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Van der Weyden, Descent from the Cross
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Manchester, Chetham's Library MS 6690 (Mun. A.7.1)

Described by: Ryan Perry, 9/7/07- described from manuscript analysis in the Chetham Library.
Revision Date: June 1st, 2010


Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ with various Middle English devotional works, mid-C15.

Condition of the MS

Generally in very good condition.

Number of Items

9 (the 'Treatise on the Sacrament', normally the final section of Love's Mirror is detached from the text and is the concluding item in the MS.)

Title(s) of Pseudo-Bonaventuran Text(s)

Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ.


  • The Mirror opens with the 'Attende Lector' note (penned in red ink), but with "verbal variations unique to this group [ie. β2]" (Sargent, Intro., p. 131).

  • Fol. 116v: ‘Here begynneth a techynge þat Rychard hermyte made and sent it to ankres’.

  • Colophon


    Secundo Folio

    "as for a princypale".


  • The Mirror ends on fol. 116: ' Explicit Speculum Vite xpi. Amen'.

  • Fol. 130r: 'þis teching made Rychard hermyte and sent it to an Ankres þat was cleped Margarete'.

  • Fol. 132v: 'Pater noster Ave Maria'.

  • Fol. 133r: ' Explicit'.

  • Fol. 134v: 'Ihesu Amen. Maria Amen'.

  • Fol. 145r: 'Here endith a tretys þat is cleped; media vita'.

  • Fol. 154v: '¶ Lord Iesu þi blissed lif ; helpe and comforte oure wrecchid lif . Amen'.
  • Languages of the MS

    All texts are English, with use of Latin phrases, glossing etc.

    Detailed Description of Contents

  • Items 1 and 9, fols 1r-116r and 145r-154v: This is described as a 'mixed text' of the Mirror by Sargent (see Groupings), and the text would thus appear to be a composite copy of the Mirror drawn from at least three archetypes; the fact that the chapter numbering becomes erratic from fol. 65v (chapter 33) onwards apparently reflects the confusion caused by the changes of exemplar (either in the making of this book, or its genetic antecedent). The last chapter number, Capm xlm, occurs at the beginning of the ME MPC interpolation (see Sargent, Intro. p. 129). The Chetham MS. preserves a number of unusual textual features that have been recorded by Sargent, including its "treatment of the consecration in the Last Supper chapter" (Intro. p. 129).
    Item 9 in the MS is the 'Treatise on the Sacrament', drawn from an α2 text (as are chapters 33-6); it is possible that the 'Treatise' was sourced independently from the exemplars used in the compilation of item 1. Sargent has demonstrated that, "the hype-archetype of β did not comprise the 'Treatise'", and it is thus possible that rather than detaching the 'Treatise' from the Mirror, it was appended to this anthology of texts after being copied from a completely separate copy text.

  • Item 2, fols 116v-130r: Richard Rolle, Form of Living, (Hope Emily Allen, ed., English Writings of Richard Rolle (1931) pp. 85-119).

  • Item 3, fol. 130r-v:'Cleanness of Soul', “Three things to do ‘if þou wolt haue clennes’”, (Jolliffe, I. 7 [c], ed. Horstmann, YW, i, p. 108); this text is also found with the Mirror in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS, Bodley 131 (item 3.).

  • Item 4, fols 130v-132r: Middle English translation of the Fifteen Oes of St. Bridget.

  • Item 5, fols 132v-133r: Middle English translation of Bede’s prayer of the Seven Words of Christ; a Latin version of this text occurs in Lambeth Palace MS 559, fols 136v-139v.

  • Item 6, fols 133r-134v: Middle English prayer to Christ, twenty-two 8-line stanzas (IMEV, 1732; Brown, Religious Lyrics of the Fifteenth Century, no. 144, pp. 222-7); the text also occurs in Trinity College, Cambridge MS B.10.12 (223), fols 53r-4r.

  • Item 7, fol. 134v: Middle English prayer in honour of the name of Jesus, five 8-line stanzas (IMEV, 1780; Brown, Religious, no. 145, pp. 227-9); the text also occurs in Trinity College, Cambridge MS B.10.12 (223), fols 55r-v.

  • Item 8, fols 135r-145r: Walter Hilton, Mixed Life, ( D. Jones, ed., Minor works of Walter Hilton, pp. 8-75 l. 17); Ker records that this item ends in the same way as the version in BL Harley MS 2254.
  • Estimated Date of Production

    2nd quarter to Mid-C15.

