A merchant's tales: a London fifteenth-century household miscellany.
This article considers the contents of Westminster School MS 3, a fifteenth-century miscellany containing devotional and conduct material, written in Middle English. It explores the internal evidence, which points to the manuscript having been compiled for use in a lay household. Most of the collection is orthodox but some texts show evidence of Wycliffite influence. The manuscript bears an inscription with the name Richard Cloos and the date 1472. Cloos has been identified with a churchwarden in the parish of St Mary-at-Hill. This article reveals his activities as a London merchant and explores the difficulties of linking the man with the colophon.
Westminster School MS 3 is a fifteenth-century collection of devotional and conduct material written in Middle English. Copied onto vellum, the texts were compiled by three scribes. H. E. Allen dated the manuscript to c. 1420, (1) while Phyllis Hodgson described the first scribe as having a 'regular early to mid-fifteenth-century court hand', (2) and A. I. Doyle suggested that the hand of the first scribe could be as early as 1400. (3) The manuscript contains eighteen main items, as follows:
1. fol. [1.sup.r] An exposition of the Lord's Prayer, '[thorn]e Pater Noster of Richard Ermyte'.
2. fol. [68.sup.r] A commentary on the Ave Maria.
3. fol. [73.sup.r] The 'orthodox' commentary on the Ten Commandments.
4. fol. [88.sup.v] A translation of the Beniamin Minor of Richard of St Victor.
5. fol. [103.sup.v] An exposition of Psalm 26.
6. fol. [105.sup.r] 'How men [thorn]at be[thorn] in heele schulde visite sekemen'.
7. fol. [112.sup.r] '[thorn]e chartir of heuene', a tract from the Pore Caitif.
8. fol. [115.sup.r] A translation of Chapter 3 of Pseudo-Bonaventura, Meditationes vitae Christi.
9. fol. [117.sup.v] 'How lordis and housbondemen schulden teche goddis comaundementis and [thorn]e gospel to her suggettis and answere for hem to god on domesday'.
10. fol. [119.sup.v] 'Diliges dominum [...] [thorn]ou schalt loue [thorn]i lord god of al pin herte'.
11. fol. [121.sup.r] 'Here bigynne[thorn] a tretis of weddid men and wymmen and of her children also'.
12. fol. [132.sup.v] 'A schort reule of lyf for eche man in general and for preestis in special hou eche schal be saued in his degre'.
13. fol. [137.sup.r] 'Here bigynne[thorn] a noble tretys of maydenhode'.
14. fol. [153.sup.r] 'I write to [thorn]ee [thorn]is tretys in [thorn]ese fyue schort chapitres', concluding tract from the Pore Caitif.
15. fol. [163.sup.r] '[thorn]e ten comaundementis of god'.
16. fol. [181.sup.r] A translation of the Speculum Ecclesiae of St Edmund of Abingdon, '[thorn]e myrour of seynt edmound'. (fol. [204.sup.v] originally mostly blank, now with added lists of the 'sevene gostly werkis of mercy' and the 'fyue goostly wittis'.)
17. fol. [205.sup.r] Richard Rolle's Form of Living.
18. fol. [225.sup.r] Rolle's Ego Dormio. (fol. [231.sup.v] originally blank, now with riddle on family relationships, with the initials R. C. underneath). (4)
Ralph Hanna has described how the texts appear to have been gathered in seven booklets, as indicated above. (5) Scribe 1 compiled most of the material--booklets 1 to 5--writing in an anglicana formata hand, booklet 6 was copied by the second scribe in bastard anglicana, and booklet 7 by the third scribe in textura. The booklets were bound together in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century to form the current codex. (6)
MS Westminster 3 may seem like a fairly 'typical' fifteenth-century miscellany but it has some interesting features that merit further consideration. First, it bears an inscription at the end of the manuscript, with the name Richard Cloos and the date 1472 (fol. [23.sup.1r). Cloos has been identified with a known London citizen and churchwarden in the parish of St Mary-at-Hill, but I shall discuss the complications of linking Cloos to the colophon, particularly as there appear to have been two citizens with this name operating in London in the mid-to-late-fifteenth century. (7) Secondly, more is to be gained from a study of the thematic ordering of the texts in MS Westminster 3 and this article will provide a brief overview of the work of scribe 1, who copied the majority of texts in the codex. These will be discussed in the light of household literacy and the fifteenth-century fashion for common-profit books, commissioned through the testamentary charity of wealthy London merchants. Thirdly, whilst much of the material in this collection may be orthodox, MSWestminster 3 also contains texts that have been classified as Wycliffite. This classification appears to go back to Victorian scholars, such as F. D. Matthew and Thomas Arnold, who in turn drew on Archbishop Parker's sixteenth-century volume of tracts of Wyclif 's composition. (8) Matthew and Arnold did not confirm that all the texts were Wycliffite, but the items were subsequently listed by Talbert and Thompson. (9) It is worth noting that such texts provide glimpses of social and religious tensions similar to those expressed by Langland in Piers Plowman and passages often seem to echo Langland's views. (10) The relationship of each of these items to other manuscript versions is complex and still emerging, but is likely to yield further evidence about the circulation and transmission of such material.
