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At Work in the Anchorhold and Beyond: A Codicological Study of London, British Library, Cotton MS Nero A.xiv.

The thirteenth-century English manuscript London, British Library, Cotton MS Nero Ajciv ("Nero") is one of four complete thirteenth-century manuscripts of the well-known early Middle English text Ancrene Wisse, a guidebook for anchoresses. (1) Following its composition, sometime after 1215, the A Wgrew exponentially in popularity and over the next three centuries was adapted for and read not just by the small original audience of anchoresses for whom it was written, but by all kinds of religious--canons, canonesses, monks, and nuns--as well as by lay men and women, both literate and illiterate; it was also translated into French and Latin. (2) In short, the AW was the runaway bestseller of vernacular devotional guides in the thirteenth through sixteenth centuries. It marks the start of a rich Middle English tradition of vernacular anchoritic literature that continued into the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries with such works as Richard Rolle's The Form of Living, Walter Hilton's Scale of Perfection, the vernacular redaction of Aelred of Rievaulx's De institutione inclusarum, and the anonymous Myrour of Recluses. (3) Agreat deal, perhaps the bulk, of AWscholarship is carried out by scholars of the late Middle Ages because of the integral role the Airplays in the study of vernacular devotion and literacy in England in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. (4) Too, because so many AWmanuscripts survive--seventeen in total--scholars have naturally been drawn in large part to critical editions from which they can derive textual studies, rather than working with specific manuscripts. As a result, individual manuscripts are typically elided, despite the critical information they can provide about the reception of the AW, particularly in its early stages. Investigations into fading Latin literacy, an increasing demand for vernacular literature, the adaptation of the AW for late medieval readers, and changes in readership over the history of the A Wcarried out by scholars who focus on late medieval England readership, such as Bella Millett, Catherine Innes-Parker, Christina von Nolcken, and Nicholas Watson, can be deepened and fruitfully complicated by considering not just codicological questions, but by asking such questions of the earliest manuscripts in the tradition. (5) Such study tells us much about, for example, the early uses of the text and the increasing popularity of the AW, and frames the late medieval vernacular readership with a larger understanding of the progress from Latinate to vernacular readers. Though the particular manuscript I examine here, Nero, is a bit earlier than the usual scope of this journal, it plays a critical role in the development of the A Wmto the form studied by scholars of Middle English texts and merits consideration.

Nero is textually the earliest witness to the AW, preserving as it does the reference to the three sisters still presumed to be the original audience, and was initially the surviving manuscript favored by scholars. (6) With Tolkien's interest in the AB language in the early twentieth century, though, attention swiftly shifted to Corpus ("A" of the AB manuscripts), with its fine production quality and better text as the preferred base-text for critical editions. (7) Growing interest in Corpus also coincided with an increased interest in material and manuscript studies, and so Corpus has benefited from a relatively good deal of codicological analysis. (8) Nero, conversely, fell out of favor before codicological studies became popular and has never received a thorough treatment. Despite its significant place in the AW tradition as one of the earliest manuscripts, the timing of its scholarly popularity along with its simple aesthetics--it is a small, plain manuscript, effectively undecorated, with nothing particular to recommend it outside of that reference to its original audience and the Wooing Group material found in its last quire--it has been overlooked. Mabel Day, editor of the EETS edition of the Nero manuscript, is, as far as I am aware, the only scholar to provide an extended codicological consideration of Nero in her introduction. (9) Even so, it runs to only fifteen pages, four of which are given over to her efforts to trace the manuscript's early provenance, and it functions on the whole more as a catalogue of major features than as an in-depth analysis. Some of the codicological features she notes are the mixed quality of the parchment, the dual ruling scheme, and the irregular nature of most of the quires. Still, she offers little analysis of these features and in fact she does not address a few very important items.

A close codicological look at the manuscript reveals a bevy of new, heretofore unremarked-on evidence that changes how we must perceive the history and use of the text and the manuscript. The evidence speaks to Nero's role as what I call here a working book, used in at least one anchorhold in its early years. (10) Its small size, the varying quality and state of the parchment, its contents and collation, and varied ruling scheme all suggest a utility-grade manuscript intended for heavy use. In further testament to that, the manuscript's leaves record the responses of three and possibly several more anonymous medieval readers and one identifiable early modern reader, Richard James, who was librarian to Sir Robert Cotton. Erasures throughout the main text also indicate possible censure of a reader or perhaps recycling of the manuscript for a later audience. Most importantly among these readers is the unknown anchoress for whom, I argue here, Nero was commissioned. (11)

Nero is a small, quarto-sized manuscript that could be easily held in one hand while reading. The small size is no surprise, given its function and production context. Michael Clanchy notes in From Memory to Written Record that from the mid-thirteenth century on, books became increasingly smaller, to accommodate the needs of mendicant friars, who would teach, preach, and hear confession (and who therefore needed portable books), as well as to accommodate those of university students and private lay readers. Nero, given its contents, authorship, and intended usage, was an ideal text for production as one of these smaller, portable volumes, and indeed, it was produced just as the trend for smaller books really got underway. It is not a volume for display but one for on-the-ground use. The internal structure of Nero strongly suggests an anchoress commissioned the manuscript for her use in enclosure. (12) The manuscript contains the complete text of the earliest version of the AWand is only one of two manuscripts that preserves material from the Wooing Group, together with the Apostles' Creed and two later Latin pieces, a short poem on death and a brief prose piece on the Cross, the Sermo de Cruce Domini--all pieces, naturally, of practical value to an anchoritic reader. The AW spans the first twelve quires, and the end of the twelfth quire and all of the thirteenth contain the additional material. (13) As Table 1 shows, the scribe made some effort to divide the eight parts of the text into their own quires, though anywhere from a few fines to a whole folio at the beginning or end of a quire were used to end or begin the previous or following part; however, the length of parts and presumably the layout of the exemplar and the size of the hand meant that, for economy's sake, not every part could exist in its own quire. Quire 1, for example, contains all of the Preface and Part 1, though the last fourteen lines of Part 1 spill over into the second quire. Similarly, quires 2 and 3 contain nearly exclusively Part 2; the same is true for quires 4 through 9. Quires 10 and 11 are roughly evenly split between two parts: quire 10 contains the last half of Part 5 and the first half of Part 6, while quire 11 contains the last half of Part 6 and the first half of Part 7. Quire 12 is split among the last half of Part 7, all of Part 8, and about two-thirds of W1. All the rest of the smaller collected pieces are added in the final quire.

