We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Special Collections

DUL MS Cosin V.III.5 J. Mirk, Festial 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.

1/2/94 AJP after AID check of AJP revision of AID

[1] + 1 (medieval flyleaf) + 165 + 1 (paper, s. xvi) + 2 (medieval flyleaves) + [1]; foliated s. xvi/xvii, i, 1-163, with 72, 91, 95 and 121 repeated. Membrane for outermost and innermost bifolia of all quires; other leaves paper (0.16 mm.; quarto; all with watermark of lombardic R with cross above on chain-line, cf. Briquet, no. 8941 (dated 1467, but less well-formed), with variants from southern Europe 1459-71). 260 x 197 mm.; all edges trimmed.

Collation: 1-208, 216 wants 5 (blank ?). Catchwords on quires 1, 3-19, in scroll-like cartouches.

Pricking in outer margins only, mostly cropped away. Written space 193 x 112 mm., or 186 x 109 mm. (quire 9), or 185 x 112 mm. (quire 10), or 198 x 108 mm. (ff. 72*, 79v: 111,8), or 180-190 x 112 (112-7), or 198 x 112 mm. (f. 160r-v); ruled in sharp or soft brown plummet, with lines generally invisible, and with the first and last pair of horizontals extended across margins. 32 long lines, the first above the top ruled line, or 31 lines (quire 9), or 33 lines (quire 10), or 34 lines (ff. 72*, 79v, 160r-v).

Written in a set secretary, expertly, by one hand, with a few enhanced ascenders in top lines and elaborated descenders in bottom lines, and some variation in size and currency; simplified d and w indicate a date after c. 1430 and the manner could be as late as the third quarter of the century, in which M. B. Parkes places it, cf. his English Cursive Book Hands, pl. 21(i). FACSIMILES

Punctuation by paraph, virgule, psalm-colon and point.

Ink brown.

Decoration: Latin phrases written in red. Text capitals stroked with red, ff. 1 and 9. Paraphs, in alternating red and blue, or, to sermon rubrics, in blue. Initials: (i) to sermons, 3-line, blue; (ii) to item 1, 6-line, in blue and red, enclosing a figure (frontal view of a cleric in a blue habit or cope(?) standing with hands together in prayer within a hexagonal pulpit decorated with two tiers of blind arcading, and bearing a deep pink fall decorated with gold, and standing on grass decorated with yellow, against a deep pink background decorated with groups of three hatched circles and three crows-feet in yellow), set in a square of red flourishing, and with a double frame on all sides of the text-block, the inner blue and the outer a feston composed of alternately red and blue ragged sections each 25-40 mm. long, with sprays of red flourishing at the corners and centre-points.


Lists of sermons in item 1: s. xviii/xix, see below, f. 160r-v; and s. xvi2, f. 161* (inserted paper half-leaf), in two columns.

1. ff. 1-156v The helpe and the grace of almighty god thurgh the blissing of his blissid modir Marie. be with vs at oure begynyng ... Gode men and women ye shal knowe well. that this day is callid the sonday of cristes comynge Wherfore holy churche ... ... And than the Abbot asoiled him. and than he laie stil for euermore/ To the whiche rest god bringe bothe youe and me: that for vs died vpon the rood tree Amen

John Mirk, Festial, with a prefatory prayer and prologue not in the edition by T. Erbe, EETS ES 96 (1905). This copy comprises 61 sermons, lacking Barnabas, Winifred and Alkmund, also the concluding Formacio necessaria capellanis and exposition of points of doctrine. It also differs in various details: the opening and closing sentences for Advent 1 and in the Temporale up to Corpus Christi, Sexagesima is a few lines shorter than in Erbe, Lent 1 is different, the end of Passion (Palm) Sunday is shorter; Trinity and Corpus Christi lack the conclusions, as in the Sanctorale do Andrew, Nicholas (which has different exempla), Conception of B.V.M. (with additional exempla), and John ev. The narratio de morte Neronis is absent from Peter & Paul; the Assumption is Erbe's II and lacks the verses (IMEV, no. 462); Nativity of B.V.M. ends differently, about St Joseph, not with tales; Katherine is extended, with a different tale at the end; Dedication omits mention of Lilleshall in the final tale of an abbot.

M.F.Wakelin, "The manuscripts of John Mirk's Festial", Leeds Studies in English, new series 1 (1967), 93-117, lists 28 complete or incomplete copies (subsequently increased to 30), besides 8 of adaptations, assigning this copy to the minority group B with the Temporal/Sanctoral division, but wrongly stating that it lacks the prologue. He notes that the prefatory prayer here occurs in only three other copies of the Festial, but in the early printed editions by Caxton (1483) and Wynkyn de Worde (1493), also in another manuscript of Middle English sermons, including some by Mirk. S. Powell ed., The Advent and Nativity Sermons from a Fifteenth-Century Revision of John Mirk's Festial (Middle English Texts 13; Heidelberg, 1981), pp. 24 and 26-7, observes that this copy is the only group B manuscript with the prefatory prayer and prologue, that it lacks the 1434 indulgences, and that it is often idiosyncratic in its text.

