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The Belvoir Castle (Duke of Rutland) manuscript of John Lydgate's Fall of Princes.

The manuscript of John Lydgate's Fall of Princes belonging to the duke of Rutland rarely comes under scholarly scrutiny, but we were recently allowed to examine and photograph it at Belvoir Castle in Lincolnshire. (1) The manuscript contains 178 parchment folios measuring 450 x 340 mm, with the full text of Lydgate's poem set out in two columns of 51 lines, the written space measuring 370 x 235 mm. It is illuminated, with a three-line gold initial on folio 1 at the start of the poem, on a ground of blue and rose leaves with white highlighting and full-bar border of gold, rose, and blue with acanthus leaves and flowers, bosses at the corners, and sprays into the margins around the border. Sprays on this first folio and those from frequent champ initials of gold on blue and rose grounds throughout the manuscript are black stems with opposing green leaf buds, gold balls, and gold wheat heads. These champ initials appear frequently, often with two or more per page. In addition, each stanza begins with a one-line red or blue initial with alternating red or blue (sometimes golden-brown) penwork. The scribe has written rubric headings in spaces within the text box left for them, beginning with a one-line blue initial with red penwork flourishing. There are in addition rubric marginal glosses for proper names and for finding aids, preceded by blue paraphs.

This copy of the Fall of Princes was copied by the same scribe who wrote the copy of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in British Library, Harley 1758, and the copy of Gower's Confessio Amantis in London, Society of Antiquaries 134, which were identified as being written by the same hand by Linne Mooney in the 2004 volume of the Journal of the Early Book Society.2 The handwriting of the Belvoir Fall of Princes corresponds in every detail to that of the other two manuscripts. Whereas in the other two manuscripts this scribe's hand is less formal--less tight--later in the volumes, here he maintains the kind of strict regularity of script one finds only in the best professional scribes.

As in the formal writing of the other two manuscripts by his hand, the scribe writes an unlooped d whose straight ascender is often bent almost horizontal over a squared lobe, so that the graph looks like a box with slightly opened lid (see fig. 1, line 11, "loude"; fig. 2, third line from bottom, "doun"). He often ends lines of verse with a point, or punctus (see fig. 1, all except 11. 9, 11, 12, 15 and 20; fig. 2, every line). He also often uses a less bold punctus for caesura in mid-line (see figs. 1 and 2). He has difficulty maintaining a straight bottom line along his ruled lines, often producing a wavy baseline for his text (see fig. 1, 1. 5; fig. 2, 1. 4). The letters i and sometimes y are dotted with a slanting sliver (see fig. 1, l. 19, "in"; fig. 2, 1. 9, "write"). Letters within words are tightly packed so as often to touch one another, but there are distinct spaces between words. One form of uppercase A is a square-topped version of modern printed A with an added approach stroke like a waving flag extending to the left from the upper-left corner and distinct feet at the base of the downstrokes, especially the left one (see fig. 1, 11. 2, 20, "And," and 31, "All"; fig. 2, 11. 1, 13, and 18, "And"). The descender of y tapers to almost a hairline, with a tight curl to the right at the bottom (see fig. 1, 1. 6, "storye"; fig. 2, 1. 4, "pryncis"). Anglicana g has a smaller lower lobe with a squashed appearance and a slight point to the left (see fig. 1, 1. 2, "flateryng"; fig. 2, l. 3, "hangyng").

The Duke of Rutland's Fall of Princes is also decorated by the same limner as the other two manuscripts, Harley 1758 and Antiquaries 134 (see fig. 3). The style of the grounds for his champ initials is the same in all three manuscripts, and all contain the unusual additional single tiny green leaf springing from the left side of the ground into the margin in addition to the short sprays extending upward and downward from the left corners of the ground (see champ initials "N" in figs. 1 and 2). The same style of simple red flourishing is found decorating blue paraphs or one-line initials in all three manuscripts (see fig. 2, l. 23, initial "W"). To our eyes the borders suggest a metropolitan origin. They resemble the borders in metropolitan productions like the British Library, Royal 2.A.XVIII (the Beaufort Hours), folio 26, and Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Advocates' 18.1.7, folio 8v, both illustrated in Kathleen Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts 1390-1490. (3)