At the time of Nero's copying, around the end of the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth century, quire structure was moving toward standardization; in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries sexternios, or quires of six bifolia, became a much more common arrangement. (14) It appears that the scribe by choice did not follow such conventions and has instead adjusted the size of the quires in some places in an effort to keep each part roughly within its own quire. (15) The quires that make up Nero are most commonly quinternions (that is, made up of five bifolia or ten leaves), though seven of the thirteen range in length of leaves (see Table l). Strikingly, 7 and 8 are two of the largest quires in the manuscript, containing eleven and twelve leaves respectively. Only quire 12 is larger, with thirteen leaves. (16)

The first two quires at their regular length of ten leaves could accommodate the Parts discretely: the ten leaves in quire 1 were sufficient to contain the Preface completely and Part 1 nearly completely (with the exception of the last fourteen lines), and the ten leaves of quire 2 could be devoted completely to Part 2, except for the top half of the first leaf. The scribe adjusted the size of quire 3 so that he could accommodate all of Part 2 within that quire; he pasted folio 29 onto the last leaf of a gathering of four bifolia allowing for Part 2 to be completed rather than run into a third quire. As he could fill all of quire 4 with Part 3, he had no need to add or remove leaves and chose a regular quinternion. In quire 5, however, he had to remove two leaves in order to keep the quire mostly containing Part 3, which takes up six leaves. Part 4 takes up the last two leaves. Perhaps the scribe chose not to utilize a ternion to keep the gathering strictly in Part 3, because the quire arrangement would have fallen further out of balance (this quire is the shortest in Nero as it is). The scribe had no such difficulties with quires 6 through 8, as they are all devoted entirely to Part 4. Yet the scribe has structured these quires in an irregular way, and it seems as though some planning was involved to spread Part 4 across the quires as has been done: quire 6 is a quaternion plus a singleton, quire 7 is a quinternion plus a singleton, while quire 8 is a sexternion. The scribe could have chosen an arrangement of two quinternions and one sexternion, much more regular and with no gluing on of extra leaves. The rationale is unclear. Particularly mysterious is the scribe's malformation of quires 6 and 7: at some point, he sliced off the last leaf of quire 6 and glued it to the start of quire 7, leaving both quires with an odd number of leaves. There is no disruption to the text, suggesting that the move was planned, though the motivation is not obvious.

After this point, the scribe seems to have settled for splitting the quires roughly between parts, though quires 9 and 12 are less evenly balanced than quires 10, 11, and 13. Oddly, as with quires 6 and 7, the scribe tipped in a leaf to quire 12 to make an irregular quire of thirteen leaves, giving over more of the quire to "Ureisun of ure Lefdi" than was necessary, as it would have fit more naturally into quire 13 with the other collected short works.

The last quire, 13, is similarly irregular, its nine leaves containing all of the non-A ^material. This quire is rather pieced together, made up of three conjugate leaves and three singletons, one of which is tipped in at the start of the quire and forms folio 123a; the arranger nested the other two to create an ad hoc bifolium. Clemens and Graham point out that the use of such single leaves signals attention to economy, using the pieces of the prepared skin that remained after full sheets were cut. For strength and longevity, the sheets would be sewn in somewhere between the outer and innermost leaves, where they were less likely to be loosened and lost: here, they fall as expected in second and seventh positions in the quire, not counting the tipping-in of the first leaf. (17) The parchment of this quire is of a rougher quality generally than that of the AW quires, and its leaves are darker on the whole than those of the previous quires, suggesting that the leaves for quire 13 were pulled from quite a different batch of parchment, and that the AW likely circulated without quire 13 for a time. (18)

The keeping of each part of AW roughly in its own quire, with the exception of the shorter sections, and the manipulating of quire size to accommodate this, suggests deliberate planning of the manuscript into thematic chunks. It is possible the scribe was copying via a sort of pecia system and was given his exemplars one part at a time but overran the planned space, though that is not at all certain. (19) Nero lacks, for example, any of the signs of copying via pecia system that Dobson points out in the Cleopatra manuscript, such as blank leaves or double hatch marks to signal the end of sections. (20)

The distribution of the text among the quires of Nero could also suggest a deliberate arrangement allowing for circulation of the text in quires among anchorholds before the quires were bound together, as is suggested by the references to textual circulation in Part 4. The author warns that "[??]e ancre be wearnde anober a cwaer to lane, f[e]or ha hefde heoneward hire bileaue ehe" (21) ("The anchoress who refused another a quire on loan would have the eye of her faith turned far from here" (22)), and further advises that
[??]ef [??]u hauest cnif o[??]er cla[??], o[??]er mete o[??]er drunch,
scrowe o[??]er cwaer, hali monne froure, o[??]er ei o[??]er bing [??]et
ham walde freamien, vnnen [??]et tu hefdest wonte [??]e seolf [??]rof,
wi[??] [??]on [??]et heo hit hefden. (23)
(If you have a knife or a garment, or food or drink, parchment or
quire, the comfort of holy people, or anything else that would be of
comfort to them, be willing that you might have want of it yourself, so
that they might have it.)


Such advice from the author suggests that the readers of the early text, including Nero, would have expected to receive and use reading materials in quires rather than as bound books; it may account for the rough division of the text into discrete quires. The anchoress, or a professional scribe, might have copied the portions of the text as they became available, so that she compiled a full and more permanent manuscript gradually, but used individual quires in the meantime.

Another key piece of information about the deliberate quire structure comes in the form of quire marks, which are unusual enough to merit some extended discussion. Table 2 shows the quire structure of Nero, which I have compiled by examining the manuscript at length. The current binding is very tight, but the center stitching remains visible in most quires (2, 3, 10, and 12 are the exceptions); the stitching was redone during nineteenth-century conservation and, notably, the old sewing stations were not reused. (24) In a few spots physical evidence apart from the sewing thread confirms quire structure, such as the wormhole mentioned above, which reveals that folio 29 was adhered as a singleton to the end of the third quire. Other useful evidence is in the form of quire marks, discussed below. The binding is sufficiently tight to obscure a full and accurate description of quire arrangement in some instances. Where I cannot make a determination of my own, I follow Day's proposed quire structure, which she developed in consultation with Neil Ker.

Perhaps unusually for an early manuscript, and not noted before about Nero in the scholarship, signatures also survive on all quires, denoting the start of a new quire as well as the first half of the leaves within those quires. In further evidence that the leaves were rearranged after the ruling and adding of quire signatures, the signature for quire 7 appears not on its first leaf but on its second, folio 58, for the first leaf of quire 7 was originally the last leaf of quire 6. The reason behind this shift is unknown, for both quires contain sections of Part 4, and shifting leaves meant disrupting two regular quinternions.