The contents of MS Westminster 3 are in keeping with the fashion for devotional miscellanies and common-profit books circulating among London merchant families from the early fifteenth century onwards. Cambridge University Library Ff.6.31, for example, was financed through the estate of Londoner John Colop for 'a comyn profite'. He requested that it be loaned out to other readers, and that ownership should pass from person to person, man or woman, for as long as the book should last. (11) By commissioning manuscripts and stipulating their method of circulation, London merchants were not only contributing to the charitable provision of books for poorer lay people, but also ensuring the dissemination of instructional texts that upheld their own ideals, reinforcing their view of the proper ordering of urban medieval society. As Sheila Lindenbaum puts it: 'The literary activities of the merchant elite--book commissions, the dissemination of conduct texts, the assembling of miscellanies for the household--helped to justify their entrenched position as an urban aristocracy above and distinct from the rest of the citizenry'. (12) Although MS Westminster 3 does not have any texts in common with John Colop's book, it shares five items with the fifteenth-century Bodleian Library MS Bodley 938, part of which may have been written by the scribe who contributed to John Colop's manuscript. (13) Funded through testamentary charity, the common-profit books usually contained inscriptions urging the recipient to pray for the soul of their benefactor. Similarly, at the end of MS Westminster 3, there is an inscription, accompanied by a monogram, which may have been added as a memorial.
The inscription in MS Westminster 3 reads: 'Amen per Ricardo Cloos, the wiche is owner of this bouke anno 1472' (fol. 231r). (14) The dating of this inscription has provoked discussion, since it appears to be in an early-sixteenth-century hand. (15) A. I. Doyle was the first to suggest that the owner of this manuscript may be the same Richard Cloos who was a churchwarden in the London parish of St Mary-at-Hill from 1491 to 1493. (16) Cloos served as churchwarden under John Melton (Mylton) in 1491-92 and for a second term with Robert Howtyng in 1492-93. (17) The parish accounts show an entry in 1494-95 for the payment of 3s 4d to: 'Richard Close for j bokskynne'. (18) This entry suggests that Cloos may have been involved in the book trade, although his name does not appear in the list of persons associated with the trade compiled by Paul Christianson. (19) The St Mary-at-Hill accounts provide some details of his involvement in the parish but no clues to his trade. I am indebted to Dr Eleanor Quinton who, during her research on medieval London drapers, discovered references to a Richard Cloos, draper and merchant adventurer, in Billingsgate Ward. Cloos first appears exporting cloth in the London petty customs accounts for 1480-81. (20) In subsequent years, he is listed paying quarterage in the Drapers' accounts and in 1486, as a householder in his own right, became a liveried member of the company. (21) The picture is complicated, however, by the appearance of a second draper named Richard Cloos, who was made free in 1487, having completed his apprenticeship under Chris Colyns. (22)
In 1488-89, Cloos is listed in the Southampton customs accounts importing madder worth 20 [pounds sterling]. (23) In the same year, the London tunnage and poundage customs record that Cloos imported goods to a total value of 217 [pounds sterling] 6s 8d, and exported goods worth 17 [pounds sterling] 6s. (24) He was also a member of the elite Merchant Adventurers, and in a delegation that met with the Lord Chancellor over a dispute with Calais. (25) It would seem probable that much, if not all, of this activity can be attributed to the older, more established draper. There is not space to include evidence about all the activities of the two men but, from this point on, it becomes more difficult to resolve which activities to attribute to either man. Two key pieces of evidence for 1493, however, are worth noting. First, a comprehensive list of Drapers' Company members, drawn up in that year, lists only one Richard Cloos, suggesting that one man was no longer alive. (26) Secondly, we know from a 1493 deed and indenture enrolled in the London Court of Husting, relating to a grant of tenements in St James Garlickhithe, that the surviving Richard Cloos had married Cristine Baker. (27) His co-feoffees for the transaction were Robert Watt, John Banaster, Robert Howtyng, and Thomas Watt, citizens. This provides the clearest evidence linking the surviving draper with St Mary-at-Hill, since Cloos served with Robert Howtyng as churchwarden in that parish in the same year. Furthermore, at least two more of his co-feoffees appear in the St Mary-at-Hill accounts.
Yet it remains unclear which man was the owner of MS Westminster 3. Entries for Richard Cloos continue to occur in the churchwardens' accounts until 1501. Both merchants would have been in a position to acquire such a devotional book, containing suitably edifying reading for a pious mid-fifteenth-century merchant household. It seems more likely, however, that ownership can be attributed to the older man. Furthermore, if the hand of the first scribe to work on the manuscript dates from the early 1400s, neither man could have commissioned or been the original owner of the book. Indeed, it is unclear how or when Cloos acquired the material, or whether he had the pamphlets bound together into a book.