Neither of Scott's plates for these manuscripts illustrates smaller champ initials for comparison with the idiosyncratic single stem and leaf to the left of the champ that we find in the Belvoir Fall of Princes and the other manuscripts by our limner, but then, neither of these borders is similar enough to suggest a match for the border artist anyway. The border of folio 26 in the Beaufort Hours is in the portion of the manuscript (b) produced probably in London from 1430 to 1440. (4) The Advocates' 18.1.7 copy of Nicholas Love's Myrrour of the Blessed Lyf of Jesu Crist was illustrated probably in London in the period from 1444 or 1445 to 1465. (5) So these styles of illustration match well the mid-fifteenth-century dating of the script and our suggestion of London origin at least for the decoration.

The western spellings in Harley 1758 could result from the manuscript's exemplars, (6) for example, u for Old English y, as in "burye" (the manuscript has relatively fewer of these spellings than other western manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales) and on for an, as in "mony" for many (in the Belvoir manuscript, the spelling for this form is "many"). The spelling "yen" for eyes--one of the spellings for that form in Harley 1758--occurs in the Southwest in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, and Worcestershire. Both Harley 1758 and Antiquaries 134 have the spelling "3en" for eyes; this spelling using yogh occurs primarily in Essex, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Northamptonshire, and Warwickshire.

As our time with the Belvoir Castle manuscript was limited, we could not perform a thorough dialect analysis, but we were nevertheless able to record a number of spellings. The only occurrence of eyes we detected was "eyen," an exceedingly common form. The scribe accommodates some Lydgatian spellings, as, for example, "hih" for high, "thei" for they, and "thoruh" for through, and the adverbial ending -ly realized consistently as "-li." Early in the manuscript, however, the spelling "berow" for through appears, a form that A Linguistic Atlas of Late Medieval English records only as a minor variable in Surrey. The spellings "thorow" and "borow" also occur, both of which appear in the scribe's other manuscripts, as do "thei" and "bei" for they. Localization to Surrey might also account for the variable spellings in the Belvoir manuscript of "ber" and "ther" for their. The spelling "besi" (busy) is primarily East Anglian and could be exemplar-conditioned (i.e., Lydgate), but is also attested in Surrey. The scribe eschews yogh in Harley 1758, where it is rare, and in Belvoir, where we find it not at all, while it is common in the Antiquaries manuscript. (7) The evidence of the Belvoir manuscript and the accommodation by the scribe of forms presumably in his exemplars in all three of his manuscripts would seem to argue against a western homeland for the scribe and suggests a localization closer to the metropolis, possibly in Surrey.

The duke of Rutland's copy of Lydgate's Fall of Princes appears to be complete, but one quire has been bound out of order, with the second bifolium (ii + vii) inverted and moved to the center of the gathering (see fig. 4). As the scribe has provided an arabic pagination at the lower right, this disordering is readily apparent. The modern foliation for this gathering runs from 153 to 160, while the medieval foliation, if consecutive, would run from 154 to 161.

This manuscript has been owned by the family of the duke of Rutland since the sixteenth century. It contains an inscription by Catherine Stafford, duchess of Westmoreland, addressed to her daughter, Margaret Neville, who married Henry, second earl of Rutland, on July 3, 1536. Catherine died in 1555 and her daughter Margaret died in 1559. We know of this connection from the manuscript itself: on the reverse of folio 1 is the following inscription in the lower margin in a sixteenth-century hand, possibly Catherine's own handwriting:
   As off-then as you one thes loke remember me thet wrote yn
   your boke your lovyng Mother Katheryn Westmorland.

That is, "As often as you on this look / remember me that wrote in your book, your loving mother, Katherine Westmoreland." This inscription gives us a unique insight into female book ownership and possibly the passing of books like Lydgate's Fall of Princes from mother to daughter. If we imagine the manuscript to have been passed from mother to daughter, not only from Catherine to Margaret, but from Catherine's mother to her, and back through the generations, we might trace it back to the time of its writing:
Anne Devereux                         married        William Herbert,
daughter of Sir Walter Devereux and   ca. 1440 in    first earl of
  Elizabeth Merbury                   Hereford       Pembroke