The manuscript's arranger used a system of Roman and Arabic numerals to note the quire arrangement on the leaves, marking both the start of the quires and the arrangement of leaves within them. (25) Some of these marks have not survived the binder's trimming. Unusually, the arranger seems to have incised rather than inked or impressed marks at the start of quires. The start of all quires but 9 (and possibly 1, where it is so faint as to be perhaps not there at all) has been marked with Roman numerals that appear to be cut into the parchment, presumably with a penknife or other thin, sharp blade, or possibly with a fine stylus, so that the numerals are actually sliced in the parchment. (26)

The quire marks support the move of the last folio of quire 6 to the start of quire 7: folio 57a, the first leaf of quire 7, lacks a quire mark; the mark appears instead on folio 58a, the second leaf in the quire. This supports Day and Ker's asserted quire structure, confirmed in my own examination of the manuscript, that folio 57 once existed as the last leaf of quire 6, conjugate with folio 48, but was moved at some point to the start of quire 7, gummed to folio 67. A move to accommodate a shift from one part to another does not explain the move, for quires 6 and 7 fall squarely within Part 4, which spans quires 5 through 9. It is possible that folio 57 was added to complete the quire length needed for copying in the pecia system (or to move a leaf unneeded in copying the material in quire 6). (27)

Further, while the arranger used incised capital Roman numerals to differentiate the start of quires, he used another system to mark the leaves in order within the quires, at the bottom of the leaves, alternating minuscule letters with Roman numerals. Roman numerals mark the first half of the leaves inquires 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, and 13. (28) Sequential letters mark those in quires 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, and 11. Peculiarly, the Roman numerals are used for odd-numbered quires through quire 7, and letters for even-numbered quires through 8, but this system changes at quire 9. The consistent system suggests one person prepared the parchment in quires. The change in system suggests that either that preparer got his quires out of order, or that a different person carried out the scribal work, deciding to rearrange for reasons unknown. Quires 9 and 10, the points at which the system switches, contain the same number of folios. Quire 9 contains Part 5; the first half of quire 10 is used to complete Part 5 while the second half contains the start of Part 6. (29)

It is rather mysterious. The scribal hand is uniform, and the corrections carried out to the main text are also in the same hand, so the evidence does not suggest that multiple scribes carried out the work. Perhaps the manuscript was indeed copied by pecia system, with the scribe attempting to plan in advance how the parts of the AW might need to be laid out. (30) Notably, the marking system also appears, though much less visibly (as in the first quire), in the final quire, which contains the shorter collected works, in a second scribal hand.

A third set of marks exists in Nero as well, though some have been lost through trimming. It is unclear whether the arranger added these marks, or whether a later reader did so. At the tops of most of the leaves, usually in the center or slightly to the right or left, a series of Roman numerals appears, added to indicate which Part of the text the leaf contains--e.g., iiij to indicate Part 4. These marks appear to have been added in ink, now very faded, on the recto of a number of leaves, particularly those in Part 4, the longest Part of the text. It is possible that the scribe added these marks, though it is also possible that a reader did so, as other indexing marks appear in the manuscript. (31)

In addition to the deliberate distribution of text among the quires, the shifting of leaves to create quires of odd sizes, and the creation of a final quire from several odd leaves, the ruling pattern suggests rearrangement as well. It also provides further evidence that Nero was produced as a working book, with limited concern for polish and sophistication and preference instead for utility, underscored by the co-opting of the ruling grid for the addition of readers' marginalia. The differing ruling patterns also show that Nero was produced during a time of changing standards.

In quire 1, ruling was carried out in leadpoint or a very fine, dark gray-brown minium; after quire 1 the minium changes to a reddish brown, typical for the time period. (32) The ruling grids are variably visible throughout the manuscript. On some leaves the grid remains dark, whereas on other leaves the grid was very lightly ruled in the first place or has simply faded. Some of the leaves are so worn that the ruling grid is no longer visible. On the leaves where the ruling pattern is dark and clear, it is evident the ruling was done rapidly with little care for neatness. On folios 55b and 56a, for example, where the ruling is highly visible, the horizontal lines of the text block are ruled unevenly--many of the ends run over into the margins and gutters, some go only through the double column bordering the text block, and some do not even reach to the inner line of the double column. The ruling pattern in Nero follows generally two types, which I have called A and B (see Table 3). The two types are distinguished primarily by the number of vertical columns. Both are based on Derolez ruling type 36 but are slightly modified. (33) In Type A, the scribe ruled for two columns in each vertical margin (outside the writing area), while in Type B, the scribe ruled for one column on each side of the writing area. On some leaves the ruling grid is no longer visible or has been trimmed so that determining the type used on every leaf is impossible. However, it is possible to identify the grid on most of the leaves, and thus determine, interestingly, that the leaves used for the AW text are ruled exclusively in Type A, while the leaves used for the short collected texts at the end of Nero almost always follow Type B. It is possible that the leaves that appear to be Type B in the last quire were trimmed so that the outermost "extra" line was removed. Nonetheless, the apparent pattern is striking and suggests that the AW and the shorter texts were joined together in Nero after both were copied separately. The AW ends about halfway down folio 120b, after which the text of W1 is added and continued on the next leaf, 121a, on which the Type B pattern begins. (34) Folio 21 is also the last conjugate leaf of quire 12; folio 122 is a singleton, attached to folio 121. As I discuss above, it is unclear why the scribe or compiler chose to attach a single leaf to quire 12, giving it an odd number of leaves, rather than adding the leaf to quire 13, which also contains an odd number of leaves (nine). In any case, these differing ruling patterns argue for separate circulation of the AW text and the shorter collected texts before they were all bound together in Nero. Such conclusion is strengthened by the fact that one scribe wrote out the AW and a second scribe wrote out the collected texts. Also notably, and strengthening the argument that quires of the AW themselves may have circulated separately for a time, is the fading of the ruling grid nearly completely at the opening folios of quires 1, 2, and 4.

