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Durham University

Special Collections

DUL MS Cosin V.II.14 J. Lydgate, Sege of Thebes; etc. s. xv med.

These incomplete draft descriptions of medieval manuscripts in Durham University Library are copyright, and may not be quoted without the permission of the University of Durham Library.

Owing to inconsistencies with the source software, accented characters appear in varying compound forms. This has not yet been rationalized.

27/1/94 AJP after AID check of AJP revision of AID

[1] + 3 (stiff bifolium, ff. i and iii, enclosing f. ii, s. xvii paper) + 111 + 2 (stiff bifolium) + [1]; foliated, i-iii, 1-111. Membrane (0.16 mm.; some natural edges and flaws; flesh and hair sides distinct; quires with fleshside outermost), c. 295 x 185 mm., lower outer corners of ff. 6-76 almost all cut off obliquely for c. 12 mm.

Collation: [one quire, 'a', missing], 1-138, 148 wants 8 after f. 111. Catchwords on quires 1-13. Quires 1-14 signed b-p.

Prickings remain in outer margins of quires 1-12, made with knife-point through whole folded quire, apparently from last verso. Written space 194 x 108 mm.; ruled in ink, with top and last two lines full width of leaves; 32 long lines.

Written in textura formata, with hair-lines, somewhat clumsily, by one hand, better at smaller size (ff. 92-111).

Ink black/brown, rubbged on some pages.

Decoration: Latin of item 2 written in red. Paraphs in items 1, and 4-6, in blue or red alternately, also, in blue only, to running titles. Initials: (i) to Latin versals f. 69, 1- line, in blue; (ii) to lesser divisions of item 1, to item 2(b) and item 5 prologue, 2-line, in blue, with red infilling and flourishing; (iii) to item 1 part III, item 4, item 5 'story', and item 6, 3-line, as (ii); (iv) to item 1 part II and item 2(a), 4-line, in blue and red, with red infilling and flourishing, on f. 69 later (?) embellished with ink.

Red running titles to item 1, in Latin, 'Prima (- Tercia) Pars', in the main hand.


1. ff. 1-68v (Distruction of thebs, s. xvi/xvii) Froward and fel. lastyng euer in on. ... ... And ioye eternal whan we hennes wende. | Of my tale thus I make an ende. Her is now endid the fynal destruccyoun. | Of Thebes that strong and royal toun.

John Lydgate, The Sege of Thebes, defective at start, beginning at I, line 483; ed. A. Erdmann & E. Ekwall, EETS ES 108 and 125 (19ll,1930), vol. ii, 62-94, not using this copy; IMEV, no. 3928 (wrongly attributed to Durham Cathedral). The text apparently shares the faults of ed. $9, branch Bo.Du.T1.L1, but not those peculiar to any of them; in l.3518 it has 'especifye' as in T1 (Trinity Cambridge R.4.20) and Du (the Duleep Singh MS.). The rubrics inserted as lines within the text here, possibly from marginal notes in the exemplar, as in other copies, are not always correctly placed, e.g. the side-note of l.4277 follows 4289-90 in this copy. Wording of rubrics initially entered small, in anglicana, in the margins, two or three lines up from the spaces left in the text; subsequently largely erased.

2. (a) ff. 69-70 Cvm animaduerterem quam plurimos homines ... Whan I aduertise in my remembraunce. | ... ... Loue euery wyght and this shal the avaunce;

(b) ff. 70-92 Si deus est animus nobis ut carmina dicunt. ... For thy that god is inwardly the witte. | ... ... And eke to atteyne to mukest [sic] worthynesse. Explicit liber Catonis.

(a) Parvus Cato, and (b) Magnus Cato, both in the English stanzaic renderings by Benedict Burgh, made, according to Caxton, for William Lord Bourchier, probably c. 1433-40; IMEV & Suppl., nos 3955 & 854, listing 22 manuscripts of (a), 33 of (b), and three Caxton editions of both; ed. M. Förster, Archiv 115 (1905), 298-323, and 116 (1906), 25-40, ostensibly from 25 manuscripts and four early printings, not recording noteworthy variants in this copy (e.g. (b) lines 1 'For thy', 630 'Lo', 820 'Now I haue'), but with stemma putting this copy on a branch by itself, anterior to that of the copy (B.L. MS Royal 18.D.II) of selected stanzas painted on a wall in Wressle Castle (E. Yorks.) for the 5th Earl of Northumberland.

Here (a) has the Latin rubricated in full before each stanza; the final stanza is omitted. Only a two-line flourished initial indicates the beginning of (b) in which there is no indication of the beginnings or ends of parts (books in Caxton) except the Envoys, of which final stanzas are omitted from three: at the end of part I the first two lines of the final stanza of the Envoy (ed. Frster, st.XLIX, ll.339-40) occur in reverse order at the end of what is here the last though normally the penultimate stanza (XLVIII, 331-8). The last two stanzas are omitted from part II (LXXXVIII-IX, 613-29); the penultimate stanza of part III (CXVI, 820-27) is here the final stanza of part IV (and penultimate in Caxton).

3. f. 92 Sunt tria gaudia. pax. sapientia. copia rerum. | Sunt tria tristia. lis. & inopia. fraus mulierum.