At first glance, MS Westminster 3 might appear to be a rather random collection of devotional material but Hanna suggests a 'content-driven arrangement', with items placed in different booklets to facilitate the ordering of material. (28) A consecutive reading of the texts confirms that this is a highly organized codex, with thematically linked material, providing comprehensive religious and conduct advice for the various members of a lay household. Lindenbaum was the first to move beyond the general categorization of the texts of MS Westminster 3 as simply 'devotional', pointing out that the manuscript contains 'tracts that can be considered conduct texts' (p. 305). She adds: 'The items in these collections often appear to be chosen with an eye to a group rather than the individual purchaser--to a household comprising women and literate servants as well as masters' (p. 308). Evidence that the texts were intended for household use comes from both the form and content of the material. The manuscript is written in English and does not assume the knowledge of Latin that would be expected of a cleric. In the few texts where Latin quotations occur, they are usually underlined in red and translated or paraphrased underneath. This might also indicate that the scribe envisaged the book's being used as a practical tool for pious learning. We know, for instance from W. A. Pantin, that devotional reading around the dinner table was encouraged as a family activity:
Let the book be brought to the table as readily as the bread. And lest the tongue speak vain or hurtful things, let there be reading, now by one, now by another, and by your children as soon as they can read [...]. Expound something in the vernacular which may edify your wife and others. (29)
These instructions throw light on one of the practical ways in which household miscellanies may have been used and confirm that material written in the vernacular was considered particularly appropriate to women. This is borne out by a consideration of the contents of MS Westminster 3, which appear to have been compiled with a concern for inclusiveness. Of the eighteen main items in the manuscript, four items by scribe 1 are explicitly addressed to women and item 8, the Rule of Life of Our Lady, may have been chosen as a text of interest to female readers. Furthermore, the two Rolle items copied by the third scribe are known to have been composed for a nun, who later became an anchoress. Four items copied by scribe 1 are addressed to both men and women, including 'a tretis of weddid men and wymmen and of her children also' (fols [121.sup.r]-[132.sup.v]). The inclusion of this item and others, such as 'How lords and housbondemen schulden teche Goddis commaundementis and [thorn]e gospel to her suggetis and answere for hem to god on domesday' (fols [118.sup.r]-[119.sup.v]), would seem to confirm that MS Westminster 3 was compiled for a pious lay household, which contained women, children, and servants.
The number of texts addressed to women may also reflect the availability of source material and methods of transmission. Vincent Gillespie has traced how devotional texts, including the thirteenth-century Ancrene Wisse and Richard Rolle's fourteenth-century epistles, appear to have circulated via pious noblewomen and gentlewomen to broader lay audiences, following a growth in vernacular religious material. (30) The demand for such material appears to have stemmed from a series of ecclesiastical decrees setting out what the laity should be taught, which started with Archbishop Pecham's Lambeth Constitutions of 1281 and were reinforced in 1357 by the Ordinances of John de Thoresby, Archbishop of York. In particular, parish priests were to use the vernacular to explain the six basic precepts of Christianity to their congregations four times a year. Gillespie suggests that this led to the production of manuscripts that brought together instruction in the fundamental beliefs and discipline of the church, which began passing more freely between the clergy and lay audiences.
Booklet 1 of MS Westminster 3 contains two texts. Item 1, [thorn]e Pater Noster of Richard Ermyte, is addressed to 'his dere sister in God, Goddis hondemayden and his spouse' (fols 1-[67.sup.v]).31 The text was edited by Aarts in 1967, who lists five other manuscripts in which the item occurs, all dating from the fifteenth century. (32) H. E. Allen was the first to argue that the attribution of this piece to Richard Rolle is incorrect, since the work shows few signs of his style (p. 358). The text provides advice and encouragement for the nun in her daily life. Aarts highlights how the opening passage of the commentary hints at contemporary tensions around clerical learning and access to knowledge. The author justifies the vernacular composition, explaining that even if nuns can 'rede and synge and here preier make, as falli[thorn] to religious', they often do not understand the meaning of the words they recite and so 'Ffor[thorn]i I be[thorn]ouzt me [thorn]oruz [thorn]e grace of oure Lord to vndo [thorn]ee [thorn]e [thorn]ater noster'. (33) The author also asserts that lack of learning in Latin is no barrier to spiritual perfection: 'Ffor goostli ioie come[thorn] not of greet clergie, but of loue, aftir [thorn]at men or wymen loue[thorn] oure Lord lesse or more' (fol. [1.sup.r]). This echoes Langland's comments in Piers Plowman, when Study says that while the clergy speak of God, the poor have him in their hearts. (34) The text appears to reflect tensions of the kind explored by Fiona Somerset and Wendy Scase, among the parish clergy, the monks, and the new orders of begging friars. (35)
The second item in the first booklet, a commentary on the Ave Maria (fols 68r-[72.sup.r]), serves as vehicle for conduct advice to the gentry. This copy is probably derived from the same exemplar as that behind MS Bodley 938. (36) The text is addressed to gentlewomen in particular: 'And here men and wymmen and namely gentil wymmen schulden lerne mekenes chastite charite sobrenes and schamfastnesse' (fol. [69.sup.v]). Matti Peikola discusses the Lollard interpretations and different manuscript versions of this item. (37) His comparison of two versions of the text, printed by Matthew and Arnold, suggests that the MS Westminster 3 item was not strongly Wycliffite and while slightly ambiguous, had probably been toned down for an orthodox audience (p. 288). As in the previous item, much advice is typical of medieval courtesy literature and a familiar concern with controlling women's behaviour in the public sphere emerges. Women who 'lyuen in ryot daunsynge and lepynge in nyztis and slepe out of resoun on [thorn]e morewe and forzeten god and his drede' (fol. [68s.up.v]) are criticized, but there is a notable exception for young women: 'J gesse wel [thorn]at zonge wymmen may sumtyme daunse in mesure to haue recreacioun and liztnesse so [thorn]at [thorn]ei haue [thorn]e more [thorn]ouzte on myr[thorn]e in heuene and drede and loue more god [thorn]erby. And synge honest songes of cristis incarnacioun' (fol. [69.sup.v]). The pious singing of religious songs is contrasted with the excesses of Christmas celebrations when poor and rich alike prefer to hear irreverent songs of lechery and battles. Much of this commentary is taken up with complaints about a general decline in the behaviour of the gentry. The exposition of the Ave Maria as a prayer does not really begin until quite far into the text. Thus, there is bitter criticism of the lords' courts: 'But now come[thorn] ensaumple of pryde glotenye, leccherie and al harlotrye fro lordis courtis' (fol. [70.sup.v]). The author adds that devout men with 'sad mynde on cristis pouerte penaunce and dee[thorn] and of [thorn]e day of dome' are accused of hypocrisy and driven out by young fools (fol. [71.sup.r]).