Richard Morris notes that the texts in Q13 are "excellent specimens of the Hail Maries, Psalms, and Orisons alluded to in" the AW. (35) Nero appears to represent a custom book for an anchoress who wanted these particular texts appended for her devotion, either before or after she had obtained a copy of the AW for use in her cell. Notably, only two of the early AW manuscripts contain WG texts; Nero contains the largest number, three, while Titus contains only one, though Titus also contains three Katherine Group texts. Neither Cleopatra, Corpus, nor Vitellius contain any other anchoritic, KG, or WG texts. Though Titus was adapted for use by a male community, the inclusion of texts for devout female readers suggest the manuscript was produced for women, and the same is true for Nero, which was not adapted for male use. (36)

In addition to the variations in ruling pattern relative to the margins, Nero also exhibits variations in ruling for text above- and below-top-line. Quires 1-4 and 7-8 are ruled in the old style, with the text written above the top ruled line, while quires 5,6, and 9-13 are ruled in the new style, with the text written below the top ruled line. (37) This feature is very often used to distinguish early thirteenth-century manuscripts (roughly pre-1230) from later thirteenth-century manuscripts and beyond. (38) Why the scribe chose to change his writing pattern is unclear, but the shift underscores the move, discussed above and further proven by quire marks, of folio 57 from quire 6, written in the new style (below top line), to quire 7, written in the old style (above top line). (39) Further, either the scribe or another user of the manuscript went through Nero at some later time and added a line, often in drypoint rather than plummet, above the top line of text in quires 1-4 and 7-8 to give those quires the surface appearance of having been ruled in the new style. This means that a shift in ruling style took place about halfway through the quires used for Nero, so that while the first four quires are old-style and the last five quires are new-style, the four in the middle are switched (5 and 6 are new while 7 and 8 are old). Again, though the quire-marking system is the same throughout, it too was switched partway through the manuscript, as discussed above.

The evidence of the arrangement, quire marks, and ruling together suggest significant clues about the production of Nero. If the text circulated separately in quires for a time, it might have been because it took some time to acquire enough parchment to complete the manuscript, though since Nero is a small book the number of skins needed might not have been prohibitive. (40) On top of that the scribe would have required quills and ink as well as exemplars. If it took a significant amount of time to procure and pay for such materials, the AW could have been copied over several years' time. Unlike Corpus and the late-fourteenth-century Vernon manuscript, which were carefully and deliberately compiled with an eye for aesthetics and with the use of fine materials, Nero was put together as funds allowed, with what was available.

Employment of text both above- and below-top-line could reflect production over a stretch of time during which standards were changing. As Ker has noted, in the thirteenth century scribal practice regarding placement of the first line of text on the page shifted: the earlier standard called for text to be written above the first ruled line, while the later standard called for text to be started below it. (41) Michelle Brown narrows the transitional period between 1220 and 1240, while Jane Roberts pinpoints c.1220 as the distinctive turning point. (42) Nero, written out between 1225 and 1250 (according to Ker) but perhaps more specifically the 1240s (according to Malcolm Parkes), with its scribe's ambivalence about page-ruling fashions, appears to reflect this change. The scribe may, further, have not been entirely sure what convention was called for or did not have someone directing him or her--related perhaps to the unnecessary use of quire signatures on the versos of leaves. (43) The addition of a line to transform old-style pages into new-style ones might be an addition by Nero's compiler to bring quires written earlier into alignment with prevailing convention.

Additional evidence in the form of the appearance and feel of the parchment suggests that certain quires were produced separately, over time. For example, many of the leaves in the eighth quire appear to be from the same skin and are extremely pliant and silk-like (particularly fols. 68 and 69), suggesting they were made from a batch of parchment prepared at the same time and by the same parchmenter, possibly from a run of skins. Similarly, folios 120a and 120b show a stark contrast: folio 120a is light colored while folio 120b is much darker and dirtier. Folios 121 a to 124a and 131b are also darker and dirtier while the others in quire 13 are lighter. Even the lighter leaves of quire 13, though, are darker than the light-colored ones of AW (through quire 12). This suggests that quire 13 was pulled from a different batch of parchment, and that the AW was used without that quire for some time.

Also of note is that while folios 121 and 110 appear to be conjugate, they do not feel like the same piece of parchment. It is possible folio 121 was subject to enough exposure, handling, dirt, and so forth to account for this difference; it is also possible that one of the two was pasted in: the binding is very tight and it is difficult to tell. Folios 121 and 110 do not seem completely consistent as conjugate leaves. It is possible that folio 121 has received a great deal more wear than folio 110, and they are more similar closer to the spine; however, the outer half of folio 121 is gray, heavily worn, and sueded, and in fact feels thinner and floppier than folio 110. Folio 120b, by contrast, is lighter than folio 121a, and the text is crisper. Likewise, folio 100a (the opening of a quire) shows wear. It is a bit darker and grayer, and more rubbed, than the folios that precede it. Interestingly, folio 99b is not. It appears fairly bright and clean, though folio 99a looks a little more like folio 100a in condition.

Further evidence is visible that the first quire almost certainly circulated on its own for some time. The coloring of the parchment overall in quire 1 is darker than elsewhere in the manuscript. The first leaf (fol. 1a) shows the wear, dirt, and dinginess associated with a quire that went without a protective cover, and the last folio of the quire (fol. 10b), while not as darkened as the first, is still darker than the next folio, 11a, which begins quire 2. There is indeed color variation in the leaves throughout the manuscript, but this evidence, together with another small piece, a blot of ink, suggests strongly this quire circulated alone. On the upper outer edge of folios iv and 1 to 10, a dot of ink, about two centimeters across, has soaked through. The ink does not continue on folio 1 la, the start of quire 2. This ink blot suggests that quire 1, as well as the fourth medieval flyleaf, existed together for a time, apart from the manuscript. (44) All this evidence together argues strongly for a book built over some small period of time, custom ordered for an anchoress and prepared with expectation of its use as a working book and perhaps as a future exemplar.

The quality of Nero's parchment also reflects this intended usage. It is, overall, not very high grade. While the parchment is well scraped, with few traces of hair follicles remaining, as is typical of English preparation, the leaves are not well-matched in quality. They vary in thickness, from very thin to rather thick. Some leaves are more sueded than others. The coloration of the parchment also varies from a clean, creamy color typical of the majority of the AW text folios to a muddied gray, typical of the outer leaves, as well as the leaves that make up the last quire. Some of this may be due to circulation of portions of the folios as unbound quires, possibly true of the first quire at least, which shows evidence of having spent time apart from the rest of the AW text.