Couplet, cf. Walther, Sprichwörter, no. 30835.

4. ff. 92-97v Uita sancti Alexi confessoris. L[for S]itteth stille with outen stryf. And I wille tellen yow of the lyf. of an holy man: ... ... And in heuen to haue a wonnyng. Amen. amen for charite. Explicit vita sancti Alexi confessoris.

Life of St Alexius, in a hundred-and-three 6-line stanzas, IMEV, no 3156, found also in the Oxford Bodleian Lib., MSS Vernon and Laud Misc. 108, and Naples MS XIII.B.29 (said by David Laing to have 103 stanzas, see T. Wright ed., Reliquiae Antiquae, II (1845), pp. 64-5). Manual, II, 564; Lines 1-42 of this copy ed. F. J. Furnivall, EETS 69 (1xxx), p.99. Here written as continuous prose, but with coloured paraphs to stanzas.

5. ff. 97v-106 Here begynneth the prolog of the holy seynt seynt Margarete. compendyously compiled in balade by lidgate Dan Johan Monk of Bury. Anno viijo.H.vjti. At the Reuerence of seynt Margarete. | My purpos is hir lyfe to compile. ... ... And be her shelde in myschief and dissese. Explicit.

John Lydgate, Life of St Margaret; IMEV, no. 439 (8 copies); this copy pr. C. Horstmann, Altenglische Legenden, Neue Folge (Heilbronn 1881), pp. 446-53; ed. H.N.MacCracken, EETS ES 107, (1911), 173-92, based on this copy. Authorship ascription also in Oxford Bodleian Library MS Bodley 686 and B.L. MS Harley 367. W. Schirmer's doubt about the date, John Lydgate (Eng. tr. London, 1962), pp. 144-5, has no force for the source of the statement about Lady March's initiative (John Shirley in Cambridge, Trinity Coll. MS R.3.20) uses both her titles. Cf. Manual, VI, 2131-2. The style of the heading here is Shirleyan.

6. ff. 106 Here bigynnyth the lyfe of Marye Magdaleyn. Mary Magdaleyn was surnamed of Magdalon the Castell and she was born of the kynred that were descendid of ryal kynne ... ... And seynt Maxymien anoyntid the bodie of hir with | [lacking last few words, by loss of following leaf].

Life of St Mary Magdalene, translated from Jean de Vignay's French version of Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend; ed. J. Zupitza, Archiv 91 (1893), 207-24, from this copy, mislocated in Durham Cathedral Library; four other copies, one with partial, and two with full, versions of the English Gilte Legend of 1438, see Manual, II, 611.

Correction and annotation:

Original corrections over erasures. Some contemporary interlinear insertions of single words. The top 10 lines of f. 2r and the top 12 lines of f. 2v are on a separate piece of parchment carefully scarfed on and partly covering an interlinear insertion to f. 2r line 11; likewise, on another piece of parchment, the top 12 lines of f. 7r and the top 10 lines of f. 7v. It seems that this is to be explained either by two serious errors, possibly connected in some way, in the text, or by a physical defect in the bifolium forming ff. 2 and 7, possibly causing the ink to smudge or flake, which was regarded as unacceptable.

Latin annotations to item 1 in yellow ink, in secretary, s. xvi2.

Sidenotes and signs in the form of trefoils throughout item 1, perhaps by William Browne, see below.


Written in England.

Secundo folio missing.

'James elwod of Canterberye servant with master Railton Jhesys fore thy holye name' [cf. IMEV, no. 1703 & Suppl.], f. 8, s.xvi in/med. 'For thomas payton was never', 'Rychard gent(?) For mem(?) Sonne(?)', f. 69, s.xvi med.; and by the same hand (?), 'Thomas pay payton Socius Ricardi manti(?) ...' f. 78. 'per me Ricardum massy In dei nomine Amen', f. 83, xvi med/ex.; also in the same hand and ink, a drawing of the five wounds of Christ, f. 96v, and probably '1558 pees shalbe the wyche shalbe great hurtto this Realme of england as ever bore (?)', f. 1.

The hand of the title, f. 1, occurs again in a sidenote on f. 10, and is in similar ink to other italic sidenotes of a more elegant character and trefoils throughout item 1, s. xvi/xvii, e.g. f. 41r-v; these may be the work of William Browne, who owned Cosin MSS V.II.13, V.II.15, V.II.16 and V.III.9 before George Davenport (who dated all of them 1664) and a number of others, chiefly in Middle English, elsewhere. In Leiden Univ. Voss.Q.9 there is an early seventeenth-century reference (before Vossius) to 'A folio MS. of John Lidgate's concerning the Destruction of Thebes penes Dom. W.B.' Since Browne died in 1645 (?), there must have been at least one intervening owner of this group of books.

'Geo. Davenport. 1664', f. iiv, and his list of contents, f. iii; and a note from Pits on Lydgate and item 1 on f. iiiv. The usual library inscription by Rud on 1r. 'in Stow's list' (referring to Chaucer ed.? as Speght, 1598, f. 394), added by R. Harrison re item 5 in Davenport's list of contents, f. iii.