Having begun, as Hanna points out, with an analysis of basic prayer, in booklet 2 of MS Westminster 3 the scribe compiles three items: a commentary on the Ten Commandments, a translation of Richard of St Victor's Benjamin Minor, and an exposition of Psalm 27. The first of these, item 3, is a text on the Ten Commandments addressed to 'Alle maner of men' (fols [73.sup.r]-[88.sup.r]). (38) MS Westminster 3 is one of twelve manuscripts known to contain a version of this 'orthodox' commentary, which may have formed the basis of later Wycliffite versions of the text. (39) Hanna collated eight orthodox versions and found that MS Arundel 286 was the closest to MS Westminster 3. He suggests that the Westminster scribe 'relied on an archetype like that available to Arundel' not only for this item but also for item 4, the Benjamin Minor, and item 13, a treatise on virginity (p. 40). The commentary in MS Westminster 3 appears to be aimed at a lay audience, since it includes practical conduct advice, such as urging readers not to gossip or conduct business in the church or churchyard (fol. [78.sup.r]). During the exposition of the fourth commandment, there is a poignant reference to children dying from pestilence, which the author warns may be a result of the failure of parents and godparents to teach children obedience: And [thorn]is lessoun schulde euery bodily fadir and modir and goostly teche her childre / And if [thorn]is lessoun hadde ben tauzt and kept in Englond, J trowe [thorn]e londe hadde stonde in more prosperite [thorn]en it now dio[thorn] / And it may be [thorn]at for vengeaunce of [thorn]is synne of vnworschipyng of fadir and modir. god slee[thorn] so children by pestilence as zee seen alday / (fol. [80.sup.r])
This passage also suggests that the commentary was composed during the time of the Black Death in the mid-fourteenth century. Together with the Pater Noster and Ave Maria, an exposition of the Ten Commandments would have been an essential catechetical text in such a household book. Later items in this collection reiterate the duty of parents, particularly the head of the household, to ensure that other members of the household are instructed in the Ten Commandments.
The commentary on the Ten Commandments is followed by item 4, a translation of Richard of St Victor's twelfth-century Latin work, the Benjamin Minor. Phyllis Hodgson's edition of this translation lists eleven manuscript versions, plus a 1521 text printed in London by Henry Pepwell. (40) The text provides an allegorical interpretation of the story of Jacob, his two wives, their handmaidens, and their twelve sons, to illustrate the stages to spiritual perfection. According to Hodgson, the Middle English translator greatly simplifies the original Latin work but follows the same essential programme set out by Richard of St Victor. Hodgson points out that this version is at times more explicit and didactic than the source material and that some passages in the Middle English version do not occur in the Latin (p. 130). The adaptation and translation of the Latin work suggests that the text may have been updated for lay use. The domestic setting of the allegory may have helped to make it popular and accessible to lay readers and renders it particularly suitable for inclusion in a household collection.
Item 5, at the end of booklet 2, is an exposition of Psalm 26 ('The Lord is my light'), headed 'How men schulden be pacient in tribulacioun and euer triste in goddis helpe and neuer forsake tru[thorn]e noi[thorn]er for liif ne for dee[thorn]' (fol. [103.sup.v]). (41) The inclusion of this item is significant, as psalms are not commonly found in household miscellanies. Hanna suggests the scribe may have added it as filler, arguing that that it is a unique piece, which may have been composed specially for the purpose. (42) The exposition urges readers to stay true to their faith, withstanding persecution or torture for their beliefs. In the light of the possible Wycliffite connections of other texts in MS Westminster 3, it is worth noting the author's repeated use of phrases, such as 'tru[thorn]e of goddis lawe' and 'goddis trewe seruauntis', reminiscent of the Lollard sect vocabulary suggested by Anne Hudson. (43) In the passage below, for example, 'trewe seruauntis' find themselves slandered by 'false mynystris': So whanne wordly wrecchis ful of pride, ypocrisye and couetise, wenne to stoppe most goddis lawe, it schal be knowyn and magnifiyed [...] and al [thorn]e persecucioun, and sclaundre, pat come[thorn] to goddis trewe seruauntis, schal turne hem to good, as holy writt sei[thorn]. So exercise of pacience, mekenes and brennyng charite and hize blisse in heuen, maugrey alle [thorn]e foendis of helle, and all [thorn]er false mynystris. (fol. [104.sup.v]
Yet Hudson also stresses that interpretation is dependent on context and the author of this text is never explicit about what constitutes the 'truth'. The author may equally be encouraging readers to stand up for orthodox religion. Furthermore, we cannot be sure that the piece was specially composed for MSWestminster 3 and it is possible that it was copied from an exemplar that has disappeared or not yet been identified.