Further, a number of repairs were carried out on Nero at several stages in its medieval life. While many pages are completely intact, with no repairs, there are a number of pages that required some touching-up before use as book leaves; there is also evidence of later repairs. Altogether, the manuscript has gone through at least three stages of repair. Some pages evince medieval (and/or early modern, possibly) repairs, either through sewing of small tears or holes or gluing on of custom-cut parchment strips to make square pages out of inadequately sized or cut bifolia. Some of these repairs were carried out prior to the text's being copied in, while some were carried out at a later date, as some of the patches cover small portions of text. Some tears were serviced twice, once before the text was written in, by sewing a hole closed, and later by patching over with a parchment strip a hole whose stitching had partially gone or was taken out. (45) Additional evidence that parchment of middling quality was acceptable to the manuscript's preparer and/or commissioner is found on folio 29a, where two small wormholes are present at the bottom, one interrupting the last line of text and one just below that place. These holes do not appear on the adjacent leaves, and the scribe accommodated the hole by writing around it. Incidentally, this wormhole further supports the piecemeal quiring of the manuscript, that folio 29 was adhered as a singleton to the end of the third quire.

Useful comparison (though brief for the sake of space) may be made with other manuscripts in the same textual tradition to emphasize Nero's distinctiveness as a working book and the important information it reveals about the growth in popularity of the AW. Cleopatra and Titus were created within roughly the same quarter-century as Nero, with Cleopatra likely having been copied using the pecia system, as Dobson has demonstrated. Titus, like Nero, is composed of a number of irregular quires (only six of out the twelve quires containing AW material are or were designed as regular sexternions); the quires of Cleopatra are in large part made up of quaternions (twenty out of twenty-six). It is possible all three were custom ordered for individual anchoresses, though the evidence for this seems the strongest in Nero. The Corpus and Vernon manuscripts stand in contrast: both are later (Corpus slightly, Vernon significantly) and much more lavish productions, and it seems likely that both were created for religious communities rather than for individuals.

Corpus, produced in Malcolm Parkes's estimation in the 1270s or '80s--and thus roughly fifty years after Nero, Titus, and Cleopatra--is made up of higher-grade materials than the earlier manuscripts, and its layout is extremely regular, made up exclusively of quinternions (though the second quire now lacks the central leaf of the gathering; its ruling is also entirely uniform throughout). (46) It seems clearly to have been prepared at one blow, and carefully planned. A notation at the foot of the first folio (recto) establishes that Shropshire layman John Purcel gave Corpus to a house of canons at Wigmore Abbey (Herefordshire) sometime in the late thirteenth century; it is not clear whether Corpus was created for the canons directly or given to them after use elsewhere.

Production of Vernon appears to have begun in the 1380s and was continued possibly into the early 1400s. (47) Vernon is a hefty compilation volume of religious and moral instruction; the A Wis only one of370 texts contained in it. Unlike Nero, Titus, Cleopatra, and Corpus, all generally of a size to accommodate private reading, Vernon was designed for display, being of large dimensions (544 x 393 mm, contrasted with Nero's 144 x 106 mm); the manuscript is also illuminated. In addition to the lavish decoration, the layout on the page is tightly controlled just as in Corpus, and the quire structure is highly regular--almost exclusively quaternions--both indications of the careful planning not as evident in the earlier manuscripts. (48) Though the intended recipients of the manuscript are not known for certain, it is generally thought, particularly given the dialect, great expense, and dimensions of the book, to have been created for a female religious house in the West Midlands, though it is possible that the manuscript was made for a lay audience or patron. (49) What I wish to point out here is that, along the trajectory of this textual tradition (considering those manuscripts that contain the text in full or nearly in full, particularly the text that was revised for increasingly larger groups of readers in the later Middle English period), one sees that the AW grew in status, embodied in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in the humble, working-class manuscripts of Nero, Titus, and Cleopatra, likely intended for individual readers; next in the highly polished Corpus manuscript; and then, by the turn of the fifteenth century, in the deluxe Vernon manuscript. Broadly viewed, as the text grew increasingly important, so too did its vehicles.

A final point about Nero: the wealth of annotations appearing throughout the manuscript, in the margins as well as interlineally, provides the last layer of evidence that the Nero manuscript was created as a working book and was utilized as such from its beginnings. Because we do not know its earliest provenance, and more importantly because evidence in the text and the manuscript points to use by anchoresses, we must consider that the many marginal annotations surviving from Nero's first century of use were made by women readers. As I discuss the marginalia in detail elsewhere, I provide an overview of the details here. (50)

A number of readers have used this manuscript between the thirteenth and twentieth centuries, though some of their additions have been partially trimmed by later binders such as that of Robert Cotton. One of the early modern commentators was Richard James, Cotton's librarian. Of all annotations his are the most prominent; he wrote both on the flyleaves and within and around the text of the manuscript, adding comments of summary and cross reference and underlining extensively. The other early modern additions appear at folios 47a/b and 49a/b, in two different hands. The thirteenth- or fourteenth-century additions, executed in now very faded ink or minium, and at times in drypoint, are written in a generally informal or untutored protogothic script. More formal protogothic letter forms do appear; one hand is noticeably more formal, though it is not quite written in a book hand. Day indexes the more evident markings but does not mention most of these early annotations. The number and variety of early annotations is striking, especially contrasted with what is found in the other early manuscripts. These earliest annotators utilized the unusual ruling pattern as a grid for recording marginalia in a systematic way. (Whether the scribe deliberately designed the ruling pattern for this is unclear.) On many pages the ruling grid allowed for a meaty blank column in the outer margins of the leaves, which annotators used quite frequently. On some leaves, depending on how much trimming was performed, two columns in fact survive, providing copious room for annotation. (51) Comments survive in both Latin and English. Overall, I have identified comments in three different hands, together with a number of marginalia unattributable to a particular hand, and none appearing scholarly. As Michael Clanchy has pointed out, "The gloss took definite shape in the twelfth century and grew out of the practice of lecturers and students making explanatory notes on spare space around the texts they studied." (52) None of the marks are made in this kind of academic way; apart from two particular examples, none of these appear in the places one would expect scholastic glosses. Nor indeed would we expect to find elaborately laid out glosses here because this is neither a Bible, an academic treatise, nor a law book The informality and variety of the marks suggest that Nero may have been passed from one anchoress to another--perhaps after an anchoress's death or withdrawal from the anchorhold--before, like the other early manuscripts, joining the library of a religious community. The early annotations that appear fall into several major categories: devotional or meditative glosses, indexing aids, navigational aids, and spontaneous glosses.

