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Van der Weyden, Descent from the Cross
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Manchester, John Rylands Library MS. Eng. 94

Described by: Ryan Perry from manuscript analysis in the JRL.
Revision Date: June 1st, 2010


Nicholas Love, Mirror of the Blessed Life, and other treatises, c. mid-C15.

Condition of the MS

The MS is complete, and in very good condition, although the C19 boards have become detached from the book.

Number of Items


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

Mirror of the Blessed Life


  • Fol. 1r: A(5-line capital, blue, with red designs within letter, and red penwork decoration)t the begynnyng of the proheme of the booke tha [sic] is cleped the mirrour of the blessed lyfe of ihu crist; the firste parte for the moneday.
    A deuowte meditacion of the grete counceile in heuene for the restoring of man and his saluacion. (normal ink)
  • Fol. 116r: ( A1-line blue capital) shorte tretice of the hieste and moste worthy sacrament of criste is blissede body and the meruelous there of .& c."
  • Fol. 125r: “ Here begynneth the boke of the crafte of dyinge
  • Fol. 137v: “ Here begynnethe a tretyse of gostely bataile righte devoute”.
  • Fol. 151v: “ Here begynneth a lytel shorte tretyce that telleth howe there were . vi mastirs assemblede togedir and iche askede other what thynge thei might beste speke of that might beste please god and were most profytabil to the people. And all thei were accorded to speke of tribulacione.
  • Colophon


    Secundo Folio

    To the grave (red)Capitulum li


  • Fol. 115v: ” Explicit. Speculum Vite Xpi in anglicis”.
  • Fol. 125r: “Explicit Speculum vite xpi complete”.
  • Fol. 137v: "Explicit libr de arte moriendi complete”.
  • Fol. 151v: “Here endithe the tretees of gostely batayle”.
  • Fol. 168v: " Thus is endede a shorte tretyes of the XII profytes of tribulacion right devoute
  • Languages of the MS

    English, with Latin sidenotes in item 1; some extended use of Latin in item 4.

    Detailed Description of Contents


  • 1. Mirror of the Blessed Life with "Treatise on the Sacrament", fols 1-125.
  • 2. The Craft of Dying, fols 125r-137v, (Jolliffe, L 4[a], IPMEP, 234).
  • 3. The Treatise of Ghostly Battle, fols 137v-152r, (Jolliffe, H 3, IPMEP, 120).
  • 4 (a). A short treatise of six masters on tribulation, (Jolliffe, J 2[c], IPMEP, 287).
  • 5. The Twelve Profits of Tribulation, (Jolliffe, J 3[b], IPMEP, 142).
  • Estimated Date of Production


    Writing Support



    i (modern)+ 168 fols + i (original flyleaf)

    Dimensions of Page and Writing Space

    • Leaf size: 362 x 240 mm (approx.)
    • Writing Space: 265 x 153 mm (approx.)




    2 columns, 36 lines; frames and lines ruled with some signs of pricking.

    Rubrication/ Ordinatio

    • Initials: Major divisions are signaled by 2-4 line blue initials with red pen-work flourishes; important sections of text within these divisions begin with 2-line capitals with red pen-work flourishes; some lines begin with 1-line red capitals.
    • Titles, Headings, Rubrics: although not consistently executed, both recto and verso sides are headed by the section title (eg. “Die Lune”, the section number beside (eg. Prima pars), and occasionally the chapter number- the text is penned in red ink and marked with a blue paraph.
    • Other: alternating red and blue paraph marks mark subdivisions in the text up until around chapter 8, from when alternating red and blue 1-line initials fulfil the same role; alternating long-tailed paraphs accompany and frame the side notes; red and blue j-motif line fillers are used where necessary. The opening few catchwords are framed with extravagant scroll motifs towards the opening of the codex, but then revert to simpler designs.


    Fol. 1- the inner column of text is framed on by a j-motif style pen-work border design, alternating red ans blue, and by typical red pen-work flourishes below the text.

    Number of Scribal Hands


    Style of Hands

    Described by Ker as Anglicana Formata, but there is a strong hint of Textura in this quadrata script; the scribe occasionally pens tell-tale Textura forms, such as “[”-shaped s (and pens such forms as a matter of course in rubrics and headings).

    Estimated Date of Hands


    Scribal Annotation


    Notable Dialect Features

    Sample of forms item 1 and checked for consistency with other items.
    she: she
    her: hir
    much: mekil, mekill, moche,
    such: suche
    think: thencke
    again: a gayn, agayne
    those: thoo
    when: whan, whane
    first: ffirste
    which: whiche
    busy: besy
    strength: strengthe
    not: not
    must: muste
    though: thowghe
    work: werke
    through: thorowe
    thousand: thousand
    should: shulde
    but: but
    have: have
    their: their
    together: togedir
    where: wher(e)
    self: selfe
    church: chirche
    they: thei, they
    them: theim
    called: cleped
    give: geue.

    Nottinghamshire? (Hanna, 176).

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


    Annotation and Marginalia

  • Fol. 5r: Latin tags are provided for the 4 daughters of God.
  • Fol. 13: some Latin sidenotes signal the treatment of the words in ‘Ave maria’; eg. “fulle of grace” is underlined and, “Gracia plena nativitas Castitas”, C15.
  • Fol. 15v: “Benedictus deus
    deus israel”, beside “Blessed be our lorde God of israel”.
  • Another annotator writes ‘not’ in a loose script, mainly between fols 75-9 (die Jovis); the reader is clearly interested in the sacrament, marking a number of passages in the account of the Last Supper; mention of St. Francis, Christ not recorded as eating meat, washing of the feet etc.
  • Graffitti


    Names recorded, signatures, ex libris marks

    William Northampton's name occurs on fols. 147 and 148r, C16. Ker records that the book was "[g]iven by Humphrey Wanley to Coventry School before 1696... and, was the first of seven manuscripts listed under Wanley's name in the Donors' Book" (Ker, 415).


    A physically impressive MS, that may have been made for the use of the professional religious. There are signs of a chain mark, visible in fols 168-9, that Doyle attributes to the MS's stay in the chained Coventry school library. It is possible, however, that such fastenings had been applied to the book before it took up residence in Coventry.
    Ralph Hanna has explored a complex of MSS including Rylands 94, that share four items (2,3,4 and 5).

      "Yet three of these books, all clearly related, repay further scrutiny. For they offer additional evidence of complicated, multi-item miscellanies joined together out of brief fixed textual sequences. At Yorkshire Writers 2, 390–436, Horstman printed four texts from various of these books, the brief “Six Masters on Tribulation,” and the lengthier “The Twelve Profits of Tribulation” (with a preceding Latin note), “The Craft of Dying,” and “A Treatise of Ghostly Battle.”31 In the manuscripts I have been considering, Rawlinson C.894, Harley 1706 (I) (along with its twin/source Bodleian Library, MS Douce 322), and Royal 17 C.xviii include all four, and in these particular versions, as do also Manchester, John Rylands University Library, MS Eng. 94, and Oxford, Corpus Christi College, MS 220, but no other known Middle English books." (Hanna, "Middle English", 169).

      See also the discussion of Rawlinson C.894 in the Names field in the description of John Rylands MS Eng. 98, which like the Rawlinson book, comes into the possession of the Roberts family in Suffolk.

    References and Other Resources

    Ker, Jolliffe, IPMEP.

    Ralph Hanna, "Middle English Books and Middle English Literary History", Modern Philology, 102 (2004), 157-78.

    Sargent Groupings


    Sargent Pages

    Intro. 108, 110.

    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)