Booklet 3 of MS Westminster 3 contains the greatest number of texts (items 6 to 12) and lies physically and thematically at the heart of the manuscript. Item 6 is a common text containing instructions for visiting the sick and dying, 'How men [thorn]at be[thorn] in heele schulde visite sekemen' (fols [105.sup.r]-[112.sup.r]). (44) Hanna collated seven of the thirteen manuscript versions of this text. (45) It was printed by Horstmann from MS University College 97, who identified its sources as a combination of extracts from St Augustine's Visitatio Infirmorum and material from Anselm. (46) The text appears to have been composed for religious, as it is addressed to 'My dere sone or douzter in god'. In addition to advice on how to die properly, its central message is that: 'seeknes of body mekely suffered maki[thorn] hel[thorn]e of soule' (fol. [107.sup.r]). The text appears to be quite orthodox and it is perhaps appropriate that an item on the art of dying well follows a psalm commentary that encourages readers to stand by their faith in the face of death. Item 7 is a version of the highly popular 'chartir of heuene', addressed to 'euery man and womman' (fols [112.sup.r]-[115.sup.r]). (47) This text survives in at least fifty manuscripts and the source of the copy in MS Westminster 3 has proved untraceable. (48) This item includes instructions to the reader that fifteen Pater Nosters should be said every day and follows on from the previous item on the art of dying by recalling Christ's passion. Item 8 is an excerpt from the pseudo-Bonaventuran Meditationes Vitae Christi (fols [115.sup.r]-[117.sup.v]), identified by Hodgson as a translation of Chapter 3 of that text. (49) Entitled 'The short rule of life of Our Lady', this is another of the items shared with MS Bodley 938. (50) The work deals with the exemplary early life of Mary, recounted through her revelations to St Elizabeth, and focuses on the two essential New Testament commandments.
Item 9 returns to the broader duty of the head of the household to teach the Decalogue, 'How lordis and housbondemen schulden teche goddis commaundementis and [thorn]e gospel to her suggettis and answere for hem to god on domesday' (fols [118.sup.r]-[119.sup.v]). (51) Falling centrally in the work of scribe 1, this unusual short item marks the beginning of a series of texts dealing with the duties of the head of the household. It survives in two other manuscripts. (52) Readers are urged to focus on the word of God throughout the day: 'and [thorn]ou schalt [thorn]enke on hem sittyng in [thorn]in hous and goynge in [thorn]e waye and slepying and risyng' (fol. [118.sup.r]). Its central message is the importance of teaching and exercising discipline over sons and other members of the household, as lords and 'housbondmen' are responsible for their behaviour and answerable for them on Domesday. The relationship between the head of the household and the other members of the household is compared to the hierarchy of the church and the people. Thus the head of the household is its spiritual governor in the same way that a bishop is spiritual head of his diocese (fol. [118.sup.v]). Item 10, headed 'Diliges dominum [...] [thorn]ou schalt loue [thorn]i lord god of al [thorn]in herte' (fols [119.sup.v]-[121.sup.r]), (53) is found in at least four other manuscripts, including Oxford, University College MS 97. This text again focuses on the two commandments of the New Testament and follows thematically from the preceding item, in that it emphasizes the importance of exercising charity and bringing other men to 'good lyf'.
Item 11 is one of the texts shared with Bodley 938, as well as five other manuscripts, and is headed 'a tretis of weddid men and wymmen and of her children also' (fols [121.sup.r]-[132.sup.v]). (54) The text was printed by Arnold, who questioned its authenticity as Wycliffe. (55) Hanna also discussed its circulation, suggesting it represents 'a rather mild form of Lollardy'. (56) Divided into five sections, the treatise covers the two types of marriage (spiritual and physical); how the marriage bargain should be kept by both parties; how the wife is subject to her husband, but both are responsible for the children; instructions to both partners on how they should live together and educate their children; and how husbands with power over their wives' bodies should exercise moderation in their drinking habits and lusts. (57) On the role of godparents, the author comments that they should teach children not only the Pater Noster and the Creed but also the Ten Commandments, for even if children have been christened and know the 'comyn poyntis of bileue', they will face damnation if they do not keep God's Commandments (fol. [128.sup.r]). It is perhaps not surprising that MSWestminster 3 contains two expositions on the Ten Commandments. The text encourages parents to undertake religious teaching, which appears to be based on the church's standard programme for the laity: '[thorn]ei ben most holden to teche hem goddis heestis and [thorn]e werkis of mersy and poyntis of charite, and to gouerne wel her fyue wittis; and to drede god bifore alle o[thorn]er [thorn]ingis' (fols [127.sup.v]-[128.sup.r]). This is contrasted with criticism of parents who teach children the 'gestis of batayles and fals cronycles not nedeful to her soulis' (fol. 128). Leading by example is also emphasized. Finally, it is worth noting that there are scribal notes in the margins, providing biblical references for passages in the text. This suggests either a concern to legitimize the arguments in the text or perhaps that readers were being encouraged to undertake wider reading.