    Writing Support



    ii + 158 fols (fol. 158 is pasted down).

    Dimensions of Page and Writing Space

  • Folio size: 262 x 180 mm approx. (some evidence of trimming)
  • Writing Space: 170 x 117 mm approx.
  • Collation

    1-168, 176, 18-208.


    1 column, 34 lines; the page is ruled horizontally to create divisions for the titles, text and catchwords, and vertically to create three columns for the marginal apparatus, where a paraph will occupy the inner column and the marginal note in the wider column beside (the outer column is generally unused), signs of pricking.

    Rubrication/ Ordinatio

    Expertly planned Ordinatio:
  • Initials: Opens on fol. 1 with 6-line initial, blue with red pen-work decoration, generally 2-line initials (also blue with red).
  • Titles, headings, Rubrics: Running titles (the day of the week, eg. ‘Die Lune’) in red set against a blue paraph (recto and verso); running titles discontinue after the Mirror until the 'Treatise on the Sacrament', which has been detached from the Mirror and occurs as the last item in the manuscript. Chapter headings in red set with blue paraphs. Chapter numbers usually on top left corner of verso, and top right of recto with a blue paraph in the inner marginal column and the red chapter number in the wider ruled column beside. When a new chapter occurs the number is penned in red in the margin and marked with a blue paraph. Chapter numbers are often uncompleted from fol. 65v onwards (although the paraph and 'Cap' is filled in up until fol. 75r, whereupon even this is only erratically filled in until 80v after which there are no signs of running chapter numbers. The new chapters do continue to marked in the margins up until fol. 85v (the beginning of chapter 40); at this point the chapter numbering is wholly discontinued. Sargent has also noted some confusion in the Titles and Chapter headings in this section of the MS (p. 129).
  • Other: Scribal side-notes in black ink are set beside a blue paraph marks; occasionally the side-note has a small coloured initial, eg. " Ave Maria". Catchwords appear within a ruled space and are penned mainly in red and sometimes in blue.
  • Illustration

  • The scribe provides decorative motifs as part of the Running titles, with the 'D' of 'Die' often formed into a head or face, or with other pen-work devices.
  • The pen-work flourishes extending from the initials often run along the margin of the text, and sometimes curl above the text's upper and lower margins forming a partial border decoration.
  • Number of Scribal Hands


    Style of Hands

    This is a calligraphic, stiff and formal bookhand which is aptly described by Ker as a 'modified textura'.

    Estimated Date of Hands


    Scribal Annotation

    Sargent records that there are 554 marginal side-notes, many more than other MSS in the β2 grouping; it may be that a number of marginal notes are innovatory or from other groupings- an example is 'Notabil', penned at p. 80 l. 35; the side-note 'Notabilia' occurs at this point in several β1 texts and in all γ1 MSS (see Sargent, p. 277); interestingly the note, 'Notabile' occurs on p. 80 l. 19 in the β1 grouping.

    There are unusual red marks in the same hue as the scribal rubrication beside Joseph's acceptance of Mary's divine conception and their "gostly myrthe" with one-another, a passage not normally marked in the usual patterns of scribal annotation (ch. 5, p. 35 ll. 27-33).

    Notable Dialect Features

    No reference in LALME.

    The following sample of forms was randomly taken from the text of the Mirror. It would prove beneficial to compare these forms in parts of the text which are from different textual groupings and to further compare with other texts in the MS.

    against- a3ens
    but- bote
    church- chirche
    gave- 3af
    her- hir, her
    life- lyfe
    much- myche, miche, mykel, muche
    not- no3t
    one- oon
    our- oure
    self- self(e)
    she- sche
    should- scholde, schulde
    such- swiche
    they- þei
    thousand- þow sand
    way- weye
    work- werk

    Localisable on Google Earth
    (click markers to view sample dialect forms)