2. f. 156v (added, s. xv2) In my begynnyng godde be my spede | In grace and vrtue [sic] tow perocede.

Written by the same awkward childish (?) hand as pen-trials repeating phrases from the beginning and end of the item 1, ff. iv and 156v, and probably the liturgical phrases 'homo natus est', 'benedictus qui venit', 'in nomyny domyny', etc., ff. 161v-163.

ff. 158-160 are of the original paper, and f. 160r-v is ruled uniformly with the main text; all originally blank.

3. f. 161 (added, s. xvi2) Omnia que sensu voluuntur vota diurno | Tempore nocturno reddit amica quies.

Walther, Proverbia, no. 20050; nova series, no. 39241b. Written three times, and the first line a fourth time, in various scripts, by at least two hands, cf. Annotation below.

4. f. 162v (added, s. xv2):

(a) Lady of love ye will me lese

Ie lay alwey on me your launce

yow to exchew I canoit chese

If I where put in great penaunce

To yow ne yowrs in word ne dede

But ever hath loved yow without varying

If ye be false evell may ye spede;

(b) I had my mony and my frend | as many a man hathe in londe | I lent my mony to my frende | as dothe bothe fre and bonde.

(a) Not in IMEV or its Suppl. Written twice, first in a small neat secretary hand, second by a more awkward imitative hand, possibly that of (b) and other pen-trials; (b) well-known verses, cf. IMEV, no. 1297. The first couplet also on ff. 80 (erased) and 162v-163.

Correction and Annotation:

The word 'pope' is erased on ff 125-126v, also the name of St Thomas (of Canterbury) sometimes, ff. 75v, 76, 79, 80r-v; the latter is rewritten in secretary, s.xvi med., on f. 75v, perhaps by the hand responsible for the contents list, f. 161*. Latin theme for Quadragesima Sunday (f. 13) supplied by the humanistic hand, s. xvi2, partly responsible for item 3. Lengthy English annotations expressing Protestant attitudes in a current secretary hand, s.xvi2, with underlining of the relevant text in the same ink.

'Sherthursday', f. 29 right margin, and 'Legenda aurea', f. 154v left margin, in italic, s. xvi/xvii, refer to phrases in the text, underlined in the same ink.


Written in England, by a copyist tentatively placed by the Edinburgh Middle English Dialect Survey from the spelling on the border of Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire (map p. 102 in Wakelin), but subsequently revised to Leicestershire, LALME, I,87.

Secundo folio mekely take.

Inked impressions, apparently of a piece of printing type, in the lower margins of ff. 71 (seven, one upside-down) and 72 (one: a textura h), identified by Dr L. Hellinga and Dr D. Shaw as from a face, 111G, used by the Paris printers Higman and Hopyl up to 1507, and also in Antwerp, Ghent and Harderwijk (Vervliet, Sixteenth-Century Printing Types of the Low Countries, T12a), and later by T. Berthelet (1524-55) in London (Isaac fig.62, 114 Textura). None of the 26 or more editions of item 1 between 1483 and 1532 are from the printers known to have used this type, and none are based on this copy of the text, which has no obvious signs of casting off, although some of what might be printer's ink; perhaps it was used for an edition which has not survived in any copies or was not set up, or for the correction of an edition from another source. PHOTOS

'be yt knowyn vnto all men that I Antony smythe', f. 124 right margin, s. xvi1, in a sprawling secretary. 'wyllyam northe | thomas northe', f. 142v left margin; 'Thomas morthe [sic]', f. 154 right margin; 'Wyllyam northe cetesyne of london and of cawntiberye', f. 157; 'Wyllyam northe | thomas northe', f. 161v amongst various pen-trials; all s. xvi1. 'mastore heryng| item fore iij skyns of parchment - vi d.| mastere garite | [four entries, scratched out, ... the last:] fore wax - iiij d.| master gareate| Item fore askyn of parchmente - ij d.| Item fore paper - ij d.| Item fore wax - iijj d.', f. 161, f. 161, s. xvi1, in a small hand resembling that of some of the pen-trials and 'Northe' inscriptions.

'The old English Festivall set forth to be read in Churches', f. i, in the hand of John Cosin, c. 1620-40; this manuscript is entered in the list at Peterhouse Cambridge of the books that he left there, c. 1644, and in MS Cosin B.I.23, f. 94, the classified catalogue of his Durham library, c. 1669. List of sermons in item 1, f. 160r-v, in a hand identified as that of Robert Harrison (d. c. 1806), according to a pencil note signed by James Raine [the elder, d. 1858]; the Harrison hand occurs in various Cosin manuscripts, and he apparently acted as the Cosin librarian, to judge from lists of printed books in this hand now inserted in MS B.I.23.

hole in centre of f. 163, perhaps from pin of early fastening. Now standard s. xix med.: two clasps.