The text of item 12, 'A schort reule of lyf for eche man in general and for preestis in special' (fols [132.sup.v]-[135.sup.v]),58 was printed by Arnold from MS Laud 174 (iii, 204-08) and is also found in five other manuscripts.59 Of all the items in MS Westminster 3, this has been most strongly identified with Wycliffite writings. In particular, it urges lords to maintain 'trewe prechours' and refers to Antichrist's disciples who slander and pursue 'trewe men' (fols [134.sup.v], [135.sup.r]). Following an opening section on the importance of thinking about God on waking and throughout the day, the author turns to advice for priests: 'zif [thorn]ou be preest and namely a curat lyue [thorn]ou holily passyng o[thorn]er men in holy preier [...] and trewe techynge' (fol. [133.sup.v]). Like other items in this portion of the manuscript, the text emphasizes the spiritual importance of leading by example and living modestly:
and ensaunple of good lyf and open and lastyng, stire[thorn] more rude men, [thorn]en trewe prechyng by nakid word, and waste not [thorn]i goodis in grete festis of riche men, but lyue a mene lyf of pore mennes almes and goodis bo[thorn]e in mete and drynke, and clo[thorn]is, and [thorn]e remenaunt zyue trewely to pore men [thorn]at han nozt of her owen and may not labour for feblenesse or seeknes, and [thorn]us [thorn]ou schalt be a trewe preest bo[thorn]e to god and man. (fol. [134.sup.r])
The Rule for lords emphasizes the familiar themes of exercising good governance over your wife, children, and household, as well as teaching God's law and setting a good example to others. There is strong emphasis on being fair to tenants: 'gouerne wel [thorn]i tenauntis, and meyntene hem in rizt and resoun; and be mersiful to hem in her rentis and worldly mercimentis, and suffre not [thorn]ine officeris to do hem wrong ne extorciouns' (fol. [134.sup.v]). This passage appears to represent a popular sympathy with the plight of poor tenants, which is again akin to Piers Plowman. Similarly, the section of the Rule for labourers stresses a Langland-like ethos of humility, urging labourers to live meekly, work dutifully, and to accept their lot without complaint.
The fourth and penultimate booklet penned by scribe 1 in MS Westminster 3 consists of two items, the first of which is 'a noble tretys of maydenhode' (fols [137.sup.r]-[153.sup.r]).60 This treatise also appears in MS Arundel 286 in an abridged form. The author variously addresses it to maidens, widows (which appears to include vowesses), and nuns, and dedicates the work to 'My dere derlynge cristis clene mayden and his spouse' (fol. [153.sup.r]). The treatise reads like an A to Z of received wisdom and contemporary medieval thinking on the subject of virginity. Sources include Paul, Jerome, Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux, Gregory, and John Chrysostom. Biblical exempla are also employed, including stories from both the Old and New Testaments, and the author's use of imagery can be linked to the thirteenth-century Hali Meidhad. Extensive Latin quotations are translated or paraphrased. There is also evidence that at least one textual source may have been adapted to make it more applicable to female readers, since Lorna Stevenson has noted that a passage about a daughter's right to choose a religious vocation is taken from the Latin writing of St Bernard, Letter 13, 'In the Person of Elias, the Monk, to his Parents', where the subject of the story is male. (61) The text is immediately followed by item 14, which does not have a separate heading and was overlooked by Hodgson. This additional item on chastity, a 'tretys in [thorn]ese fyue schort chapitres' (fols [153.sup.r]-[162.sup.v]), is also found in MS Bodley 938, and forms the last part of the Pore CaitiV. (62)
The work of scribe 1 ends with item 15, another commentary on '[thorn]e ten comaundementis of god'. This text is found in two other manuscripts: MS Laud Misc. 656, a late-fourteenth-century collection of biblical histories, and Cambridge, Trinity College MS B.14.54, which Doyle identified as being in the hand of Stephen Doddesham, a monk of Sheen. (63) This second exposition of the Ten Commandments is very different from the first, 'common' version. Each commandment cites numerous biblical passages in support of the author's exposition, which are translated or paraphrased. Like the earlier treatise on marriage, this gives the impression that the author wanted to encourage further reading of relevant passages in the Bible. This idea is problematic, because it suggests that the lay readers might be expected have access to a vernacular Bible. In the case of this text, however, the departure in tone and style from other items in MS Westminster 3 may reflect the fact that it has come from a very different source from other material in the collection.
In conclusion, MS Westminster 3 was evidently compiled for use in a secular context, since it is written in the vernacular, includes much catechetical material, and key texts are geared towards different members of the household. As has been said, it is scribe 1 who contributes much of the material, giving the manuscript its overall shape. Booklet 3 is central to the question of use in a household context: Hanna describes it as the 'messiest portion of the codex'. (64) Whilst this may be technically accurate, I would argue that it is thematically central to the work of the first scribe and includes key texts of relevance to a domestic setting. In particular, item 9 spells out the duty of the head of the household to teach God's commandments and be answerable for the household at Domesday; item 11, the treatise for married couples, offers guidance on marital relationships and the education of children; and item 12, the 'reule' of life for every man, includes instructions for lords on the fair treatment of tenants. There is much more that could be said about each of the items in this manuscript and their connections with other texts. My aim here is to give a flavour of the collection's contents and to suggest why certain items may have been selected for inclusion, and also to set out some new evidence about the identity of Richard Cloos and the problems of linking the man with the inscription. Whatever his identity, however, it is clear that MS Westminster 3 would have made a handsome household book, providing suitably pious reading for a fifteenth-century merchant household.