Maud Herbert                          married ca.    Henry Percy,
eldest daughter and eldest child of   1473-1474      fourth earl of
  twelve; b. 1448 in Pembroke, d.                    Northumberland
  July 27, ca. 1485/1495]

Eleanor Percy                         married        Edward Stafford,
eldest daughter and eldest child of   December 14,   third duke of
  eight; b. 1470, d. 1530             1490           Buckingham

Catherine Stafford                    married        Ralph Neville,
fourth daughter and youngest of       before June    fourth earl of
  five children; b. ca. 1499 in       1520           Westmoreland
  Abergavenny, d. May 14, 1555, at                   d. April 24, 1549
  Holywell in Shoreditch

Margaret Neville                      married July   Henry Manners,
eldest daughter and second of         3, 1536        second earl of
  sixteen children; b. ?, d.                         Rutland
  October 13, 1559                                   b. ca. September
                                                     23, 1526 at
                                                     Haddon Hall,
                                                     d. September 7,

Thus, with the exception of Catherine Stafford, who was the youngest daughter and youngest child of Eleanor Percy, the manuscript could have been passed from mother to eldest daughter as far back as Anne Devereux, who married William Herbert, first earl of Pembroke, in Hereford in 1440. If there had been a tradition of passing from mother to daughter, the death of Margaret Neville in 1559 when her only daughter, Elizabeth Manners, was only five or six would explain why the manuscript then passed from father to son in the family of the dukes of Rutland, first to Edward Manners, third earl of Rutland, then to his brother John Manners, fourth earl, and so on.

Another interesting connection between Catherine and Margaret is the coincidence, if it was such, that both Catherine Stafford, duchess of Westmoreland (Margaret's mother), and Eleanor Paston, countess of Rutland (Margaret's mother-in-law), died in 1555 in Holywell in Shoreditch, Middlesex. Eleanor Paston was the daughter of William Paston and thus granddaughter of John Paston III and Margery de Brewse. John and Margery Paston owned Middle English manuscripts, including a copy of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 414).9 It is possible, then, that the manuscript came into Margaret's hands through her mother-in-law, Eleanor Paston, rather than through her mother and mother's forebears, male or female. Catherine's inscription says nothing of giving the manuscript to her daughter; she writes in it only that she hopes her daughter will remember her when reading her (Margaret's) book. If Catherine and Eleanor both lived in Shoreditch toward the ends of their lives, one can imagine them uniting to look after the young family of their son and daughter, including giving Eleanor a fine old book as a gift and inscribing good wishes into it.

Regardless of how the manuscript came to be owned by Margaret, countess of Rutland, and inscribed by her mother, duchess of Westmoreland, this inscription gives us the earliest provenance of the three manuscripts that survive in this scribe's hand: by the first half of the sixteenth century this Fall of Princes was owned by the family of Ralph Neville, earl of Westmoreland. The provenance of the other two manuscripts can be traced back only as far as the early seventeenth century. The Society of Antiquaries MS 134 copy of Gower's Confessio Amantis was owned by the family of the baronets Lyttelton of Hagley and Frankley, Worcestershire, from at least early in the seventeenth century until it was bequeathed to the Society of Antiquaries in 1769 by Charles Lyttelton (1714-1768), who was President of the Society of Antiquaries from 1765. (10) A note by Lyttelton on folio ii records his belief that the manuscript came originally from Halesowen Abbey, which is near the family seats at Hagley and Frankley, now on the southwestern edges of Greater Birmingham. However it also has London connections: Pamela J. Willetts notes its "16th century tooled covers by a London binder"; (11) and a draft note at the top of folio 2v, "I praye go to the screvener in feter lane and desier him to Come to the flete and bringe the leter of atturneye ... I praye do not fayle for my master trusteth to you," may well relate to John Lyttelton, who died in prison in 1601,12 having been implicated in Essex's Rebellion earlier that year and convicted of high treason, or to his son, Thomas Lyttelton, first baronet (1596-1650), who was imprisoned from 1644 until at least 1646 as a colonel of the Worcestershire horse and foot (for the king), having been captured by Parliamentary troops at Bewdley. (13)