An odd feature among these annotations is underlining that has been roughly erased or partially erased throughout the manuscript. Altogether I have counted 111 instances of this phenomenon. As with a number of these odd features, I am not entirely sure to what I should attribute these scraped-away underlinings, though I tend to think either it was a result of some kind of censorship or of recycling for use by another reader. Censorship or recycling is further supported by the presence of additional erasures in marginal areas. In some of these areas traces of ink remain, suggesting that comments as well as underlinings were redacted.

The last medieval commentators make an appearance, albeit briefly, on folios 47a through 49b. Two different hands have underlined phrases in these folios and added words in the margins in a fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century script. The underlinings appear to pick out phrases and words of interest to the annotators, while the words, accompanying some of the underlining, presumably update the spelling of an underlined word. For example, on folio 47a, lines 28 and 29, which contain the word "sicnesse" are underlined; in the margin "syknisse" has been written with a different spelling. (53)

Nero remained a working manuscript well beyond the medieval period, having entered Sir Robert Cotton's oft-consulted manuscript collection by 1625. (54) At this stage it received its last and perhaps most copious set of annotations, by Richard James, librarian for the collection from about 1625 until 1638. Along with quite a few flyleaf scribblings, including two lists of contents, James added seventy-seven marginal comments together with at least 280 underlinings of words and phrases apparently of interest to him. His comments, written in both Latin and English, and his underlinings reflect his interest in antiquarian items and evidence of past religious practices. He notes on folio 12b, for example, that "Adam and Eve were in the torments of hell more than 4000 years" and on folio 19b that "In the time of this booke no Heresie in Englond." (55) James also indexed portions of the text topically, adding an index list on the final flyleaf, two tables of contents in the opening flyleaves, and page references in a number of his marginal comments. To complete this system he paginated each leaf in the upper outer corner.

Following James's lavish attention, Nero saw little augmentation of its markings beyond British Museum stamps and library markings, but as a member of a national collection available for consultation, Nero continues to work, though without the same visible record of its modern readers. While it is a necessary sacrifice for preservation's sake, it's still a bit sad to think that our marks will not join the living history of Nero as did James's, or as did those of the many unknown readers who thoroughly worked over this wonderful little manuscript. Their reading marks, together with the evidence in the parchment, text, and quires, tell a story not of a luxury display book like Vernon, produced for a large audience, nor a fine manuscript like Corpus, prepared with care from a well-established text, but of a manuscript much referenced, much used, over its lifetime. Nero was meant to be read privately by readers familiar with Latin as well as English and other vernaculars, and was intended for close, personal study by women. Nero shows evidence of heavy use, likely in an anchorhold, from its beginnings and retains marks of use by intelligent, responsive readers, very likely women. Above all, the evidence suggests very strongly that Nero was itself commissioned by or for an anchoress. It is imperative that scholars begin to examine more deeply the individual manuscripts of the AW rather than rely primarily on critical editions to recover something of both the spiritual and textual experiences of the earliest readers, worked out on the page. Over the two-hundred-year history from Nero to Vernon, the representation of the AW texts within these manuscripts tells a very important story about the popularity of the text and the experience of its readership from its earliest audience of three sisters to its widely varied late medieval readers.

The University of Notre Dame

Acknowledgments

I wish to express sincere thanks to the Institute of Historical Research of the University of London, which awarded me the Mellon Junior Dissertation Research Fellowship that funded my archival research. I also gratefully acknowledge the scholars who helped shape my work, including Jane Roberts, Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, Elaine Treharne, Michael Clanchy, and P. R Robinson.

NOTES

(1.) The other three A W manuscripts are Cleopatra (London, British Library, Cotton MS Cleopatra C.vi, c. 1225 to 1230); Corpus (Cambridge, Parker Library, Corpus Christi College MS 402, c.1225 to 1240); and Titus (London, British Library, Cotton MS Titus D.xviii, c.1225 tol250.

(2.) For example, Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College, MS 234/120 (c. 1250 to 1300) is in part a series of extracts from the AW, while Titus was adapted for use by men. Altogether the text survives in seventeen manuscripts (nine in English, four in French, and four in Latin). On these manuscripts see the descriptions in Bella Millett, Ancrene Wisse, the Katherine Group, and the Wooing Group, Annotated Bibliographies of Old and Middle English Literature 2 (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1996), 6-15, and Millett, ed., Ancrene Wisse: A Corrected Edition of the Text in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 402, with Variants from Other Manuscripts, drawing on the uncompleted edition by E.J. Dobson; with a glossary and additional notes by Richard Dance, EETS o.s. 325-326 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005-2006), II .xi-xix.

(3.) The broader body of vernacular spiritual literature extends beyond this, of course, including on the early end the works of the Katherine and Wooing Groups and on the later works of English mysticism and affective piety such as Julian of Norwich's Shewings, Margery Kempe's Book, other treatises by Rolle and Hilton, Robert Mannyng's Handlyng Synne, A Talking of the Love of God, and The Prick of Conscience, to name a few of the major representatives.

(4.) For an overview of major trends in AW scholarship, see Millett, Ancrene Wisse, the Katherine Group, and the Wooing Group, and the Introductions to both volumes of Millett's Ancrene Wisse: A Corrected Edition of the Text.

(5.) See, for example, the points raised in Millett, "Mouvance and the Medieval Author"; Innes-Parker, "The Legacy of Ancrene Wisse"; von Nolcken, "The Recluse and its Readers"; and Watson, "Ancrene Wisse, Religious Reform and the Late Middle Ages."

(6.) James Morton chose Nero as the base text for his 1853 edition of the AW, The Ancren Riwle; a Treatise on the Rules and Duties of Monastic Life. Edited and Translated from a Semi-Saxon MS. of the Thirteenth Century, Camden Society Publications 57 (London, 1853).

(7.) See particularly J. R. R. Tolkien, "Ancrene Wisse and Hali Meidhad," Essays and Studies by Members of the English Association 14 (1929): 104-126, and ibid., ed. The English Text of the Ancrene Riwle, Ancrene Wisse, Edited from MS. Corpus Christi College Cambridge 402, introd. Neil R Ker, EETS o.s. 249 (London: Oxford University Press, 1962 for I960). The preference for Corpus continues today: Bella Millett uses it for her seminal two-volume EETS critical edition, relied on for studies of the AW whether in the high or later Middle Ages.

(8.) The same is true for Cleopatra, thanks to E.J. Dobson's impressive critical introduction in his The English Text of the Ancrene Riwle, Edited from BM. Cotton MS. Cleopatra C.vi., EETS o.s. 267 (London: Oxford University Press, 1972).

