577).

Theo Stemmler, 'Die englischen Liebesgedichte des MS. Harley 2253' (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Bonn, 1962).

Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books, ed. by Neil R. Ker, 2nd edn, Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks, 3 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1964), p. 114.

Facsimile of British Museum MS Harley 2253, Early English Text Society, 255, ed. by Neil R. Ker (London: British Museum, 1965). [facsimile]

The Diary of Humfrey Wanley 1715-1726, ed. by Cyril Ernest Wright and Ruth C. Wright, 2 vols (London: Bibliographical Society, 1966), II: 1723-1726, p. 263 n. 1.

Hideo Yamaguchi,` ‘On the Language of King Horn, an Early Middle English Romance’, Kobe Women’s University Studies (Kôbe Jogakuin Daigaku Ronshû), 15 (1968), 1-39.

Malcolm Beckwith Parkes, English Cursive Book Hands (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), p. 1.

Carter Revard, 'Richard Hurd and MS Harley 2253', Notes and Queries, 224 (1970), 199-202.

Hideo Yamaguchi, ‘The Romance of King Horn’, Kobe Women’s University Studies (Kôbe Jogakuin Daigaku Ronshû), 17 (1970), 47-80.

Hideo Yamaguchi, ‘Notes, Glossarial and Grammatical, on King Horn, Harley 2253’, Kobe Women’s University Studies (Kôbe Jogakuin Daigaku Ronshû), 16 (1970), 1-42.

Betty Hill, ‘A Note on The Way of Christ’s Love, The Way of Woman’s Love in B.M. MS. Harley 2253’, Notes and Queries (1972), 46-47.

Eberhard Meyer-Raven, 'Die Mittelenglische Religiöse Lyrik des MS Harley 2253' (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Regensburg, 1972).

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. 66-67, 222.

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. 47.

Betty Hill, 'The Twelfth-Century Conduct of Life formerly the Poema Morale or Morale Ode, Leeds Studies in English, 9 (1976-77), 97-144.

Derek Pearsall, Old English and Middle English Poetry (The Routledge History of English Poetry, 1), (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977), pp. 120-32.

Betty Hill, 'British Library Ms. Egerton 613-I', Notes and Queries, New Series, 25 (1978), 394-409 (p. 398).

Carter Revard, ‘Three more holographs in the hand of the scribe of MS Harley 2253 in Shrewsbury’, Notes and Queries (1981), 199-200.

Carter Revard, ‘Gilote et Johane: an Interlude in B. L. Harley 2253’, Studies in Philology, 79, 2 (1982), 122-46.

A. I. Doyle, 'English Books In and Out of Court from Edward III to Henry VII', in English Court Culture in the Later Middle Ages, ed. by V. J. Scattergood and J. W. Sherborne (London: Duckworth, 1983), pp. 163-82 (p. 165).

D. J. Ransom, Poets at Play: Irony and Parody in the Harley Lyrics (Norman, Oklahoma: Pilgrim, 1985).

John Scattergood, ‘Fashion and Morality in the Late Middle Ages’, in England in the Fifteenth Century: Proceedings of the 1986 Harlaxton Symposium, ed. by David Williams (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1987), pp. 255-72 (p. 257).

Thorlac Turville-Petre, Alliterative Poetry of the Later Middle Ages: An Anthology (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 9-37.

John A. Goodall, ‘Rolls of Arms of Kings: Some recent Discoveries in the British Library’, The Antiquaries Journal, 70 (1990), 82-94.

La Vengeance de Nostre-Seigneur: The Old and Middle French Prose Versions, ed. by Alvin E. Ford, 2 vols, Studies and Texts, 63 and 115 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1993), II, pp. 2, 52 [ff. 39-41).

John Frederick Hinnebusch, ‘Extant Manuscripts of the Writings of Jacques de Vitry’ Scriptorium: Revue internationale des études relative aux manuscrits, 51 (1997), 156-64 (p. 160).

Joseph A. Dane, 'Page Layout and Textual Autonomy in Harley MS 2253 'Lenten is come with loue to toune', Medium Aevum, 68 (1999), 32-41.

Carter Revard, ‘Courtly Romances in the Privy Wardrobe’, The court and cultural diversity : selected papers from the Eighth Triennial Congress of the International Courtly Literature Society : the Queen’s University of Belfast 26 July - 1 August 1995, ed. by Evelyn Mullally, John Thompson (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1999), 297-308 (p. 302 n. 16, 17, p. 306, n. 31).

Carter Revard, 'Annote and Johon, MS Harley 2253, and The Book of Secrets’, English Language Notes (1999), 5-19.

Studies in the Harley Manuscript: The Scribes, Contents and Social Contexts of British Library MS Harley 2253, ed. by Susanna Fein (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2000), pp. 22, 26, 32, 58, 65, 67-71, 82-86.

Carter Revard, ‘From French ‘Fabliau Manuscripts’ and MS Harley 2253 to the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales’, Medium Aevum, 69 (2000), 261-78.

Nigel Morgan, 'Patrons and Devotional Images in English Art of the International Gothic c. 1350-1450', in Reading Texts and Images: Essays on Medieval and Renaissance Art and Patronage in honour of Margaret M. Manion, ed. by Bernard J. Muir (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2002), pp. 93-122.

Marilyn Corrie, 'Kings and Kingship in British Library MS Harley 2253', The Yearbook of English Studies, 33 (2003), 64-79.

Chris Fletcher, Roger Evans, and Sally Brown, 1000 Years of English Literature: A Treasury of Literary Manuscripts (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2003), pp. 20-21.

Andrew Taylor, 'Manual to Miscellany: Stages in the Commercial Copying of Vernacular Literature in England', The Yearbook of English Studies, 33 (2003), 1-17 (p. 8).

Nigel Morgan, ‘Patrons and their Devotions in the Historiated Initials and Full-Page Miniatures of 13th-Century English Psalters’, in The Illuminated Psalter: Studies in the Content, Purpose and Placement of its Images, ed. by F. O. Büttner, (Belgium: Brepols, 2004), pp. 309-22 (p. 318).

Jane Roberts, Guide to Scripts used in English Writings up to 1500 (London: British Library, 2005), p. 162, no. 36.

'The Harley lyrics: booklist', Wessex Parallel WebTexts, [ [accessed 29 October 2007].

Carter Revard, ‘Oppositional Thematics and Metanarrative in MS Harley 2253, Quires 1-6’, Essays in Manuscript Geography: Vernacular Manuscripts of the English West Midlands from the Conquest to the Sixteenth Century, ed. by Wendy Scase (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), 95-112 .

Rodney M. Thomson and Nigel Morgan, ‘Language and literacy’, in The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain (Cambridge: University Press, 1999- ), II: 1100-1400, ed. by Nigel Morgan and Rodney M. Thomson (2008), pp. 22-38 (pp. 29-30).

Rodney M. Thomson and others, 'Technology of production of the manuscript book', in The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain (Cambridge: University Press, 1999- ), II: 1100-1400, ed. by Nigel Morgan and Rodney M. Thomson (2008), pp. 75-109 (p. 273).

John Spence, Reimagining History in Anglo-Norman Prose Chronicles (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2013), pp. 5, 154-55.

Maureen Boulton, Sacred Fictions of Medieval France (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2015), p. 308.

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Puzzle initial

f. 1
Puzzle initial
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f. 55v
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f. 59v
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f. 67
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ff. 71v-72
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f. 73
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f. 76v
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Mayden Moder Milde

f. 83
Mayden Moder Milde
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f. 131
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