(1) Hope Emily Allen, Writings Ascribed to Richard Rolle, Hermit of Hampole, and Materials for his Biography, Monograph Series 33 (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1927), p. 358.
(2) Deonise Hid Diuinite and Other Treatises on Contemplative Prayer Related to the Cloud of Unknowing, ed. by Phyllis Hodgson, EETS 231 (1955), p. xvi.
(3) A. I. Doyle, 'A Survey of the Origins and Circulation of Theological Writings in English in the Fourteenth, Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Centuries with Special Consideration of the Part of the Clergy Therein', 2 vols (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Cambridge, 1953), ii, 26.
(4) For further descriptions of the contents see, among others, Ralph Hanna, 'The Origins and Production of Westminster School MS. 3', in Studies in Bibliography (1988), 41, 197-218 (pp. 197-98) and for a later version of this article, 'The Origins and Production of Westminster School MS. 3', in Pursuing History: Middle English Manuscripts and Their Texts (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996), pp. 35-47; F. G. A.M. Aarts, [thorn]e 'Pater Noster' of Richard Ermyte: A Late Middle English Exposition of the Lord's Prayer (Nijmegen: Drukkerij Gebr. Janssen, 1967), pp. 11-13; and Neil R. Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, 2 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), 1, 422-24.
(5) Pursuing History, pp. 35-36.
(6) Binding identified by Ker, p. 424. See also J. B. Oldham, English Blind-Stamped Bindings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952), Plate 1, Stamp 3, and G. D. Hobson, Bindings in Cambridge Libraries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1929), pp. 40-43. Stamp first used by the Cambridge 'Unicorn Binder' in the 1480s and continued in use until c. 1591.
(7) In addition to the name Richard Cloos, a fly leaf at the end of the book contains pricking and various jottings, including the name Joshuah Siluester and the statement 'An Habock was borne when Henry slayn'.
(8) See Select English Works of John Wyclif, ed. by Thomas Arnold, 3 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1871), iii, and The English Works of Wyclif hitherto Unprinted, ed. by F. D. Matthew, EETS OS 74 (1880).
(9) Ernest W. Talbert and S. Harrison Thomson, 'Wyclyf and His Followers', in A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050-1500, ed. by J. Burke Severs, vol. ii (New Haven, CT: Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1970), pp. 360-80, 524-31.
(10) Unfortunately, there is not space in this short article to discuss these connections but fuller consideration will appear in my doctoral thesis. More could also be said on general connections between MS Westminster 3 texts and other manuscripts (I am grateful to Professor Anthony Edwards for suggesting links with a number of codices).
(11) Wendy Scase, 'Reginald Pecock, John Carpenter and John Colop's "common-profit" Books: Aspects of Book Ownership and Circulation in Fifteenth-Century London', in Medium vum, 61 (1992), 261-74 (p. 261).
(12) 'London Texts and Literate Practice', in The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature, ed. by DavidWallace (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 284-309 (p. 300).
(13) Scase, 'Reginald Pecock', p. 267.
(14) The inscription may also commemorate an important date in his life, such as when he first married or completed his apprenticeship.
(15) Hanna and others have drawn attention to the use of arabic numeral 4 in the inscription, suggesting that this may be 'a product of the 1530s or later' (Pursuing History, p. 46). However, in conversation last year, Dr Ian Doyle said that he now believed that arabic numerals were in use by the late fifteenth century. A conversation with Dr Alison Truelove, however, suggests that she concurs with Hanna and Doyle that some of the letter forms of the inscription, and the riddle in the same hand, appear to be early-sixteenth-century.
(16) Doyle, 'A Survey', 11, 27.
(17) See The Medieval Records of a London City Church [St. Mary-at-Hill] A.D. 1420-1559, ed. by Henry Littlehales, EETS 128 (1905), pp. 170, 182.
(18) Littlehales, p. 214.
(19) Paul C. Christianson, A Directory of London Stationers and Book Artisans, 1300-1500 (New York: Bibliographical Society of America, 1990).
(20) See The Overseas Trade of London Exchequer Customs Accounts 1480-81, ed. by Harry S. Cobb, London Record Society Publications 27 (London: London Record Society, 1990), pp. 111-12, 114-15, 148-49.
(21) Drapers' Hall, 403, fol. [37.sup.v].
(22) Drapers' Hall, 403, fol. [40.sup.r].
(23) Petty customs, Southampton, E122 142/10, 1488-89.
(24) Tunnage and poundage customs, London, E122 78/7, 1488-89.
(25) Acts of Court of the Mercers' Company, 1453-1527, ed. by Laetitia Lyell and Frank D. Watney (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1936), p. 198.
(26) Drapers' Hall, 403, fol. 4r.
(27) London Hustings roll 221/11 and 12.
(28) Pursuing History, p. 43.