(9.) The English Text of the Ancrene Riwle, Edited from Cotton MS. Nero A.XIV, on the basis of a transcript by J. A. Herbert, EETS o.s.225 (London: Oxford University Press, 1952 for 1946). Caroline Cole uses codicology to argue for the unity of the manuscript in "The Integrity of Text and Context in the Prayers of British Library, Cotton MS Nero A.XIV," Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 104.1 (2003): 85-94. Her analysis is thoughtful and thorough but still fairly brief and is used in service to her textual argument rather than as a codicological survey.

(10.) By this term I want to suggest manuscripts of the type that are small, portable, utility-grade, and heavily used by readers (marked in, worn out, repaired), in contrast to display copies or deluxe editions.

(11.) Nothing is known of the origins of the earliest AW manuscripts and only limited information is available about the early provenances of Cleopatra, which was in the hands of canonesses by about 1284, and Corpus, given to a house of canons near the end of the thirteenth century by a lay owner (Millett, Ancrene Wisse: A Corrected Edition, I.xiv and xi). It is quite possible Nero followed a similar path; Day proposes that Winch-combe Abbey in Gloucester possessed Nero by the late Middle Ages (xv-xvi).

(12.) Similar evidence suggests, as I argue in my Ph.D. dissertation, Learning and Literacy Outside the Convent: Early Middle English Women Readers and the Ancrene Wisse, that the Titus manuscript was custom made as well.

(13.) These pieces and their arrangements are noted in Table 1. For a comparative table of Wooing Group and Katherine Group texts distributed among the AW manuscripts, see Millett, Ancrene Wisse: A Corrected Edition, II.lvii.

(14.) Albert Derolez, The Paleography of Gothic Manuscript Books: From the Twelfth to the Early Sixteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 32-33.

(15.) This is one of the major pieces of evidence, in my estimation, that the scribe was using or intended to use something like the pecia system in copying Nero. The intratextual references to the circulation of quires among anchorholds suggest that anchoresses might have loaned out their texts, or parts of them, to others for copying. If this is true for Nero, it may be that the creation of a utility-grade manuscript would have served not just as a working book in an anchorhold, but also as an easily used future exemplar.

(16.) As with quire 7, quire 12 has one singleton affixed to the regular gathering. In 7 this is added at the beginning, while in 12 this is added at the end.

(17.) Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham, Introduction to Manuscript Studies (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007), 14.

(18.) Tipping-in is also used for textual correction; however, the last quire does not show evidence of such a need. Smaller corrections are indicated in the usual way, by intralinear addition or marginal annotation; on folio 123b, notably, a missed line was written at the top of the leaf and marked for insertion by a signe-de-renvoi between lines 3 and 4.

(19.) Cole argues for Nero's "textual integrity," proposing that the two scribes of the manuscript copied from an existing exemplar, an archetype no longer extant (87). She relies on evidence from the structure of the manuscript as well as its "semantic and thematic intertextuality" (90).

(20.) On the use of the pecia system in Cleopatra, see Dobson, English Text of the Ancrene Riwle, xxix-xxxvi. On the pecia system itself, see Clemens and Graham, 22-24; Susan Uselmann, "Women Reading and Reading Women: Early Scribal Notions of Literacy in the Ancrene Wisse," Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 16.2 (2004): 369-404, at 395; and Andrew Taylor, "Authors, Scribes, Patrons, and Books," in The Idea of the Vernacular: An Anthology of Middle English Literary Theory, 1280-1520, ed. Jocelyn Wogan-Browne et al. (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999), 354-365. Malcolm Parkes discusses it as well in "Book Provision and Libraries at Oxford," in Scribes, Scripts, and Readers: Studies in the Communication, Presentation, and Dissemination of Medieval Texts (London: Hambledon Press, 1991), 299-310 at 304-308. While scholars such as Destrez and Pollard have associated the pecia system strictly with the University, particularly in Paris (304), Parkes points out that at least in Oxford, non-University members used the system as well, and not just stationers hired out exemplaria (306). Particularly useful for this study is his conclusion that the Dominican and Franciscan convents kept exemplaria available for copying out (307); perhaps this is how Nero was produced. Though the term pecia has a specific meaning for the University of Paris, it is used more loosely by other scholars to describe a system of lending out exemplars for writing out additional copies of texts. Dobson uses it, for example, to describe the system under which Cleopatra was produced; this manuscript was certainly not a university text but was very likely produced by friars. My use of "pecia system" is in this spirit.

(21.) Millett, Ancrene Wisse: A Corrected Edition, 1.94.

(22.) All translations are mine.

(23.) Millett, Ancrene Wisse: A Corrected Edition, 1.107.

(24.) This is visible, for example, at the gutter between folios 5 and 6, 7 and 8, and 119 and 120.

(25.) This might be an additional indication of the use of aperia-like system.

(26.) This is unusual. The markings are very thin and fine and appear to cut through the parchment, rather than "bruise" it, as hardpoint usually does. The quire marking has been done with pressure enough to leave impressions on some subsequent leaves (mirrored on the verso of such leaves). It seems as though the slicing technique was carried out with the leaves of each quire stacked in order, unfolded, so that the marks carried through the first half of the stack.

(27.) Nothing in the text indicates missing material or the movement of a leaf for insertion.

(28.) The leaf marks in quires 1 and 7 are no longer visible, though the quire marks at the start of the quires are.

(29.) There is a small inconsistency in the system, though, whose significance is not apparent. In all quires but a few, the numbering of the individual leaves begins with the second leaf, ostensibly because the quire mark on the first leaf ensures that the first leaf is put in its correct place. In quires 5, 10, and 13, the first leaf, while not marked as such, begins the sequence of either Roman numerals or letters. On the face this may suggest some rearrangement of the size of the quires after marking; perhaps the incised quire marks were added to the first leaves after the individual leaves were marked, though this would mean that quires whose leaves were numbered with Roman numerals or letters starting with the second leaf risked falling out of arrangement.

(30.) See the discussion in Cole.

(31.)1 discuss these markings at length in "Women's Latinity in the Early English Anchorhold," forthcoming in Women Leaders and Intellectuals of the Medieval World, ed. Kathryn Kerby-Fulton and Katie Ann-Marie Bugyis (University of Notre Dame Press). This system of carefully indexing the quires and parts was carried further by a thirteenth- or fourteenth-century reader, who added finding and indexing aids to the margins in a hand of that date as well.

(32.) Clemens and Graham, Introduction to Manuscript Studies, 17.