    Annotation and Marginalia

  • There are a number of corrections in a C15 hand, eg. text skipped by scribe is inserted in lower margin on fol. 2v.
  • Vertical lines of dots have been penned in the paraph column parallel with the text by an interested reader (who is probably the same person who places a g-shaped sigla beside the text, as the dots discontinue on the same folio as the sigla).
  • A g-shaped sigla has been placed beside the following readings:
    fol. 16v x 2: Joseph makes a "closere" and "crache for her bestes" (ch. 6, p. 38 ll. 9-10); the heavily pregnant Mary has travelled 60-70 miles in "so grete pouerte" (ch. 6, p. 38 ll. 16-18).
    fol. 17r: Joseph honours the baby Jesus makes a cushion for Mary from a saddle (ch. 6, p. 38 l. 41- p. 39 l. 1).
    fol. 18r: In Rome a well of oil springs forth from a tavern and a golden idol in a temple topples over, thus fulfilling the prophecy that it would only happen when a virgin gave birth to a son (ch. 6, p. 41 ll. 24-32).
    fol. 32v: Christ leaves Nazereth and travels toward Jerusalem, and comes to the Jordan 43 miles from Jerusalem (ch. 14, p. 65 ll. 16-22).
    fol. 35r x 2: On a hill called 'Quarentana' that is 4 miles from the place of his baptism Christ fasts for 40 days and nights (ch. 15, p. 69 ll. 4-9); a sigla is placed by the mention of the book called Collaciones patrum (ch. 15, p. 69 l. 25).
    fol. 36v: Satan takes Christ to a hill 2 miles from the hill called 'Quarentana' and tempts him in the sins of avarice and idolatry (ch.15, p. 72 ll. 15-16).
    fol. 39r: Christ journeys 74 miles back to Nazereth from the Jordan (ch.16, p. 75 ll. 21-24).
    fol. 39v: Christ did not openly preach until after John the baptist was imprisoned (ch.16, p. 76 ll. 25-34).
    fol. 40v: A wedding feast was organised in a place called the Cane, which Jerome tells was the 'bridale' for John the Evangelist in his prologue to the Gospel of John (ch.17, p. 78 ll. 30-33).
    fol. 41r: Salome, the wife of Zebedee, travels 4 miles from Cane to visit Mary in Nazareth (ch.17 p. 79 ll. 6-8).
    fol. 42r: Jesus calls on John to leave his wife and follow him [to a more perfect wedding] (ch.17, p. 80 ll. 30-34).
    fol. 42v: Christ leads the disciples up a hill called 'Thabor', 2 miles from Nazareth, and preaches to them there (ch.18 p. 82 ll. 5-9).
    fol. 45v: Althought the woman healed by touching Christ's clothing is not named in the Gospels, St. Abrose and other doctors say she was Martha, the sister of Mary Magdalene (ch.21 p. 87 ll. 23-4).
    There are no more passages noted after this. It is interesting that the majority of the passages marked by this reader describe the geography of the Holy Lands, and often include estimated distances between places of interest in the Gospels.
  • Graffitti


    Names recorded, signatures, ex libris marks



    Sargent suggests that all three of the β2 MSS may have been produced for a "monastic readership", and the Chetham MS does appear to fit such a profile, although the texts in this book might be deemed even more appropriate for a professional female religious readership.
    The contemporary (strap-and-pin) binding also includes the vestiges of an original chain used to secure the book, perhaps within an institutional library in a religious house. Interestingly, the brass fixing at the end of the chain appears to have suffered some violence, and looks as if it might have been torn from its station becoming twisted and stretched in the process (the final links in the chain look similarly stretched).
    The original boards are bound in leather, with 2 horizontal bands of brown leather sandwiching a white leather band of similar breadth.

    There follows a transcription of the opening of the ME MPC interpolation in the MS:
    Þus endeth the contemplacyone for þe þoresday: and after foweþ þe passyon þat longeþ specialy to þe fryday. The þinges þat now folwen pertynen to cristes passyon. And þerfore speke we of it firste in general and after in specyal. Medytacyon of crystes passyon in general and after in specyal. Capitulum xl.
    Now it is comen to the tyme þat we must trete of the passyon of oure lord Ih´u cryste. þerfore who so desyreth to ioyen him in þe passion and in þe crosse of oure lord wt a besy þou3t of hert & eyen of þe soule he moste inwardlye behold þe mysteries þat þus be don and trowe uerily al þat he don. And who wolde trewely þise þinges [sic.] of crystes passion and stedfastly þenken on hem wt depnesse of mynde þei schulden turnen him in a newe stat of lyf in to compassion in to a newe loue and in to a newe coimfort of soule . and in to a newe man…

    References and Other Resources

    N.R. Ker, Medieval manuscripts in British Libraries, vol. III, pp.343-4.

    Sargent Groupings

    β2 | α2 | β

    Sargent Pages

    129-30. Described as a 'mixed text': β2 until the end of chapter 32, "agreeing with α2 through Chapter 36, wherupon it becomes an independent β."

    Sargent Number



    Please note: Descriptions of Mirror MSS are indebted to: Nicholas Love, The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ: A Full Critical Edition, ed. by Michael G. Sargent (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2005)