According to John Manley and Edith Rickert,14 Harley 1758 was also connected to both the West Country and London. It was owned by Edmund Foxe in the early sixteenth century and by his son Edward Foxe (mid-sixteenth century through at least 1585) in Ludford, across the river from Ludlow. (15) There are earlier London connections for Harley 1758 as well: as he notes in his inscription, Edmund Foxe was a member of Lincoln's Inn, and Manly and Rickert also draw attention to the name "Pembyrton" in fifteenth-century script on folio 230v; this, they note, may have been John Pemberton, prebendary of St. Paul's in 1472, who died in 1499. (16)

Manly and Rickert also note another London connection for Harley 1758: the signature of someone called "Cornhill" in the rubric explicit for The Canterbury Tales on folio 231. This they take to be the decorator, because this explicit, which is signed "quod Cornhyll," is written in the same red ink as the decorated initials and rubric headings of The Canterbury Tales text. (17) However, the handwriting of the rubric headings is the same as that of the text, and some scribes not only wrote their own rubrics but added their own red and blue penwork decorated initials as well. Therefore, given that the pinky color of the red is the same in the decorated initials and the rubrics (including the signed explicit) and that the script of rubric headings is the same as that of the text, it appears to be the case here that "Cornhyll" was the scribe, responsible for the rubric headings and red and blue decorated initials as well as for the text. Manly and Rickert suggest that "Cornhyll" might be Richard Claidich, a scrivener who owned a shop in the Cornhill district of London from around 1428 to 1452, and they support this possible identification with the name "Rychard" in crayon on folio 223v. (18)

The scribe common to these three manuscripts, then, might be Claidich or might be some other scribe, otherwise unknown, who lived in Cornhill and used the name "Cornhyll" as his surname. The connection of the scribe with London and the metropolitan style of the decoration suggest that these manuscripts were produced in London rather than in the West Country. (19) The scribe Cornhyll produced copies of major works by three important Middle English vernacular writers and in all three cases called on the same limner to complete the manuscripts with illuminated borders and champ initials. Since he appears to have been a professional scribe working in London with access to exemplars of Middle English texts, we shall be looking for more examples of his work in the months ahead.






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(1.) We wish to thank His Grace the Duke of Rutland for allowing us to examine this manuscript on two occasions and to take photographs of the manuscript on the second occasion. We also wish to thank His Grace the Duke of Rutland for permission to use the images of figures 2 and 3 in this publication. The Duke of Rutland and his heirs retain copyright on all images made of this manuscript. For an earlier description of the Rutland MS, see Henry Bergen, ed., Lydgate's Fall of Princes, Part 4, EETS e.s. 124 (London: Oxford University Press, for the Early English Text Society, 1927), 13-14.

(2.) See Linne R. Mooney, "A New Scribe of Chaucer and Gower," Journal of the Early Book Society 7 (2004): 131-140.

(3.) Kathleen L. Scott; Later Gothic Manuscripts 1390-1490), A Survey of'-Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles 6, gen. ed. J. J. G. Alexander (London: Harley Miller 1996), vol. 1, plates 162, 301, and 377.

(4.) Scott, 2:127-128.

(5.) Scott, 2:273.

(6.) Where its exemplar was defective, the scribe apparently was able to resort to Pierpont Morgan Library MS 249 or, more probably, the exemplar for Morgan and Lichfield Cathedral Library MS 29, which is arguably responsible for the Western spellings in both manuscripts.

(7.) On the language of Harley 1758, see Simon Horobin, The Language of the Chaucer Tradition (Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 2003), 150; Wilma Anderson Kirby-Miller, "Scribal Dialects in the C and D Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales," dissertation, University of Chicago, 1938, 53-55. Angus McIntosh, M. L. Samuels, and Michael Benskin, eds. A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English, 4 vols. (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1986).

(8.) For explanation of the differences between medieval and modern foliation, see Bergen, Lydgates Fall of Princes, 13, where he notes that the two foliations seem to start out with the medieval two numbers higher than the modern, but then "two consecutive folios (113 and 114) are both numbered 114 in the early hand" (ibid., 13), such that thereafter the two foliations only differ by 1.