(29) William Abel Pantin, 'Instructions for a Devout and Literate Layman', in Medieval Learning and Literature: Essays Presented to Richard William Hunt, ed. by J. J. Alexander and M. T. Gibson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), pp. 399-400. The roll, written in Latin, was found among the Throckmorton muniments at Coughton Court, Warwickshire.
(30) Vincent Gillespie, 'Vernacular Books of Religion', in Book Production and Publishing in Britain, 1375-1475, ed. by Jeremy Griffiths and Derek Pearsall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 317-44 (p. 321).
(31) See P. S. Jolliffe, A Check-list of Middle English Prose Writings of Spiritual Guidance (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1974), M. 3b, and R. E. Lewis, N. F. Blake, and A. S. G. Edwards, Index of Printed Middle English Prose (London and New York: Garland, 1985), 150.
(32) Aarts, pp. xi-xix. For a discussion of language and provenance, see pp. lxxix-lxxxi, which refers to linguistic analysis by McIntosh.
(33) Fol. [1.sup.v]. See Severs, Manual, 11, 'Wyclyf ' 57.
(34) Piers Plowman by William Langland, An Edition of the C-text, ed. by Derek Pearsall (London: Arnold, 1978), p. 196, ll. 51-52.
(35) Fiona Somerset, Clerical Discourse and Lay Audience in Late Medieval England, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998); Wendy Scase, 'Piers Plowman' and the New Anti-Clericalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).
(36) Hanna, Pursuing History, pp. 42-43. See also IPMEP, 276 and Severs, Manual, 11, 'Wyclyf ' 58.
(37) ' "And after all, myn Aue-Marie almost to the ende": Pierce the Ploughman's Crede and Lollard Expositions of the Ave Maria', in English Studies: A Journal of English Language and Literature, 81.4 (2000), 273-92.
(38) See IPMEP, 48.
(39) For a discussion of eleven of these, see A. L. Kellogg and Ernest W. Talbert, 'The Wyclifite Pater Noster and Ten Commandments, with Special Reference to English MSS. 85 and 90 in the John Rylands Library', Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 42 (1960), 345-77 (pp. 363-77). As Hanna points out this is not superseded by Anthony Martin's article in Bulletin, p. 64. Kellogg and Talbert do not appear to have known of the existence of a twelfth version of the orthodox commentary in MS Arundel 286.
(40) See p. xiii for information on Pepwell's printed edition. Hodgson's text is based on BL MS Harleian 674, with comparative material from the other versions. She identifies Cambridge University Library MS Ii.6.39 as the closest textual relative to MS Westminster 3, although Hanna notes that MS Arundel 286 also appears closely related to MS Westminster 3 (Pursuing History, p. 40). See also IPMEP, 4, which lists thirteen manuscript versions.
(41) See Jolliffe, J.8.
(42) Pursuing History, p. 42. For a transcription, see Hanna, Studies in Bibliography, pp. 213-14.
(43) See 'A Lollard Sect Vocabulary', in Lollards and their Books (London: Hambledon, 1985), pp. 166-67.
(44) See Jolliffe, L.5b and IPMEP, 460.
(45) Pursuing History, p. 289, n. 11.
(46) C. Horstmann, Yorkshire Writers: Richard Rolle of Hampole, an English Father of the Church, and His Followers, 2 vols (1895-96), 11, 449-53 (p. 449, n. 1).
(47) See Jolliffe B, and IPMEP, 166.
(48) Hanna, Pursuing History, p. 43. For general discussion of the different versions see Mary C. Spalding, The Middle English Charters of Christ, Bryn Mawr College Monographs 15 (Pennsylvania: Bryn Mawr College, 1914), pp. i-cxxiv, 1-104 (pp. 98-99).
(49) Hodgson, p. xvii. See IPMEP, 22.
(50) Hanna, Pursuing History, p. 289, n. 10.
(51) A transcription of this item will form an appendix to my doctoral thesis.
(52) Jolliffe, I.1.
(53) See Jolliffe, G.26, and IPMEP, 155.
(54) See Severs, Manual, 11, 'Wyclyf ' 26, and IPMEP, 521.
(55) Printed from Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 296; see Arnold, Select English Works, iii, 188-201.
(56) 'Two Lollard Codices and Lollard book production', in Studies in Bibliography, 43 (1990), 49-62 (p. 57).
(57) Many of the arguments in this treatise coincide with those propounded by Langland in the section of Piers Plowman where Intelligence talks to Will about marriage and the teaching of children.
(58) See Severs, Manual, 11, 'Wyclyf ', 28; IPMEP, 203.
(59) Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 296, BLMS Harley 2398, Bodleian Library MSS Bodley 9, Bodley 938, Eng. th. f. 39.
(60) See Jolliffe, G.16b.
(61) Lorna Stevenson, 'Fifteenth-Century Chastity and Virginity: Texts, Contexts and Audiences' (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Liverpool, 1995), p. xxxv.
(62) See Jolliffe, B.
(63) Doyle, ii, 183.
(64) Four of the texts in this booklet also occur in MS Bodley 938 and Hanna points out that three items (8, 11, and 12) share an archetype not available to other copyists (Pursuing History, p. 43).
Royal Holloway, University of London
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|Publication:||Yearbook of English Studies|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2003|
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