(33.) Albert Derolez, Codicologie des manuscrits en ecriture humanistique sur parchemin, Bibliologia, Elementa ad Librorum Studia Pertinentia 5-6 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1984), 1.67.

(34.) Day describes the contents of quire 13 at xxii-iv; Cole examines the quire's unity with the rest of the manuscript.

(35.) Richard Morris, ed. and trans., Old English Homilies and Homiletic Treatises (Sawles Warde, and Pe Wohunge of Ure Lauerd: Ureisuns of Ure Louerd and ofUreLefdi, &c) of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, edited from MSS. in the British Museum, Lambeth, and Bodleian Libraries, EETS o.s. 29,34 (London, 1868), vii.

(36.) Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 34, another thirteenth-century manuscript, and an important witness of writing of this milieu for women, contains all of the KG texts. One wonders if that is the sort of manuscript that might have accompanied Nero into the anchorhold, nearly completing the collection of KG/WG texts for an anchoritic reader.

(37.) For a discussion of this feature, see Day, ix.

(38.) Neil Ker, "From 'above top line' to 'below top line': A Change in Scribal Practice," Celtica 5 (i960): 13-16.

(39.) Day noted the shift of folio 57 from quire 6 to quire 7 by examining the ruling pattern but did not observe that the quire marks also confirm this shift.

(40.) The AW required fifty-eight bifolia and three singletons, which might have represented a significant number of animals, depending on the means of the patron or intended user. The short collected texts required three bifolia and three singletons, a much less significant expenditure.

(41.) "From 'Above Top Line' to 'Below Top Line'." This time period coincides with the arrival of the friars into England and the suggested date of composition for the AW.

(42.) Brown, "Mise-en-Page," Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms, British Library, Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts: Glossaries (London: British Library), accessed 3 Aug 2014; Roberts, Guide to Scripts Used in English Writing up to 1550 (London: British Library, 2005), 106.

(43.) My thanks to Elaine Treharne for suggesting the scribe might have lacked a supervisor.

(44.) I have no easy explanation for why the flyleaf, too, is blotted with ink. It was once a pastedown so perhaps it served in an original binding of this AW text, or at least the first quire. Day suggests that the first parchment flyleaf (fol. i), but not the fourth, may have "originally been connected with the Ancrene Riwle" (xii).

(45.) See, for example, folios 55, 74, 76, 77, 86 (a particularly damaged page, containing four repairs, including addition of a large parchment patch along the edge of the leaf), 92, 94, 96, 103, 105, and 127.

(46.) Neil Ker dates Corpus to the same time period as Nero, Titus, and Cleopatra. On the dating of the manuscript, see Millett, Ancrene Wisse: A Corrected Edition, I.xi.

(47.) See A. I. Doyle, "Codicology, Palaeography, and Provenance," esp. "2.2 Date and Provenance," in Wendy Scase and Nick Kennedy, A Facsimile Edition of the Vernon Manuscript Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Eng. Poet. A. 1 (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 2011); and Arne Zettersten and Bernhard Diensberg, The English Text of the Ancrene Riwle: the 'Vernon' Text, Early English Text Society 310 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), ix-xvii.

(48.) On the great expense and heft of Vernon, as well as its regular quire structure, see A I. Doyle, "Codicology, Palaeography, and Provenance," in Wendy Scase and Nick Kennedy, A Facsimile Edition of the Vernon Manuscript Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Eng. Poet. A. 1 (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 2011).

(49.) A. I. Doyle reviews the range of possible houses in The Vernon Manuscript: A Facsimile of Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Eng. Poet. a. 1 (Cambridge: Brewer, 1987), 14-15. See also the discussion in Zettersten and Diensberg, The English Text of the Ancrene Riwle: the 'Vernon' Text, xiv-xvii. For an analysis of potential lay patronage, see Wendy Scase, "The Patronage of the Vernon Manuscript" in The Making of the Vernon Manuscript: The Production and Contexts of Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Eng. poet. a. 1, ed. Wendy Scase, Texts and Transitions 6 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), 269-293.

(50.) For that discussion, see Hall, "Women's Latinity in the Early English Anchorhold."

(51.) See, for instance, folios 61b/62a and 76b/77a.

(52.) Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record: England 1066-1307, 3rd edition (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 135. For examples of (likely) friars' hands, in contrast with the primarily nonprofessional annotations in Nero, see Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Digby 2 (late thirteenth century) and London, British Library, HarleyMS913 (early fourteenth century).

(53.) This particular form is not recorded in the examples given by the Oxford English Dictionary, however, and is difficult to pin to a particular time period.

(54.) Nero was included in the catalogue of that same year, and James also added a note dated April 30, 1625, on a flyleaf of Nero, suggesting that he got his hands on Nero very soon after taking up his post.

(55.) Oddly, though, he consistently writes his comments a page or two ahead of where they should fall to correspond with the text.

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Table 1: Contents of Nero and Corresponding Folios and Quires

QUIRE       FOLIOS                NO. OF               TEXT
                                  LEAVES

 1          1-10                    10           AW Preface (1a-4a)
                                                 1 (4a-end)
 2          11-20                   10           1 (11a)
                                                 2 (11a-end)
 3          21-28 + 29               9           2 (21a-29a)
                                                 3 (29a)
 4          30-39                   10           3
 5          40-47                    8           3 (40a-45b)
                                                 4 (45b-end)
 6          48-56 - 57               9           4
 7          57 + 58-67              11           4
 8          68-79                   12           4
 9          80-89                   10           4 (80a-80b)
                                                 5 (80b-end)
10          90-99                   10           5 (90a-95a)
                                                 6 (95a-end)
11          100-109                 10           6 (100a-105b)
                                                 7 (105b-end)
12          110-121 + 122           13           7 (110a-114a)
                                                 8 (114a-120b)
                                                 WG1 (120b-end)
13          123+124/131 + 125 +      9           WG1 (123a-b)
            126-129+ 130                         WG2 (123b-126b)
                                                 WG3 (126b- 128a)
                                                 WG4 (128a-131a)
                                                 AC (131a-b)
                                                 L1 (131b)
                                                 L2 (l31b)

NOTE:
WG 1 [??]e Wohunge of ure Lauerd
WG2 Ureisun of God Almihti
WG3 "Lofsong of ure Lefdi"
WG4 "Lofsong of ure Louerde"
AC Apostles' Creed
L1 Latin verse meditation on death
L2 Sermo de Cruce Domini
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Author:Hall, Megan J.
Publication:The Journal of the Early Book Society for the Study of Manuscripts and Printing History
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2017
Words:11244
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