(9.) John M. Manly and Edith Rickert, The Text of the Canterbury Tales, 8 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1940), 1:61-63. A. I. Doyle notes the motto of the Paston family in San Marino, California, Huntington Library, El 26 C 9 (the "Ellesmere" Canterbury Tales MS), "[i]n a hand certainly of the fifteenth century and probably of the first half, on f. i verso and again on vii verso of the ruled medieval flyleaves, 'demeuz enmeuz,' i.e. 'de mieux en mieux'"; A. I. Doyle, "English Books in and out of Court from Edward III to Henry VII," in English Court Culture in the Later Middle Ages, ed. V. J. Scattergood and J. W. Sherbourne (London: Duckworth, 1983), 172, n. 21; see also Ralph Hanna, III, introd., The Ellesmere Manuscript of Chaucers Canterbury Tales: A Working Facsimile (Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 1989), 1, who records an additional occurrence of the motto on fol. ii. Other manuscripts owned by the Pastons are recorded in a pre-1479 inventory of books, British Library MS Add. 43491; see Norman Davis, ed., Paston Letters and Papers of the Fifteenth Century, Part 1, EETS s.s. 20 (Oxford: Clarendon Press; reissued 2004), 516-18, item 316. The inventory does not include a Fall of Princes nor a Canterbury Tales but may be too early to do so; it does include an unidentified manuscript of the Troilus. See also Derek Brewer, Geoffrey Chaucer: The Critical Heritage, Volume 1, 1385-1837 (Routledge, Chapman & Hall, 1996), 70.

(10.) Pamela J. Willetts, Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Society of Antiquaries of London (Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer for the Society of Antiquaries, 2000), 60-61.

(11.) Ibid., 60.

(12.) Ibid., 61.

(13.) Dictionary of National Biography, Lyttelton, John, and Lyttelton, Thomas.

(14.) Manly and Rickert, Text of the Canterbury Tales, 1:200.

(15.) Edward Foxe signs his name several times on flyleaves (folio 1* verso, 231r-v, 232); Edmund writes on 232r, "Thys Boke belongis to me Edmond Foxe fellow of lyncollis Inne."

(16.) Manly and Rickert, Text of the Canterbury Tales, 1:205. On a recent inspection we could not find the Pemberton signature, unless it is the very faint dry-point in the left margin of folio 230v.

(17.) Seymour argues that "Cornhyll" is the scribe, not the decorator; M. C. Seymour, A Catalogue of Chaucer Manuscripts, vol. 2: The Canterbury Tales (Aldershot, UK: Scolar, 1997), p. 120. The full rubric explicit is, "Here endeth the book of the tales of Cauntirburye . Compyled bi Geffraye Chaucers . Of Whos soule Ihu crist haue mercye . f Amen quod Cornhyll." This rubric explicit follows immediately after the retraction in engrossed capitals of the same style and pinky-red ink as headings throughout the Canterbury Tales, except in larger script.

(18.) Manly and Rickert, Text of the Canterbury Tales, 1:203. The signature is very rough, written in crayon in the left margin, running right up to the left margin of the text. It may have been added here as the annotator's drawing a connection between Rychard and the text, which is here describing the five "spices" of gluttony.

(19.) Mooney had suggested that the origins of Harley 1758 and Antiquaries 134 were in the West Country, but further study of the spellings in these manuscripts now suggests that the influence of the exemplar and thus West Country ownership of those two in the seventeenth century is merely coincidental. One further connection between two of the three manuscripts, though very tenuous, is the name "Mawde" on folio 110 of Harley 1758, written in what Manly and Rickert describe as "a small, pretty hand (15C?)." The signature, if it is a signature, appears in the extreme lower-left corner of the page, that is, just above the lower edge and well tucked into the gutter. It is written in gray-black ink with very fine lettering in fifteenth-century script. It is unclear why an owner would write her name, or a woman's name, at this point in the manuscript, unless it was perhaps to complete the last line on this page, line 1999 of The Summoners Tale, in this manuscript reading, "Now sith ye haue so holi & meke a wif." Though only a possibility, the name "Mawde" in this MS might be Maud, countess of Northumberland, inserted here by some member of her household as a compliment to her. Thus we have two very tenuous connections of manuscripts by this scribe with Henry Percy, fourth earl of Northumberland, and his wife, Maud.
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Title Annotation:Nota Bene: Brief Notes on Manuscripts and Early Printed Books: Highlighting Little-Known or Recently Uncovered Items or Related Issues
Author:Mooney, Linne R.; Mosser, Daniel W.
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, 2009
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